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Investigating the Link Between Pathological Narcissism and Somatization

Kealy, David, PhD*; Rice, Simon M., PhD; Ogrodniczuk, John S., PhD*; Cox, Daniel W., PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: December 2018 - Volume 206 - Issue 12 - p 964–967
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000903
Brief Reports

Although the self-image distortions and sensitivities of pathological narcissism have been theorized to contribute to somatization, limited empirical research has been devoted to this issue. The present study was developed to test the hypothesis that pathological narcissism contributes to somatic symptoms through increased hypervigiliance to physical sensations. A community sample of 248 adults completed measures of pathological narcissism, somatosensory amplification, somatic symptoms, and depression. Mediation analysis was conducted, controlling for depression, using 99% bootstrapped confidence intervals to examine the indirect effect of pathological narcissism on somatic symptoms via somatosensory amplification. Although pathological narcissism was not directly related to somatic symptoms, a significant indirect effect was observed for pathological narcissism on somatic symptoms via somatosensory amplification. This finding suggests that pathological narcissism contributes to physical hypersensitivity, in turn influencing perceptions of somatic distress. The role of narcissistic dysfunction in somatization indicates the importance of further research and potential clinical consideration.

*Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada;

Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia; and

Counselling Psychology Program, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

Send reprint requests to David Kealy, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, #420-5950 University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3, Canada. E-mail: david.kealy@ubc.ca.

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