A sociopath is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
A psychopath is a rabid wolf in sheep’s clothing — or maybe only just a wool sweater.
A narcissist is a wolf who thinks he’s the shepherd — and you can go to hell if you don’t indulge him in his delusion.
Minor differences in each; major disaster regardless. Consider them all one in the same.
A sociopath is a person with a form of ASPD (Anti-Social Personality Disorder) that has developed based on their environment and/or surroundings, whereas psychopaths are born with psychopathic personality disorder. It is vital to acknowledge the difference between ASPD and psychopathy; ASPD is characterized by antisocial behaviors, while psychopathy is a combination of behavioral traits and interpersonal traits. Psychopaths easily meet the criteria for ASPD and psychopathy, while individuals with ASPD meet the criteria for that particular condition but not psychopathy. Sociopaths are like psychopaths in the sense that they are incapable of feeling empathy, guilt, and remorse. Unlike psychopaths, they aren’t as capable of feigning emotions, and are unable to maintain social relationships and hold down a steady job. The chances of them feeling love for somebody else is also more likely than the odds of a psychopath feeling love for somebody else, although this is possible in both cases.
Sociopathic serial killers are extremely disorganized and are much easier to catch than psychopathic serial killers, who are obsessively organized. Sociopaths are extremely prone to violent bursts of anger and cannot appear to be normal while psychopaths can keep their anger bottled up for excessive amounts of time and are masters at the art of deception. Sociopaths also differ from psychopaths in the sense that the former cannot plan ahead while the latter is a master at planning ahead. There are currently no medical or medicinal treatments for psychopathy, and talk therapy only serves to further the ability to mimic emotions. There is believed to be a genetic propensity in the cases of psychopathy, as the trait appears to run in families. As a possible genetic disorder, there may never be an effective treatment. It must be observed that one possible common cause of psychopathy is abuse.
- Glibness/superficial charm
- Grandiose sense of self-worth
- Pathological lying
- Lack of remorse or guilt
- Emotionally shallow
- Callous/lack of empathy
- Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
- Placing blame on others
- Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
- Parasitic lifestyle
- Poor behavioral control
- Promiscuous sexual behavior
- Lack of realistic, long-term goals
- Juvenile delinquency
- Early behavioral problems
- Revocation of conditional release
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of understanding of others’ feelings. People affected by it often spend a lot of time thinking about achieving power or success, or about their appearance. They often take advantage of the people around them. The behavior typically begins by early adulthood, and occurs across a variety of situations. The cause of narcissistic personality disorder is unknown. It is a personality disorder classified within cluster B by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Diagnosis is by a healthcare professional interviewing the person in question. The condition needs to be differentiated from mania and substance use disorder.
Treatments have not been well studied. Therapy is often difficult as people with the disorder frequently do not consider themselves to have a problem. The personality was first described in 1925 by Robert Waelder while the current name for the condition came into use in 1968. About one percent of people are believed to be affected at some point in their life. It appears to occur more often in males than females and affects young people more than older people. People with narcissistic personality disorder are characterized by their persistent grandiosity, excessive need for admiration, and a disdain and lack of empathy for others. These individuals often display arrogance, a sense of superiority, and power-seeking behaviors. Narcissistic personality disorder is different from having a strong sense of self-confidence; people with NPD typically value themselves over others to the extent that they disregard the feelings and wishes of others and expect to be treated as superior regardless of their actual status or achievements. In addition, people with NPD may exhibit fragile egos, an inability to tolerate criticism, and a tendency to belittle others in an attempt to validate their own superiority. They frequently lie pathologically and manipulate others. According to the DSM-5, individuals with NPD have most or all of the following symptoms, typically without commensurate qualities or accomplishments:
- Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from others
- Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
- Self-perception of being unique, superior and associated high status people and institutions
- Needing constant admiration from others
- Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
- Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain
- Unwilling to empathize with others’ feelings, wishes, or needs
- Intensely envious of others and the belief that others are equally envious of them
- Pompous and arrogant demeanor
Undeniably and unequivocally, the most damaging, daunting and severe form of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) that exists is covert narcissism – otherwise known as closet or stealth narcissism. Covert narcissists often present as altruistic, considerate and self-sacrificing, but they become highly defensive and extremely hostile while masking beneath their facade a highly insecure sense of emotional vulnerability; this vulnerability they will do absolutely anything within their ability to prevent being exposed, even if it means going to extreme lengths (desperate times call for desperate measures). Although a typical covert narcissist generally possesses the same traits as an overt narcissist (the need for attention, approval, adulation and grandiose fantasies), these traits are not regularly expressed in their overt behavior making covert/closet (or stealth) narcissists all the more difficult to be able to recognize. For some people it can be several decades before they recognize the narcissist in their lives.
