The Difference Between A Sociopath And Narcissistic Sociopath?
Updated November 16, 2019
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
We have all heard of the term sociopaths, and some people may have even had an encounter with one at some point in their lives. While it may be common knowledge that encounters with a sociopath may not often be pleasant, many people may not know that there are different types of sociopaths - sociopaths and narcissistic sociopaths. If you are struggling with having a sociopath or narcissistic sociopath in your life, this article can help you understand the types of sociopaths better and provide suggested ways for you to help them (and yourself).
What is a Sociopath?
In short, a sociopath is someone who exhibits antisocial behaviors and attitudes and violates social norms. Their behaviors may include manipulation and deceit, and a sociopath may often lack empathy and a strong moral compass. They often act recklessly or aggressively, without regard for right and wrong.
It's possible for sociopaths and narcissistic sociopaths to get treatment and lead healthy, happy, and productive lives. We're going to talk about what defines sociopathy and narcissistic sociopathy, including signs and symptoms, and later we'll go over some ways for you to help someone you care about, who has been diagnosed with one of these conditions.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are excessively grandiose. Individuals with this disorder have an extreme need for admiration from others. They also have a lack of empathy and sympathy for others. Narcissistic personality disorders begin in early adulthood, and a variety of different events can trigger it.
There are a lot of similarities between a sociopath and a narcissistic sociopath. Sociopaths are narcissistic; however, people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) may not necessarily be sociopaths, although they have very similar traits and characteristics. In many cases both narcissism and sociopathy become linked, and that's where the term "narcissistic sociopath" comes into play. Sociopathy is scary enough, and narcissistic sociopathy takes it to a whole new and higher level.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with having a healthy self-image of oneself and being self-confident. However, a narcissistic sociopath has an unusual love for oneself. This type of self-love is abnormal.
Just like sociopathy, narcissistic sociopathy is more common in men than women. It also occurs more frequently in younger people than older people. According to the National Institutes of Health, narcissistic sociopathy is more common in black men and women, as well as Hispanic women. Also, it often occurs in people who are either divorced, widowed, separated-rather than among those who have never been married. Despite the statistics, however, the disorder can affect people of any race, gender, class, sexual orientation or religion. It doesn't discriminate.
Signs And Symptoms of Sociopaths and Narcissistic Sociopath
Sociopaths and narcissistic sociopaths display different signs of their condition. Below are some explanations of these symptoms.
- Grandiosity - Narcissistic sociopaths have a high grandiosity- meaning they have an unrealistic sense of superiority to others. They may believe themselves to have superpowers. They might tell lies about their lives to others. Some sociopaths might even perceive themselves to be like that of a god.
- Manipulative - Both sociopaths and narcissistic sociopaths have this trait in common. They can manipulate others for their benefit. They are also good at finding people who are too trusting and vulnerable. They lure their victims in with their charm, and they can even fake problems and emotions to get their victims to sympathize with them. A lot of people can fall into their traps and end up getting hurt by them.
- Lack of sympathy and empathy - Both sociopaths and narcissistic sociopaths lack empathy and sympathy for others, even those who are closest to them. They only care about themselves and won't do anything for others- unless they benefit from it somehow.
- Require excessive admiration - Narcissistic sociopaths require excessive admiration from others, even more so than sociopaths. They also tend to feel envious of others, and, in some cases, they feel as though others are envious of them, even when they are not. They can also be quite arrogant and proud- merely because they think that they are better than others. They also love the spotlight and require lots of attention from others.
- Charismatic and charming - Like sociopaths, narcissistic sociopaths are also incredibly charming and charismatic. It's is their way of reeling people in. Once you fall for it and they have succeeded, they begin to show their true colors; by then, it's usually too late for the victims.
Sociopath vs. Narcissistic Sociopath
You might be wondering what the difference is between a sociopath and a narcissistic sociopath, due to the fact that they have similar traits and characteristics. In fact, there are few differences between the two. Here's are some ways to distinguish the sociopath from the narcissistic sociopath.
