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Changes in pathological narcissism
Am J Psychiatry 1995;152:253-257.
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OBJECTIVE: This study investigated types of change that occur over time in the psychopathology of narcissistic patients. METHOD: Baseline scores on the Diagnostic Interview for Narcissism of 20 patients, clinically diagnosed as having narcissistic personality disorder, were contrasted with their scores 3 years later by means of t tests and chi- square statistics. The authors then compared these changes in narcissism with the patients' accounts of their life events during the interval between the two assessments. RESULTS: A significant decrease in the overall level of pathological narcissism was found, particularly in the areas of interpersonal relations and reactiveness. At follow-up, 60% of the subjects had reached the cutoff score on the diagnostic interview that indicated significant improvement, and 40% remained unchanged, with a high level of pathological narcissism. A high baseline level of narcissism in interpersonal relations was associated with absence of change at follow-up. Examination of life events in the interval between assessments suggests that changes in pathological narcissism are related to three kinds of experiences: achievements, new durable relationships, and disillusionments. CONCLUSIONS: The instability of narcissistic psychopathology found in this study raises questions about the construct validity of narcissistic personality disorder as a diagnostic category and about the core construct of pathological narcissism.

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