Posted by: dianaiannarone | January 25, 2014

A Very Detailed Look at the Distinguishing Differences Between a Sociopath and a Narcissist; from My Perspective

Although I am not a clinician, I feel comfortable saying that I have a high degree of expertise in understanding the behaviors and patterns of sociopathy,  I garnered my knowledge by foolishly choosing continual suffering under sociopaths’ “rule” for more than 15 years.  These choices were made in all walks of life, my personal relationships, my business partnerships, and worst of all…BOTH.  Surely being in such a single relationship for 15 years, and experiencing the lasting impact of such insidious behavior would give anyone wisdom and cause great despair. Yet in some ways, I look upon my experience covering multiple sociopathic relationships in that time frame with gratitude, because what I am clear on is that I was able to learn that the patterns of each of these sociopathic individuals differ very little. This awareness can be quite empowering. Knowing their calculating mind grants us, at varying levels, power over their “games” and a clearer escape route when we realize that leaving is the only correct option. This I know.  I specialize in helping people out of these relationships, because it is what I know and what I must do!

Upon finally obtaining the knowledge of traits, patterns, and deviant behaviors—the many red flags—I was granted a keen clarity as I moved past that life. This awareness is what gave me the ability to steer clear of sociopaths over the last seven years…and steer clear still yet today. I spot them with relative ease…and sure it is always conceivable that I could be wrong at times in my somewhat quick assessments, but I spend little time pondering that. Rather, I choose to only surround myself in love and anything in contrast to that can be easily released. That decision to surround myself in only Love is what led to my next awakening.  The awakening was to understanding the vastly different, although in some ways remotely the same, strategies of the narcissist.

I have now come to realize that I sort of grouped sociopathy and narcissism in the same category, to my huge detriment. It is when we are blind to any truth that we can be bitten by it. Now I assuredly and with conviction include narcissism in my repertoire of knowledge. It is the fact that the elements of behavior are a distinctively different modus operandi, that caused me to almost miss the reality of the trap I was poised to enter.

Any of us can conclude that engaging with those with no conscience is unbearable…yet the element of surprise in the entanglement with a narcissist might feel even more readily unrecoverable, once you are destroyed by it; as if any annihilation could be measured as “worse.”  This avoidable pain is why we must educate and help people see the truth and signs of all these unconscionable beings, regardless of what label might be suitable. I choose to make increasing awareness of the prevalence of these individuals part of my life purpose, thereby giving meaning to my previous suffering and reward for my past pain.

Granted, there certainly is overlap of characteristics in these dark shadow dwellers…but from my perspective the game is played quite differently between a sociopath and a narcissist, which is how I managed to be partly deceived again this last year.  This time, thankfully, my past experiences made me aware and observant and allowed me to acknowledge in my mind and heart the possibility that all that was being shown to me was, well, just a lie. THIS awareness makes it much less painful, but painful nonetheless. Because of my willingness to acknowledge that someone could betray at such a depth, I was released from the debilitating destruction that I would have otherwise known. Yet encountering that experience, gave me insight into a new level of pain caused by the sudden and complete disregard that I understand now is pure narcissism.

The variance in strategy between these two harmful beings is measurable and can catch you a bit off guard if you don’t consider the stark difference.

Similarities between Sociopaths and Narcissists in my experience

  • The claim they have never been loved like this before.
  • They often state that no one has ever understood them as you do.
  • They desire to move quickly, (marriage, live together, children) and claim a once-in-a-lifetime love. Of course they must move quickly so they trap you, before you see the truth!
  • They talk about Soul mates, spiritual connection, twin flames, and many lifetimes together.
  • They claim they have been victimized/betrayed/crucified by those they loved and trusted. They long to find their path again, or for the first time.
  • They both strive to isolate you.
  • They both lie to accomplish whatever their goal is in the moment.
  • There is a mystique or aura of attraction—a charisma (at least to those that are asleep, once awake, that feeling is more like nausea).

Similarities; with a subtle and critical difference

  • Devoted claims of Love, a forever mentality, a honeymoon phase.

The sociopath though, loves intermittently. You get doused in it…then you see some anger and hate, then you get doused in love again, and then you see anger and hate and so on. You keep believing in the relationship because when you are doused in the love it feels so good that you keep trying to behave better so you can get that love back. Part of that behavior is not seeing and doing things that upset him. Often the most paramount thing that creates issues is the intensity of his/her jealousy so you feel forced to isolate from everyone to avoid his/her wrath.

The narcissist “loves” so amazingly, that you almost are no longer grounded in reality…at all.  It is like you are in a state of Euphoria…surreal…a love beyond earthly possibilities and you never want to lose it, so you are 100% devoted and will even isolate yourself with little effort on his/her part. You want more of the beautiful, never before feeling of being loved, even though it is only an illusion.

  • They are both bullies. The narcissist is more subtle in his/her bullying technique. The sociopath bullies by often diminishing and controlling you. The narcissists’ bullying is often held until you question or push back on “his/her majesty.” The sociopath has a better awareness of his/her deviance and cruelty.  The narcissist, has awareness, but cannot accept it, because to accept it would mean he would have to acknowledge he was not the pure goodness, god-like being he chooses to believe he/she is.
  • Whatever went wrong is ultimately our fault, although this is presented quite differently with a sociopath vs. a narcissist. They both blame. The sociopaths’ blame is wrapped in the idea, that you are a bad person, that you have bad intentions. The narcissists’ is more about insisting you failed to love them as devotedly as they love you, leaving you with the impression that you can fix this.
  • They both objectify you, one for control,  the other for attention/supply. Realizing this means that neither one, no matter what you may see or feel to the contrary, have the slightest consideration that you are a human, with true feelings and emotions.

For a sociopath:  You are simply an object that they wish to manipulate and control.