How Is Covert Narcissism Different?
In addition to the standard symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the covert narcissist is also susceptible to stress and worry. They have a tendency to function inefficiently (i.e. they are dysfunctional) whilst their inner expectations and desires remain unfulfilled. Closet/stealth narcissists repress awareness of their narcissistic traits due to inner conflict; deep down inside they find their fantasies embarrassing and unacceptable. Deep down inside they realize that their fantasies are ultimately self-centered and are to solicit goodness and power to one’s self; to put one’s self up on a pedestal, above all others.
Symptoms Of Covert Narcissism
Covert narcissists are usually too afraid to exhibit any of their accomplishments to others and they commonly underestimate their own capabilities. Their overt behavior projects an innocent, angel-like, good as gold persona which builds them a credible and a faultless reputation yet they fail to reach their true potential due to their own self-doubt. Their covert behavior often entails passive aggressive punishment: use of the silent treatment, back-handed compliments, selective amnesia, ambient abuse, and subtle manipulations that over time result in brain-washing and destroy the self-esteem and psychological stability of their victims.
Why Is Covert Narcissism So Bad?
The most damaging aspect of covert narcissism is the controlling and manipulative behavior that covert, or stealth, narcissists impose on the people closest to them. If in a relationship this is often solely their partner (though this is not always the case). They show a very real lack of empathy towards their partner and in many cases also towards their children, if they have any. In a typical case the only person who realizes that there is a problem is the person who is closest to the covert/stealth narcissist, who is usually unwillingly forced to suffer covert narcissistic abuse (very subtle emotional blackmail, mental abuse and psychological manipulation). Narcissists end up obscuring the truth and twisting literally every little detail back round onto the victim. They expertly mix the truth with a lie in order to distort the truth in their favor. This abuse is so well hidden within the communication dynamics of the relationship that the victim often doesn’t pick up on it and is left scratching their head wondering “is it me?” When a victim of this type of abuse eventually begins to develop awareness of the manipulation it gradually dawns on them that they have already been ostracized long before they anticipated and the people that they turn to for help have already been made to believe it’s them who is the problem – they’ve already been turned against the victim. The victim has been ostracized. The covert narcissist makes their victim feel like they are the one with the problem whilst projecting an innocent angel-like persona to everyone around them. They make their victim look bad and do their best to destroy their reputation in order to protect their deluded false sense of self and their distorted viewpoint of the world. Narcissists have no empathy and therefore have an invisible secret, an advantage over everyone around them. The narcissist attains the trust, respect and belief of everyone around them and anyone close to their victim who they are likely to turn to for help. The victim feels like they are suffering alone, no-one around them can see what the deceitful, deceptive, manipulative and controlling covert narcissist is really up to. Covert narcissists use very cleverly hidden emotional blackmail, mental abuse, suggestive techniques and manipulative linguistic patterns to force their partner to question their own sanity; behaviors which people that know them would never ever dream of them of ever being capable of. They have everybody around them fooled by their pathological self whilst wearing down at the psyche and soul of their victim who, over time, becomes depressed, loses self-esteem and feels like their soul is being worn down until they eventually seemingly become devoid of emotion themselves – this then further backs up the narcissists claims that their victim is the one with the problem. If the victim of a narcissist does happen to discover the truth it will always be denied by most people around them and they often end up going into a state of cognitive dissonance.When arguing with a covert narcissist, a victim will usually be left at a dead-end. Their logic appears to be incompatible with that of the narcissist and they always get outwitted. If a relationship partner, then the narcissist will go on to state how they took that partner into their life and ‘saved’ them when they needed it and will make the partner feel like they are forever in debt to them.
The narcissist makes the victim believe that anything bad that happened was all in their imagination and that they are paranoid; it wasn’t real. Covert narcissists are the sort of people who have multiple partners, secret affairs (sometimes within their own family) or sometimes even a complete secret life with someone else. They recruit friends and family who are fooled by the innocent persona they project to defend their false self by convincing them that their discovered secrets are just a result of paranoia or suspicion, yet they use special occasions such as Valentine’s Day or even while their partner is away at funerals in order to get away with their infidelity; times when the victim least expects it.
