The Differences Between A Sociopath And A Narcissist

When we try to analyze the people we cross paths with in society, it is possible to misinterpret our analysis for lack of a better understanding. For those who have crossed paths with a sociopath and a narcissist on separate occasions, it may seem like there is little to no difference between the two when in fact one can be mistaken for the other. Both are considered to be social terrorists, however, there are distinguishing characteristics that would imply neither of them are one in the same. Therefore, I would like to explain briefly the differences in character between these two personality disorders…

Narcissist will let you know up front what they are about. They will tell you grandiose stories of themselves of either their accomplishments (real or fake) or of their associations with important people (real or fake). They generally do not tell these stories for any other gain than to hear praises. They have an unquenchable desire to be admired, worshiped, and adulated with no real gain from those that respond to them in this way other than to feed their own ego. They need to be the center of attention at all times in any social gathering.

Sociopath will NOT let you know up front what they are about, because they wear a mask to hide their true identity. They will tell you grandiose stories of themselves of either their accomplishments (real or fake, but mostly fake) or of their associations with important people (real or fake, but mostly fake.) They generally tell these stories to appear as a “good person” to gain trust and as a cover-up for their ulterior motives. They have the same unquenchable desires as the Narcissist as a result of the power and control they gain over their victims. They do not care to be the center of attention at all times in any social gathering unless doing so promises to earn them more unsuspecting victims.


Here’s a few more brief distinguishing characteristics:

A Narcissist can have a conscious/conscience, and will sometimes hurt others unintentionally. A Sociopath has no conscious/conscience whatsoever, nor do they have any remorse for hurting others intentionally; the more damage, the better they feel.

A Narcissist can be constructive. A Sociopath is always destructive.

A Narcissist’s world can be built by their own hands. A Sociopath prefers their world to be built by someone else’s hands, and will take full credit for it.

A Narcissist is self-deceptive. A Sociopath is socially deceptive.

A Narcissist needs admirers. A Sociopath needs victims.

A Narcissist needs to be adulated to appease their insecurities and fragile ego. A Sociopath needs to be adulated to appease and camouflage their ulterior motives.

A Narcissist lacks empathy in the form of belittling, name-calling, and defaming another’s character. A Sociopath lacks empathy in a criminal or physically violent way.

A Narcissist accepts who they are but exploits themselves in an overly-exaggerated and excessively-dramatic grandiose manner. A Sociopath pretends to be someone who they are not to hide their hidden agendas in order to keep from being exploited.


Both think they are superior to anyone and everyone they meet. Both think they deserve special treatment. Both process the world differently, and both play to “win.” However, it is possible for both personality traits to be combined into one, which is called a “Narcissistic Sociopath” , and is more dangerous to deal with than the two individuals separately.



© 2013 Learus Ohnine

72 thoughts on “The Differences Between A Sociopath And A Narcissist

  1. Ah, there we go. The primary person I was thinking of yesterday has long been believed, by my friend Hope and I, to be a narcissist. Your post the other day had me thinking, but this one makes more sense for him. Can’t wait to keep reading, thank you :).


  2. Oh there’s so much more I want to learn about this. As you’ve already suspected (and I definitely now agree) my father is really both. I read the entire link (danger) and can see him in all of these men and women. He enjoyed watching people in pain and some of the ways he chose to kill were so horrific and indicates to me that he enjoyed watching or knowing of extreme pain. In particular his best friend. If you can call anyone really a friend to a psychopath or sociopath (or both?). I think my dad is more the grandiose type who loves adoration. Some of what he does is secretive because he wouldn’t get away with it if it weren’t.

    Wow. Are you going into more detail with this type of person and how or why they’re born? Or are they born or made?

    Thank you, once again, for this. I know it takes so much out of you. Know that you’re helping people. (((hugs)))


  3. Good synopsis. Wondering why you did not clarify the difference between psychopath and sociopath? Many people think it is the same but there is a difference. Might be a good follow up post.