For a narcissist: You are simply an object to provide their source of love and adoration, which is defined by stroking their ego to continually, perpetually, reinforce their god-like image. It is almost a worship, and they make themselves seem worthy of it.

  • They both criticize you, one to make you small, the other to “help guide you.”

A sociopath is more overt than the narcissist, they talk about the devoted love and wanting the two of you nestled in a “cocoon of love,” but they are less like a god and more like a victim…”but I have been so harmed by people that were supposed to love me” and you feel you want to heal them and make them whole. You want to behave so as not to betray them. They speak of betrayal by all those before you…so you are devoted to absolute loyalty, on a tightrope to never betray them.

A narcissist is more covert: They present themselves to model the behavior they want to receive from you. They reflect a certain level of “nobility,” “sacred love,” a sense that they long for that dream love they have always wanted, that they have given but never received. You are set up to feel you must aspire to that level of pure Love…devoted of course to them, as they claim he/she will be to you. He/she speaks of being misunderstood, always doing good, yet crucified nonetheless, much like Christ. He/she doesn’t understand why people turn on him/her, genuinely, they don’t understand.  They do not accept the truth about themselves.

Illustration of the Subtle Differences from My Perspective

Sociopath vs. Narcissist

Sociopath says: “It is all your fault because if you didn’t do that, I would not have done this…”

You are saying to yourself, what just happened? I didn’t do anything wrong.  Why is he telling me I did?  You are clear you didn’t do anything wrong, but you feel the need to not hurt him again, betray him, so you rein in your behavior. You are focused on not harming him.

He/she says this so you will behave better next time—you will be more careful not to hurt him, make him jealous, say something wrong, you will act better, behave, so you will not hurt him, like so many before you have.

You are now being controlled.

So in essence a sociopath shames youyou are a bad person (tramp, slut, whore, liar, thief) and then you feel guilty and begin to doubt yourself. Wow, am I that? Behavior you always thought was okay, suddenly makes you feel dirty or bad, and so you change your behavior. You think, if he just needs me to rein in this so he can feel more secure, then I should.  He/she will love me, once they know I would never hurt them.

So with a sociopath you are trying to get them to see you as the good person you are. You try and prove you are not the slut, tramp, liar he/she says you are.

Yet, you never will.

Narcissist: They are more subtle, a sort of, “I told you it would hurt me if you did this, and now you have done this…such pain you cause me.”

You are saying, “Wow, he/she did tell me that these were things he didn’t want me to do, and I guess I did kind of do that…wow I feel so bad.” The narcissist is a little better at positioning things so that the guilt/shame he puts on you seems more real…like there is just enough truth in it, based on how he set things up. Like if you heed his/her guidance you will somehow be a better person. You are focused on Loving him as he describes he deserves.

He/she says things in this manner so you will love them more completely, more fully devote yourself to them…it is about getting more love from you, more strokes to his/her fragile ego—as this is not surprising since it is, of course, all about him/her.

So in essence a narcissist guilts you—presents to you the opportunity for growth. He claims that you didn’t love him the way a person that loves him should.  This is especially true if you question or push back on him/her.  He/she will say things like “and she says she knows me” or “how could you think this of me? Big problem if you believe this of me!” As a result you feel shame and you try harder to love him more devotedly; you know, as well as he loves you. And he does love you well…it just isn’t real.

So with a narcissist, you are trying to love him as he/she deserves/requires to be loved, so that you will be worthy of him/her staying with you, so you will continue to be the chosen one and therefore receive his/her devoted love.

The distinction is this:

With a sociopath:  You failed to be a good person.

With a narcissist: You failed to love him/her like they deserve/require.

The Sociopath is constantly reaching out, touching base claiming they are missing you, desiring you…loving you, especially in your absence. They want to see you receive this well because then they know they can delude you. They pursue you hard and long. They are relentless.

What they are really doing is hunting you and assessing your whereabouts so they know what you are doing, who you are with—it’s all about control. You feel loved by all the devoted attention, you feel you must be really important…you do not see it as stalking, you see it as loving attention.

A sociopath chooses you and then hooks you, and he knows you are hooked when he can control you…financially, spiritually, emotionally, mentally etc.

The Narcissist may frequently reach out…yet it is sometimes only at first, although this is not always the case. They want to see who will devote themselves to them…make them the center of their world, so they invite you to call, reach out. They tell you how important and happy it makes them feel when you do show them love, attention, value their work or efforts and when we comply as the devoted supporter, they tell us how beautiful we are, how they are so lucky to have found us, that we are the most important person in their life, their priority, and away we go to our destruction. They are better than any other at responding to you, and mimicking what you need, want, desire…the perfect person…whose persona is nothing more than whatever it has to be to get your devoted love, praise, adoration—Supply. They want to be pursued, admired, ideally—worshipped.

What they are really doing is seeing if you will turn all your attention on them., At an unconscious level they believe they need your air being breathed into them to survive.  They experience a sense of being nothing without your supply.

A narcissist chooses you based on how you respond to them, how you love them, how much you stroke their ego and make them feel like they are bigger than life, important, talented; that is their fuel.

Very Important Distinctive Difference in Behaviors

Sociopath: The mask slips rather frequently on a sociopath. Their evil is more present, more visible and yet we excuse it away. We see their acts of cruelty, their violent/aggressive/critical words/ and actions…but they manage to control us and convince us that what they just did was just a result of their troubled childhood, they want to be better, they will be better, because we are worth it. They wouldn’t have done such cruel things if we hadn’t said or done whatever we did.  Then they will blame, yell, scream, diminish, insult, call us names…but then they ask for our empathy, which is both our greatest strength and our greatest weakness. They will ask us to understand that their wound is so deep because of their past and so we forgive. Of course we still believe we are to blame, we will have to behave better next time, so as not to hurt and upset them so much. It is the least we can do for their poor hurting souls.

