Psychopath vs Narcissist

The question below was asked on Quora yesterday, my answer and the comment from a man who claims he is a narcissist come after. I discussed this question in my last post which you can read here.

I am sharing it with you just because i found it interesting. It doesn’t change my view of narcissists and to be honest I am not really sure of the point Ruud was trying to make. I know there are varying degrees of narcissism and that there are differences between a narcissist and a psychopath, but the bottom line is they are toxic, they do not change and it is in everyone’s best interest to stay as far away from them both as possible. For me, how they got the way they are and the slight differences between them make very little difference. I suppose it matters to the narcissist or psychopath (but I doubt anything matter much to the psychopath except how it can benefit him) and seeing as they are pathological liars and academy award winning actors and Ruud claims to be one, I am not sure I can believe a word he says and he may just be playing with me. Who knows and who really cares? I know that I was used abused and tossed aside by a toxic man who has no conscience or remorse (that I have seen, he has cried and said he was sorry to only a week later blame me and call me a psycho) and most everyone who comes in here has the same story. In Ruud’s comment he states that there is no way of knowing what a narcissist will do, I don’t know, they all seem to be following the same play book to me. Or maybe they are all psychopaths, or for that matter they are sociopaths. They all do and say the same things. So it makes no difference to me, but it may make a difference to you. But FYI, here is the question.

Can anyone confirm the validity of narcissistic personality disorder?

My question is more on the lines of whether it is proven. It appears to me that the symptoms of this disorder are in part within many of us, who are ambitious. I fail to see how an ambitious person is not suffering from the same. Additionally are there any key symptoms(meaning some symptoms must be present, the rest may or may not be present) that must be present to diagnose someone as suffering with this disorder ?

Answers

Carrie Reimer

You are right, we all have some narcissistic traits, we have to to be successful in this world and some people are more narcissistic than others. But a true narcissist has no conscience, none; no conscience = no guilt, remorse, or empathy. A person who has no conscience knows right from wrong, they just don’t care who they hurt, use, or exploit.

Narcissism used to be called Moral Insanity and more recently there has been the discussion of changing the DSM-5 to remove narcissism from a disorder all on its own to be included in a class called “Anti Social Personality Disorder” which would include Psychopaths, and sociopath because they are the only disorders that all have the same trait of having no conscience.
A person without a conscience is free to do as they please without losing any sleep over the harm they cause. Think about it, what keeps anyone of us on the straight and narrow? Some people are more empathetic than others but a normal person has SOME empathy. Narcissists have none. So they go through life doing as they please, taking what they want by any means necessary and using people to their advantage, true love is impossible without empathy. It has been noted that they also have a higher pain threshold, they just don’t ‘feel” like a normal person.
The main traits of a narcissist are:
– pathological liars, they lie about everything from their credentials, their feelings, how much money they make, their upbringing, whether they love you, what they own, you name it, they lie about it even when it doesn’t make sense to lie. They can pass lie detectors tests because they do not have the normal bodily reactions to lying that most people do, they don’t feel guilt so no reaction when they lie.
– Expert actors – they have learned to fake emotions because they have none and know that to fit in they need to act like they care. They can cry real tears at the drop of a hat.
– it is all about power and control, they must be in control of everything and everyone in their life.
– They feel superior to other people because they see people with feelings as weak and they use that weakness against others to get what they want.
– They feed off of the pain they cause others, ie: they will work tirelessly to get a married woman to fall in love with them and then once the woman leaves her husband they will drop her like yesterday’s garbage, ruining her marriage, ripping a family apart just for the ego boost that they could do it.
– It is all about how things look and not how they really are, they often treat their family like dirt behind closed doors but present this all round great guy image to the outside world.
– Are usually charming, charismatic, and well liked when you first meet them and unless you fall in love with one or go into business with one you won’t see their mask drop. They hide their true nature from everyone but the people closest to them.
– They never admit fault or take blame for anything, they are always the victim and will accuse the victim of doing to them what they did to the victim and because they are such good actors they are often believed over the true victim, adding insult to injury. The victim ends up destroyed by the narcissist and the narcissist ends up walking away unscathed.
– These are the people you hear about who had 3 wives and none of the wives knew about the other ones, or the doctor who practiced medicine for 10 years and never went to med school, the investment expert who rips off seniors for all their savings…..
– They are adrenaline junkies usually and like the thrill of living on the edge, that may be morally or physically on the edge
– often times they have sexual deviancy, such as porn addiction, fetishes, and are never faithful to their significant other.
– They lie about their accomplishments and expect praise and credit for things they aren’t responsible for, they don’t care if you know it is a lie as long as you praise them loud and often. False praise is just fine because life to them is all a show anyway.
– They live life as if it is a game of strategy, always trying to get the other guy before he gets them, they are out to use everyone they meet so they assume everyone else is operating like them.
– They assess everyone they meet by what the person has that they want or could use. If a person has nothing they want they are of no value to the narcissist or once he has depleted the resources of that person they are of no use to the narcissist and he casts them off in the most cold, cruel way possible.
– Most of them do not become violent and use mind control and manipulation to get what they want but if they feel they are about to be exposed for who they truly are or lose what they consider to be theirs they will stop at nothing and have been known to murder. Because they are so cold and calculated and able to lie so proficiently they often get away with murder, quite literally.

