What’s the Difference Between a Narcissist, Psychopath and a Sociopath?

Between a Sociopatha and a Narcissist

What are the differences and similarities with psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists?

That’s what we’re talking about today. the differences between psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists. So let’s get started.

What is the definition of a narcissist?

[ss_click_to_tweet tweet=”What is narcissistic personality disorder? A disorder where people have an inflated sense of self-importance and most researchers, doctors, scientists say that it probably involves a combination of nature and nurture, work, environmental factors, and genetic factors.” content=”What is narcissistic personality disorder? A disorder where people have an inflated sense of self-importance and most researchers, doctors, scientists say that it probably involves a combination of nature and nurture, work, environmental factors and genetic factors.” style=”default”] Scientists are unable to put their finger exactly on the one single thing that causes it. They talk about it being caused by things like the environment, as if you grew up in a toxic family, you may have toxic behavior. Genetics; they have in some cases done studies on people who were known to be narcissistic and found that part of their brain that controls empathy is thinner than other people. Neural biology, which is the connection between the brain and your behavior or thinking, all of these things are connected. Very often, it comes from some sort of trauma that happens in childhood. What are the symptoms of NPD? Of a sense of grandiosity, exaggerated sense of self-importance, big old sense of entitlement and the need for excessive admiration, expecting to be recognized as superior by the people around them, exaggerating their talents and their achievements, being preoccupied with weird fantasies about power and attractiveness and brilliance and money and things like this, not only expecting to be noticed as superior, but believing in their superior to other people around them in all kinds of ways, physically, intellectually and otherwise, believing they can only associate with special people who are on their level, monopolizing conversations and looking down on people who they consider below them, belittling people, expecting special favors – this all goes back to the sense of entitlement, expecting things to be just different for them, expecting to get different privileges than other people, taking advantage of other people to get what they want, inability to recognize the needs of others, as in they have no empathy. Being envious of others, expecting others to envy them, being arrogant, expecting the best of everything all the time. They might become impatient or angry when they don’t get special treatment. They have significant, interpersonal relationship problems and they feel slighted very easily if they don’t get the same thing you’ve got or more things than you might. They react with rage or contempt if you try to call yourself equal to them, they may also react with what we call narcissistic injury, where they go “oh poor me” if you don’t do what they want. They have a really hard time regulating their own emotions and behavior. They feel depressed, they feel sad, they feel moody because they often fall short of perfection because they’re human like the rest of us, contrary to what they like you to believe. They have secret feelings of insecurity or humiliation or shame or fear and what it all comes down to, if we’re being honest, the one quality that unites all narcissist of the toxic nature is a lack of empathy. They don’t care how you feel and you know it by the way that they treat you.

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And what’s the definition of a sociopath?

Hey, they’re different than psychopaths because, number one, they are not born sociopaths. They are born normal and something happens to them in their lives that turns them into a sociopath. Whatever the circumstances were, something happens to them and they become a sociopath. See, when we’re born, certain things affect the way our brain function works, the way our neurons work, the way they’re developed, the way that we interact with the world, in general, various experiences that we have of our life lead to our personalities and who we are. So depending on what you go through, it affects the way that your brains, neurons, connections grow, so when you’re spoken to and you’re rented by your parents, then your language neurons are nourished and they grow. If not, they die and you could lose the ability to have language, So that’s why sometimes when they found like feral children who somehow have managed to survive alone in the woods for many years or whatever, very rarely do they have normal language skills if any, especially if they were removed from their families before gathering language skills. Now in some cases sociopaths can be sort of cured or reversed with really serious intervention and intention on their parts, in their adult lives. If you raise your children in such a way that you raise them with constant pain, abuse, neglect, you could create a sociopath and that may be where sociopaths are created – is in childhood and that’s generally the case because of course the way that their brain function works is affected directly by the way that their experiences unfold in their lifetime. What are the symptoms of sociopathy?. The symptoms of sociopathy include; Repeated violations of the law. Pervasive lying and deception. Physical aggressiveness. Reckless disregard for safety of self or others. Consistent irresponsibility in work and family environments and lack of remorse. Now here’s what’s interesting about sociopathy, it along with psychopathy is antisocial personality disorder, which is defined by the DSM as a cluster B personality disorder just like narcissism.