This is a huge distinction because, this is what should have been our red flag. This is where the obvious warning rests…and if we heeded it we would save ourselves. If we simply asked ourselves if we would do what we witnessed them do, we might realize and label their behavior as cruel, and begin to decide we need to get out.

Later, when we are out and awake, we can see this and say…we should have known better.  Remember though both narcissists and sociopaths use their “charm” to charm us under their spell.  We want to believe in them, and they want it that way.

There is an expression by Dolly Parton  “The first time someone shows you their true colors, believe them.”  From this day forward…

Narcissist:  Because they want you to pursue them, they are extraordinary at making us  feel devotedly and consistently loved. They do this for one reason; so they can get their supply.  Uniquely then, their mask does not slip as much as a sociopath’s. They only want someone that will give them everything they need, so they present a nearly flawless, love-filled being to you. So, they don’t hunt, as much as choose.  They choose you, and you feel chosen, a sense of being the “lucky one.”  They lure you in, but then observe just how devoted to them you will be. If you don’t come through, they try and spur you on, but if nothing satisfies them, then they move to the next person in waiting, without much warning to you.  There are shifts, if you know what to look for, like shorter and less frequent contacts, less pouring on of love…this is their trolling phase where they ignite those in the wings to come to the center.

While you are coming through for them with your devotion to their level of expectation or beyond, wow, you will get the illusion of love, honor and support of a lifetime…for awhile anyway. Until the discard. You will see little drops in the mask, a sort of hot and cold behavior if you push back or question them.  If you continue to disagree with them,  you will soon be gone. Ultimately, the discard occurs because it is impossible for anyone to satisfy the unquenchable need for love, attention and adoration these empty, seemingly soulless individuals require. Imagine you are breathing into a balloon that is the size of our planet, and imagine incessantly blowing the air into it, to fill it…and when you attempt to gather your breath and strength to continue your devoted desire to give all you have…they are already gone, disgusted by your pause…it happens before you know what happened. The mask begins to slip when they are ready for the discard, and often not before, aside from glimpses if you push back or question. That sudden death, is the part that is so impossible to grasp…ON…OFF.  Period. Very little warning, it is just done. This is the part that is so difficult to comprehend and causes the horrible experience of cognitive dissonance.  What did I do wrong?  He/she Loved me so devotedly?  Suddenly, you are dead to them, as long as they have another fulfilling source; although, they will attempt to keep you in the wings….they realize they might need you, their OBJECT and source, soon. When they contact you, they expect you to be ready to restore all your love to them.

The Termination from My Perspective

The nature of the “ending”  is a significant important difference.

Sociopath:  This relationship is over on his/her terms.  And if you ever try and end it they will try everything to stop you…everything; charm, violence, deceit, crime, set-ups, threaten their suicide, threaten your death, revealing your secrets…you name it.  He/she MUST have someone to control and if you leave on your terms, then they FAILED, LOST…that cannot happen.  Sociopaths are in some ways more evil…because their intention from the beginning was to harm, control, WIN. That is the part that makes sociopathy harder to grasp.  How can someone be so cruel?

It is this refusal to release that is so shocking and unbearable. You want to get free and you can’t. They keep finding new ways to trap you, guilt you, shame you…overpower you.  No limits on what they will do to keep you.  And as long as they feel in control…it is all good—for them.

The sociopath fades away when he is clear he no longer controls you.  Once you take your power back, he/she is having no fun. (In the case of having children with one, it is sadly rarely if ever over, as the pawn is the child(ren) in the game that he leverages and uses to control you. Certainly there are things you can do to help manage through these difficulties, but it is a sad scenario indeed).

Narcissist:  The narcissist seems less aware of just how evil he/she is. They come into every relationship just blindly looking for that fuel, love, adoration, praise…the world in their mind, revolves around them…and they see no issue or challenge with that?!  They believe that they cannot live without the fuel for their ego, they can never be empty of fuel.  So in essence they need a harem, or a supply that goes broad and deep. They don’t see this as an issue. In their confused minds they are giving love, so what is the problem?  Yet, they cannot really give love…they are simply mimicking the kind of behavior that they know they must do to get their supply. If you relinquish some of your devotion, lessen their supply or show the slightest inkling that you are questioning their superior self…you are being moved to the discard pile. Thou shall not question thy King! Then BOOM gone, UNLESS, the new chosen one fails to comply, then he will return with his/her “love” and charm…and attempt to lure you back in, and if he/she is successful, your pain will be twice as bad as you recover from yet another discard.

The search for devoted souls never ends for them, and you are always in play, unless he/she knows there is nothing for them from you anymore. The lack of evidence of evil that virtually does not appear in any meaningful way until the end is near, is what I feel makes the discard so shocking and unbearable. This is like the death of a loved one in a sudden car crash—no preparation time to prepare for the loss, all you loved is just gone and it is devastating. There were little to no signs it might end until the end was nearly upon you, whereas with sociopathy, you know there is trouble, you experience his/her hate, you just keep hoping beyond hope it will all resolve and you will get that love back you once felt. This is why I say recovery from narcissistic “love” is so difficult, because you can’t go back and see the evil like we can with sociopathy, so you just feel you screwed up, somehow it was your fault, it had to be, nothing else makes sense. But hear me; it wasn’t your fault.

The narcissist fades away when he/she can no longer get your attention, adoration, love—supply.  As I said he/she may return, and he/she will expect his/her ample dose of supply. Whenever he/she returns, once a week, once a month, once a year, he/she expects your full cooperation and anticipates you will devote yourself completely. Once there is a full release, although devastating…it at least allows for no contact, which you need in order to recover and yet you will not want to have no contact.

Both of these relationships are addictive in that you want more of what you know you should not have. And neither of these individuals truly LOVE anything. They are incapable of love.  YOU must embrace that to move forward.

