Popular on PF (Mobile)

Staff Forums (Mod Den)

Popular on PF Right Now

Can someone please explain the differences between a narcissist and a psychopath?

Discussion in 'Relationship Abuse Recovery' started by Carousel, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. Carousel

    Carousel Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2012
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    162
    Location:
    Canada
    No Contact:
    Months
    Is a narcissist less cruel, less manipulative, or have a bit more empathy than a psychopath?

    I read that they are similar to psychopaths but still have some of the anxiety and hangups of normal people. My ex was definitely a narcissist but did get very stressed out and anxious, always surrounding fears that he would not succeed and live the rich, powerful, pompous life he had planned for himself. I read that nothing makes psychopaths flinch, though. Is this true?

    Are narcissists a lesser evil or are they capable of equal amounts of abuse and destruction as the psychopath?

    Thanks!!
     
    Victoria, Peace, abbri and 2 others like this.
  2. Heilen

    Heilen Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2012
    Messages:
    167
    Likes Received:
    776
    Location:
    Auckland
    No Contact:
    Months
    Carousel..until someone with more knowledge answers you, I can just try and offer my comments here. I don't have the correct medical or psychological terminology, I am sorry to say ...but I do believe I have the life experience with both of these types - and they are quite different.

    All this work, research and processing I have been doing intensely about Psychopathy since finding out the horrifying truth so recently, has had a spin off effect of learning about the different pathologies and dynamics which may or may not have been present in my previous relationships.

    Last week, through one of the threads on here, I was led to a site which described in some detail the qualities of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Try as I might, I can't seem to find that exact web page, but it was a bit of a light bulb moment for me.

    You see, I was married to a Narcissist. When I read that description last week, it was a huge, huge trigger for me, and I burst into tears. A revelation. The following day I had a very brief encounter with my ex husband on Skype (regarding our daughter being in a school play), I said something ordinary and normal to him such as 'just reminding you about the school play this week' and the unwarranted rude and childish way he sniped back at me made something snap within me. I decided there and then that would be the end for me. No more appeasing, no more excuses, no more pussyfooting or walking on eggshells around this character. 20 years of being bullied and intimidated by him (we have been divorced for 12 years) and our daughter trying to cope with the same behaviour. Now she will be turning 16 this year, I took a risk and came clean with her there and then: I told her the 'real' adult story of why our marriage had ended, how he had treated us, why he had been arrested and charged with assault at one point, why we went through years of court custody battles and why I was awarded full custody of her and he had been forced to go to anger management by the police. I wept and wept as I let out the full story of who her father is, I never wanted her to know this, I always wanted her to look up to and love her father. But also, I want her to know the truth, I don't want my daughter to be a victim of either an N or a P, as I have been both. I did it for her sake. I want her to be aware and not have to learn the hard way at age 50.

    My ex husband is not a Psychopath. I made sure our daughter knew the difference between a P and a Narcissist. We have had some very open discussions about this. My sweet almost-16 yr old said 'but mum, dad is not a P because he always tells the truth. I don't think he ever lies'
    And that, in a nutshell, seems to me to be the main difference between an N and a P.

    Of course there are many other things. All I can do is speak from my own personal experience here. The N did not change personas, did not move around to different locations and places, in fact he rarely leaves the house (he is a workaholic - runs a small business from home). My daughter also piped up 'mum, dad can not be a P because he cant cheat on anyone - he doesn't have any friends and he never goes out!'...made me smile amid the tears ;)

    My N was just outrageously self centred, arrogant, selfish and self absorbed. Despite making outward efforts, in reality he lacked empathy or feeling for other people. Of course it took me years to find out how deeply this went because he pretended he did give a damn (a new agey, yoga-practicing, greenpeace-supporting, dolphin saving-vegetarian). He wasnt pretending. He really believed this is who he was. Any persona he put on was not to 'trick' other people..he really did want to be that person.

    The N casually, and as a matter of course, mocked, insulted and destroyed other peoples self esteem and personal sovereignty in the name of 'truth'.
    He genuinely believed he was indisputably 'superior' to everyone else by virtue of his 'cultured' intelligence and aesthetic aspirations (Graphic designer/Art Director)

    Up until our (carefully planned) daughter was born we had a functional (of sorts) marriage. The day I bought her home from the hospital all hell broke loose. He could not stand to be usurped by this tiny creature, he was no longer 'the baby' or the centre of attention, he could not stand the fact my focus was diverted. He started throwing huge, scary temper tantrums. Yelling and smashing up the apartment when the baby cried. He could not become the caring, supportive, nurturing father he had read about in all his parenting books and saw himself being. The disparity between the man he wanted to be and the man he really was, I believe, caused him much pain and frustration. An N does have try, it seems. Many other things. Much heartbreak. I wish I could find that link for you that describes it all so clearly, I will keep trying.

