Are You Living With A Narcissist, Psychopath, Or Sociopath? Here’s How To Tell The Difference.

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Yes, there are distinct differences in the psychological disorders related to being a Narcissist, a Psychopath, and a Sociopath. They may overlap in areas, but they are each a separate and unique disorder.

None of them are fun to deal with, and it’s important that you understand it’s not you that’s the problem. You are dealing with somebody who doesn’t function normally.

Maybe you are living with the person or dating this person. Perhaps you work with someone who you suspect might have a psychological disorder.

I’ve even had to accommodate a narcissistic individual when I worked with the PTA at my kid’s school.

Not fun, let me tell you. It was nearly impossible to civilly get anything done — and it was NEVER in a timely manner. I always ended up questioning if I was the problem.

It’s important to know what you are dealing with, so you know how to react to the situation.

What Is A Narcissist?

It is a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder — yeah, it’s an actual thing.

This person thinks they are totally the bomb. Literally, they think they are the most important thing on the earth, and others should think so as well.

Their lack of empathy for others often leads to extremely troubled relationships. Everything is always about them, and they may even get upset when the focus shifts off of them.

You might find that a Narcissistic individual may take advantage of others, or talk down to them — all a ploy to make themselves appear more important.

They are generally unhappy individuals, incapable of feeling joy unless they are given the praise, accolades, and special treatment that they think they deserve.

But, it’s important to note — THEY think they deserve these things. You aren’t responsible for giving into a Narcissist’s attention seeking ploys.

They will most likely be upset that you don’t give in, but just know that it’s NOT your fault.

The best thing you can do is distance yourself from that individual. Things aren’t going to get better unless they get some much needed psychotherapy (that’s when they talk it out with a professional).

What Is A Psychopath?

When I hear the word “Psychopath,” I immediately think of Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers.

But, a Psychopath can be that person who works at the desk beside you, that person you met on Tinder, or even the person who checks you out at the grocery store.

Psychopaths have an absence of empathy, they basically don’t have a conscience, and they are prone to criminal activity.

Psychopathy is a spectrum disorder and can be diagnosed using the 20-item Hare Psychopathy Checklist, which features traits such as lack of empathy, pathological lying, and impulsivity, each scored on a three-point scale based on whether the item does not apply (0), applies to a certain extent (1), or fully applies (2) to the individual. The bar for clinical psychopathy is a score of 30 or higher; serial killer Ted Bundy scored 39.

Psychology Today

According to Psychology Today, Psychopaths might exhibit the following behavior:

  • Glibness/superficial charm
  • Grandiose sense of self-worth
  • Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
  • Pathological lying
  • Conning/manipulative
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Shallow affect (i.e., reduced emotional responses)
  • Callous/lack of empathy
  • Parasitic lifestyle
  • Poor behavioral controls
  • Promiscuous sexual behavior
  • Early behavioral problems
  • Lack of realistic, long-term goals
  • Impulsivity
  • Irresponsibility
  • Failure to accept responsibility for one’s own actions
  • Many short-term marital relationships
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Revocation of conditional release (from prison)
  • Criminal versatility (i.e., commits diverse types of crimes)

Psychopaths can be charming, but they definitely aren’t someone you want to invest your time with.

While Narcissists can improve with talk therapy, Psychopaths don’t really have a treatment — they are resistant to treatment.

What Is A Sociopath?

Sociopathy is another term for antisocial personality disorder. “It’s a mental health condition where somebody persistently has difficulty engaging appropriately with social norms,” says [Psychiatrist, Dr. Andrew Coulter] Dr. Coulter.

Cleveland Clinic

A Sociopath lacks empathy, and often hurts others without regard for their feelings — they may not even be aware they have hurt a person’s feelings.

If they DO recognize that they have hurt someone’s feelings, they often just don’t care.

“These behaviors aren’t episodic in nature. They’re a chronic condition, part of a chronic way in which a person interacts with the world,” [Dr. Coulter] says. “In a lot of cases, it’s something you’re born with, this personality structure or way of engaging with those around you.”

Cleveland Clinic

The difference between Sociopathy and Psychopathy is that you can diagnose a Sociopath by their behaviors. A Psychopath diagnosis is made more by what the person is thinking.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, Sociopaths may exhibit the following traits:

  • Not understanding the difference between right and wrong.
  • Not respecting the feelings and emotions of others.
  • Constant lying or deception.
  • Being callous.
  • Difficulty recognizing emotion.
  • Manipulation.
  • Arrogance.
  • Violating the rights of others through dishonest actions.
  • Impulsiveness.
  • Risk-taking.
  • Difficulty appreciating the negative aspects of their behavior.

It is possible to treat Sociopathy with Psychotherapy, but that doesn’t always happen. The individual has to realize they have a problem and WANT help. But, since they often don’t even understand there is a problem, they don’t get treatment.

Basically, all these disorders make for strained relationships. You may come out feeling like the “crazy” one, but it’s not you that has the problem at all.

It is important to establish boundaries with these individuals, and don’t expect them to admit they have a problem.

Take care of yourself, and get help if you need it.

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