 Considerations and a Metaphor to Exemplify the Differences

Remember both traits can exist in one individual. Most of us have some narcissistic traits, wanting validation, attention, to be adored, loved…but it is the willingness to give that to others in true unconditional form that distinguishes us from “them.”  A sociopath, instead just wants control…the rest is unimportant, no matter how important they may delude you into believing anything else is, controlling you is all that matters.

Know that this psychopathy does not discriminate; perpetrator and victim can be either gender.

A dear friend of mine gave me a metaphor of a narcissist and sociopath in the water. I expounded on it and believe this metaphor depicts the experience in each type of relationship reasonably well:

Imagine being in the water…

If you are with a sociopath: He has little doubt that he can swim, but all that really matters to him is that you too are in the water. In every moment he is calculating, how can I manipulate or harm this person so I can win whatever contrived game I have conjured in my head. As a result, he will take pleasure in pretending he can’t swim, at which time you will swim to rescue him, as you have so many times before. He will of course, pull you under, because he can. You decide he is just panicking, and try harder to save him. But he is not pulling you under because he is panicking, no, he is just pulling you under because he can. He does not concern himself as to whether or not you can breathe, or whether or not you are okay, he is just purely taking pleasure in manipulating you into helping him, watching how hard you are trying to save him, and in the end, if he is standing on your head and you are underwater, he won.  That simple.  Later, he will tell you how he was panicked, he is so sorry, how he never meant to harm you. And it will never happen again.  He may even express a fleeting second of gratitude, coupled with how if you were really trying to save him you would have done a better job.

So my advice is, if you are with a sociopath, and he screams for help in the water…from a distance say “I know you can do it honey!  I hope you pull this off!”  And you know what?  He easily will, and then he will tell the story of his/her near death experience and how you idly watched him suffer.  And knowing you didn’t respond to his/her performance demanding assistance, he will now know you just aren’t going to be as much fun anymore. So he will raise the stakes, try harder to garner a reaction from you.  Note that the less you save him, the freer you will become. Once you are empowered to not rescue him, you are positioned to find your way out. A sociopath is more aware than a narcissist of the harm he causes. A sociopath is just focused on winning, defined by controlling you in whatever way he decides.

If you are with a narcissist: He believes he cannot swim and cannot learn to swim without someone else to help him. He feels he needs someone else for his/her survival.  So seeing you in the water, he will naturally start climbing up you to get to the source, air, but he is not doing this to harm you. He really isn’t even paying attention to you. He is just thinking about himself, his/her survival and getting to the surface. He sees you there and says there she is, there is my means of getting my source of air!  I am so grateful to be in the water with this person/object. What would I do without this person/object? Oh they are so beautiful to me right now. And we of course are happy to help him get to the surface. He is not trying to drown us, he is just taking himself to the surface in the only manner he sees that will work. The hard part about being in the water with a narcissist is given his/her mask seldom slips you can’t even imagine abandoning him…so you save the love of your life. You devote every ounce of energy you have to this effort. Now you can hardly breath, you are exhausted…you have nothing left to give. You are no longer focused on him you are catching your breath to recover, so he is done with you.  No supply = No value.

The narcissist is more self deluded. He doesn’t get that he is evil. He can’t accept that because acknowledging that would destroy him in his mind. Actually, it might begin to set him free, if only he could accept the truth of his nature.

The most important thing to remember is that either way YOU are ultimately going to drown. Don’t get in the water…and if you are in the water, swim to safety without him/her.

In the end, the label means nothing.  What matters, is your peace, well being and happiness.

Copyright 2014 by Diana Iannarone


Responses

  1. Your comments regarding the never ending viscious cycle with children in a divorce with a sociopath/narc ring ominously true for me now almost nine months separated. Any recommendations? For dealing with it specifically? It seems there is no way out for the kids or me.

    • I understand the desperation you feel, as if there is no way out, but it is precisely that thought that will keep you trapped. I don’t know what stage of the process you at relative to the tug of war that you are enduring with the children. If you communicate with him/her and that is how they get you, you need to become more Columbo like, less articulate and more vague, as any info you give will be used against you. Also, you need to become a one liner guru, i.e. yes, no, that can’t happen, no it is not possible…and so on. My guess is you explain too much as is the nature of those of us that have been abused for long periods. My best advice is get on my calendar for a free consult so I can actually know your situation. And if you can send me details in email without it being read by your ex, do so as it will help me be more prepared to help you. Send an email to Diana@redthornsolutions.com There is no obligation, and a lot can happen on the consultation. Don’t dare give up! That is the ultimate win for them. If you email me, I will email you back some times. Good luck (and read my book if you haven’t, it is filled with advice, here is the link to get it http://tinyurl.com/Book-Kindle-D-Iannarone or you can go to my website http://www.redthornsolutions.com

  2. My Fathers to a tee. Cant control me anymore as at 45 I have been NO contact for 1 year. Unfortunately as a consequence he has poisoned my mother against me. We were once close. I am now No contact with her. I hope my brother will stay neutral but I know that it is unlikely as my father will stop at nothing to destroy me. You see, he cant control me anymore, but he can control how others see me. Fuck em, I know I am good person. I now refuse to let my children near them as I see how toxic they are. It took me 44 years to work it out which seems common. It makes me sad to think how many young people are being emotionally abused by these monsters & yet feel its their fault. No contact is the only way to start healing. Good luck to you all, the best way forward is to lead a happy life & dont EVER go back…

    • Bravo for being strong enough to walk away, and you are right, you can not control how others see you, what matters is who YOU see in you! May you embrace those that love you…family is does not have to be blood! Yes, I feel for all those who suffer too…hopefully information will continue to be more available so people can be educated and get out early!

