The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is due out in 2013. Psychiatrists use the manual to diagnose mental illness. Among the changes in this edition will be the exclusion of five of the 10 personality disorders listed in the current edition. One of those five is narcissistic personality disorder. According to The New York Times, “The central requirement for N.P.D. is a special kind of self-absorption: a grandiose sense of self, a serious miscalculation of one’s abilities and potential that is often accompanied by fantasies of greatness.”
Many psychiatrists aren’t happy about the change. Dr. John Gunderson of Harvard calls the removal “unenlightened” and says, “They have little appreciation for the damage they could be doing.” But for some N.P.D. sufferers, the change brings hope. In two short years, for example, one particular occupant of a majestic white house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will likely be seeking new employment and new living quarters. Better, then, that he’s free to do so without the stigma of this dreadful disorder.