When a narcissist’s deceit has been discovered literally every little detail gets twisted back Around on to the true victim. They are then the one being accused of the abuse, lies and/or cheating. It’s a plain and simple defense mechanism which offers no logic or information on the subject and has to be kept secret in order to uphold the covert narcissist’s pathological self.
Narcissists come up with one-line defense mechanisms rather than offering any logical explanation for their behavior (e.g. “it’s all in your head”, “you’re paranoid”, “that didn’t happen”, “I think you need to see a doctor”, “I don’t know what you’re talking about”, “I never said that”). Statements like these are an instant sign of guilt and make it clear that they’re not willing to even talk about it; they are not willing to take the risk of slipping up. However, on certain occasions (in private) the narcissist’s attitude towards their partner may change to “either let me get away with it or get out of my life” although this is usually short-lived and denial and repression kicks back in. They make it clear, intermittently, that everything is about them whilst their partner’s feelings, needs, wants and desires are completely disregarded and they will discard their partner in the process with no empathy whatsoever, seemingly being heartless and sadistic. However, covert narcissists are usually nowhere near as sadistic as malignant narcissists who tend to have a very nasty sadistic streak.
Anyone who knows about a covert narcissist’s secret life is sure to be blackmailed or manipulated into keeping quiet, often by-proxy. Even when a narcissist does slip up, they may claim that they have a communication problem and that they didn’t mean to use those words, they will deny their secrets until the day they die even if they’ve already been discovered, even if you present them with 100% factual evidence and even if you know for a fact they are lying – they will attempt to make you question the evidence. It’s also important to understand that a covert narcissist also suffers. Although on some level they must be aware of some of their abuse, mind-games and manipulation or they wouldn’t hide it from everyone, it has become their way of getting through life and is ultimately deep-rooted in their subconscious – it’s pathological. They must control their victim in order to continue to uphold their false self to everyone else around them. However, narcissists ultimately still know the difference between right and wrong and good and evil but deep down inside they just simply don’t care – protecting their true (and self-denied) emotions is essential. A covert narcissist may make it clear to the person closest to them that they understand they have a problem, that they simply don’t care that they have a problem and that they are not willing to do anything about it even if that means losing the people closest to them in their life. Again, this is usually an intermittent behavior. Narcissists have no empathy but seem to go through intermittent (but rare) phases of self-reflection and self-acknowledgement – these phases are also short-lived.
How Do I Recognize Narcissistic Abuse?
Covert narcissists can be extremely flirtatious if a in party setting, though they often use occasional shock tactics whilst any further promiscuity is kept under cover – they pretend that they were too drunk to know what they were doing and were not in control and then blame their behavior on the alcohol. They make further arrangements in private and keep their sexual endeavors and ‘love’ affairs secret in order to uphold their angelic false self-image. A covert narcissist attempts to tie their primary source of narcissistic supply (their partner) down early on in a relationship. They ultimately suck up all the finances within the relationship, cut off their partner’s contact with family and friends and damage or lose their partner’s official forms of identification claiming it was an accident leaving them without money or proof of who they are. They manipulate them into a situation whereby they don’t have the resources to leave the relationship or have any control over their situation before then going on to wear down their partner’s sense of self-identity – there can be very serious health consequences for the victim. Narcissistic ideology shines clearly through such a relationship to the narcissist’s partner, they are usually the only person that recognizes the problem (eventually) though they are left with no escape route – when attempting to seek help, family and friends accuse them of twisting around everything that the covert narcissist has already told them back on to them in the process of ostracizing their partner – it’s a double-blind consisting of nothing more than projection and reflection. Covert narcissists attempt to make their partner believe that they have mental health issues and that they are insane, they will misbehave and tell their partner it was all in their head, they imagined it, it wasn’t real. Show them that you are not willing to be manipulated and they will discard you as though you mean nothing. Of course, this is what everyone around them already believes, the narcissist has already built their army of support forcing the victim to repeatedly keep questioning their own sanity.
What Problems Does Narcissistic Abuse Cause victims?
