Narcissist or Sociopath (Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire)
This is a conversation that crops up quite frequently in terms of ascertaining whether somebody is a narcissist or a sociopath. It is something that I have discussed with the good doctors as part of their ongoing assessment and treatment of me. This has provided me with additional insight which I am obliged to share with you. It is universally acknowledged that all sociopaths are narcissists but not all narcissists are sociopaths. Rather than regard narcissists and sociopaths as two separate creatures, I regard them as existing on the same spectrum. You are on this spectrum as well just so you don’t feel left out.
Way off to the left are those people who exhibit some slight degree of narcissistic tendency, since everybody has them and this is where you are your empathic brethren reside. Moving to the right the intensity and the prevalence of these narcissistic tendencies increases although one would still not call somebody at this juncture a narcissist. Eventually as we continue to the right we enter the narcissist zone. Hereon in one finds the narcissist. To begin with, in this zone are those who I label as Lesser Narcissists. These people are narcissists but do not have the higher cognitive function. These people have no awareness of what they are, reject any notion they are a narcissist and operate in the main as a consequence of instant response and knee-jerk reaction. Moving further to the right come those who are the Mid-Range Narcissist. These are narcissists too but they have a cognitive function which is higher than that of the lesser. They have a greater awareness, there is some calculation and forethought but this is as a consequence of their higher function, not as a consequence of a prevailing sociopathy. Continuing to the right on this spectrum we now enter the sociopathic zone. We remain in the narcissistic zone still because the narcissistic traits remain evident but they are supplemented and indeed in some instances supplanted by the sociopathic tendencies. This is where we find the Greater Narcissist (the malign narcissist or the narcissistic sociopath). This is the overall spectrum ranging from few narcissistic traits which are weak in nature all the way through to a full-blown narcissistic sociopath.
This spectrum is an accumulation of Character Strands. These strands also operate on a spectrum. At the far left there is non-existent, moving through to occasional, then repeated, then prevalent and finally on the far right, overwhelming. These strands show the intensity and strength of certain key characteristics. Once these strands are bundled together there is a cumulative outcome which places the person at a particular point on the narcissistic spectrum. These strands explain why you may find someone who is to be regarded as a lesser narcissist because some strands show increased tendencies, for example prevalent Self-Interest but then lower intensity in another characteristic such as Malice. Just because somebody is a Mid-Range narcissist it does not necessarily follow that all the Character Strands are middling in nature. Some might be, others will be lesser and some higher, but it is when these are looked at as a whole that the determination of that person being a Mid-Range narcissist is arrived at. This also means that those people who have sociopathic tendencies will score differently in the character traits but will have some similarity with others, denoting the narcissistic element of their personality.
Thus a Lesser Narcissist is far more narcissistic than sociopathic and has a lesser cognitive function. A Mid-Range Narcissist is more narcissistic than sociopathic, but has a higher cognitive function than a Lesser Narcissist. The Greater Narcissist has narcissistic traits and also sociopathic ones and is high functioning.
With regard to the strands the Lesser, Mid-Range and Greater Narcissists all score higher than a “normal” person but there are still differences thereafter between the three, with some characteristics being greater in others and therefore the eventual “type” of narcissist will vary.
So, what are these Character Strands? They are as follows: –
Lack of Empathy
Desire to Exploit
Lack of Accountability
Lack of Insight
Ability to Mimic
Power and Control
Desire to Punish
Desire to Win at All Costs
Need for Stimulation
Spadework to Succeed
How then do the intensity markers – Non-Existent, Occasional, Repeated, Prevalent and Overwhelming – apply to each of these Character Strands and what levels on each strand combine to create one of the three schools of narcissist? At this stage, I thought I might leave that with you to consider by reference to your own experiences before I elaborate further.
65 thoughts on “Narcissist or Sociopath (Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire)”
Very interesting! Are you still of the estimation that ASPD is part of the greater schools?
