Narcissist, Psychopath, or Sociopath: How To Tell The Differences

Narcissist, Psychopath, or Sociopath: How To Tell The Differences

He is a charming, thoughtful man who gives to his community. A charismatic man whose grandiosity and great tales of victory command awe.  He adores himself and needs the continuous validation of his importance. Cadres of loyal subjects do his abusive, selfish, and unethical bidding. Many within his inner circle to avoid cognitive dissonance have reinterpreted his actions that were at odds with their beliefs to ‘facts’ that they need to maintain cognitive harmony.  They live in fear of his displeasure and need to be in his good grace for their self-worth.

The above could be the profile of a narcissist, psychopath or sociopath.

How to tell the difference between a narcissist, psychopath or sociopaths?

The video contributed by my follower and friend Pete does an excellent
job explaining in simple language the differences between a
narcissist, a psychopath, and a sociopath. Overlap in signs and
symptoms occur among these disorders and even in normal people without
these disorders. That leads to confusion and the interchangeable
misuse of the terms. Here is what you need to know to understand the
differences.

Narcissist

According to Dr. Ramani,   a narcissist has a disorder of self-esteem. A narcissist feels entitled, continually seeks validation and focuses on other people’s view of them. When a narcissist harms others, they will usually feel remorse in the form of shame more so than guilt.

Psychology Today stated the hallmark of narcissistic personality disorder is a triad of “grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration.” (Psychology Today )   Fifty-Seventy percent of narcissists are men.  It is also common for adolescents to temporarily display narcissistic traits as part of healthy development. It does not mean they will become narcissists.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy as indicated by 5 or more of the following:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (exaggerates achievements, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited power, success, brilliance, beauty or ideal love
  • Believes her or she is “special” and can only be understood by similarly special, high status people
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a sense of entitlement
  • Is interpersonally exploitative
  • Lacks empathy
  • Is envious of others or believes others are envious of him/her
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

All psychopaths and sociopaths are narcissists. Unlike narcissists, psychopaths and eventually sociopaths feel no remorse–no guilt or shame– when they harm others. Psychopaths are believed to be the hand of nature while sociopaths are thought to be nurtured. Both constructs fall under the DSM category of Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, occurring since age 15, as evidenced by 3 or more of the following:

  • Failure to conform to social norms as evidenced by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
  • Deceitfulness
  • Impulsivity
  • Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
  • Reckless disregard for the safety of others
  • Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial commitments
  • Lack of remorse, as being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt others
  • The individual is at least 18 years of age

Psychopaths

Psychopaths are narcissists who feel no shame or guilt in harming others. They do not think about consequences. Studies suggest their response to negative stress is suppressed. They don’t fear danger or regret bad things as most people do. They may even derive pleasure from other people’s pain.

Many psychopaths are criminals such as serial killers. The diagnosis requires a Psychopathy Checklist.

Many psychologists believe there is no cure or effective treatment for psychopaths.

Sociopaths

Sociopaths are narcissists. They learn from their environment to feel no shame or guilt when they do bad things. They learn not to think about or fear consequences. They are products of their environment or experiences. Prisons have high rates of sociopaths; one study showed as high as 70% in the prison population vs. up 3% in the general population.

Theoretically, in the early stages, a willing sociopath may be treatable with timely and appropriate intervention.

Narcissist, Psychopath, or Sociopath: How To Tell The Differences

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