  3. One of the best reads on this topic- so helpful for me to understand the difference and what im faced with… thank you for sharing xx

    • Thank you for your kind feedback. I am glad you found this valuable. You might want to watch this you tube video as well. https://youtu.be/mL36ui-EvfM Remember that you can decide the quality of your life and it begins with how you treat yourself and how you allow others to treat you. My book might help too, there is a tab at the top of this page. Bottom line, old wounds need healing for new life to begin. Of course I am not sure you are someone who has tolerated this kind of abuse or are simply intererested in the topic, but either way I hope you find whatever you are looking for. (My apologies, I misread your note…I see now you said “what I’m faced with” I do offer a free consultation if that is of interest. The meeting takes place by phone or by Skype if you are out of the country. If that interests you email me at Diana@redthornsolutions.com)

  4. This description was spot on and so insightful. Thank you so much for setting it out as you have, I feel so validated that someone has put so well into words, my experiences, that I felt, but didn’t know how to voice. Thank you again.

    • You are so welcome. I am so glad it made you feel validated. Sometimes it helps to simply know that what was happening to us has a name, and once we are awake to it, we can be stronger and steering clear of it! (You might want to get my book-there is a tab on this site)

  5. Omg! So now I know what I am dealing with. He was diagnosed anti social…sociopath. But I still wondered if he knew what he was doing and it was on purpose or he is a narcissist and just really selfish but oblivious. No, he is sociopath. Knows exactly what he is doing and I notice him coming unglued if I don’t react to his threats or try to find out what he is up to. He is going for the big kill now…divorce. But I no longer care…just tired…want the divorce. I will lose everything…but I will be free..
    Ok

    • Hello Tracy. I am glad you found resonance in the words here. Yes, you deserve to be free. I hope you don’t pre-decide you will lose everything. I don’t have any details obviously, but often times you can make a stand, be a bit unexpected and gain some ground. I agree you should not die trying to fight them, no futile effort is a good plan, however, you showing up different can set them into discomfort, which could allow you some favor. I would be happy to have a no obligation free consultation if it might help you, feel free to email me at Diana@redthornsolutions.com. Also part of the process is to determine how you landed in such a relationship and how to not ever find that path again. (Right now I am guessing a relationship doesn’t sound very thrilling!)…consider typing my name in You Tube and/or also buying my book which was written as a guide to freedom (see tab on this page). No matter what, stand in who you are and go be free! You sound quite strong and a good part of the way down the road already. Yay you!

  6. Cracking article ; well done that ‘man’ … Yes, I have just been discarded by a psychopath / socio and you describe his MO with devastating accuracy … I walked out on him after being particularly nastily physically abused, and he just texted this morning to say he’ll be delivering’ stuff I left at his house despite being told I don’t want it back and to throw it. He has now threatened to deliver it to my elderly parents house. Yes! Control!! You are SO right.. I’ve been perfectly reasonable and now he is resorting to abuse because I’m not playing the game… True colours.. Yes Dolly…indeed… Shining through loud and clear…. He appears to be hellbent on causing trouble and the stuff is obviously just an excuse … Hope he just gets bored and leaves me alone… Finds a new victim, Lord help them…

    • Sounds like your attitude is the perfect one to help him move on. Warning however, as you said control is the name of the game, when they can not get the reaction they want from you they will escalate…try and remain disengaged, and the fact that the “stuff” doesn’t mean anything to you will help! I hope this was a short wrong turn and you don’t endure too much lingering on his part. Thank you for your kind words on my article…been there, done that!

  7. Reblogged this on diana iannarone and commented:

    Thought it was time to bring this to the front again!

    • Yes, please keep it in the forefront. It’s what started the process of me being free. It’s extremely valuable information and insight.

      Thank you again,
      Andrea

      • Thank you Andrea for your comment! I am so glad you have been on the path to freedom and I am so glad this information helped you. (If you haven’t watched my video it might help…just type my name in You Tube)

  8. I really wish people that are not trained clinicians would publish an article like this on the Internet. While the intent is to help, your experience with a handful of narsisists and sociopaths gives you depth into only a few behavior patterns of THOSE PARTICULAR individuals, Not All the behavior patterns of these anti-social individuals. YOUR List is,woefully off for narsisists. PLEASE LEAVE THE ADVICE UP TO THOSE WHO ARE TRAINED SO AS NOT TO CONFUSE OTHERS.

    • I believe that those that have had this life experience can very well be equipped to provide value. I have countless people come to me that have been to “trained” therapists and have not achieved healing, in some instances even with years of counseling. Simply put, most clients tell me the therapist simply did not seem to get it, and as a result the self-esteem of the client diminishes further as they begin to doubt their truth. And most often the therapist can also be tripped up into believing the perpetrator, for that reason, I am not in agreement with your message, and I don’t have to be.

      That is really all I need to say. but I am going to chose to elaborate because I think this is all so very important, in general, not just about your comment. I am grateful that your comment provided this platform.

      In my initial free consult many have shared that there was more healing in that one meeting than in all their “therapy.” Why is that? Because knowing something from a textbook does not always translate to having the first hand experience. My understanding of patterns has enabled me to often predict what will happen next, because the behaviors are often, not always, predictable. This helps my clients get ahead of the curve and not behind it. Plus when a client comes to me, they often feel understood for the very first time. Yes, for the VERY first time. I am also convicted that people choose these types of relationship as a direct result of the dynamic with the mother. My methodology of revealing and proving that happens quickly and the healing begins. Most clients are with me for only months (unless we are also doing business coaching). Months, and their lives are forever changed.

      I am not looking to discredit trained professionals as I am certain there are many good ones. That said, in this place in time there is still insufficient information out there that can change lives. Many comments on this post, as well as private emails I receive indicate that much of what I post, write and put on you tube, resonates and heals. So as much as I am sure you are well intended in your comment here, I will keep talking and I will keep trying to save people and help them heal.

