Personality disorders are sometimes hard to diagnose, as they often have different symptomology. However, three similar personality disorders are narcissistic personality disorder, sociopath, and psychopath. Those with labels sociopath and psychopath are challenging people to determine which category they fall into, as some of the behaviors coincide. However, there are similarities, differences, and types of narcissists, sociopaths,s and psychopath criteria and behaviors that are important to note.
A narcissistic personality disorder is a mental condition where people have low self-esteem yet an inflated sense of their own importance. Narcissistic people don’t have empathy for others and have attention-seeking behaviors and a need for deep admiration. Narcissistic people don’t have an easy time in their relationships, school, or work because of their extreme range of needs.
Narcissistswith controllingbehaviors tend to set expectations with difficult benchmarks to reach. Dating a narcissist can be hard because they may never completely satisfied or capable of having those expectations fulfilled. Since they perceive themselves as perfect, it can be hard to live up to their standards. They often expect their partner to be perfect too. Anything short of perfection might be a flaw in their eyes, and they’ll normally let you know it. This being said, it can be very hard to date a narcissist, if not impossible for many individuals. Everyone has to decide for themselves what they can and cannot allow.
You may not know how to spot a narcissist if you aren’t familiar with the disorder. Indeed, since they can be so charming, it can be hard to know whether they are a different person deep down. Sometimes, you will be able to see their controlling, narcissistic tendencies once you get to know them further. Here is a checklist of narcissistic behavior to be on the lookout for:
Dealing with a narcissist can be hard because of their inferiority complex, as well. Those with narcissistic personality disorder sometimes:
While this checklist of narcissistic behaviors is not complete, it contains many of the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder,or NPD.
Narcissistic personality disorder can be hard to treat.Often, a narcissist will not seek treatment for their behavior because they don’t believe that their behavior is unhealthy. On the contrary, they might view themselves as perfect. In a relationship, this means that it will likely be hard for them to apologize, accept blame, and admit when they are in the wrong.
Keep in mind that narcissism does run on a scale. Someone might have few symptoms, while others will be impacted severely by the condition. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, consider whether the relationship is a healthy one. That is what matters, more than the diagnosis of NPD. If the relationship is toxic or otherwise unhealthy, consider seeking help from a trusted friend or reaching out to a mental health professional. It’s important to trust yourself and do what’s best for you, even when it might be a hard decision.
While many people still use the term sociopath, what they are really describing is antisocial personality disorder. Those with this disorder will usually display the following traits and behaviors:
As mentioned above, doctors label sociopaths as having an antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). Sociopaths qualify as such by their excessive patterns. Extreme symptomology is typically the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath. However, the differences are irrelevant in many cases.
Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between someone with narcissistic personality disorder and someone with antisocial personality disorder.Why? The two conditions can look very similar. This is especially true when you aren’t very familiar with either disorder.
Those with NPD and ASPD are similar because they can both be smart and successful. They also share the commonalities of being potentially abusive, dishonest, selfish, controlling, and unreliable. Those with ASPDcan also exhibit symptoms of narcissistic behavior, including a lack of empathy and appropriate emotional responses. People with ASPDoften qualify as narcissists because they lack insight but are at the same time charismatic. However, not all narcissists have antisocial personality disorder.
Symptoms of both disorders can improve with proper help—and worsen over time if not treated. Those with ASPDand NPD can be treated with forms of psychotherapy like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Keep in mind, though, that both conditions can be very difficult to treat. It also might not be likely that these individuals will seek help for their condition in the first place. Whether they don’t want to or just don’t believe that there is anything to address, it can be hard to convince them to reach out for assistance, let alone decide to get help on their own.
Abig difference between a narcissist and someone with ASPDmay bethe degree to which you are harmed when associating with the latter person. A secondary difference between the two is that a narcissist can make you feel good about yourself, at least in the beginning. People with ASPD are more likely to be deceitful, calculating, and manipulative. They might even get pleasure from harming other people. Narcissists, on the other hand, usually don’t try to purposely hurt people. Rather, any harm they cause is often a byproduct of them pursuing some goal or interest. They care more about their own needs and desires than they care about trying to hurt another person. In this way, someone with ASPD may be more difficult to be around and engage with, especially if you’re in a relationship with one.
If you or someone you know is experiencing or has experienced abuse, the National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you believe you are in a relationship with someone who has a mental health disorder, a good first stepis to learn more about each condition. The subtle variations among mental disorders can make them challenging to treat because there is usually no single test that can help diagnose someone.
You should also never attempt to make a diagnosis yourself. Only a doctor or other medical professional can do so. Usually, it has to be a qualified expert like a psychologist or other mental health provider. Even if you don’t have a diagnosis to work with, you can still ask yourself whether the relationship you’re in is healthy. Is it one you want to remain in?
Some will choose to stay with their partner because they feel there is true love there. Others will leave because they recognize their relationship is based more on control than true passion. Only you can decide what is best for you and your own mental health.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the difference between psychopaths and sociopaths?
