As you learn more about narcissism, you may uncover a distinct lack of conscience in some. You wonder, “Am I dealing with a sociopath, or worse? Psychotherapist Dr. Les Carter explains commonalities and distinctions regarding narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths.
Dr. Les Carter is a best selling author and therapist who lives in Dallas, Tx. Over the past 39 years he has conducted many workshops and over 60,000 counseling sessions.
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as you go about the task of trying to understand narcissism one of the things that begins to rise to the surface pretty quickly is I'm dealing with somebody here who is not at all healthy narcissists are troubled Souls they're they're underdeveloped in their conscience they're underdeveloped in the way that they engage with people they're like a little child who hasn't figured out yet that the world doesn't revolve around them now the deeper you go into your understanding of narcissism I'm sure that you can see you know there are other kinds of traits that spin off of that that can seem rather scary and then many people will ask me well yes I can see the narcissistic element here but am I dealing with a sociopath or perhaps am I even dealing with a psychopath and I think it's good for you to know what that's all about because the more you understand what's in front of you then the more you can make informed decisions about where you're going to go in relation to all of that so I want to see if I can break down the distinction between narcissism sociopathy and the psychopath and and as I do so I'm going to give a heading to each of these three categories to try to make it a little easier for you to understand when we talk about narcissism I'm going to use the heading dismissive when we talk about a sociopath I'm going to use the heading schemer and then when we talk about the psychopath I'm going to use the heading predator okay and I think you can already see where we're going with this it actually becomes a continuum with the psychopath all the way down at the far end now you know that with the narcissist we have a very high need for control a very low level of empathy a lot of exploitive and manipulative behavior they must be in charge they must be superior they have an alternate view of reality they can rationalize anything and everything and then when I put it put it under the heading of dismissive then there are certain other elements that we can add to that for example the the narcissist will over you themselves which predictably says then they undervalue you you're just a pond you're just a player on the stage as far as they're concerned and your worth and your value is not something they put much thought into at all other than how they can use you they do have that sense of entitlement there are certain things that I need but then in that dismissive sense it's like and I don't care what you need or they always have to be right well when they're right again going back to the dismissive word well then somebody's going to be wrong and guess who that's going to be they they have a strongly critical mindset and so in their criticism there there just has to be somebody who has to take the brunt of their annoyance and impatience and irritability and again that's going to be you and so basically the the narcissist concludes I'm really glad that I mean and boy what I hate to have to be you and these are people that just it's impossible to deal with them on any kind of long-term basis where you're going to have some satisfaction now let's take it up a notch and let's go to the the category of sociopathy now keep in mind I put the the overall overarching descriptor over that as the schemer associate pass are always cooking up some sort of a scheme let's keep in mind that they operate on the assumption that if there are rules out there those rules don't apply to me and so they see themselves as being above and beyond the standard operating procedures that everybody else has to go with now it could be that inside a business if a business has a certain protocol in terms of how they do things their thinking is but the protocol is going to be different for me because you see I'm way special I'm really smart and I'm a lot better than that or inside a relationship it's like well most people when they do relationships they handle it a B and C but I'm not most people and so they give themselves particularly in title morality is something that just is meaningless to them they may say that they're committed to you but then you find out that there's all sorts of stuff going on behind the scenes whether it's through addictive behaviors or through achieving their and and and being involved with multiple people at the same time rules and morality are just irrelevant to them it's whatever I feel in the moment and so they do not conform in fact they they like the idea that they don't conform and they they like to have toys that are a little bit different they like to have all sorts of activities and adventures that say you know I'm a I'm a pleasure seeker and you're going to see it and you're going to see it very easily around me now another ingredient that goes along with this is no remorse no guilt if you catch them red-handed at doing something they may say something to get themselves off the hook like yeah I guess I shouldn't have done that but at the end it's like it doesn't it doesn't sink down very deep at all if you or I were to do something really wrong I would hope that there would be a sense of agonizing and soul-searching that goes on sociopaths don't agonize sociopaths