      I find a similar experience with attorneys who have no awareness of the challenges in dealing with these individuals in divorce, which can cost someone their finances, their sanity and their children. Or even their lives. When a client has an open minded attorney, willing to realize he/she may not be the expert in these instances, we work together and turn the tides.

      Bottom line, people are desperately seeking help. People have tried therapy and in desperation turn to the internet for answers.

      I still stand in my position.

      As an aside, I make it clear I am not a licensed therapist nor an attorney. I have however been certified as a coach and have had years of training in emotional competence and human behavior, both as student and teacher as a result of my 30 year career in sales and finance, the bulk of that within a fortune 100 company. Much of what I read in trained professionals books/articles does not always match my experience, just as what people read here may not match. That said, people take what they need from it. I don’t know if you have lived through this experience, if you have read my book or other posts, but I do know that I find that many people are confused by the professionals who often make them feel they are the cause and as a result do not honor appropriately the client that needs support and direction.

      Lastly, many people are on anti-depressants/anti-anxiety drugs because of their lack of proper support and understanding, during or upon completion of our work, they often tell me at some point they are off them. I do not make any recommendations on this, they just feel their power and joy.

    • I went through a brutal time with a narcissist, and Diana was the single most effective source in my recovery. I am so thankful for Diana’s post. I think someone who lives through something can understand it in a way a clinician could not. Keep up the good work Diana!

      • Why thank you…you must have been typing while I was. How kind of you to step in. Thank you so much! And I hope you are doing well!

  9. Profound and insightful. Thanks.

    • Thank you so much! I am glad this message provided some value to you.

  10. Can a man be both narcissistic and sociopath?
    I have read countless things and he fits both categories. He fits a sociopath and does do hateful things on purpose. He looks for sources. Basically everything g a sociopath does. But he does have this empty hole that he constantly needs to be fed love that one could never fill he will not admit at all to his abusive ways. On the other hand since he lives a parasitic lifestyle he will look for a source who has money. Since I don’t fluff his feathers anymore he is after both.
    This is the short story he can be the most cruel man very manipulative and hateful. Mind games selfish etc. he changes constantly. Hot cold etc. I used to think it was impulsive but now I know he changes his personality towards me when he wants for whatever need. He has found a new source the neighbor he said they were friends and was back and forth between me and her. He became very mean and distant. The day before they moved out together he came by and was being so nice. It was so sickening. But this gave me the fulll view of his psychotic nature. I have read the differences over and over and I really believe he is both. I’m sure he wanted a new source for several reasons and by now after 7 years I saw a change in him leading up. He acted very mean hateful then very distant more then usual. I could tell this time he wanted out he was tired of me bored. He wanted more finance more “love”. I wasn’t giving him what he wanted anymore because I finally after reading Knew who he was and believed nothing from him. When we lived with his family for a couple of years. His mother is the same way I went through severe abuse mental very verbal some physical. I think I developed PTSD for awhile. Sorry to go into so much detail. But I do believe he is both. Is this possible ?

    • Hello Ann. I am not a doctor but my opinion is that the answer to your question is yes. I also encourage you to not worry too much about the label, but instead just focus on what is healthy for you, and he certainly does not seem so. It really is important to ask yourself why you tolerated his treatment for so long so that you from now on only choose LOVING relationships! I am sorry for what you endured, and I am hopeful that you can move forward to freedom! You might want to get my book which will help you to heal. There is a tab on this page! Thanks for writing and good luck!