Sociopathsare associated with what’s known as antisocial personality disorder, which is a category that many psychopaths also fit into, though the two conditions are separate. For the purposes of this question, the terms psychopath/psychopathy and sociopath/sociopathy will be used.
There are definite differences between the two disorders, but those differences aren’t always easy to spot. Usually, it takes a licensed mental health professional to diagnose either condition. However, the clearest distinction between the two is that psychopaths are born while sociopaths are made. So, what’s the difference in behavior that makes them so unique?
In general, people with either disorder are described as cold-hearted or indifferent. Both tend to have little remorse for their behaviors and frequently act without careful consideration of how their actions affect others. Those with sociopathy are more often described asbeing hot-headed and temperamentalcompared to those with psychopathy.
There are brain differences as well. For example, someone diagnosed with sociopathy or psychopathy might show activity and/or inactivity in certain parts of the frontal cortex unique to the condition. Both conditions are similar, but someone with sociopathy can feel slight empathy while someone with psychopathy will generally only follow societal norms to suit their agenda. The disorders are hard to tell apart, which is why only a mental health professional can make an accurate diagnosis. You can ask a licensed therapist what the difference is or do more research for more information.
Are you born a psychopath or sociopath?
The terms psychopath and sociopath are commonly interchanged because of the many similarities. Both psychopaths and sociopaths can be associatedwith antisocial personality disorder, which is the correct term to use when describing sociopathy. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, there are more than a few brain differences between the two. For the purposes of this question, the terms psychopath/psychopathy and sociopath/sociopathy will be used.
Again, one difference is that psychopaths are born while sociopaths are made. Behavioral genetics research has identified numerous genetic and non-genetic anomalies inside the brains of psychopaths and sociopaths. They’ve also been able to establish a clear distinction between the two. As such, sociopathy is a term used to describe learned behaviors, habits, and perceptions that lead to cold-heartedness and a lack of empathy. However, sociopaths and psychopaths are not the same because psychopaths typically have a hereditary predisposition, while sociopaths generally do not.
What are 3 differences between sociopaths and psychopaths?
Both psychopaths and sociopaths are associated with what’s known as antisocial personality disorder. For the purposes of this question, the terms psychopath/psychopathy and sociopath/sociopathy will be used.
Many people want to know the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath, but understanding the distinctions can be tough if you’re not a licensed mental health provider. A sociopath and a psychopath are very different in terms of brain chemistry and causation. However, both behavioral disorders can result in manipulation and a lack of empathy. Thus, it’s important to know the difference, even if that means looking closer at certain behaviors, personality traits, and habits. There are many distinctions—but three main differences to watch out for:
To find out if you or someone you know has antisocial personality disorder, don’t diagnose them independently. Instead, seek the help of a licensed counselor for more information. Counselors have experience with sociopathy and psychopathy, and they can usually prescribe treatments and/or cognitivebehavioral therapy (CBT) to help.
Do sociopaths always commit crimes?
People with antisocial personality disorder aren’t inherently criminals, nor do they always manipulate or offend others. In fact, the terms sociopath and psychopath are commonly confused, so many people believe individuals with ASPD are prone to violence. This is not necessarily true.As science discovers more about people with antisocial personality disorder, we now know that they use charm instead of fear for manipulation.
Thus, crimes aren’t always committed just because someone is diagnosed with ASPD. More often than not, those with ASPD lure others in by building trust instead of breaking it. They’re more cold-hearted and calculating and more likely to live a normal life than someone with knee-jerk reactions and hostile emotions. That being said, those with antisocial personality disorder are generally considered more dangerous than those with narcissistic personality disorder.
If you or someone you know has, or may have, antisocial personality disorder, don’t diagnose yourself or try to self-treat the condition. This is a very rare but extremely serious mental health disorder that can require intense treatment over the long term. Mental health professionals know more about what causes someone to develop ASPD, the best treatments available, and how to help someone with ASPD live a healthy and productive life.
What are the signs of a psychopath?
The signs of someone who has psychopathyaren’t always easy to spot. That’s because they often build trust to manipulate thoughts, feelings, and/or actions. Then, they may use denial and guilt to make the accuser question their assumptions. However, those are not the only signs to be aware of. In fact, most people with psychopathy come across as charming and can assimilate into everyday society to achieve their agendas. So, it’s important to work with a licensed professional to diagnose the disorder.
In general, psychopathy is characterized by a lack of compassion, empathy, or regret for behaviors or actions that affect others. It can be described as callousness or detachment, wherein the person with the conditionmay only feign emotions to manipulate someone else. In truth, they may have little to no conscience and thus an inability to self-correct. Therefore, many (but not all) people with psychopathy become criminals to some degree.
Interestingly, studies have shown that psychopathy is an inherited trait. Signs can be seen in early childhood, and treatments have been developed to help stop the progression of resulting behaviors. Here are 20 of the most common signs of antisocial personality disorder:
If you or someone you know may be living with antisocial personality disorder, consider seeking help from a licensed mental health provider.