don't soul search now they can be very intelligent and they can intellectualize all sorts of aspects of life and they can talk as if they understand right from wrong but down at that gut level it's just not there they do and say whatever is expedient in the moment and then whatever accountability you want them to have it's like it's meaningless they wear masks and and they're they're chameleons who live to exploit now one of the things we can say about sociopaths is that they can be very skilled at picking out people that can be duped or picking out people that can be manipulated then because they're slick talkers and they can say whatever needs to be said in the moment and bring you in and and they tend to work pretty quickly and so one of the things that you want to watch for is when somebody tries to get you to join them and / have something that seems a little bit fishy but they say come on it's okay and they work real fast with you because they like pulling people in because then if there's something wrong they have someone that they can blame and it's going to be you now let's go to that place of the psychopath and I mentioned that the word we're going to have there is predator now a psychopath well when you see movies and things on television news and all like that the psychopath tends to have a very strong criminal mind I mean when we say they don't have a conscience they have zero conscience it's like they have no regard whatsoever for order it's completely all about themselves they have no need for compassion they do not attach well at all people are only only tools to be used and so they can be very cold-blooded in the way that they engage with folks they must be dominant they can have a very bad temper and they can be very overwhelming when somebody does something that that displeases them to the extent that they're punishing behavior can be very severe and abusive you are upon to be used by these individuals nothing else so they have a reckless disregard for any kind of order and they have no sense of accountability whatsoever and many times these people can can have such difficulty in engaging in an orderly kind of way that they operate kind of on the fringes and they they don't do well in regular jobs but they they have to have their own way and they just cannot have any kind of sense that says anybody's going to tell them what to do now narcissism the the dismissive person the sociopath the schemer and then the psychopath a psychopath the predator these are three very difficult kinds of categories that we can deal with and and I want you to see that there are some common themes between these all three of these categories operate with the presumption that you you are beneath them there is no sense of equality in the occasion with any of these three you are you exist being exploited you serve a function for them and whatever the function is it's going to be very self-serving and so if you think you're going to gain by being with these people think again because they have no regard for whatever gain you might want and then another common thing between these is there's little to no honesty what you see isn't necessarily at all what's really going on or what's a projection of what's going to happen you're dealing with smoke and mirrors and then another common thing with these is you stick with these people long enough you will be harmed these are not people who have any regard for your sense of well-being and then any pleading that you have for for a better treatment or any plea that you have for them to see their dysfunction is going to be dismissed so it's not a very optimistic kind of thing for us to understand or for us to engage with is it so as we look at these kinds of characteristics in these three categories I think it's going to bring you back to some of your basics asking is this really what I want now it's always fascinating to me when I see people who are drawn to that bad-boy mentality or that wild girl kind of mentality or it's almost as though we glamorized the people that get away with you know breaking laws and all of this and I'm frankly amazed when I watch some of the I don't watch them actually but when I know of movies that glamorize the the mean person that glamorized the people that break all the rules seriously is that really what we as a culture want to to hold up as something that's that's entertaining or that's something that we want to aspire to I hope that you can see through that and realize this this is not at all a way that anyone would want to engage and the scenes there's just much hurt and damage that goes along with it so as you understand these categories I'm hoping that you'll take it as a time for personal reflection looking at what these people are capable of and what their tendencies are I'm hoping you can ask what's my better alternative what what does goodness mean to me and how can I treat people in a way that never leads to the ways that these individuals do and and having this information I want you to be able to take it in a good direction and and ward off your your sense of vulnerability to those who cannot and will not agree with what you understand to be a right approach towards life now I'm hoping that you gain something from the videos that we put up here on our surviving narcissism Network beneath the video you'll see that subscribe button I would invite you to do that and we also have some links for some books and some online videos and I hope that you would take take availability of that I really enjoy doing these and and I like it in the comments from you and I will see you next time around