Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 34–42 | Cite as

Pathological Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Recent Research and Clinical Implications

  • Elsa RonningstamEmail author
Personality and Impulse Control Disorders (R Lee, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Personality and Impulse Control Disorders


This review is focused on integrating recent research on emotion regulation and empathic functioning with specific relevance for agency, control, and decision-making in narcissistic personality disorder (NPD, conceptualized as self direction in DSM 5 Section III). The neuroscientific studies of emotion regulation and empathic capability can provide some significant information regarding the neurological/neuropsychological underpinnings to narcissistic personality functioning. Deficiencies in emotion processing, compromised empathic functioning, and motivation can influence narcissistic self-regulation and agential direction and competence in social interactions and interpersonal intimate relationships. The aim is to expand our understanding of pathological narcissism and NPD and suggest relevant implications for building a collaborative treatment alliance.


Narcissistic personality disorder Pathological narcissism Empathy Suicide Emotion regulation Agency 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Elsa Ronningstam declares no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Faculty, Boston Psychoanalytic Society and InstituteMcLean HospitalBelmontUSA

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