Studying all your work now . 🙂 Thanks so much!! Combining your podcasts on YT, purchased some articles and audio fragments on the website here, all the free material on the blog also and ordered some books.
Couldn’t use Amazone, because they won’t ship to mainland Europe. But I found a store here, also that orders your books for me. So I am healing, supported and you are now my temporary bestie ;). Kidding, but not completely, your work gets me through the mist seeing straight again.
And your voice at night makes me imagine the presence of a kind wise man speaking to me, about his knowledge in the late evenings, at a fire place outside a cave of a tribal group. With me nodding off to sleep and having to re-listen to the podcast again in the morning. But I have some trouble getting Hugh Grant out of my head when listening to you since a day or so. Can’t help thinking about Bridget Jones. And what a Narcissist he played in the movie.
But more serious: I was indeed wondering about the schools ; lesser /midrange and greater, and where sociopathy and psychopathy would fit in. So this helped. And hearing you talk about the malign ways of the greater and really feeling no remorse ( lacking conscious development) I was indeed also thinking that the sociopathy would be around the level of the greater. I have mostly encountered midrange narcissist I think. Never so malign never much physical violent. But sulking, cheating, silence treatments, liars, facade managers publicly , jerks privately.
My question is;
Looking at the narcissist spectrum could you also differentiate from empaths- to normal -to Narcissistic -to Narcissist – ONLY BASED ON the lessened capacity of empathy?
It kind of feels like that some narcissist (maybe not the greater) can be shortly empathic for vulnerable people/animals, and emotionally triggered, but need more triggers to feel.
But I see the Mid-Rangers her. Not the vulgair screaming wife beating lesser. They seem worse.
Like could a very sensitive movie, news items about war and abandoned children activate that small amount of empathy with the first category of narcissists?
Could a narcissist, that would be moved to help animals and baby’s so forth be a lesser but with a high intelligence with a high education for example? Is a lesser always lesser intelligent? Or could they be lesser narcissistic with high intelligence.
The midrange cadre seem less narcissistic sometimes than the lesser or greater.
On the horizontal line from empaths to normals to narcissictics to narcissists to sociopath to psychopath it also seems that the emotional development is visible. Like the raging baby, the tantrum throwing and physical abusive toddler, the blameshifting 6 year old, the sulking and giving silence treatments 9 year olds.. and the mirroring young child and the tweener and young teenager with grandiose fantasies of being a super hero rockstar ruler!
Hope you can make any sense of my question. 🙂
A narcissist has NO emotional empathy. We can feign cognitive empathy, but there is no emotional empathy. What you see with regard to animals and inanimate objects is triangulation and also your emotional thinking may corrupt your narcissist trait of jealousy so you incorrectly think that the dog is being “loved” by the narcissist , so why cannot you be loved too. You are being conned.
Dear HG, thank you for answering.
I could order through amazone by the way, just not the links, had to just search them at our amazone.
With regards to animals, I have seen the narcissist care for dogs, I wasn’t jealous. I love animals so much they deserve anyones love always, it made me happy. Like with children.
But a closer inspection did discover that the mere fact of having the dog and walking it, didn’t make him care for them. And I often saw the animals being to confined for to long, and not being well taken cared for, just minimal. And the animals where only part of the facade or actually owned by another person. For me it is a very good red flag to notice, I can feel quickly when there is no real empathy with animals and children. So when there is prolonged (and independent of a partner) care of an animal and actual love, I can rule out narcissism. My narc count goes down by 1! My dad loved animals. Sleeping with two cats and two dogs on his belly, walking them so much, playing with them. Thank you for that!
Dear Mr Tudor,
Crickey, I must’ve been having a long nanna nap or mamma bear hibernation or my brain wasn’t in gear and functioning (more likely the latter haha) when you posted this article … I’ve never seen this before
Luv Bubbles xx
You are welcome.
I really needed this read it helped .
