You might have already heard of narcissism at some point or another. And you probably know what a sociopath is. But what happens when these two disorders mix? A narcissistic sociopath—otherwise known as a narcopath—has both violent and sadistic, manipulative tendencies.
According to the National Library of Medicine, Otto Kernberg was the first to officially document narcopathy in 1984. He described this mental health condition using the following characteristics:
- Diagnosis of narcissism
- Diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder
In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, the American Psychiatric Association clearly defines both Antisocial Personality Disorder (the clinical term for what is commonly known as psychopathy or sociopathy) and narcissistic personality disorder, highlighting their similarities and differences: According to the APA, Antisocial Personality Disorder is a “pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, occurring since age 15 years.” In comparison, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is defined as a “pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts”.
While there may be some overlap between these two distinct personality disorders, a combination of them both can have disastrous results. Because people with Antisocial Personality Disorder often have little to no regard for others or the effect they may have on others, they can be manipulative in order to get what they want. Similarly, a narcissist also lacks empathy for others; however, a narcissist also believes they benefit everyone around them as much as themselves.
A narcopath may experience most, if not all, of these symptoms:
- Detached from emotions, numb to emotions
- Self-identity issues, and a lack of authenticity
- Strong desire for attention from others
- Little to no regard on their effect on others
A combination of narcissism and sociopathy can often explain violent or abusive behavior, as these individuals are usually psychologically unaware of the gravity of the harm they inflict on others. Such little regard for others’ well-being can lead to a pattern of dehumanization of relationships and feelings, which can often result in hostile behavior.
Spotting a narcopath is perhaps the most difficult part. These individuals can be very calculating and manipulative, and can often appear charming and witty. Additionally, they are often extremely intelligent and can read others very well, specifically to exploit others’ weaknesses.
Nevertheless, although these characteristics may not always be visible to others, keeping an eye out for these signs can help determine if you are dealing with a narcopath, and find ways to protect yourself.
- Center of the conversation. Having a relationship with a narcopath always seems to revolve around them and their issues. Almost every conversation you have will revert back to them, even if the conversation is about you. A narcissist craves attention, and always wishes to make things about them.
- Manipulation & mind games. Someone with antisocial personality disorder dehumanizes others and does not care for their emotions. Rather, they view you as a pawn for their own gain, and will subject you to mind games in order to get what they want. Once they have achieved what they want, they will not hesitate to drop you.
- An unknown history. This individual is used to using others simply for their own benefit, and like stated before-they do not hold any qualms about dropping others once they have gained what they wanted. If an individual is hesitant to speak on their past, or refuses to speak on it at all, it may be an indicator that they cannot hold healthy, functioning relationships. Typically, you learn about someone’s past relationships with either family or friends, simply as a predictor for how your relationship will proceed.
- Their eyes. Eye contact can be very intimate in relationships. It can be an indicator of comfortability and trust. With a narcopath, however, many have noticed that their eyes can be cold and almost expressionless, holding zero emotion or care behind them. While this may not be the number one sign of a narcopath, this may be the key to determining if this person is worth trusting.
- Lack a sense of right and wrong. A narcopath may not necessarily have a typical moral structure like most people do. To them, they are only in search of what is right for them, and may have a skewed moral compass because of this, so long as their actions only further their own agenda.
While there is no definitive way of knowing if a person is a narcopath just from looking at them, these signs can be distinctive red flags to help you steer clear of potentially people. Setting clear boundaries against them will certainly protect you against their intent to manipulate you. Unfortunately, you can’t have a regular connection or even a relationship with this individual because they will manipulate and take advantage of you.