Narcissism is a diagnosed personality disorder but very often goes undetected because they are such good actors and are able to talk their way out of their criminal activity. They do not see that they have a problem and view themselves as superior to others so they do not seek professional help so those who do get diagnosed are usually the ones who by chance end up in jail for murder or a life time of criminal activity.

It is very hard to diagnose them or study them because they are such liars and able to mimic emotions and the psychologist never knows if he is getting the “real deal” or the narcissists is just playing with him. The narcissist is quite entertained by sucking a professional in and will actually learn techniques to better manipulate people while in therapy. There is no cure.

Ruud Schmitz

You confuse narcissism with psychopathy, like many people. This is unfortunate. Though the behavior is much alike, the origin and motivation for this behavior are very different.

Carrie Reimer

Ruud, I respect your knowledge, after all you say you are a narcissist. I am just curious, I have read that narcissist are rarely diagnosed because they don’t see themselves as having a problem. Are you saying that isn’t true? I am really confused because the traits seem exactly the same to me. Are you saying that narcissism is brought on by some childhood trauma and psychopaths are born that way or a combination of both? nurture and nature? for both?
I know there are varying degrees of narcissism, are you saying they are not as dangerous? don’t cause as much pain and suffering as a psychopath? and seeing as a psychopath has narcissistic traits how does a lay person know whether they are dealing with a narcissist or a psychopath?
You see I deal with victims of narcissists or psychopaths every day and I always tell them that they can not change and they are dangerous because how would they ever know the difference until it is too late?
I was with a man I thought was a narcissist and found a website where the wife said she “loved” him well basically. Being a typical victim I grabbed that like a life line and vowed to “cure” my ex. It was almost my undoing and in many ways was. I think now he was a psychopath but only came to that conclusion 2 years after leaving him and fearing for my life.
if a victim of abuse thinks there is any chance of the abuser being cured they will hang in there until it is too late. So what do I tell people? It seems these days everyone is calling everyone a narcissist or thinking they are one and it is getting out of control. Narcissism (aside from healthy narcissistic traits which does vary person to person) from everything I have read is not curable and to be involved with one is detrimental to a person’s well-being. It is not simply an inflated ego. Also they are said to be pathological liars so you never know if you are getting the straight goods, There was a time my ex admitted he had issues and said he knew he was a narcissist or borderline but later totally denied saying any such thing. then months later admitted to saying it but said that he only said it to get me to come back to him.
Can you clarify please?

Ruud Schmitz

I will try to clarify what i think is not clear Carrie. But first let me say that what you do is appreciated and above all valuable. My comment is not meant as criticism on what you are doing or saying, but merely as a correction on the fact. It does, or at least it is not meant to – in no way degrade your intentions or your work.
I know your story, and i am sorry you have gone through the things you did. They are in the past though and you are looking at the future. Very good.
There is great difference between the diagnostics for either one or the other: (taken from the DSM IV TR) as later versions or ICD 10 are incomparable)
Psychopath:
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:

  1. failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;
  2. deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;
  3. impulsive or failure to plan ahead;
  4. irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;
  5. reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
  6. consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;
  7. lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.

B) The individual is at least age 18 years
C) There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years.
D) The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or a manic episode.

Narcissist:

  1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
  3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
  4. Requires excessive admiration.
  5. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
  6. Is inter-personally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
  7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
  8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
  9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

So you see, where they overlap is Sociopath 2, narcissist 6. Other than this, it’s not very clear. But this is only diagnostics and says little about behavior.

This is exactly where narcissists are ever accused of: “They will exploit you, suck you out, leave you empty and drained.” But as you see, it is not just narcissistic behavior.

There is no way to tell how a narcissist will behave. When you think you have found a way to describe some general behavior, you remember there is a group that act exactly contradictionally, so the rule does not apply. And from what i know of psychopaths, among them there are just as good chameleons in the social field. So, there just is no way of telling what one will do given a certain situation without knowing that specific individual better.

