Narcissistic Personality Disorder and the Structure of Common Mental Disorders

J Pers Disord. 2017 Aug;31(4):449-461. doi: 10.1521/pedi_2016_30_260. Epub 2016 Sep 12.


Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) shows high rates of comorbidity with mood, anxiety, substance use, and other personality disorders. Previous bivariate comorbidity investigations have left NPD multivariate comorbidity patterns poorly understood. Structural psychopathology research suggests that two transdiagnostic factors, internalizing (with distress and fear subfactors) and externalizing, account for comorbidity among common mental disorders. NPD has rarely been evaluated within this framework, with studies producing equivocal results. We investigated how NPD related to other mental disorders in the internalizing-externalizing model using diagnoses from a nationally representative sample (N = 34,653). NPD was best conceptualized as a distress disorder. NPD variance accounted for by transdiagnostic factors was modest, suggesting its variance is largely unique in the context of other common mental disorders. Results clarify NPD multivariate comorbidity, suggest avenues for classification and clinical endeavors, and highlight the need to understand vulnerable and grandiose narcissism subtypes' comorbidity patterns and structural relations.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Young Adult