Sociopaths vs. Psychopaths vs. Narcissists
Oftentimes, we hear the terms “sociopath,” “psychopath,” and “narcissist” used interchangeably. You may also hear people described as “self-obsessed,” “self-absorbed,” or “self-focused.” But what do all of these terms mean, and are they all different ways to say the same thing?
In fact, all of these terms refer to different conditions that have unique symptoms and effects. Read on to learn more about sociopaths and psychopaths, as well as why self-obsession is beginning to take over our culture.
Sociopathy is a mental disorder in which someone can’t feel empathy for the people around them. Sociopaths have several different antisocial behaviors and attitudes.
These people often interact through manipulation and lying. They can often be aggressive and get ahead in the world by exploiting and manipulating the people in their lives.
Sociopaths can be hard to spot since, despite the fact that they don’t have a conscience, they can be very charming. They’re often smart and have learned how to behave in ways that allow them to control others to get where they want. Only about 3 percent of the population meets the criteria for sociopathy.
Although there are a number of similarities between sociopaths vs. psychopaths, the two are quite different. Whereas sociopaths don’t empathize with the people around them, psychopaths are unable to feel any normal emotions at all.
A sociopath may not be able to feel guilty for hurting another person. A psychopath may not be able to feel joy on Christmas morning or sadness when a relationship ends.
Like sociopaths, psychopaths may be very charming and so hard to identify when you meet them. Often these people are outwardly charming, pathological liars, prone to a grandiose sense of self-worth, callous, impulsive, and manipulative. Only about 1 percent of men and about 0.5 percent of women are psychopaths.
The differences between a sociopath vs. psychopath vs. narcissist can be very subtle. Narcissistic personality disorder can share a lot of symptoms with sociopathy and psychopathy. In many cases, the diagnoses overlap.
But narcissism is one particular facet of antisocial behavior that may show up in sociopaths and psychopaths.
Narcissism is a condition in which someone has an inflated sense of their own importance, a lack of empathy for others, and an obsessive need for admiration and attention. Underneath this bravado is a fragile self-esteem that relies on constant praise from others to stay intact. Only about 1 percent of the population are true narcissists.
The terms self-obsessed, self-absorbed, and self-focused are not official medical diagnoses. Rather, these terms focus on different aspects of some similar negative personality traits. Oftentimes, these may overlap with some of the antisocial behaviors we see in sociopaths and psychopaths.
People who are self-obsessed are extremely preoccupied with themselves and their own concerns. They “can’t see past the end of their nose,” and they may not have much empathy for the people around them. For these people, their own problems, concerns, struggles, and cares are much more important than those of anyone else around them.
Although self-absorbed and self-obsessed are similar, the two personality traits are not identical. In some cases, being self-absorbed may be a temporary state of being, rather than an overall personality flaw. People who are self-absorbed may not have the same overinflated ego that the self-obsessed do.
Self-absorbed people are totally wrapped up in their own thoughts, activities, and interests. In some cases, a person may be self-absorbed for a short period of time when they’re lost in thought or preoccupied by something going on in their life. The problem arises when that distraction becomes long-term.
Like self-absorbed, the term “self-focused” isn’t always a negative thing. Self-focus can help a person to be more aware of their actions and how they impact others, as well as how they can change those behaviors. But, like anything, too much self-focus can turn into a negative thing and may cause problems in your life.
Self-focus is a state of mind in which you’re aware of your thoughts, actions, interactions, and appearance. In moderation, this can help you to better interact with the world around you and change unhealthy behaviors. But if you become too focused on yourself, you could slip into self-absorption or self-obsession.
Impact of Influencer Culture
These days, it seems like more and more people are becoming self-absorbed or self-obsessed to the point of bordering on narcissism. Influencer culture and our societal addiction to social media may play a role in this shift. People are becoming obsessed with the dopamine rush they get from getting likes on social media.
It’s important to note that you won’t become a sociopath or psychopath just from looking at Instagram too much. These are complex medical diagnoses that involve aspects of both nature and nurture. However, influencer culture can cause you to become self-obsessed, which can be just as destructive for your life.
Our cultural obsession with celebrities may also play a role in the increasing self-obsession we’re seeing around us. Tabloid media is constantly shoving details of these celebrities’ lives down our throats. We start to think of these people as something akin to fictional characters, and we compare our lives to their seemingly perfect ones.
Over time, we may start to become obsessed with the idea that if we can just be good enough, we can live the sort of charmed life these celebrities and influencers do. We may make changes to our bodies, filter out lives in certain ways on social media, or go into debt trying to mimic that lifestyle. Over time, that insecurity about our looks or our lifestyle can morph into a full-on self-obsession as we strive for that perfect life the celebrities and influencers seem to live.
How to Decenter Yourself
So how do we break out of this vicious cycle of insecurity, self-obsession, and unhealthy behavior? The key lies in decentering ourselves refocusing on what is truly important in this life. Once we are pursuing true peace and meaningful joy, we won’t crave hollow affirmation from social media attention.
It’s important to remember that your self-worth is absolute and comes from within. As we remind you at the end of each of our posts, you are a beautiful Living Being filled with light and love, born from stardust. Breathe deeply into your divine worth, take time to remember that your beauty comes from your soul, and turn your attention outward to the radiant souls traversing this world around you.
Learn More About Sociopaths and Psychopaths
At first glance, sociopaths and psychopaths, as well as narcissists and the self-obsessed, may all seem the same. But each of these conditions describes different levels and types of antisocial behavior. Decentering ourselves and returning focus to the true beauty of life can help us to break out of these toxic cycles of self-obsession.
If you’d like to learn more about sociopaths and psychopaths, check out the rest of my site at PaulWagner.com. I am here to help you awaken and bravely create an inspired life. Learn more about my services today and start changing your life in the most positive way.
You are a beautiful Living Being filled with light and love, born from stardust. You are unlimited potential in every direction. With a focus on discipline, virtue, and your own goodness, you can become as expanded and liberated as you desire.
Pray for others and the Universe prays for us.