I’m struggeling with my diagnose BPD . I agreed in the past but I don’t feel much off the symptons nor ever felt now I did think I could have NPD you already told me no . The list you mention here I can only agree with 6 . LOL . Maybe I’am normal after all .
Can narcisstic child abuse create this kind of confusion ?
My Narc is actually a Sociopath, he knows what he is as well. Everything has come to light- and now I’m scared. He is full of malice. I thought I was dealing with a Narc, a mid range narc. Not so. Fuck.
Lol. Don’t listen to this people, I’m not arguing that there’s no truth behind what this guy says, but he or she is no licensed professional. Don’t diagnose yourself or others based on this blog. Seek professional help like sane, mature adults.
This guy might also be a lady, there’s no proven truth as to who he/she really is unless you know or have seen him/her with your own eyes. The radio voice may be auto tune. I say HG is a lady physically. However he/she chooses to identify in the LGBTQ community, is a different story. 😂
Hahahaha! That’s you, eh? Your ladyboy persona is named “Hug”.
God forbid someone should use facts to think for themselves and continue to be told what to think.
Molly, I don’t feel HG needs me to defend him; nor do I feel the need to defend myself when it comes to this blog. Your comment will do nothing for the ones who some may feel have already drank the koolaid. It is for the new ones who are still lost and thinking they are crazy just looking for a life line that I am giving this monologue.
You are correct, we know nothing about the man behind the curtain, aka HG Tudor. He could be a woman; he could be a guy trying to figure out how to pay child support. He could even be a male form of Mother Theresa acting only out of a pure heart versus this narcissist.
Let’s start with trusting him that he is at least narcissist. How does the psychology world understand mental health? They study. How do they study? Professionals observe behavior and talk to the actual people when they can. What this blog could be doing is removing the years of study with degrees, publishing of journal articles, conference discussions by those who did the study, and then the news or Hollywood picking it up. Either consider it efficiency; or prove these blogs wrong by connecting with a research group and doing a study.
Let’s say he isn’t a narcissist. Does it matter? I went to multiple doctors because I hurt when I ran. These doctors, with degrees and years of practice, prescribed advice: stop running. People are coming to this blog hurt, scared, angry, or curious because someone in their life has (or continues to) hurt them. Does one really need to have a degree to say “stop connecting with that which causes you pain?” That is essentially what these write ups are saying. It is a community of people saying “enough! I don’t want to allow myself to be treated like this.” Does it take a therapist to be the one to help a person to find the internal strength he/she didn’t know they had?
I will agree with you 100% that people should not be diagnosing themselves or another. It takes training, understanding of aspects of illnesses, and objectivity to truly be able to diagnose… and not good consequences come with wrong diagnosis (whether made a professional or a self appointed professional). Many who read HG will need therapy to work the issues/the past. I have yet to see where he is anti-therapy. What people on here don’t need to see is an insult (“Seek professional…” line above). No therapist would recommend insulting a person who is hurting, who is trying to find that initial lifeline to stop drowning and be able to get to a healthier next step. Respect them and where they are mentally; someone has taught them they aren’t worthy of respect. Why would you add to it when you are recognizing they need help? Encourage therapy with the understanding that “narcissism” is a relatively misunderstood diagnosis for even professional psychiatrists/psychologists. It is one thing to check the parts of the DSM to make the diagnosis; it is a complete other to understand enough to help family/friends/the narcissist.
Encourage therapy; encourage people to not diagnose but to realize that it doesn’t matter what the diagnosis is – just respect yourself to not allow yourself to continue doing that which is destroying you mentally and emotionally.
Sorry for the book…..
IMO the thing with this mental illness is it’s all such a mindf**k with so many levels it’ll never be understood. There’s not enough research on it because the last person you’re going to see walking into therapy seeking help is a narcissist. Most of them don’t even know what they are and the others are pleased that they are. Love the book btw
HG, might there be Greaters that have a non-existent or an occasional “malice” character strand?