Well, what’s the definition of a psychopath.

Psychopathy is considered a more sort of severe form of sociopathy in some ways, but it has more symptoms. So basically all psychopaths are sociopaths, but sociopaths aren’t necessarily psychopaths, but just to clarify: According to the Society for the study of psychopathy, the traits do include; Lack of guilt or remorse. Lack of empathy. Lack of deep emotional attachments. Narcissism. superficial charm. Dishonesty. Manipulativeness and Reckless risk-taking. Interestingly enough, approximately 93% of diagnosed psychopaths are part of the criminal justice system. Now, there are other psychopathic traits and we can go into those in a future post.

Are you confused yet? well, let’s talk about some of the differences between psychopaths, narcissists, and sociopaths. Let’s start right here. Psychopaths are born, so when raised the right way, when you give them the right kind of motivation, certainly they can change some of the interactions that they would have with the world, but it doesn’t cure them, they can’t be cured, that’s one difference between a psychopath and a sociopath. Then again, it doesn’t change who they are, so while they will often be well integrated into society and you may even know and love a psychopath, they are quite the opposite.

For the most part, psychopaths are incredibly charming, people want to be around psychopaths, people will just sort of flock to them like bees to honey, but the thing is a psychopath doesn’t need anybody. They don’t need people to function, unlike a narcissist, so there’s one difference. So while a narcissist needs you to give them the good supply to feed the ego, a psychopath does not, a psychopath does not need for your approval. You could put a narcissist in therapy and if the narcissist meant to get better, intended to get better, the narcissist could potentially produce results.

As I’ve said repeatedly, I’ve never seen it and I’ve never heard of anyone who’s seen it, at least not in a way that it would be a long-lasting thing, but what it comes down to is a narcissist is just sort of a shell of a person, they have nothing of their own, they have no real self. Does that make sense? and the truth is they would love to become a magical idea of the person that they believe that they are. So sociopaths are manipulative and emotionally unstable, so to reach a sociopath you have to dig deep with them if you’re the therapist working with them.

The therapist will have to teach basic empathy skills. Whether or not they’ll do the work is the whole other side of that coin, narcissist as you know generally won’t. Sociopaths as you may suspect also generally aren’t interested in changing, unless they’re forced to because of legal issues. So when it comes to psychopaths, they’re gonna be a lot less likely to think that there’s anything wrong with them at all. This is the thing about psychopaths, they’re aware that other people think something’s wrong with them, but they don’t care. They only change their behavior to facilitate their goals or desires in society, just to get along unless they are on the other end of that spectrum.

Some psychopaths would never kill anybody, they just don’t need for people or emotions. It’s almost like they’re machines, but it’s something with the way their brain is wired. Now and then you’ll see a mask slip and you’ll see the true psychopath. I don’t know if you ever watched Breaking Bad, but I was really into that show and the reason I’m thinking of this character right now is because of the new spin-off, better call Saul. The character Gus Fring is an excellent example of a psychopath because you see he’s played, everybody loves him – who doesn’t know about his secret drug stuff. He’s very kind to his employees at the chicken place he works at and you never see him sweat. If you watched the original show, when the guy dies at the end, he kind of walks out and straightens his tie and falls over dead, it’s interesting the way that plays out.

So you aren’t often going to see that with the sacrament, you’re not gonna see the mask slip. If you do see it slip, it’s generally because they’ve become comfortable with you or they had just become a little sloppy, lazy in their manipulation and interactions or they don’t mean for you to be able to see it and this is the thing about empaths; it’s that we see it and they don’t like that. So be aware of that, that could be if you are with a psychopath, that can be part of the reason that all of this works in that fashion. So they’re not going to tell you there’s anything psychopathic about them, not gonna tell you about their strange crazy thoughts … You will not know because they’re very adept at not showing you who they are, they’re very adept at wearing that false mask, the false self, just like a narcissist, they’re very convincing.