- Crimes and danger - A narcissistic sociopath won't necessarily harm others or commit serious crimes. The number of sociopaths in prisons is much higher than that of narcissistic sociopaths, mainly because sociopaths disregard the law and don't care about it; their impulsive behavior makes them dangerous. Narcissistic sociopaths only become aggressive when they feel injured psychologically.
- Conversations - A narcissistic sociopath talks only about themselves and doesn't care about the other person. On the other hand, a sociopath doesn't talk much about themselves, as they want to talk about you to get to know you better.
- Are they aware of their behaviors? - A narcissistic sociopath is likely to be unaware of his or her actions and behaviors, whereas a sociopath is entirely aware of his or her behavior and actions. This is because sociopaths most likely planned their actions so that they can manipulate the situation.
- Winning and losing - A narcissistic sociopath isn't bothered about winning or losing. They are more concerned about others admiring them. For sociopaths, it's all a game, and they only care about winning against others.
- Boredom - A sociopath gets bored quickly and is always seeking new thrills whereas a narcissistic sociopath doesn't require stimulating activities all the time.
- Awareness of the effect on others - A narcissistic sociopath isn't always aware of the effect that they have on others or how annoyed others get because of them. However, don't underestimate them; if they find you to be a threat to them, they will act out. A sociopath, on the other hand, is utterly aware of the effect that they have on others.
Causes of Narcissistic Sociopathy
The origins of narcissistic sociopathy are unclear. However, genetics could be a possible cause. Other factors may include child abuse and neglect or even over-pampering in childhood. As children, narcissistic sociopaths can also pick up and learn ways to manipulate from their parents and other family members.
How to Deal With a Narcissistic Sociopath
Dealing with narcissistic sociopaths can be difficult for anyone, especially when it's someone who is close to you. Read on for some tips on how to deal with someone with NPD.
Keep them away from alcohol and substances
Without being judgmental, you can try to help those close to you by getting them to limit their use of alcohol and other substances. If your loved one already has a problem with either alcohol or drugs, then you will need to get them admitted to a rehab center. These substances can aggravate their condition.
There are medications that can help with treating narcissistic sociopathy. However, some medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers can especially help with treating their symptoms. In order to receive these medications, they will eed to seek the help of a medical professional.
Offer support and encouragement
These are the most critical factors when helping anyone who is suffering from a mental health condition. Encourage them to have a healthy diet; encourage them to get exercise and do some therapeutic activities that will help them. Provide support, and do not be judgmental- as this can trigger them.
How BetterHelp Can Help
Outside of the above, one of the most effective way to get someone help is through therapy. Psychotherapy is necessary for narcissistic sociopaths. To receive this therapy, you can utilize online counseling. One of BetterHelp's nearly 4,000 licensed therapists can help and may use cognitive behavior therapy, which can allow the patient to recognize his or her behavior. It will also help them with accepting criticism and setting realistic goals.
Once you have found a mental health professional to help your loved one, it is vital to give the professional a full breakdown of the patient's history, any traumatic events, and family history, if possible, so that the expert can do an evaluation and determine the cause of the illness. You should also continue to make notes of the patient's behavior and symptoms and share it with the therapist.
A therapist can also assist you in handling the narcissist in your life and can coach you on how to react in certain situations. They will teach you how to deal with your loved one- in a healthy way, and they can also help you begin a road to recovery from any pain you have experienced. Below are some reviews below from other people with similar experiences who have benefitted from BetterHelp's counselors.
"Aria has a gift of understanding and reading into peoples emotions. It is rare to find counselors that utilize a strengths based approach, while also encouraging clients to look inward. Working with her the last 2 years has allowed me to tap into my own feelings, as well as challenge a lot of my negative thought processes and question them."
"Kelly has shown me how to be accountable for my thoughts and how to navigate them in a healthy manner. Though the knowledge was somewhat there she has a way of helping me understand what or why I'm going through what I am. I appreciate all the time we've spent together so far and look forward to learning how and being a healthier version of myself through our sessions."
Sociopathy and narcissistic personality disorder are serious mental conditions, and it can take a serious toll on you when someone you love is suffering from either of these. It is important to understand what their condition is, and, hopefully, this article has given you ways to help them, as well as information on how to protect yourself. With the right tools, you can enjoy fulfilling relationships. Take the first step.