  11. Hi Dianna. This was a good article on showing the differences between these two personality dissorders.
    I have recently been discarded by my narcissist and it was just as all the articles describe—- and it is so truly devastating. I honestly am so depressed and feel as though I will never ever get over this. I feel that short of getting a lobatamy– there is no way I can forget this person or ever go on without him in my life– I feel like I must be a massachist or something–
    My story is so bizarre over so many years of my life I guarantee you my story would blow your mind if you heard it– I guarantee you you would say this story takes the cake over any other you’ve heard. I’m 56– I met this person before my husband at age 24. He was married- told me he was separated. I fell madly in love with him–became pregnant- he wasn’t there for me–I didn’t want to have an abortion but did because I felt I had no choice– It killed me to do what I did- I should have hated him then– but I was so attracted to him and so in love with him —all I could think of was — I didn’t want him to hate me for trying to trap him or put him in a position he wasn’t ready to be in— I was so hurt after that experience -I moved on- devastated- met my husband- had 4 beautiful kids and was very happy for many years– until my husband and I separated due to him getting involved with drugs and blowing all our money- kids college $ etc—
    My biggest mistake was– after we were legally separated I looked up my prior Narcissist- 15 years later– he was divorced at that point and had had two kids— we met for lunch one day– and the attraction was exactly as it was the 1st time– I call him the attraction of my life—‘My Ideal Man’….
    Handsome- classy–reserved—–and Aloof—-yet the attraction was just always there between us— when our eyes meet—– it was like a chemistry of two magnets drawn together— Crazy attraction—- and that is what I value most — attraction. I was very very lucky to have found it in my husband as well–
    Because my whole life it has always been like impossible for me to find— so when I have found it – I felt it had to be God Ordained– Because it was like a miracle for me to find it— Anyway– this former love proceeded to see me and lead me on for seven years– but it was always on his terms– he only allowed it to be a secreative type relationship– saying he wanted to wait till our kids were older — and to just take it slow– so he led me on and got me accustomed to accept his shitty terms– saw me regularly every week to two weeks–
    Regularly— not many going out dates-
    But all about sex for him— and I truly adored this man– I would do anything for him—-Now I always knew I was a good looking girl— I won beauty pageants growing up and a lot of guys wanted to date me— but I was attracted to no one— accept for this one man!!! My narcissist who gave me attention— and the more I loved him—- the more he loved how much I loved him……It was like an addiction for both of us— the difference being— he was my only fix— but for him I’m pretty positive I was never his only ‘source’…..(as the articles describe)– in H.S. then ivy league college football scholarship— he was a hometown legend with his football fame–so I always knew he thought he was all that and a bag of chips— very entitled — Because quite honestly he IS the total package– Italian of coarse- really handsome– charming– went to a good college– had a decent job etc….. So the guy was in sure spoiled by many women
    His aloofness made him a chick magnet– but yet I loved him so much– I wanted him no matter what and I knew I was good enough for him—-and my mind was set—- I’m in this for the long haul—‘ he’s who I want and I’ll wait for him to be ready…..But after 7 years of giving my all- I then found out I had a precancerous brest situation of which once again he was not there for me—– he would say things always to give me hope that we would upgrade our relationship eventually- but after 7 years and I saw no upgrade— my husband was there for me when I was scared about the cancer and told me he wanted me to give him another chance— which I ended up doing- I had to break away from my Narcissist– Because the sadness and turmoil he made me feel was literally tearing me apart inside and making me sick internally !! I was a good person–a good woman– I had only been with a couple of men in my entire life— I wasn’t some slut-‘- yet that’s how he was treating me—- and I loved him so much I allowed it— Over those 7 years I had written him so many letters pouring my heart out to him—- and they were always saying the same things—-Just honestly telling him– her look–‘ I’m a really honest person–‘ I love you with all my heart-‘–
    But if you do not feel the same way about me— to please just let me go –so I can move on and find someone else that will LOVE me back the same—do not be with me if you don’t love me back and have serious intentions for me—– and every single time I would write those things to him—-HE ALWAYS would call me and want to see me……so I’m thinking– he must love me or he would be sending me on my merry way…(but that would only apply to if he was a normal- nice-good-and decent person which I now know Narcissists are the total opposite of ) !!!!! But back then I never knew there was something in the world known as Narcissists!!!!
    Anyway so after 7 years of his game I went back to my husband…..( very sad and confusing and complicated that ended up being— a whole other story I could say on that alone)—but my Narcissist I think was kind of shocked that I actually did it— in a way I did it because I did not want to love this monster anymore—-it was tearing me apart inside that he would not upgrade our relationship– after how much I had done for him — and him knowing how devouted and in love with him I was– I was really mad at him at my wits end and perhaps going back to my husband was my way of trying to protect myself– I actually really wanted to try to make it work with my husband because with him in bad had a REAL love and I wanted that back so badly— but unfortunately it was too complicated– I found out what the word ‘estranged’ meant — for that is how I felt— like it could never be the same between us again— Because the Narcissist bastardized what we had had- I loved my husband still but I could not feel that in love feeling again like I felt for the Narcissist—- I loved hugging my husband watching tv on the couch together— but it could never become more then that— I don’t know why– I could no longer kids him let alone have sex with him— Because I was still in love with the Narcissist— and I knew that was not fair to my husband— I wanted to love him again in that way because I knew he still loved me— but I couldnt— and that was so so horribly sad……especially because– just 3 years we had together again when he got small cell lung cancer and me and my children had to see him die a horrible horrible dealt H at the young age of 59 !!! It was devastating.
    But moving on with this bizarre Narrcissist story— a little after a year from my husband dying — I had reached out to my Narcissist AGAIN — round 3-
    Same story all over again a third time– He hadn’t remarried obviously…and had said he was in a relationship but it was not going well– he was gonna be breaking up with her– which I think he actually did–but then again he may never have- becuse he then proceeded to see me really regularly again like once a week– but again that’s all he could give me becuse— even tho his kids were out of college now— now he made it sound like him and his sister together were responsible for taking care of his 94 year old Dad and 93 year old step mom who also had alzheimers— so ‘his life was hectic-crazy- and not his own’ because of this situation——-So this last round 3 lasted 6 more years— and this time he gave me his clothes to iron to really make me feel special and confirm to my psyche that I am indeed his girlfriend now— I cooked for him….etc to help him,out since he dosnt cook and he loved it’—– and I just wanted to make him happy in every way possible and be the best girlfriend ……as always……and this time around he actually told me he loved me— which he had really never verbalized before— and it didn’t come easily—- but I think he felt he had to throw me a bone to keep this great gravy train going for him-‘–as he well knew he at this point had now consumed like 13 years of my life with me loving him –leading me on– always giving me the hope that we were gonna end up together—-when even on round 3- telling me if I could just hang in there thru this tough time with his parents— we’d get to having that REAL,relationship that I always wanted with him and that I so-earned and deserved !!!
    Well—-my 13-14 years of all my hopes and dreams of being the last girl standing with him —-i guess wont happen after all. I figured he has to end up with someone— so why not me-”’
    I love him more than anyone ever would unconditionally !!! But sadly— I found out recently all this obsessive weirdness of this relationship had a name called Narsissism— I knew something was totally not right about everything with our relationship— I just never knew what it was till I was recently discarded and heartbroken– obviously I searched out on the internet this wierd personality defect. I thought he was just someone with a big ego— who was commitment phobic and afraid of love—-but now seeing it’s so much more then that— an actual INABILITY to Love someone– or be able to feel guilt or true caring— to be absence of a conscience—- it’s like mind boggling to me—– but it all seems to fit the bill—- all the things wierd about him that normal people just don’t do— it explains it all.
    And do you know after all these years what caused him,to discard me ? Even tho last time I saw him in Sept everything was great……
    What made him stop calling me– and not answering my texts ????— Well I wrote him,a letter again only this time– it was deeper then any I ever wrote him before because it was very spiritual— you see I have several children who have struggled with heroin addiction– and that has been a whole nightmare I have delt with alone- my Narcissist would always be there to at least listen to me to hear of my struggles— but I’m sure he listened to me superficially— only because his listening and being a shoulder for me to cry on benefited him !!!! But in this letter I was telling him how I have been really reading the Bible reaching out to have a better relationship with Christ’ learning his word— I went on to tell him that I feel both him and I have been guilty of being “fake” Christians—– and that I want to be a better Christian and really live by God’s word. I told him,my children’s serious problems have forced me to take a good hard look at my life- is the way I am living my life pleading to
    God ??? I told him,the only sins I feel I am doing in my life — involve him– as the Bible says sex outside of marriage is a sin— but inside of marriage is a beautiful thing— He’s always known that I want to marry him— but I said something to the effect that I feel possibly like God is punishing me for my sins’– etc etc. That I feel God would dissapprove of “us” being together so intimately– when he is not respecting me—- and that I’ve always. Justified being with him because I Love him so much-” it can’t be a sin…..but if he’s not really loving me back the same- maybe it is a sin—– I want to be with only him– but I want to be married to him– those are some of the things I told him– then I went into why I’ve believed in,him for so long– that we were meant to be together—primarily because of how many times I had told him— if he didn’t love me and have serious intentions for a future with me—- to tell me the truth and let me go– to find it with whoever I was meant to be with——- and the fact that he never set me straight and let me go— so I could move on— to me that told me had to mean that HE DID indeed love me– or he never would have led me on for ALL THOSE YEARS !!!!! For in my mind–with the good heart that I have I cannot even fathom a human being being able to do this to another human being. especially for this length of time— I could never in a million years lead a person on.for a week let alone 13-14 years !!!!!
    So this was a book I know—- all I can say is at 56 I need antidepressants–or a labotamy—bit I don’t know how I am going to survive his silent treatment goodbye—— I’ve called him out—- he does not even want to talk to me. or have to be accountable for his lies or his actions for all these years! I’m devastated–‘—but yet I know it’s my own fault—– I never should have accepted so little from him——I know what a good and true person I am– I was good to him and certainly did not deserve this. I know I have to accept it and move on– but at this age I just dont think I can.
    I couldn’t find men I was attracted to in my 20’s so I know the chances of me finding another one at this age is slim to none— and I can’t be with someone I’m not attracted to ……so …..I’m. F–k’d !!!
    I have nothing to look forward to– thats how I feel. I’m happy that i want to be a better-true Christian—‘ but now I’m just more depressed and lonely and I know I have to just TRUST that God will bring me through this — that he had a purpose and a reason—- and that he has something better waiting for me…..
    I have to believe that !!!!!! But for now I just feel lost and sad everyday—-He is ingrained in my Psyche so deep…..
    I just can’t believe he didn’t love me in some way……. Its so uncomprehendable
    I’m so devastated—–
    How many are out there who could relate to my sad story ????
    Will I ever recover ???? Will I ever feel happiness again ?????