Also after reading much of your work, you have said that Greaters do not resort to violence and have more self control, yet you had classified Ted Bundy as one.
Is it the composite of character strands and cognitive function that determine the different schools of narcs? Thank you!!
No, Greaters may resort to physical violence but it is rare (or the Greater will harness another appliance to do so on his or her behalf). A Greater may apply malice through such violence or (more rarely) it may manifest as a consequence of ignited fury.
Was it any of the good doctors who told you that you are a sociopath, HG? Or is it a self-assessment?
It was which one, Mr. Tudor?
Ah, now I see my mistake. No need to answer that!
However, I do have a question after all. Did the good doctors tell you that you were a born psychopath or a sociopath made due to trauma?
The greater narcopath could carry all the strands except the lack of insight.
The mid main strands are need for stimulation, self interest, ability to mimic, and patience.
The lesser Lack of insight, lack of accountability, and desire to punish.
Of course, I am guessing. Its not your writing HG but, I cant get which strands would put the lesser higher on sociopath spectrum.
I was curious your thoughts on how this comes to be. You said it happens in childhood. My ex-mother in-law said my ex was the perfect child. She didn’t notice a change in him until he was in high school… I am not sure about that. He has also made an abuse claim at 18, which I am not sure whether or not that is the truth either or if that can cause a change in behavior to the level. So my questions are; what age do you think these tendencies show up and can it occur in teenage years? I have read they are beginning to see signs in toddlers, but if it is nurture not nature, can it occur after the toddler years?
Oh, I haven’t read this article before; it’s interesting, but I’m wondering the same thing that’s asked above: do you mean that only high functioning narcissists can be sociopaths? My therapists (I have too now since I’m into psychoanalysis) both have concluded that I’ve had a relationship with a psychopath or at least a person with strong psyopathic tendencies as well as strong narcissistic tendencies. I’ve also done some serious reading and concluded that he does tick about every box of a psychopath. But when it comes to the narcissistic schools I would say he is a Lesser because of his all prevailing aggression. So couldn’t those two exist together?
And jokingly HG, if it’s a spectrum from left to right with the higher functioning cognition the further to the right you come; where does that leave us poor empaths in the matter of intellectual capacity?
HG I’d love to hear your views on this question, as I know a LMR. who I’d say is definitely sociopathic , and I’ve witnessed what I would now call a lesser who’s violent and full of malice
In afterthought – his malice will disappear in an instant. Ok , I get it.
But I still don’t get what sociopathy is exactly, then. I always thought it was lack of empathy
Very interesting. When i first found out my narc was a narcissist i found out via google and took 5 different tests and he came up as a sociopath. Hes very good at blending in and becoming different people. At first i thought it was multiple personality disorder but sociopath is what it is. Whats confusing to me is anti social is a trait usually. He can be very outgoing but also antisocial in nature. Its good to know there can be a mix in traits and intensities.
do you use any special term to describe a Greater Narcissist, who is fairly unintelligent and exhibits lying and manipulating abilities of a 5-year-old?
Something along the lines of the trending “Polish concentration camps” – nicely done, Germany, now you have us all convinced you are not the one responsible for holocaust and nobody even noticed when you rewrote history.
I’d divide them into eg. Sub-Greater, Mid-Greater and Greater Elite, because in my (biased) opinion simply calling them Greater would be a disservice to the Narcissistic community and the collective intellect.
A Greater would not be unintelligent, therefore he is not a greater.
Please note “fairly” preceeding unintelligent, meaning:
not utterly dumb but clearly proceeding without caution and exhibiting a lack of basic common knowledge (like “people talk, so if I pitch one against another with a poor lie then I may get in trouble”), while holding an academic degree. NCed for a long time.
Very well, though, let them all be Greaters, I’ll just refrain from the use of capital G in some cases.
There is a great difference in the standard of academic degrees.
He is most likely to be MMR or UMR on this further information, but a full disclosure of information would allow an accurate assessment.