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  5. Great post!!!! There are different types of sociopath, distempered and the charismatic. The distempered is more openly narcissistic. The charismatic sociopath not. The sociopath CAN do good things…. sometimes. They do value some people (depends on how useful they are to them)…. I found personally, the Narcissist more difficult to be around and definitely more painful. This was because the sociopath to your face is quite ‘nice’…. (although the destruction was worse) the emotional/psychological damage from the Narcissist was far worse (and was healed by a charismatic sociopath)…. this is true.

    This is a really good informative post!!! 🙂


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  8. Thank you so much for this “great” info…I’m just learning about these personality types and disorders. I have endure a life long verbal abuse from my sister. After one of her rampage of verbal abuse, she acts as if nothing happened..but I still don’t think she falls into these two categories. She has been diagnosed as bipolar and boarder line personality by different therapist, which she has seen more than 30 of them….and she takes drugs and drinks lots of alcohol, I don’t know if she would be considered an addict because she has been able to keep a job for 25 years. I am very interested in learning more about this and learning how to handle her and other’s with this type of personality disorder. I love my sister and wish I can help her but sometimes she gets so angry and hateful that it’s very difficult for me to have feelings of love for her. I do not hate her but I don’t want to be her punching bag anymore. Thanks for reading my comment.


    • Thank you for reading, and especially posting your comment. It takes bravery, lots of bravery, to face someone with a personality disorder. It sounds like your sister has two different diagnosis because she may not have been totally honest with the doctors who have evaluated her. I say this because she does not take accountability for her rampages, which means she is aware of right and wrong. In her knowing right from wrong, she knows what to say and what not to say to throw off an accurate evaluation. A typical trait of a sociopath/psychopath.

      If I had to guess, I would say she has a case of narcissism, another sociopathic/psychopathic trait. Thanks again for the visit. 🙂


  9. I am a narcissist.

    This article is very good. I think every point that it made is right on about a narcissist. It helped me understand more clear about myself. I discovered that I have NPD recently, so I been looking up for article and video about it. So here I am. One question, how can I change myself? Right now, I’m willing to change for the better. However, I don’t know how I will feel the next day. I might look for a new victim again because I’m running low on mental energy. (If you know what that means) I don’t feel bad for my victims. I just feel guilty sometimes. Well, old habit is hard to change.


    • I believe change only comes when you really want to let go of those old habits because the negative consequences of holding on to them far outweigh the beneficial factors of keeping them. Its a psychological release that needs to take place before you see any real results on your efforts to change.

      Thanks for reading and good luck. 🙂


  10. useful post. I clash badly with these types of personalities – it’s the lies and deception resulting in people getting hurt that bothers me the most. But what also sucks is the unfairness of it all, as most people can’t see their corruption and they can manipulate their way to a superficially ‘successful’ lifestyle. But are these people dead inside? ie do they really despise themselves? Or do they realise what they do and just keep doing it as ‘necessary’ for the life they strive for? And will the sociopath erupt in rage at anyone that exposes them (like the narcissist does?). I’ve observed too that when I’ve been attacked, everything they say in their rant describes exactly their horrible self (and not me). And they steal and take full credit and seem to believe their own delusions. I’d interested in any more posts on the similarities and differences between narcissists and sociopaths (as the most toxic and abusive people I’ve encountered). Also how did they become like that – environmental factors can be either severely deprived and abusive or very spoilt? And the best way to manage them is just to stay away from them (which is difficult in workplaces)


  11. Yes my ex was originally diagnosed withs severe narcissism but is obvious now to professionals and myself that he is a sociopath, seriously I thought it was very rare , now I’m beginning to believe it’s far too common..


  12. Yes so very TRUE and I have lived with one sad but true. Master of a Covert Aggressor/ Manipulator and Deceiver!!!!!!!! Read all about these Evil Souls to Protect Yourself, Your Children and Family.


  13. Don’t forget that all sociopaths are also narcissists but not all narcissists are sociopaths.

    So sociopaths display all the narcissistic traits as well. Which can make it harder to differentiate between the two. Based on my experience with a man who I now believe was “just” a narcissist and a man who I know is a sociopath/psychopath–their behavior can be almost identical and have the same horrific effects on their victims (mainly their significant others), sometimes the sociopath will show (but quickly try to hide) GLEE when they harm you, whether emotionally, psychologically, or physically. The narcissists just don’t care if they hurt you. I think you have to know someone pretty well to be able to discern the difference. But if you’ve ever seen the glee, you’re dealing with more than a narcissist.


