In the world today, it is not uncommon to see people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) or sociopathy. These are terms used to define individuals who exhibit certain characteristics such as:
• A lack of empathy; • A need for admiration; • An inability to feel guilt or remorse; • A tendency toward manipulation and deception; • Lack of realistic long-term goals and plans; • Impulsivity and poor judgment.
What does this mean for you?
If you have any one of these traits, then chances are that you may fall into the category of having a narcissist in your life.
If you do, then what is there to worry about?
You don’t want to become one of them!
It is important to understand that while some people with NPD/Sociopathy can be charming and charismatic, they cannot sustain relationships over time. They will eventually lose interest in you and move on to someone else.
The good news is that most people with NPD/Sociopathy are capable of changing. There are many ways to help them change, but first you must realize that they exist in the first place. Once you accept this fact, then all other issues can be addressed.
How do I know if my child has Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Sociopathic Personality Disorder?
It is important to seek the advice of a professional for this issue, however there are some telltale signs that you can look for:
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) has specific criteria that must be met before a person is officially diagnosed with NPD/Sociopathy. However, these characteristics are still relevant even if your child does not meet all the criteria.
Common traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
1. They believe they are superior to others.
2. They have a persistent and consistent need for admiration.
3. They have an extreme sense of entitlement and lack of empathy.
4. They have a tendency to be envious of others.
5. They believe that they are special and unique and can only be understood by other special or high-status people.
6. They require excessive admiration 7.
They have a sense of arrogance 8. They are interpersonally exploitative and take advantage of others 9. They lack guilt or remorse for the pain they may cause others 10. They have a tendency to be callous towards others 11.
They have a lack of realistic life goals 12. They are manipulative 13. They have a low sensitivity to punishment
Common traits of Sociopathic Personality Disorder:
1. They tend to be impulsive and reckless 2. They have problems with substance abuse 3. They show violent behavior 4.
They have problems with criminal behavior 5. They show primary psychopathic traits, such as a lack of realistic long-term goals and plans; Impulsivity and poor judgment 6. They display a lack of responsibility 7. They show irresponsibility 8. They display a lack of realistic long-term goals and plans; Impulsivity and poor judgment 9. They have problems with substance abuse 10. They show a lack of attachment to others 11. They display a lack of empathy 12. They are prone to hostility and potentially violent 13. They show reckless disregard for safety of self or others 14. They fail to accept responsibility 15. They fail to adapt to society 16. They have an inability to develop lasting intimate relationships
The telltale signs are typically there from birth, but the problem can be masked in childhood and adolescence by parents, teachers, friends, and peers. Those with a lack of empathy and guilt tend to push the boundaries until they get into trouble. For example, a child that is stealing from a store may simply not understand the morality or repercussions of their actions. As adults, these types can be successful with their tactics until they reach a level in which they meet harsher judgments from the law.
In adulthood, they may still seek out parents or authority figures to take blame for their own actions, since they lack an internal sense of right and wrong. Without this ability to connect with others on an emotional level, they can easily be friends with someone based on utility rather than fondness.
What can you do to help a sociopath?
You could try to set boundaries, but ultimately they will only be followed if they are in the best interest of the sociopath. Since they are deceitful by nature, any attempt at setting rules may be undermined. You can try to get them help, although without constant support, they will return to their old ways.
Most importantly, you need to look out for yourself and possibly others around the sociopath. They may use you as a pawn in their dangerous games.
Dealing with a Sociopath?
You may think you know one when you see one, and the stereotype is typically correct. A majority of them are men, due to genetic factors that increase risk-taking behavior. They have lower levels of empathy and disregard for law and social rules. They often engage in impulsive acts of violence. These actions may be criminal or not, but they always reveal a lack of regard for others.
A majority of sociopaths are not killers or serial rapists. They may be successful professionals, but they often lack the necessary skills for their chosen careers. For example, they may be great lawyers due to their intelligence, but they typically do not make good ones due to their habit of conflict. It is difficult for them to work within a team.
They do not typically suffer from hallucinations or delusions, although some report hearing internal voices that drive them to act in a certain way.
Sources & references used in this article:
Narcissistic leaders by MF Solomon – 1992 – WW Norton & Company
The long-term organizational impact of destructively narcissistic managers by M Maccoby – Harvard business review, 2000 – academia.edu
A philosophical critique of the concept of narcissism by R Lubit – Academy of Management Perspectives, 2002 – journals.aom.org
Narcissism, identification, and longitudinal change in psychological health: Dynamic predictions by ET Gendlin – Patologies of the Modern Self, 1987 – focusing.org
The impact of pathological narcissism on psychotherapy utilization, initial symptom severity, and early-treatment symptom change: A naturalistic investigation by P Cramer, CJ Jones – Journal of Research in Personality, 2008 – Elsevier
Narcissistic leaders by WD Ellison, KN Levy, NM Cain, EB Ansell… – Journal of Personality …, 2013 – Taylor & Francis
The” New Narcissism” in 20th-Century America: The Shadow and Substance of Social Change by M Maccoby – Contemporary Issues in Leadership, 2001 – books.google.com