Please help me understand, HG. Does high intelligence automatically classify a narcissist as a Greater or are there other factors involved?
No, there are other factors.
I apologize, to be more specific, does a sociopath need or want their partner to be subservient as well or are they more open to the challenge of a feisty and strong woman/target than a narcissist (lesser/mid-ranger narcissist)?
In terms of supply and targeting, I was involved with a narcissist and it seemed as if he wanted me to be subservient because I couldn’t express myself and he would react to my confrontations or my expressing how his actions are making me feel. He would blame me. Whereas, the other guy – who could have been a sociopath because he said that he loved that I was feisty and strong and is not attracted to weaker types so to speak. And he didn’t respond in knee-jerk reactions. He was calm (unlike the narcissistic guy). I thought that narcissists want a partner who is subservient like a codependent. So, does that mean that this other guy- who could have been a sociopath- does not want or need their partner to be a subservient (perhaps b/c it would be a challenge to them?)? I hope this made sense!
We want subservience yes, but it manifests in different forms which is applicable to the school and sophistication of the narcissist. Thus some narcissists wants the low-hanging fruit which rolls over and operates as co-dependent, whereas others relish someone who is more challenging but is ultimately conquered.
Low-hanging fruit, HG?! I am going to go and cry my little empath heart out now! Hurt!!! 😀
HG, I’m confused (and I have read several of your books and blogs, also watch your videos; thank you!)
Are you saying that only the Greater school of Narcissists can also be a Sociopath or are Sociopaths found amongst all the schools of Narcissists?
Good question.I had to come back and re-read this article since I also understood that just the Greaters had this sociopathic trait..being linked to their high cognitive functioning. I read some comments about a Lesser sociopath somatic ?
HG: Does that combination exist? Lesser somatic sociopath? I think this collides with sociopathy linked to high cognitive function? But perhaps I am misunderstanding?
Is a sociopath the same as ASPD?
One thing I’m gathering from all of this is a sociopath is extremely intelligent these types have the highest iqs , I wonder if this is the evolution of the human race, because there’s more and more of these people everywhere. Or if this is some alien blood that has been bred in lol. In any case it’s the real nightmare and monsters that you feared as a child.
I’m curious about how the lack of insight strand will manifest in a Greater Narcissist. I know a few narcissists and, quite consistent with your descriptions, I can identify each as lesser, greater and mid range with a reasonable level of certainty.
What always throws me off with Greater Narcissists is that they actually seem to display normal insight and lack of insight appears to be a treat that typically plagues the lesser, more reactive narcissists. The sociopath i know is incredibly insightful when she wants to be.
The lack of insight is only apparent as a manipulation with the greater since we are aware but usually will not admit to it in order to maintain control.
HG? I’ve read that psychopaths can indeed switch on their empathy switch in the brain when asked to (mirror neurons)! When they want to. Can you say something on this? Do you believe the areas in the brain highlighted in the research more because of “trying” to imagine or could they indeed access true own emotions (through the mirror neurons)?
I would need to read the relevant research to comment further ava101.
Trying to read this in a loud environment tonight, so it’s taking me longer to process. Also, I think the verbiage might differ from my country to yours? The character strands you describe: are these narc strands, or both narc/sociopath? And are they in an order indicative of severity of degree of narc tendencies? Empathy: I thought all B-cluster personality disorders lacked empathy (or at least all socio/psychopaths and narcs). Are you of the opinion that a lesser narc does have empathy? If all sociopaths are narcs, but not vice-versa, and no sociopaths have empathy, and mid-range narcs begin to cross into sociopathic range, then are lesser-narcs empathetic on some level?
On another note, I was researching your blog tonight specifically for posts about narcissists coupling with narcissists. I am watching (from a hopefully safe distance) a relationship between two narcs, each with their own bevvy of tentacles, and curious to see what (if any) common goal they have, as they part/reunite/part/couple with the masses/reunite, ad nauseum… I think you have written of these couplings: can you point me in the right direction, please? Thanks
Hello BO, the strands are narcissistic in nature and further up the spectrum include sociopathic strands. Yes they would be described in an order of severity.
