Narcissist, Psychopath, Or Sociopath: How To Spot The Differences
Published in Jun 2019 / Updated in Aug 2021
What is the difference between a narcissist, a psychopath, and a sociopath? A lot of the traits these people share are similar. For instance, every psychopath is a narcissist, but not all narcissists are psychopaths.
Narcissists lack empathy, and they need self-validation. They suffer from poor self-esteem and have a lot of concern about the way other people see them. They might feel a little remorse. However, the problem is that they will not readily admit to their mistakes if that brings with it some shame.
Psychopaths have no feelings of remorse as they have no guilt or shame. These people have no concern for those who get hurt. They simply don’t care for themselves or for other people.
They can destroy things, kill, and do any other kind of terrible thing and not give a damn about it. A narcissist might avoid doing such things because they would bring about feelings of guilt, which, obviously, no one likes.
A sociopath is similar to a psychopath in that they don’t have guilt or shame. However, unlike psychopaths, they are not born with this disorder. Sociopaths acquire these traits as they grow up.
Generally, the brains of normal people and psychopaths are wired very differently.
Another name for psychopathy is an anti-social personality disorder. These people have different sympathetic nervous systems, the system that handles fight and flight responses.
In normal people, when we do something embarrassing or wrong, we get charged and the effects get manifested physically through heavy breathing, fast heart rate, sweating, and so on. We also get very nervous. That is because the potential consequences of what we have done frighten us.
For a psychopath, there is no such response. That is also why these people can lie without setting off the lie detector. These people can remain cool in the most compromising of situations. They could drive around with a dead body and not break a sweat when a cop pulls them over.
While some people would admire that trait about them, also consider that even the good exciting things about life don’t bring them the joy you experience. The exhilaration you feel while skylining does not register with a psychopath.
Psychopaths also tend to be quite intelligent, and that is why the best and the most dangerous of them get away with serious crimes for years before getting caught. For them, everything that comes naturally to other people has to be learned in order to conceal their true nature. They can learn to be sociable, charming, and so forth, but it’s not something they feel deep down themselves.
Sociopaths are just like psychopaths, but environment and upbringing make them have the traits of psychopaths. For instance, kids who grow up in very rough neighborhoods where death and destruction are a regular thing can grow up to be sociopaths.
They just learn to do crimes as it helps them get by and survive. Deep down, it’s not who they are. It is even possible they don’t feel very comfortable doing these things. However, this kind of upbringing teaches them to suppress their feelings and arousal patterns so that nervousness, shame, and guilt don’t bother them.
However, sociopaths and psychopaths don’t pay much attention to the consequences of their actions. They will usually not weigh the situation before taking action. These people will invade a store just for some cigarettes, not realizing that the crime can have them spend years behind bars.
Obviously, dating a narcissist, sociopath or psychopath can be very dangerous. You are only useful to them as long as you meet their needs. Once you become disposable, they simply move on or start doing things that would hurt you with very little regard for your welfare.