Can Jekyll And Hyde Behavior Be A Sign Of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated February 29, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
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In general, Jekyll and Hyde behavior describes intense and dramatic mood swings. In some cases, these mood swings may be a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder. They could also be related to borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, or other mental health issues. If you or a loved one lives with severe mood swings, please know that help is available. Online therapy can be an excellent way to connect with a licensed mental health professional.

What is Jekyll and Hyde behavior?

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is generally considered to be a famous piece of literature, and it was written by Robert Louis Stevenson and published in 1886. This English literary classic follows the tale of Gabriel John Utterson, a legal practitioner who notices a string of strange occurrences involving his kind and sociable friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and a horrendous criminal, Mr. Edward Hyde. 

As the story unfolds, it is revealed that the kind-hearted Dr. Jekyll and the evil Mr. Hyde are one and the same, with the friendly doctor having developed a powerful serum to transform himself into an evil, wretched person in order to indulge in his vices without guilt or fear of detection. 

While the story of Jekyll and Hyde is fictional, its depiction of a person who seems to shift dramatically between kind and cold-hearted can be all too real. You may have even heard someone referred to as a Jekyll and Hyde type, experienced this type of behavior yourself, or observed it in a loved one. 

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Are you living with mood swings?

What could Jekyll and Hyde behavior mean?

In real life, Jekyll and Hyde Behavior is typically classified as drastic or frequent mood swings.

Mood swings typically stem from difficulty controlling emotions, which can be a common symptom among several mental health conditions.

Some common mental health conditions may lead to drastic mood swings, including the following.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder, as defined by the American Mayo Clinic, can be a lifelong mental health condition that may cause extreme mood swings, which are often classified as mania, hypomania, and major depressive disorder.

There can be several types of bipolar disorder, all of which generally include periods of mania, hypomania or depression. 

Symptoms of mania or hypomania may include: 

  • An increase in activity, energy or agitation
  • A sense of euphoria, or an elevated sense of well-being or self-confidence
  • A decreased need for sleep
  • Excessive talking, or speaking more quickly than usual
  • Racing thoughts and difficulty concentrating
  • Impulsive decision-making, such as risky spending or sexual behaviors

Some symptoms of major depressive disorder may include: 

  • Noticeably depressed mood 
  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or excessive crying
  • A loss of pleasure or interest in social, personal, or work-related activities
  • Significant weight gain or loss
  • Difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too much
  • Restlessness or slowed behavior
  • Fatigue or energy loss
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Suicidal thoughts or ideation

Borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is usually classified as a long-standing personality disorder that typically begins in adolescence. For the purpose of diagnostics, mental health professionals normally group the symptoms of BPD into nine categories.

Someone living with BPD will typically have experienced at least five or more of the following:

  • Fear of abandonment
  • Unstable relationships
  • Unclear or shifting self-image
  • Impulsive, self-destructive behaviors
  • Self-harm or suicidal ideation
  • Extreme emotional swings
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Explosive anger
  • Feeling suspicious or out of touch with reality

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Narcissistic personality disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) can be a lifelong condition that is typically classified by a pattern of grandiosity, as well as a need for attention and a pervasive lack of empathy.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder may include: 

  • An unreasonably high sense of self-importance or a desire for excessive admiration
  • Feeling that certain privileges and special treatment are deserved
  • The expectation to be recognized as superior even without achievements
  • A tendency to make personal achievements or talents seem bigger than they are
  • A preoccupation with success, power, brilliance, beauty, or the perfect mate
  • Feelings of superiority
  • Unrealistic demands or expectations of others
  • A tendency to take advantage of others without guilt or remorse
  • An inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Excessive feelings of envy toward others, or an unfounded belief that others envy you

Coping with severe mood swings

Many of the mental health conditions that include drastic or severe emotional highs and lows can be lifelong, but they can often be treated through a combination of psychotherapy and medication. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with stress and negative consequences brought on by uncontrollable mood swings, it can be vital to reach out to a therapist or another licensed mental health professional for help. 

Additionally, keeping track of your emotional state through journaling or daily mood notations can be a helpful tool for you and your therapist to determine the possible cause of your mood swings and what can be done to help. 

The benefits of online therapy

It is not uncommon for the nature of severe mood swings to make it difficult to keep commitments or stay on top of scheduling appointments. For this reason, online therapy may serve as a more convenient option by offering a method of receiving therapy within the comfort of your own home. 

The effectiveness of online therapy

Certain mental health conditions that lead to mood swings can be linked to other conditions and causes such as anxiety, depression, and trauma. Recent studies show that online therapy can be highly effective when it comes to treating the symptoms of all three. Additionally, there’s generally no difference in efficacy between online and face-to-face therapy.

Are you living with mood swings?

Takeaway

Though the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is purely fictional, it can serve as a palatable allegory for the nature of intense and drastic mood swings. If you are living with symptoms of a mental health condition that can cause severe mood swings, such as borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, or narcissistic personality disorder, online therapy can be helpful.
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