No, there is no empathy involved, only that mid-range and greater can feign empathy based on observance and their increased cognitive function.
I haven’t written at length about such couplings, the ‘Narc on Narc’ action is something which is in the pipeline. I have occasionally referenced it in the occasional article and more usually in answering questions on the blog.
Explained brilliantly. Best I’ve read yet!
Again, this is so comprehensive. I can see the spectrum in my mind, with the marker and color scheme. Both of mine seem to be on mid or in the malignant zone based on this. Your specifying the traits allowed me to check each off. The majority applied to each, but at different levels.
If you had to rank each of the traits as they applied to you, what would the top and bottom three be?
Looking forward to your next post on this.
What is the fuel for the SOCIOPATHS with out NARCISSISM?!
Excellent confirmation. Thanks HG for unpacking the chaos I thought was (for) real for so long. Wow.
Oh but someone CAN BE both a narcissist and a sociopath. It doesn’t happen often, but they’re out there.
Indeed, which is precisely what I have referred to.
Interesting. Thanks for the vital info. I wonder how this correlate to the Golden Child, Spoiled, Can do no wrong, will always be on the Pedal Stool, Overvalued and Idolized with strong Entitlement in all areas from home, career and social means with gratification in compliance with set illusions. This is definitely self discovery for some.
Hmmm so my understanding was that Ps and Ns are on the same spectrum with a P being the greater but more chaotic and less likely to care if they got caught. Ns don’t want to get caught out if it would incarcerate them. S’ on the other hand share the traits but have less charisma and are more likely to be loners they’re on an equal pegging with a P but plot and plan and are less impulsive.
But I’ve read many differing views on each.
Essentially though they’re all destructive and not very nice.
But this is just my understanding. I’m very interested to read yours and your doctors thoughts on this HG in your next post.
I had the same understanding of the difference between the sociopath and the psychopath. That the psychopath is plotting and planning, very charismatic and experts of ‘fitting in’. In contrary the sociopath is impulsive, non charismatic and loners.
Therefore I had assumed that the higher rated narsissists with ASPD would be psychopaths and the lower rated narsissists would be sociopaths..
Am looking forward to reading more on this subject. Until recently, I always believed patience was an empathic asset. It involved kindness and understanding. After my involvement with my N. – I now see the other side of patience. His side. The patience a predator has luring his prey. The patience of creating lengthy silent treatments. The patience of waiting months to Hoover…
From your blog, I now see it’s all a spectrum.
A very intriguing post, HG.
Clearly that is a relevant interpretation.
I was going to comment that “impatience” should be the character strand in order to be consistent with the scale to match the others.
With my wife the impatience with me is one of the worst narc aspects. I am set up for failure to meet promises with a time duration limit. I have to apologise for always beeing late and too slow even in cases where I think it is very very clear that the demands are totally absurd.
Hope, the ex-GNarc was extremely patient. He watched me for 10 years before making his move. After nearly 5 years with him, he discarded me out of the blue and has been extremely patient (more likely busy with his new source) with his silent treatment (11 mos. and no hoovers). My son’s GF, is the complete opposite, she’s the extremely impatient Narc. After consulting with HG privately, he said he considers her to be a mid-range. All I know, is they’re all crazy and my patience is stronger than it’s ever been now. I want nothing to do with any of them ever again.
And if they have all of the traits which are in constant motion, when can they become violent? My ex would nver pull the trigger, he would convince or manipulate some one to do his dirty work…
What do you mean by constant motion?
Each character trait is used with every word, action, plan, person, conversation….he rotates these on a constant basis.. Every word he uses every thought he thinks are all specifically chosen for some ultimate agenda..
Wow great . Very well explained. You are a genious!!! Simply the best ❤️💝
Makes me want to punch him again and again.