But, there is a giant difference between the two. And that is the origin of the behavior. The place where it all starts. The brain.
Narcissism is a ‘self rewarding system’. It confirms itself over and over again, once it is placed within the brain. It becomes the master of the brain it takes over. The previous owner, does not know there is someone else anymore. There is only this new him, the narcissistic one. The old him, never existed. Narcissism is brilliant playing that game. It rarely fails.
 The narcissist cannot ‘admit’ he is a narcissist, because he does not know. It would mean admitting that everything he / she has learned about himself for almost all of his life was fake. That there is someone else living inside of him or her that he does not know.That every sense and every feeling he has had since he van remember was fake. That is just too much to comprehend. Can you imagine admitting this you your self ?
So narcissism takes care of that. And keeps the real person hidden deep inside, far away from the surface. This is very well possible, because this real person is in bad shape. It’s unloved, unwanted, ugly, a monster, not self-confident at all, weak, weaker, weakest. A shell-fish without a shell. A big dark hole that person does not want to even get near.
And narcissism does him the favor of keeping him a way. So far, and so long, he forgets it’s there. Narcissism makes him think he is good, he’s great. He can do things, people like him. And when they don’t? That’s not his fault, that’s theirs! They are dumb, they cannot see his genius! And narcissism is always right. It becomes an addiction. And all this time, all his life, the person is not aware, unaware, that his life is led by an illness.
Where a psychopath damn well is aware of the fact that he is different. He doesn’t care. It’s great being able to do all those cool things. Not being afraid, makes him look tough. Get’s him the girls. So what if i break a leg. I don’t care. It’ll heal. Look what else I can do, and i won’t fear it, ad i won’ t feel bad over the results.

The narcissist is conscious of the dangers in life, and will only in extreme situations be as dangerous as a psychopath. On an emotional level he may cause as much, maybe even more hurt, because he is unaware of what he does, and in extreme cases unaware of the feelings of the other party. Where the psychopath absolutely is aware, but just doesn’t care.

For the ‘victim there is no difference in terms of hurt. But i feel – being a victim myself – that it is good to know if you are a victim of someone who doesn’t know better and actually will be sorry, or someone who does not care. 
And people conclude to easily that narcissists just like psychopaths do not care, because they lack empathy. That of course is nonsense. The lack of empathy does not automatically mean a complete lack of empathy and absence of the brain. Where a psychopath also lacks remorse, that is not the case with a narcissist. Explained to him or her, a narcissist absolutely can be sincerely sorry for what he has done, and even sincerely cry over it

Carrie Reimer

Ruud, thank you for that detailed explanation, I appreciate you taking the time. I am not offended by you correcting me, that is what Quora is all about isn’t it? Clarifying and answering to the best of our knowledge?
You are right that it does matter to the victim to some degree whether the person who hurt them cares and will feel sorry or not. We all want to believe at some core level everyone cares if they cause someone pain. it is almost beyond comprehension that there are people in the world that just don’t care. I think that is what the victims struggle with the most. there
were times I thought I saw true remorse on my ex’s part, and other times when he just didn’t comprehend why i was hurt and times when I knew he was totally faking, tears and all. The end result is the same, the damage is the same, but deep down I hope at some level he is sorry or regrets his actions.
Thank you so much for your answer.

 

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13 thoughts on “Psychopath vs Narcissist

  1. Joyce M. Short

    There’s a difference between being Narcissistic and being a Narcissist.

    Everyone needs to be self-serving to some degree. If we didn’t take pride in our accomplishments, we wouldn’t strive for success. The difference is that a Narcissist will undermine others in order to achieve self-aggrandizement, and that behavior becomes the undercurrent that leads their social interaction.

    Until (and please don’t think I recommend this because I don’t,) PET scans are conducted on newborns, as well as neuropeptide testing, and the development of those children is tracked to maturity and beyond, science will continue its debate over nature vs. nurture. Here is my personal take, after considerable observation:

    I believe that babies come into the world with the neuropeptides and infrastructure of personality disorder, or not. And the impacts of their early environment impacts sends them down a particular path of character disorder. Those children who lack the infrastructure for emotional empathy and feel abandoned, could develop Borderline Personality Disorder. Those who are abused could become psychopaths. Those who are demeaned and made to feel inept could become Narcissists.

