It’s not easy to distinguish the difference between a narcissist and a sociopath because they share many common behaviours and motivations. Some experts state that the term “sociopath” is the same thing as psychopath. This is further supported by the definition offered in the dictionary. Sociopath; “A person with a psychopathic personality whose behaviour is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.” This does not mean that all sociopaths engage in criminal behaviour. A high functioning sociopath can get along quite well in everyday life without breaking the law. A doctor’s official diagnoses of either a sociopath or a psychopath will usually be the term: antisocial personality disorder.
Similarities of a narcissist and a sociopath
- Lack of empathy; narcissists are not able to see an-other’s point of view where as a sociopath recognizes the effect they have on others but doesn’t care.
- Both are quick to take credit when things go right but when they don’t, it’s someone else’s fault.
- Both maintain an agenda that is self-serving. Even when they put the needs of others before their own it serves only to supply and preserve the “false self.”
- Both can skilfully re-create past events to suit the needs of the moment.
- Neither will apologize for their words or actions but a sociopath may fake one in an effort to move on.
- Both believe they are entitled to being loved, admired and obeyed, despite their behaviour.
- Both have no idea why they are the way that they are.
- Both can be very engaging and even charming so long as you don’t question or critique.
- A narcissist wants to be perceived well, a sociopath wants to be perceived in what ever light suits the need of the moment.
- A narcissist ignores social rules because they’re simply not aware but a sociopath will consciously manipulate situations to suit their agenda.
- A narcissist doesn’t recognize how their words and actions hurt people. A sociopath is very aware but does it anyway.
- A narcissist may belittle and antagonize you over the short term if they perceive you as a threat but a sociopath will take you out altogether. They are patient and methodical, often playing the long game.
- The narcissist will feel victimized when their efforts to interact with empathetic people fail. Not so with the sociopath, they simply disregard the feelings of others and hold to their own reasoning.
These lists are definitely not exhaustive descriptions of either personality and are intended to be food for thought only. I encourage you to do your own research and even seek out professional help if you are unsure of what your dealing with. It’s far more important to discover and align yourself with the truth about your own life than it is to correctly diagnose someone with NPD or antisocial personality disorder. The heartbreak and trauma that results from being in a relationship with this kind of person can be devastating. It is a humbling act when we say, “It’s not about me,” but in this case it’s very much about you. What ever you tolerate, you will receive.
You do have two powerful defence tactics at your disposal, prayer and boundaries. Never under estimate the power of prayer. Lift the person up before the Lord and ask Him to soften their heart and open their eyes to the truth. The first step in Alcoholics Anonymous twelve step recovery program is admitting that one cannot control their alcoholism, addiction or compulsion. Recognizing and admitting that a problem exists is critical to the healing process.
God knows the person far better than you do so rely on Him to create the right conditions and bring about circumstances that will wake them up. There has been a few times in my life where I was so enraged over poor and unfair treatment that I wanted to cry out for God’s wrath to crush the offender. I know it may sound corny but I was reminded of a line from an old Spider Man movie, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Prayer is great power. We need to be very careful of what we pray for. “Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19-21 One important reason for this is because, being human, we tend to jump to conclusions and make mistakes. We leap into action and take matters into our own hands hoping for immediate justice.
Have faith that God will do the right thing, for the right people, in the right way at the right time. Be persistent in your prayer life and always thank God for the blessings He has sent your way. “Be anxious for nothing…” Philippians 4:6.
In order for your prayers to be effective you must be right with God. Harbouring dark vengeful thoughts about others is a condition of the heart and proves the injured person unfit for divine fellowship. Guard against that “root of bitterness” at all cost. Being aware of our forgiveness in Christ allows us to forgive others.
To discover if a person is capable of taking responsibility for their actions and willing to be held accountable without putting yourself at risk of yet another offence, it is highly recommended that you set boundaries.
Personal boundaries are like a line in the sand. They are rules or limits that you create to protect yourself by identifying reasonable and permissible ways other people are allowed to treat you and how you will respond to anyone who crosses it. They can be constructed out of your personal beliefs, conclusions and past experiences and help define who you are as an individual. They can include physical, mental, psychological and spiritual boundaries and are two directional affecting both incoming and outgoing interactions with others.
Setting boundaries can be the catalyst by which a narcissist will hit rock bottom and wake up. The thought of losing you can open their eyes to reality and act as a call to action. This is the time you need to keep your eyes open as well. The following is a list of traits a genuine person will display when healing their narcissism.
- Display a willingness to take ownership of what they have done and be held accountable for the damage caused through a show of total remorse.
- Full focus on helping you feel safe and cared for in an effort to rebuild trust through actions, not just words.
- Be willing to commit to ongoing therapy and personal development. If they only go a couple of times in an effort to appease then they are not taking it seriously.
- Repair any damages (including financial) to the best of their ability.
- Respect the boundaries you have put in place and cease all displays of entitlements, jealousy, guilt trips or revenge. Accept the fact that it is because of their behaviour these boundaries now exist.
- Grant full disclosure of their life. Be willing to answer questions you or anyone else who cares about you may ask in order to understand and help rebuild trust. They must do so in full humility and not deflect, distract or in anyway defend their poor behaviour.
- Love and care for you enough that they are willing to let you go, putting your best interests before their own.
This list may seem impossible to you but there has been those who have successfully altered their narcissistic actions and become strong, supportive and nurturing friends and family members. If you have ever experienced soul crushing, prolonged abuse of any kind you know it’s something you never want to go through again. Without this level of authentic sincerity you should not re-engage.
Decide who it is that you want to be and set upon it right away.
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Image – Pixabay
Dictionary.com – Sociopath
Webmd.com – What’s the Difference Between a Sociopath and a Psychopath?