Difference Between Narcissism and Psychopathy

Narcissism vs Psychopathy

When it comes to behaviours, knowing the difference between narcissism and psychopathy can be a good advantage to us since our societies have become more complex over the years. In the society, we come across individuals who can be considered as true portrayals of narcissistic and psychopathic behaviour. The objective of this piece of writing is to present an understanding of the two terms, narcissism and psychopathy, highlighting the differences and similarities between the two. The terms, Narcissism and Psychopathy are personality traits or individual conditions which are being studied in depth in psychology and mental health. Narcissism refers to the condition of excessive selfishness, and self-admiration, where a narcissistic individual would not only see himself and his abilities in grandeur, but also craves approval and validation from others.On the other hand, Psychopathy refers to a condition where a person who is antisocial,amoral and egocentric demands immediate gratification; however psychopathy neither craves validation nor approval. Hence, the key difference between Narcissism and Psychopathy stems from this interest of validation and approval.

What is Narcissism?

The term Narcissism originates from the Greek mythology of young Narcissus who fell in love with his own image. This is often accompanied with ideas such as excessive self-love, vanity and conceit. According to the ideas of Sigmund Freud, all people are born with some sense of narcissism but as the child grows it realizes, that the world does not centre around the child alone but everyone has his or her own goals and ambitions. Yet a narcissist person fails to grasp this reality. He or she demands immediate gratification and has a very grand opinion of himself /herself. Not only that he/she wants to be approved by others. It is only then that such a person gains satisfaction.

In psychology, excessive narcissism is considered as a disorder known as narcissist personality disorder. Narcissism can be applied to a single individual as well as a group. When this applies to a group of individuals, this group displays superiority and indifference to the feelings of others. A narcissist is incapable of empathizing and uses others as objects that can be duped and manipulated for his interest. History bears evidence of narcissist leaders who were self-obsessed and drunk with power who used their authority to massacre many lives of people. For example,  Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin can be considered as narcissistic personalities.

What is Psychopathy?

Psychopathy also displays the grandeur, egocentrism and anti-social behaviour with a hint of sadism. Psychopaths are, usually, fearless to a level that they are indifferent to law and order and are numb and hollow to emotions. This is where the key difference between narcissism and psychopathy comes into play while narcissism demands approval, the psychopath is indifferent to validation and approval making it a more severe and dangerous situation. They have agendas of their own and fail to empathize with others. They manipulate and dupe others for their interests. There are mainly four types of psychopaths. They are,

- Primary Psychopaths
– Secondary Psychopaths
– Distempered Psychopaths
– Charismatic Psychopaths

Primary psychopaths, usually, have no agenda in life and would engage in antisocial behaviour most of the time. These people are incapable of any emotional bonds with others. Secondary psychopaths are quite similar to the primary psychopaths, in the sense they live to fulfill their temptations. Distempered psychopaths are easily raged and angered. They have very strong sexual drives and cravings such as drug addiction. Finally, charismatic psychopaths are charming individuals with a sense of demonic appeal around them. They are often gifted with some ability which they use to dupe others.

Difference Between Narcissism and Psychopathy

What is the difference between Narcissism and Psychopathy?

When looking at the similarities and differences between narcissism and psychopathy, a striking similarity between the two conditions is the ability to objectify others.

• Both narcissist and psychopaths have no empathy or a very low level of empathy that it is easy for them to view others as objects.

• The only motive of narcissist and psychopaths is to gratify themselves by whatever means necessary.

• However, while the psychopath is indifferent to others’ opinions of himself, the narcissist cannot risk this condition. His satisfaction can only be attained through the validation of others.

• Both see themselves as superior to fellow human beings that they are blind to their own flaws.

• Also, though a narcissist and a psychopath have the potential to be callous and destructive to others, the narcissist feels the necessity to rationalize his actions when his morality is in question unlike a psychopath who is completely amoral.