Narcissism is defined by the need for control, the lack of empathy, an attitude of entitlement, self-centeredness, pathological defensiveness, a need to be superior, and more. As difficult as narcissists are, matters are heightened when there is also a sociopathic element.

As a general rule of thumb, we can say that not all narcissists are also sociopaths (also known as anti-social personality), but virtually every sociopath is a narcissist. Sociopaths take narcissism to a fuller level of dysfunction.

What distinguishes someone who is sociopathic is the chronic lack of a moral compass. Whatever they want in the moment is their compass, and if it is outside the bounds of decency, they seek it anyway. They have a reckless disregard for rules or accountability. They do not learn from mistakes. Lying is first nature to them. They have no remorse when they have treated others poorly. They rationalize their deviances masterfully, and they have no appreciation for teamwork or group norms.

If you have any sort of attachment to a sociopathic narcissist, it is essential for you to know what you are up against because they thrive on squelching your initiatives, leaving you as a shell of what you could be. Coordinating with these individuals will not happen. Instead, you will need to be as separate as possible from their schemes.

To give you a fuller idea of their mode of operation, let’s identify several major themes sociopathic narcissists are known for:

  • Dominance overrides love. Sociopaths have no conception of love, with its kindness and encouragement. Instead, they wish to dominate. To them, that is the ultimate. What they might refer to as love is better understood as lust or limerence (being enthralled by infatuated feelings), but they have no capacity for heart connections.
  • Others exist to be used. Sociopaths seek self-gratification only. They like to feel sated or accomplished, and if they engage with you “favorably” it is only because they see you as a means to an end. Your feelings and needs do not impress them, only your utility in the moment.
  • You must acquiesce to them or be destroyed. Sociopaths have no appreciation for your personal boundaries. As far as they are concerned, if you want to live inside your own self-directed priorities, you are a nuisance who needs to be taught a lesson. They need no reason to be abusive other than the fact that you do not fit their mold.
  • They routinely motivate via fear. Unlike “regular” narcissists, they bypass attempts to reason with you. Sociopaths make frequent use of threats, and they are not bashful when they think that uncomfortable reinforcement will get them what they want.
  • They can impersonate feelings. Sociopaths have developed a skill for chameleon-like mimicking of positive emotions. For instance, if it suits their ultimate purpose, they give the appearance of being interested or sincere or concerned. But make no mistake, it is an act. To them, being engaging is just a game.
  • They routinely marginalize individuals. Depending on their goals, sociopathic narcissists will gather lackeys who will do their bidding. This means that when they receive suggestions from anyone who might speak distinctly, that person is designated as an outsider. You either buy into their reasoning or you are dismissed.
  • Sociopaths are driven by anger. Seeing life as a competition, they are chronically agitated by people who do not let them win. Those who thwart their initiatives are likely to be on the receiving end of irrational explosions, abuse, threats, punitive stonewalling, and derision. Contempt defines them.
  • They gaslight by playing mind games. They want you to doubt your convictions and perceptions, so they routinely create confusion with cornering questions, derisive responses, mocking ridicule, and use of humiliation tactics. The more confused or timid you become, the more they feel inwardly validated.
  • They will play you off of others. Sociopaths do not want you to find strength or comfort in your primary relationships, so they constantly seek to alienate you from others. They routinely use smear tactics and call your positive traits into question when they reference you in conversations with others.

Keep in mind

Sociopathic narcissists are defined by the need to bring people down. The person in front of them is merely a pawn to be played. You may feel perplexed by their obvious dysfunction, but remember, they see you as the problem.

That being the case, forget about speaking directly to them with the goal of reform. It will not happen. Their underdeveloped conscience is intact. Instead, focus on being as separate from them as possible. You don’t need to be in their inner circle, nor should they be in yours. Where possible, establish consequences and stipulations, knowing they will not approve, but also knowing that you need to practice self-care nonetheless.

Let your character be the foundation for your personal well-being. And when the sociopathic narcissist shows disdain for your good character, recognize it is not about you. Ultimately, they have no appreciation for good character.

To watch the video on this same topic, please click here.

~Dr. Les Carter