    Narcissists are not just folks who are selfish. They are folks who will throw you under the bus in order to puff themselves up. Here are a couple of examples I’ve seen in my lifetime:

    Barbara-

    My boss, Barbara, tried to take credit for the work of others, and she’d get them fired in order to do so. I came to learn that was the reason my job became available. Yes, the boss is ultimately responsible for the achievements in her area, and she could easily have found favor by claiming she encouraged the success of her group. But no, she claimed the knowledge of others as her own.

    Another co-worker had been given the same task Barbara had given me, and failed. In order to get rid of me to claim she’d produced the results, Barbara reported me for wrongdoing against the other employee. When I objected, she got the other woman to go along by promising her my job. In fact, the other woman actually stole some information from my briefcase that ended up in Barbara’s hands. She and Barbara claimed it was their work-product.

    She stated my “wrong-doing” had occurred during a meeting. She was very specific about everything that took place including what I’d said and what the other woman had said. The other woman, of course, concurred.

    Fortunately, Barbara was not great at staff management. She’d forgotten that the meeting she called me on the carpet about took place the week I was out of the office for bereavement when my father died. Barbara resigned. And the other woman was fired.

    April-

    The Garden Club I belonged to elected April as its President. She immediately let everyone know she was the “authority” and called the shots. My friend, Amy, was away during the election and didn’t know April had assumed leadership. When April instructed her to get out of the garden shed, Amy said, “Who the hell are you to tell me what to do?”

    April shouted, “You can call me Madam President.” Then she stormed off muttering to herself.

    As she strolled down the street with the produce she’d just picked form her garden, Amy saw April conferring with our Public Safety staff (community police) further down the street. she didn’t think anything of it until they surrounded her and arrested her for “assault.” April had claimed that Amy had hit her with the door to the garden shed.

    Fortunately for Amy, there was a witness who vouched for the fact that no such altercation happened and the charges were ultimately dropped. But not until Amy suffered many sleepless nights, and the case was before the judge. With a great deal of effort, because she’d fooled a great many people about her character, and very few people identified or understood what a Narcissist was, April, ultimately, was dismissed from her role as President.

    A Narcissist has a disturbed way of seeing interpersonal behavior tht enables them to seek self-aggrandizement by harming others. It’s not just that they are proud, or selfish, or self-centered, even though all of those characteristics would apply, as they would with anyone who is Narcissistic….. and there is Narcissism in all of us. Narcissists, however, will throw you under the bus, and cook up schemes to puff themselves up at the expense of another, with no remorse.

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  2. Left With Nothing

    Carrie, narcissists do change, they get bolder and braver with thier dirty tricks, lies, schemes, manipulation tactics… You won’t see the true evil until the discard phase when they don’t care that the mask has come completely off. This is when they are the most dangerous! And yes, they will kill to get or accomplish the goal! According to my abuse counselor, ALL abusers are narcissists! They can not walk away from a relationship without trying to cause mass distruction. And she made it very clear counseling will NOT work. These people go through thier entire lives causing chaos! They thrive on attention, even if it’s negative. This is why No Contact is so important!

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    1. kim

      left with nothing there is never a truer word they do get bolder and more evil thats the only way they change i think they can turn into a psychopath with time it just all depends on how far their twisted minds take them they are capable of devastation and destruction i think they do know what they are doing but dont care as long as they get their own way you are right no contact is the safest way to recover from abuse because they never ever stop unless we become stronger and stop them xxx

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  3. Ellebelle2015

    A narciissist doesn’t care. Only about himselve. There are narcissists and psychopaths and in between there are all kind of grades. I was with my ex N. for 31 years. After I found out what he was, I studied him very carefully. He never ever was sorry for anything he did. I really wonder who Ruud really is.

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Ellebelle, Ruud said nothing in defense of narcissists, except that maybe they might feel bad about what they have done, sometimes. That is it! other than that he reinterated everything I have ever said about them and even contradicted his own definition.

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  4. Mary M. Langner

    Having Ruud comment on this forum is like letting the fox in the hen house. I believe in protecting the victims and not letting this individual to have a platform to triangulate. Narcissism is a mental illness. He can’t be fixed.

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Mary, I am not giving him a platform, I posted his comment because in his own words he said exactly what I have said all along. He always corrects me in Quora and I don’t know everything about narcissism and I don’t know what separates them from a psychopath. Sam Vaknin is a self proclaimed narcissist and I have learned alot from him. I am always willing to listen, learn and decern fact from fiction. I started this blog to inform people, but I don’t want to stuff MY opinions down someone’s throat, just because I believe something to be fact does not make it fact. I wanted to see what he thought the difference was between a narcissist and psychopath and after his explanation I still don’t see much difference, not enough of a difference for me to change my way of thinking or the advice I give. I wanted to present his exact words so I could not be accused of misconstruing what he said or putting my own twist on it.
      In no way were his comments flattering to the narcissist and he himself admitted they can be just a damaging if not more than psychopath. I don’t see any triangulation at all. Tell me what you are seeing, cuz I sure didn’t see it.

