Narcissist vs. Sociopath

I see the word narcissist thrown around a lot on the internet. When I read the stories of others about their narcissist experience it seems to me that some are instead dealing with a sociopath. Both are cluster b personality disorders. Sociopaths are anti-social personality disorder and narcissists are narcissistic personality disorder.

Personality-disorder-clusters-DSM-IV-and-personality-traits

While both narcissistic and sociopathic people behave similarly (ex: highly manipulative and lack empathy) there are a few distinctions. The main distinction being that the sociopath is aware that they are different from other people whereas the narcissist is not. The sociopath knows that they are capable of doing things to others to benefit themselves without feeling any remorse. The narcissist on the other hand, does feel bad about hurting others (and can’t seem to help repeating bad behavior despite knowing it would hurt someone else) but they usually express their guilt by taking it out on you or projecting their mistakes onto you. The narcissist is troubled by their behavior deep down but they deal with the guilt in an abusive manner. The narcissist feels shame while the sociopath does not. Also, while a narcissist is unable to love a person as a non-narcissistic can they can still feel something, the sociopath is unable to feel love at all.

So in a nutshell, if you are dealing with someone who appears to derive some pleasure and/or entertainment from abusing you it is likely a sociopath and not a narcissist. The narcissist can feel badly and also to some degree feel love for another but the sociopath does not. I know it can be hard to tell from being overwhelmed from everything going on, manipulation is hard to deal with, but I feel it is important to know the difference. Also, there are individuals out there that have narcissistic tendencies but do not have the disorder. These are actual disorders (very serious ones) and I don’t think the words should be tossed around!

Stay safe!