Narcissistic or Sociopath?

The terms narcissistic or sociopath are often used interchangeably, but they mean different things. If you’re wondering if your partner, friend, or boss may be a narcissist rather than a sociopath, check out these narcissistic personality traits.

narcissistic or sociopath

Personality Traits of a Narcissist

Narcissists typically display the following unhealthy behaviors and attitudes:


  • Constantly talk about themselves
  • Redirects the conversation to focus on them, not you
  • Lack of consideration for other people
  • Selective memory – only seem to remember things when it suits them
  • Always putting their own needs above others

Exaggerated self-importance:

  • Vain behavior – may be caught up in superficial appearance, obsessed with looks, weight, brand name apparel or other perceived indicators of status
  • Social climber – narcissists tend to associate with people whom they perceive to be superior or “higher ranking” in some way, even if only in their own minds
  • “High maintenance” – may demand special treatment or request that things be done to their impossibly high standards even if posing an inconvenience to others

Controlling behaviors:

  • Bullying – uses intimidation and threats to get what they want
  • Aggression – speaks harshly, calls names, interrupts, shouts, body blocks, invades personal space
  • Passive aggression – “Forgets” about obligations, performs tasks poorly on purpose to dodge responsibility, plays mind games, gaslights (more on gaslighting in a later article)
  • Criticism, nitpicking, micromanaging, nagging–feeds their need to feel superior
  • Tantrums – spectacular displays of emotion when they perceive that their needs are not being met

Everything You Need To Know About a Narcissistic Sociopath

One of the hallmark characteristics of a narcissist is defensiveness. This is the famous, “He can dish it out but he can’t take it” displays of personality that we have all experienced from time to time, which is taken to the extreme in narcissistic individuals. Children and married partners of narcissists can likely describe scene after scene of being “unpleasantly surprised” in a sudden outburst or personal attack from a narcissist who believes that he or she was wronged or slighted in some way, and is out to exact revenge on the person who snubbed him or her.

What are examples of defensive behavior?

Narcissists always seem to catch others off guard with their chronic tendency to be mortally offended by the most inconsequential of things. If the person you’re having trouble relating with tends to blow up at situations which normal people seem to pass over like no big deal, then you might be dealing with a narcissist. Some call this “making mountains out of molehills.”

Here are some made-up scenarios illustrating narcissists flipping out over minor issues:

Situation: What time will you be home?

You ask your significant other what time they’ll be home. For an answer, your partner says, I’ll be home later. Then slams the door and leaves. Why is this narcissistic?

The typical person in this situation does not perceive the question as intrusive or unusual. People in close relationships routinely let their significant others know their schedule. It’s a matter of being considerate as well. If you’re running a household, you need to know when to expect people home.

The narcissist in this situation has two issues–an inability to emotionally sympathize with the other person’s circumstance and a selfish outlook that always puts their desires before everything. These are the hallmark qualities of all narcissists.

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