Are narcissists psychopaths?
Are narcissists psychopaths (i.e. Suffering from Antisocial personality Disorder)? I'm not knowledgeable enough about psychopathy to have a set opinion, but I tend to lean toward the view of the increasing number of those who see no real difference between these disorders.
The reason I lean that way is because I feel narcissists are capable of ANYTHING. The basic mentality seems the same, that of a predator. The psychopath is after the same thing as the narcissist. Our stereotype of the psychopath though just pictures him as going about it in a different way than the stereotypical narcissist.
A well-kept secret: Con artists, predatory priests, rapists, serial killers, wife beaters, incests, child abusers, animal abusers, bully bosses in the workplace, ruthless dictators, religious false messiahs (e.g., Jim Jones) - all are generally narcissists doing their thing. In different ways. But all are predators who view others as objects. All are sadistic. All are after the same thing.
Some say that narcissists have a conscience and psychopaths don't. I'm not so sure about that. In fact, I don't think a lack of conscience is exclusive to either of these types. Otherwise, for example, how could the vast majority of Europeans have gone along with, and been complicit in, the Holocaust? They weren't all psychopaths, were they? Anyone can turn their conscience into an unconscience anytime they want. They just conveniently unknow that what they're doing is wrong. That's just unforgivable, not psycho.
The difference is that the mentally deranged have their conscience and empathy permanently shut off, toward EVERYONE. I mean the entire human race. To paraphrase Jesus of Nazareth, they are the ones who will even hand their own child a poisonous snake when the child asks for food. That's exactly what a narcissist does (even a doting one), and don't try to tell me that anyone who does that has any conscience.
I think differences between narcissists and psychopaths may be an illusion. It's easy to see how authorities could be mislead.
We get most of our knowledge about Antisocial Personality Disorder from studies of violent criminals in prison. Researchers and psychiatrists know much more about them than they know of patients they see in clinics on the outside. So, they aren't going entirely on self reports of criminal psychopaths. They can compare the self reports of prison inmates with fact to detect lies.
For example, this article tells of a Canadian researcher who studied criminal psychopaths. If for example, the prisoner said he loves his family, the researcher checked to see how often he had contacted them. If he'd had no contact with them, the researcher noted the information as evidence of lying, not evidence of love for his family.
That doesn't happen when the narcissist on your coach says he loves his family. In narcissism, psychiatrists are relying on the self reports of pathological liars trying to pass for normal.
Of course they claim to have a conscience! But that's no reason to believe that they do.
Narcissism is fundamental to Antisocial Personality Disorder. Even calling NPD a "milder" form of it doesn't make much sense to me. You don't judge the severity of mental illness by the legality of the conduct it causes, let alone the severity of the criminal sentence involved.
What? A person is a just narcissist till he murders someone? Then he has a more severe disease than he had yesterday?
In that article Psychopaths Among Us, we learn from a leading researcher, Robert Hare, that the vast majority of psychopaths commit no criminal offense and many more have but haven't been caught. They are all around us.
...we now understand that the great majority of psychopaths are not violent criminals and never will be. Hundreds of thousands of psychopaths live and work and prey among us. Your boss, your boyfriend, your mother could be what Hare calls a "subclinical" psychopath, someone who leaves a path of destruction and pain without a single pang of conscience.
That estimate of hundreds of thousands is for Canada! Imagine what it would be for the United States or the European Union!
They're the charming predators who, unable to form real emotional bonds, find and use vulnerable women for sex and money (and inevitably abandon them). They're the con men like Christophe Rocancourt, and they're the stockbrokers and promoters who caused Forbes magazine to call the Vancouver Stock Exchange (now part of the Canadian Venture Exchange) the scam capital of the world. (Hare has said that if he couldn't study psychopaths in prisons, the Vancouver Stock Exchange would have been his second choice.) A significant proportion of persistent wife beaters, and people who have unprotected sex despite carrying the AIDS virus, are psychopaths. Psychopaths can be found in legislatures, hospitals, and used-car lots. They're your neighbour, your boss, and your blind date. Because they have no conscience, they're natural predators. If you didn't have a conscience, you'd be one too.
So, the distinction between narcissism and psychopathy is pretty hazy. Is it real? Frankly, I doubt it.