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What’s the difference between a narcissist and a sociopath? A lot of psychiatric terms are used interchangeably to the point that it’s difficult to differentiate between some of them. Although it is possible to have both narcissistic and sociopathic tendencies, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder aren’t the same thing. In the chart above, you can find criteria for each of the two disorders; it is clear that the two disorders have completely different sets of traits.
Human beings are complex creatures, and two people with narcissistic or sociopathic traits will not display exactly same behavior. Narcissism or sociopathy can be more severe in some people than in others. You can think of each criterion (e.g., need for admiration) as a continuum with more obvious and severe signs being closer to the end.
Napoleon Bonaparte is a classic example of a narcissist. Adolf Hitler is a good example of someone with Antisocial Personality Disorder or a sociopath.
For Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), it is not a condition to meet all nine criteria. In fact, it’s very difficult to meet someone who has all nine criteria present.
For Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD or APD), there are additional conditions as follows:
- the individual diagnosed should be at least 18 years old,
- there should be history of conduct disorder before the age of 15,
- the aforementioned antisocial behavior should be present in absence of schizophrenia or a manic episode.
There is a lot more posts on narcissism and sociopathy on this website. Posts on narcissism can be found here. You might find this post on being in a relationship with narcissistic sociopath particularly interesting. Posts on sociopathy can be found here.
If you are in a relationship with a narcissist or a sociopath and need help, you can talk to a professional therapist here.