Ultimately victims of long-term covert narcissistic abuse can experience severe bad health symptoms such as post-traumatic stress disorder – they experience nightmares and flashbacks whilst their mind is subconsciously piecing the parts of the puzzle together. This is the brain’s way of healing itself and, in extreme cases, it can be decades before this realization happens. When this happens the victim may begin to figure out just what has been happening for all the years (or decades), though they usually still have to suffer the consequences of the abuse alone – their friends and family still believe it’s them that’s the problem, their life may have fallen apart and they have probably been left devastated and as feeling as though their soul has been worn down to it’s very core. In extreme cases the victim may have even been left with physical health symptoms such as a heart murmur or an anxiety disorder. Stress-related illnesses resulting from extreme narcissistic abuse can sometimes result in death of the victim (e.g. heart attack) – stress can be dangerous. When a narcissist can see that their victim is tired, worn down and in a weak vulnerable state then they know the victim is exactly where they want them, it offers a chance for more emotional and mental abuse to be perpetrated and the narcissist will inevitably kick their victim while they’re down. Narcissistic abuse feels cruel, cold, calculated and extremely twisted for the victim. The most significant concern of this personality disorder is that victims of narcissistic abuse could be twice as likely to suffer with stress-related medical problems including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, heart attacks and strokes (among others). Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not something to be taken lightly and can sometimes result in what I refer to as psychological murder.
Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), also known as dissocial personality disorder (DPD) and sociopathy, is a personality disorder, characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard for, or violation of, the rights of others. An impoverished moral sense or conscience is often apparent, as well as a history of crime, legal problems, or impulsive and aggressive behavior. Antisocial personality disorder is the name of the disorder as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Dissocial personality disorder (DPD) is the name of a similar or equivalent concept defined in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), where it states that the diagnosis includes antisocial personality disorder. Both manuals have similar but not identical criteria for diagnosing the disorder. Both have also stated that their diagnoses have been referred to, or include what is referred to, as psychopathy or sociopathy, but distinctions have been made between the conceptualizations of antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy, with many researchers arguing that psychopathy is a disorder that overlaps with, but is distinguishable from, ASPD.
Antisocial personality disorder is defined by a pervasive and persistent disregard for morals, social norms, and the rights and feelings of others. Individuals with this personality disorder will typically have no compunction in exploiting others in harmful ways for their own gain or pleasure, and frequently manipulate and deceive other people, achieving this through wit and a facade of superficial charm, or through intimidation and violence. They may display arrogance and think lowly and negatively of others, and lack remorse for their harmful actions. Irresponsibility is a core characteristic of this disorder: they can have significant difficulties in maintaining stable employment as well as fulfilling their social and financial obligations, and people with this disorder often lead exploitative, unlawful, or parasitic lifestyles.
Those with antisocial personality disorder are often impulsive and reckless, failing to consider or disregarding the consequences of their actions. They may repeatedly disregard and jeopardize their own safety and the safety of others, and place themselves and others in danger. They are often aggressive and hostile and display a disregulated temper, and can lash out violently with provocation or frustration. Individuals are prone to substance abuse and addiction, and the abuse of various psychoactive substances is common in this population. This behavior leads them into frequent conflict with the law, and many people with ASPD have extensive histories of antisocial behavior and criminal infractions stemming back before adulthood.
Serious problems with interpersonal relationships are often seen in those with the disorder. Attachments and emotional bonds are weak, and interpersonal relationships often revolve around the manipulation, exploitation and abuse of others. While they generally have no problems in establishing relationships, they may have difficulties in sustaining and maintaining them. Relationships with family members and relatives are often strained due to their behavior and the frequent problems that these individuals may get into.
The APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, text revision (DSM IV-TR), defines antisocial personality disorder (Cluster B):
A) A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three or more of the following:
- failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;
- deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
- impulsivity or failure to plan ahead;
- irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;
- reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
- consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;
- lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.
B) There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years.
C) The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or a manic episode.
Psychopathy Checklist, Revised: glib and superficial charm; grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self; need for stimulation; pathological lying; cunning and manipulativeness; lack of remorse or guilt; shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness); callousness and lack of empathy; parasitic lifestyle; poor behavioral controls; sexual promiscuity; early behavior problems; lack of realistic long-term goals; impulsivity; irresponsibility; failure to accept responsibility for own actions; many short-term marital relationships; juvenile delinquency; revocation of conditional release; criminal versatility.
Firefox is recommended for viewing this site; Google Chrome is sometimes not compatible with SoundCloud, which powers the site’s music.