So again psychopaths are born psychopaths, generally because of chemical imbalances that occurred outside of everyone’s control, having to do with genetics and some people suggest it has to do with the mother and her self-care during the pregnancy, but that is iffy. They’re more organized than your average sociopath, yeah and generally they don’t have as many bursts of rage, occasionally they’ll pop one-off, but it’s rare because I think their emotions are so below the surface that they aren’t affected in the same way as normal people if they have emotions at all. When it comes to sociopathic people, their issues have developed over time, so before puberty most of these people are dealing with a bad upbringing or some very traumatic or tragic event in their life that changes their wiring.

They don’t come out that way, they’re made into that. Genetics probably may play a part, because we all have been through some tragic things and not all of us are sociopaths are psychopaths. As I explained sociopaths aren’t disorganized, they are also much better at understanding and manipulating people and I think the reason for this is because, at some point in their lives, they may have been more like neurotypical, they may have been more normal until this tragedy happened and so they may still be able to recall how it felt to be this, that or the other thing. So a sociopath could still appear to be an empath, how about that? scary stuff huh?. Sociopaths, get the rules of society and generally while they may appear to follow them, mostly they don’t, they disregard the rules of society.

Narcissists then are people who have a more sensitive, more of a sense of you know what? I’m so freakin amazing that I can only associate with special and awesome people or they’re people who have lots of issues, deep-rooted insecurities. They have all of these different issues that have built up over time and they will use those against you because they’ll use them to excuse themselves for their bad behaviors. So what it all comes down to is the narcissist may appear to use empathy by choice like a sociopath can. Sociopaths often have also a comorbid condition of OCD. They’re also really competitive, but unlike sociopaths and psychopaths, narcissists will take it too far.

They will go further than they need to go without concern for what other people think and I think sometimes that’s partially related to intelligence levels, but I think it’s also the inflated self-confidence. Whereas a psychopath just doesn’t give a shit and a sociopath is going to be more focused on making people think they’re okay. Narcissist, when they’re wrapped up in their little narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury times, they tend to lose all ability to concern themselves with emotion and that my friend is the marker of a narcissist, is when they get to their bad points, they have no empathy.

They may never have empathy, but when they get to their bad points, the empathy factor is gone. A few more important points of note when we’re talking about similarities. Psychopaths are antisocial as we discussed, fearless and of course they don’t have empathy for other people, while a sociopath will have nothing to do with society, and a narcissist is overly selfish and still has no empathy for other people. Psychopaths are dangerous and sociopaths can be dangerous and narcissists generally aren’t always dangerous, but they can be. Psychopaths are charming and confident like we said. Sociopaths tend to be more nervous and they might have more of a tendency of getting anxious or frantic and narcissists tend to be more self-centered and just pretty much empty on the inside. And what are some of the similarities between psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists?. Well, let’s talk about that.

The similarities are a little bit easier to describe and they start with the fact that of course all three of these are considered a cluster B personality disorder, plus of course, psychopathy and sociopathy are also considered an antisocial personality disorder. There are no major differences in the three different types of personalities, except certain attitudes and the severity levels of them. Each type of personality that we discussed, does adversely affect society and also any relationships they may be involved with. They do tend to be antisocial at least internally and they generally don’t show empathy for other people. Does that help, does it make more sense?. This is the question of the day and the question of the day is; Were you aware of the similarities and differences, then if so, what would you add to my list, if not, what did you learn today that was new for you?



Sources: DSM-5 Pathological Personality Traits Associated with the Ability to Understanding Emotional States of Others


Pathological Personality Traits and Immoral Tendencies


Pathological Personality Traits (DSM-5), Risk Factors, and Mental Health https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full…

DSM 5 Sociopath Diagnostic Definitions and Symptoms


The Difference Between Psychopaths and Sociopaths


Difference Between Sociopathy and Psychopathy


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Rebecca Marie

Rebecca Marie, MA, LMHC, LPC, MAA is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and is an expert in anxiety, stress, depression, and relationship issues.

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