Keeping in mind that narcissism is a pattern on a spectrum, the far end of that spectrum leads to malignant narcissism, a term used for hard-hearted people who don’t care about others in the least and are willing to manipulate and exploit with no apology.  Inside this designation, we can identify sociopathic narcissists.  They have the prime ingredients of narcissism (high control, low empathy, raw selfishness, and false superiority), plus a few other distinctions.  

Sociopaths are known for suspending morality in favor of cravings. 

Right and wrong are fluid designations.  They can appear charming and appealing, but behind the veneer is abnormal selfishness.  They do not attach at the heart level at all.  They will be accountable to no one.  They eschew others’ personal boundaries.  Trustworthiness is non-existent.  Secrets and lies are their norm.  They can be impulsive and reckless.  To them, rules are meant to be broken.  And once frustrated, they can be unhinged.

As you engage with them, you will eventually learn that despite initial pleasantries, they truly don’t care how they make others feel.  It’s all about them all the time.

A common question is:  Do narcissists ever connect with other narcissists?  Such a question is reasonable, given their disdain for mutuality and cooperation, but surprisingly, the answer is yes.  The prospects for long-term a commitment remain low, but for a while they will team up with like-minded manipulators. For instance:

  • Organizers of events featuring extreme aggression will team with “bad ass” associates who will work together for the purpose of making money and making a social statement about the glories of the tough guy.
  • Two married people jointly decide that their separate marital woes justify them stealing off secretly to find hidden bliss in a steamy affair.  Their like-mindedness is invigorating.
  • A trio of brothers are the consummate party animals, exploiters of women, prone to addictions with alcohol and gambling.  They laugh about how leaving their separate families for their exploits is just what they do.  “Hey, that’s just how we roll!”
  • A wide array of family systems, organizations, and clubs emphasize anti-social behaviors.  They can post information on social media justifying hate and rage.
  • Social buddies can rally around an anti-social attitude of rebellion. “If it feels good, do it!”
  • Cliques can scoff at another person’s differences, especially when they are too goody-goody.

As sociopaths gravitate toward like-minded sociopaths, they look for people who are as shallow or single-minded as they are, prone toward group-think, and willing to embrace irresponsibility as reasonable or fun.

There are various reasons sociopaths seek each other out:

  • They feel validated by a counterpart who overtly praises them for their manner of life.
  • They are emboldened by the “strength in numbers” effect.
  • Fellow sociopaths have an unspoken agreement that wrong can easily be rationalized as right.  “I’ve got your back.”
  • They appreciate those who do not challenge them with analytical thinking.
  • By associating with like-minded non-conformists, they find a “credible” shield of defense.  “Since others think like me, you can’t single me out as a misfit.”
  • In their group-think, they find power as they jointly mock those who come against them.  (Think of a cluster of adolescents who scoff at the non-cool kids.)
  • There is no pressure to consider the long-term consequences of their intransigence.  Now is all that matters.

As you encounter sociopathic narcissists who refuse to blend and harmonize, it is essential to keep your wits about you.  They want you to think you are the outlier…and maybe you are.  (Have you ever been called a party pooper or a stick in the mud?). But remember, these are low-empathy people to the max.  They genuinely feel no need to harmonize with you or to accommodate differences.

Remaining separate is a must.  In their pathological insecurity (or perhaps it’s just their raw egotism), they desperately need to diminish you, reminding you how faulty you are.

Despite their dismissive attitudes, develop and keep a strong grip on your internal values.  Hold firmly to traits like love, respect, courtesy, self-restraint, and big-picture thinking.  Their rejection of such traits can remind you that you don’t need any endorsement from such a person.  If you feel the need, calmly express your concerns to the sociopath, but keep your expectations very low.  And if the negativity persists, physically withdraw.

Sociopathic narcissists have the motto: “Anything goes!”  In contrast, healthy individuals appreciate the interconnectedness that comes with our humanity.  Remind yourself:  We need each other in an affirming, trustworthy way. 

Healthy people have no desire to exploit and diminish others.

Associate with those who can appreciate you and who will prioritize dignity, respect, and civility.  Your odds for successful relationships will increase greatly.

~Les Carter, Ph.D.

To watch the video on this topic, click here.