I can’t go into too much detail about this, but I am dealing with one of these characters right now. All I can say if you run across these people in your life is run, don’t walk, right away from them as fast as you can.
I can’t go into much details about this either, but there has been a narcissist close to me for most of my life. This person is simply out and out harmful to me. They’ve done tremendous harm to me in the past, and if I continue to deal with them, they will continue to try to inflict, or will inflict, harm on me.
I think they can’t help it, but I’m also wondering if they are incurable. Most people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder cannot be helped. Why? They do not wish to be cured, see nothing wrong with themselves, and never will.
A few can be cured, but it’s not easy. You can’t change a tiger into a lion. You can’t change your basic personality. This is a law of psychology. For all personalities, there exists a pathological side and a healthy side. For NPD, the healthy side is called Confident Personality. For APD, the healthy side is called Aggressive Personality. Neither are optimal, but truly healthy personalities are either exceedingly rare or possibly nonexistent.
There are varying degrees of narcissism. First is the narcissism that any healthy person has. Then we start getting into varying degrees of narcissism. At some point, you have to say someone has narcissistic traits, or is a narcissist. That doesn’t mean NPD.
As one starts getting more pathological, we start moving into NPD, Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This is an extremely serious condition in which the individual ends up causing harm to most of the significant people in their life. As I said above, get all the harmful narcissists out of your life.
Going even further, we get into malignant narcissism. This is getting worse and worse. We may be looking at the narcissist-sociopath. Ted Bundy was one, so was Jeffrey MacDonald, and so, in my opinion, is OJ Simpson. They differ from pure sociopaths in that they need and crave attention and go nuts when you criticize them.
Pure sociopaths pretty much don’t give a damn whether anyone likes them or not. I don’t think they need attention or admiration either – I imagine they could care less about that too. Criticism doesn’t bother them much either. Most sociopaths seem to smile, laugh or glibly explain away any criticism directed at them. That, or they ignore it altogether.
The sociopath is not hurt by your criticism because there’s nothing there to hurt. It’s like yelling at a grizzly bear in a cage. The bear just looks up at you like, “Screw you, human,” and goes back to whatever he was doing.
If the sociopath feels that the criticism may harm him or thwart his plans, he may become alarmed, because these are machines dedicated to carrying out their plans. Thwarted plans don’t get carried out. Not good. So criticism simply spins the sociopath into a dizzying performance of lying, more lying, lies upon lies layered upon more lies, show-business style performance, the Mother of All Personal Charm Shows, on and on.
The “show” is so mesmerizing, baffling, confusing and charming that you can barely understand what’s happening, but a lot of times, you end up going along with the sociopath. Afterward, maybe you wonder why. The sociopath gets up and walks out of the room and out of your life.
Later, picking up the pieces, you are sitting there, dazed, shaking your head. “What the Hell was that?” you are thinking. It’s like you just got hit by a Human Tornado that whirled into your life, trashed a lot of stuff and then twisted off speedily into the sunset. You look outside, and it’s gone. You’ve been the victim of an emotional mugging, and you still can’t make sense of it.
There’s plenty on the Net about both sociopathy and narcissism and I have only barely scratched the surface here. Suffice to say that I feel that the sociopath is at the far end of the narcissistic scale. The sociopath is an ultra-narcissist.
He’s so superior and above it all that he doesn’t even care anymore. He thinks you’re an idiot, and he doesn’t care if you disagree. He will use you, abuse you, maybe even steal from you, assault you or kill you, but then he will sit down and eat a bowl of cereal like nothing else happened. That’s the ultimate in narcissism. You don’t exist as another human being to him. You’re a pure object, a tool, a means to an end. You may as well be a steering wheel or a hammer – that’s how much humanity you have to him.
Here is an interesting post on the difference between a narcissist and a sociopath. I don’t necessarily agree, but it’s interesting reading.
The truth is that this is all just spectrum, probably emanating from extroversion at one end and moving through narcissism all the way to psychopathy.
This entire spectrum is utterly the opposite of the introvert – fearful – neurotic type, but your average moron can’t figure that out. As a society, we think that shy introverts are “psycho”, probably because we worship extroversion and despise introversion. Truth is the true, pure, classic introvert is the least harmful or dangerous person, the least likely to hurt an innocent person, on Earth.
True, they are not all wimps, and some will fight back against the abuse they are typically subjected to. But that’s not the same as the abusive aggression of the narcissist and sociopath that targets the innocent.
Why the introvert is generally so harmless is a fascinating subject, but I will leave it for another post.
I would also point out that most sociopaths are never arrested. These are the “controlled sociopaths” swarming all over the worlds of business, law, politics, law enforcement and the military. All of these professions provide outlets for controlled sociopaths to channel their antisocial and extremely aggressive behavior into. The shyster attorney, crooked businessman, con artist, ruthless executive, lying and wheeling/dealing politician come to mind.
There are many non-sociopaths in LE and the military, but it’s heaven for controlled sociopaths too. There is some evidence that they don’t do well in the military though. They love to blow stuff up and kill people, but they are so fearless and reckless that they often end up dead in wartime. Studies in World War 2 showed that though this type were excellent pilots, they were much more likely to be shot down. They were so fearless that they didn’t even bother to try to save their own skins.
I’m not trying to say that all cops are sociopaths, but anyone who’s had unpleasant dealings with cops (like yours truly) knows they are out there. Personality studies have shown the cops and criminals have remarkably similar personalities. It’s just that cops are channeling their antisocial BS in a healthy direction – busting bad guys.
For more on narcissism, check out Sam Vankin’s fantastic work on the web. Vankin is a fascinating character – he is a narcissist himself!
Joanna Ashmum’s site, How To Recognize a Narcissist, is fantastic, as is her classic essay, And Now We Are Six. Yes. The narcissist is going to be 6 years old for the rest of his life. Ever met a 6 yr old? Think about it.