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  5. Carrie Reimer Post author

    I think everyone needs to read the post again, people are getting upset about what Ruud had to say and everything he said backs up what I and most everyone else has said many times.
    They are dangerous, stay away, they will exploit, have no conscience and no empathy. he said that maybe sometimes one will feel bad about what he did and cry, that does not mean he won’t repeat the behavior. In Ruud own comment he listed the traits of a narcissist and
    “7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.”
    Then at the end of his comment he says
    “And people conclude to easily that narcissists just like psychopaths do not care, because they lack empathy. That of course is nonsense. The lack of empathy does not automatically mean a complete lack of empathy and absence of the brain. Where a psychopath also lacks remorse, that is not the case with a narcissist. Explained to him or her, a narcissist absolutely can be sincerely sorry for what he has done, and even sincerely cry over it”

    To me lack of empathy is lack of empathy, narcissists are not stupid! in fact they are highly intelligent people usually and they most definitely know what they are doing when they hurt someone, their lack of feelings means they may inadvertently hurt someone, simply because they can not relate to why the person would be hurt that doesn’t mean they will stop doing it or change their ways.
    I know that James could not understand why I was upset he had other women in other towns while telling me he loved me. When I confronted him on it he looked genuinely shocked and confused and said, “But you weren’t there.” I think he genuinely thought as long as he called me and told me he loved me and he was going to bed early and I believed him, that was good enough. As long as he presented a good enough image of being faithful and I never knew the truth, there was no harm done. It was not his fault for cheating it was my fault for finding out.
    My point is: the bottom line is, what the hell does it matter??? why is everyone so hooked on giving it a name and arguing about what to call the behavior when everyone agrees; they are toxic and a person needs to stay away. You can call them anything you like, a rose, a puppy, a emu, it doesn’t change what they are and what they are doing to you and in your life.
    When someone consistently causes you pain, consistently ignores your feelings and boundaries, takes your money, physically abuses you and can not be faithful. You cut them out of your life and stop the abuse. You can call them anything you like.

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    1. Farelle

      agree with what you said, people might want to call it whatever they want and there also might be a reason why psychologists are debating to turn narcisstic disorder AND psychopathie into “anti-social” disorder, into one pot….but nontheless, those people are “sick” and we should stay away from them. They harm, they abuse, they deceive and as much as they might say sorry and maybe even feel remorse, I have not seen anyone with those traits actually doing what they were talking about, like dealing with consequences, accepting them, acting appropriately.

      Besides, when I think about my past relationship, I would even say he was both, psychopath AND narcissist…I don’t know how it came to be and I can’t really tell the difference in the end, since the way he treated me, specially after telling him, that I end the relationship, was nowhere different than what a Psychopath in a horror movie would have done….mentally. And I remember that in alot of articles/blogs I have read, that one thing is also common in narcissists: “tossing away the partner like an object and trying to destroy everything related to that ex-partner and their lifes” I don’t think, that someone who feels sorry, remorse or empathy would be capable of even trying to destroy someones life like that without falling into other really bad mental states…manic? depression maybe? I don’t know…but I’m feeling certain, that even normal people would feel really awful after doing something like that to someone….

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      1. Carrie Reimer Post author

        Farelle, you are right! No normal person could do what they do and live with themselves. I have broken up with guys before and watched other people break up and they didn’t have to destroy everything about the person and ruin their future too.
        I read somewhere that all psychopaths and sociopaths are narcissistic, but not all narcissists are psychopaths. My question has always been “how does one tell the difference? and by the time they do, it’s too late.” From what I can tell they are exactly the same but the psychopath will kill you….well by the time you find that out it’s a little too late isn’t it?
        I get criticized a lot because I lump them together, but I do that because there is no way for a lay person to tell them apart and to the regular person it doesn’t really doesn’t matter. With either one your only hope is to run as far and as fast as you can in the other direction. i supposed the psychologists of the world need to define them into categories for whatever reason. But no where have I ever read that a narcissist causes less damage than a psychopath. Even Ruud contradicted himself and admitted they cause as much if not more damage than a psychopath. So i really don’t see his argument as valid.
        Glad you picked up on what I was trying to say. 🙂
        hugs

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