    • Debbie, I am sorry to hear all your agonizing pain, and I can honestly say, yes you will recover and feel happiness again. The first thing you need to realize is what you are describing is more like an addiction than love. Don’t discount that thought…if you know something is bad for you but keep going after it, how can that be love? After years of helping people through this, I have found one common truth, it is always at the root. I want you to know that you are trying to heal a childhood wound and once you see that wound and apply it to the situation your world will finally make some sense.

      You deserve so much better than what you have been through, and it time to get clear on what you deserve.

      You are not dead, you can find love and healing your wound will make you free to live your life on your terms.

      I suggest you have a free consult with me. Even if you can’t continue beyond that, often you will see where the wound began and have a place to start toward healing. Email me at diana@redthornsolutions.com (and also consider getting my book, see tab on this page) Don’t you give up!!! So many women (and men too!) have lost so many of those years, but frankly, you went back so that you can feel the pain a little deeper, so you would finally wake up. Now is your time to fully wake up, and you will be able to release him, like the flea he is!

  12. Great article. I have wondered whether my ex was a sociopath or NPD. Now I am sure she is a narcissist.

    • And the best part of that sentence is EX. Keep moving forward. Rather than trying to label her, find out what drove you to that kind of relationship and heal that wound! It is so natural to want to make sense of what happened, figure out the dynamic, but making sense of the nonsensical is indeed exhausting! Thanks for the positive feedback on my article. You may want to type my name in You Tube for a good video on the topic, or order my book!

  13. I am so in need to speak with you as I am trying to escape !!! I read your articles and you have helped me seepl please reach out to me …please. 919-333-0018

  14. Hello, thank you very much for this great piece of writing!
    After reading this I wonder if the person I knew was a sociopath or a narc.
    To be honest he switched back and forth in his behaviour.
    Very strange…but his intentions seemed to be more about control than garnering admiration (this was more obvious at the end of the relationship/friendship).
    In the end, when he realized I was about to end it all he tried his charm, love-bombing, being the nice person I needed…but as I did not respond in a positive way (to me everything was over as soon as I saw his mask slipping) he got really mad and said a lot of antisocial, hurtful things not only about me but also about other people, women, my point of view, my values…et cetera.
    He also was a sex addict (though I don’t believe in this term) he frequently used prostitutes and therefore was almost always kind of broke.
    He also described those women as “Being so damaged that they would not mind him using them, too.”
    Does this sound more like a sociopath to you?
    Oh and he also moved on unbelievably quickly (in a matter of weeks although he stated that I was the love of his life..
    I don’t understand how this even works) and made sure to rub his new victim into my face…

    • Hello Nevaeh, for some reason I am not able to find your comment on the article, only in my notifications, so I am not sure I am seeing the whole thing. The bottom line is I encourage you, and everyone, to not spend too much time trying to classify THEIR diagnosis, as in the end, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you keep yourself safe and away from anything or anyone that harms you. Remember too, that someone can be both and/or have other psychopathy…and I am not a doctor and cannot diagnose. What it sounds like to me is you know he is not healthy for you to be around and THAT is all you need to know. Steer clear.


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