  14. How does one effectively live around these people? My mom, sister and 2 ex’s are in this category and possibly one of my children, is there a genetic disposition that this can be hereditary? Another one of my children is not in this category but due to the inability to have compassion for others and also not to feel bad about what they do, can possibly be become one.
    Do some people attract this kind of personality and/or create it due to being too honest about life, about oneself and about others?


    • Hi, thanks for reading 🙂
      With family, it can be even more difficult to deal with sometimes, however, it is not hopeless. There are certain types of people these psychopaths/sociopaths feel attracted to, but the origin of how the attraction is created varies. Hope this helps.


  15. Thank you so much for this so interesting information.
    What could be a sociopath’s reaction, if I tell him that I can see right through him. And I know what he is? I would be very grateful for this advice.


    • Hi Ellie,

      I told my ex-sociopath what he was once I realized it, stupidly thinking he’d “see the light” and try to improve himself (that was before I learned they can’t–and have no desire to–improve themselves.

      He couldn’t have cared less. Told me an ex-GF had also told him that.

      Honestly, I think he took it as a compliment once he learned more about their traits. He thinks it makes him superior to those of us with “weak” traits such as compassion and empathy.


  16. Thanks for the great article. I read something about Aspergers being able to pick a narcissist straight up – considering the problems we have with people I found this interesting ( a bit like the tale of the king without his clothes on)


  17. This article is spot on, I get so frustrated when some so called ‘experts’ are making millions writing their books on how to deal with a narcissist, when they are talking about a sociopath. There is a vast difference as this says, I have been involved with both-lucky me! and now work as a therapist, and have worked with many clients who have been involved with both sociopaths and narcissists. The narcissist has a very clear sense of identity and although they may exaggerate, they rarely tell outrageous lies and concoct whole identities/life stories in the manner that a sociopath does.


  18. My gut is relaying to both in different family members, but my mind seems at war with the sociopath family member really being that. Is this a normal thing? And how do you differentiate between manipulator/controller personality and sociopath?. Or do you. I’m so new to all this and the more I am exposed to, the more questions and somehow feel guilty for even thinking these things. The Narcisist though I see…..finally after being soooo blind and not realizing what it is. Thank you for your article and explanations.


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  20. Here is an example of what a Sociopath can do, in this case the lawyer Jeffrey Wilens, his Class action lawsuit execution is just like a Serial killer’s Sociopath behavior. Jeffrey Wilens is so obsessed and has no conscious of the pain he is inflicting, he never knows when is enough and can never stop. These cases are completely driven by his own Sociopath selfish interest and greed, and not the interest of the “victims” in his class action suits. Read more


  21. “A Narcissist can have a conscious, and will sometimes hurt others unintentionally. A Sociopath has no conscious whatsoever, nor do they have any remorse for hurting others intentionally. ”
    I just have a question—did you mean “conscience”…rather than “conscious” in this statement?
    I appreciate the delineation of the two personality types. It has helped me to clarify the actions of certain people in my life.


  22. I thought this an excellent post. Sociopaths and Narcissists are encountered daily but we do not recognize them. Using your definitions IamNot a sociopath. I must question whether Iam a Narcissist. Two of my close-est friends are Narcissists. It took me about ten years to get them to sit in the same room. That is over with. I convinced them the truth of the matter, they knew they had things to offer each other. Ten years is a long time. This blog might have done it in ten minutes. I commend you.


  23. Reblogged this on Killing Me Softly: Emotional & Psychological Abuse and commented:
    For a long time I’ve considered my abuser to be a narcissist but not a sociopath. This insightful article has me asking myself whether he could, in fact, be a sociopath with high level narcissistic traits, largely because he is completely dishonest about who he really is. His motivation is definitely narcissistic supply but not necessarily the adulation a true narcissist seeks. As this blog post points out…all sociopaths are narcissists but not all narcissists are sociopaths. It’s a subtle but important (and fascinating) distinction.


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