    One small anecdote from a conversation I recall we had during my pregnancy - it kind of said it all:
    Me: 'you know, the difference between you and I, is that I dream about this baby growing up into a little boy just like his dad. And you dream about this little baby growing up into a little boy just like his dad'.
    Him: 'I guess you are right'
    Do you see the difference?

    I think the thing about N's is that they just don't bother pretending.
     
  3. DawnG

    DawnG Inactive Inactive

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2011
    Messages:
    2,256
    Likes Received:
    12,080
    No Contact:
    Months
    Narcissists have a weaker sense of self requiring constant validation. They exist to be adored and are certainly more vulnerable than the psychopath. The psychopath is driven solely by the need to control and exploit others.
     
  4. mcflairish

    mcflairish Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2012
    Messages:
    123
    Likes Received:
    678
    Location:
    West Coast, USA
    No Contact:
    49 Months
    This is really interesting to me. I have been trying to figure out the differences for a long time. It seems to me that Heilen, you have really highlighted the differences. I still think that there should be some sort of "lack of empathy" spectrum, where narcissists and BPD types are at one end and psychopaths are at the other. My Ex-a textbook narcissist, was also a liar, but didn't make up his past history. It seems that they all come in varying degrees of liar, lack of empathy, pretender, etc. A psychopath has a core set of 5 traits. He believes that if they don't have all 5, then they are not full blown Ps. I like the idea of the spectrum of psychopathology. Even those lower on the spectrum can do the same kind of damage as the craziest P.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2015
  5. DawnG

    DawnG Inactive Inactive

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2011
    Messages:
    2,256
    Likes Received:
    12,080
    No Contact:
    Months
    I absolutely believe that all Axis II, Cluster B's share many similar traits, differing motivations, and that there are varying degrees of personality disorders. I suppose at this point in my life it matters less to me what they are called and how they are grouped, than gaining the simple understanding that they are all to be avoided because they only cause harm to others. I call it the "No Hope" category.
     
    a new world, Corleone, sam95 and 5 others like this.
  6. mcflairish

    mcflairish Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2012
    Messages:
    123
    Likes Received:
    678
    Location:
    West Coast, USA
    No Contact:
    49 Months
    DawnG, I think you are exactly right in identifying the one thing that groups these all together, the inability to learn, grow and evolve.
     
  7. abbri

    abbri Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2012
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    317
    Location:
    Narragansett, RI
    No Contact:
    Months
    After a year of P research as a former victim, with some knowledge about narcissists (although never as a victim, to my knowledge), it's been my belief for awhile that the main difference between them is "narcissists don't CARE if they hurt others while psychopaths ENJOY hurting others".

    Heilen explains it much more specifically though and, since narcissists aren't necessarily pathological liars, I guess that's another huge difference.

    My therapist uses an imaginary N/P spectrum with "simple" narcissists (as opposed to malignant ones), who have SOME conscience, at the bottom and serial killing Ps at the top, with all the other no-conscience disordered falling somewhere in between.
     
  8. Peace
    Dreaming

    Peace Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2011
    Messages:
    8,162
    Likes Received:
    55,372
    No Contact:
    67 Months
    There are a ton of different thoughts on this topic. My personal opinion is that there isn't much of a difference. All psychopaths are narcissistic, as all of us have undoubtedly experienced. But I believe their arrogance stems from a genuine belief that they are superior to everyone, and that they deserve special treatment. They enjoy manipulating others and watching them burn.

    There seem to be other types, though, that behave this way because of deep-rooted insecurities that now run their entire lives. Is this a narcissist? I'm not sure. All I know is that overwhelming insecurities can cause people to act in very psychopathic ways. This has been called proto-psychopathy before.

    There is definitely no "better" or "worse" abuse among Cluster B victims. It is all absolutely horrible and soul-crushing.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
    Larkin, ItsMyLifeNow, DawnG and 6 others like this.
  9. peru

    peru Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2011
    Messages:
    1,333
    Likes Received:
    9,963
    Location:
    UK
    No Contact:
    74 Months
    My thoughts are there is no difference between a narc and a psycopath a narcissist is a psycopath . a psycopath likes to be called a narcissist as the name has an almost romantic conection to it but its just another word for the same thing .xx
     
    abbri, ItsMyLifeNow, Phrenics and 5 others like this.
  10. sam95

    sam95 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    76
    No Contact:
    Months
    narcissist, pathological liar, borderline personality, sociopath: these are all the same thing : psychopath.

    sorry.
     
Loading...