Page 1 of 8 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 >
Topic Options
#1516 - 10/19/02 09:00 AM Difference between Narcisstic PD and Psychopathy
Anonymous
Unregistered


hi everybody,



i am going to pose the following question and answer with absolutely no elaboration, as i think they might start a productive thread (and i think only people in this group will know what i am getting at):



Q: What exactly is the difference between narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and psychopathy?



A: There is a chance that a person with NPD could answer the question. There is no chance that a psychopath could.



persistent

Top
#1517 - 10/19/02 10:05 AM Re: difference between NPD and psychopathy
Boo Offline
member

Registered: 07/06/02
Posts: 24
Hi persistent,

We have these N vs. P discussions periodically. Normally I just answer that in my humble opinion, the N and P are on the same continuum, but the N is just higher functioning. Your answer seems to refer to the simple truth that you will never ever get an honest answer from a P when you ask him about himself.

Coincidentally last week I got a book on personality and defense mechanisms and such called "Psychoanalytic Diagnosis" (1994) by Nancy McWilliams which addresses the P/N issue. On page 166 she writes

PSYCHOPATHIC VERSUS NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY

"Finally, there is a very close connection between psychopathic and narcissistic conditions. Both character types reflect a subjectively empty internal world and a dependence on external events to provide self-esteem. Some theorists (Kernberg, 1975; Meloy, 1988) put psychopathy and narcissism on one dimension, characterized overall as narcissistic; the psychopath is considered as on the pathological end of the narcissistic continuum. I would argue that antisocial and narcissistic people are different enough to warrant a continuum for each. Most sociopathic people do not idealize repetitively, and most narcissistic ones do not depend on omnipotent control. But many people have aspects of both character types, and self-inflation can characterize either one.

"Because treatment considerations are quite different for the two groups (e.g., sympathetic mirroring comforts most narcissistic people but antagonizes antisocial ones) despite the things they have in common and the number of people who have aspects of each orientation, it seems to me more useful to differentiate carefully between them."

Based on your post, and McWilliams' last comment above, I wonder if the N is just more enamored of his mask than the P, and that while the N enjoys having his mask reflected back at him, the P, with zero ability to either introspect or ponder or deliberate or self-reflect on himself, puts his mask up but doesn't want to think about it and certainly doesn't want it reflected back at him. Just some thoughts.

Sincerely, Boo

Top
#1518 - 10/19/02 12:13 PM Re: difference between NPD and psychopathy [Re: Boo]
Anonymous
Unregistered


hi boo

thanks for responding. i agree with the notion that the P and the Narcissist are on the same continuum. i have some of my own opinions on this continuum, which have been heavily influenced by postings here.

without actually using the terms "psychopath" or "narcissist", maybe we can just conceive of a continuum
bounded by two extremes. the low end is a person who has no apparent defense mechanisms. the true self is just "there", exposed, naked for all to see. the person is honest "to a fault" and overly harshly judgmental of themselves. their thoughts are a direct reflection of their feelings. the only time they may warp the truth is through irrational self-criticism. at the other end of the continuum is a person who has constructed an impenetrable fortress around the true self. reality is continually warped and folded into a strangely contoured plane under the auspices of a bizarre style of dyadic communication and, i suspect, systematic self-delusion. the goal of this strategy is shielding the true self from reality, at all costs. those individuals who make the mistake (through no fault of their own) of getting "close" to this person will suffer as they are unwittingly drawn into the warped reality, as they are also bent and twisted to serve the unrelenting guardian of the true self. that same guardian will cast them aside once they are of no use for protecting the true self. this guardian cannot be reasoned with. it says "if you want it (the true self) you will have to go through me first." none of us mere mortals are a match.

as we move along this continuum, from the high end to low end, we see a growing disconnection between the spoken word and reality, as the relative strength of the true and false selves is inverted. we have chosen to call the
person at the upper end of the continuum a "psychopath." I don't know what to call the person at the lower end (although I have known them).

my posting above was intended to convey that the psychopath, the person who is completely under the rule of the false self, is so disconnected from reality (essentially, he or she is "imprisoned" by the false self) that he/she has no hope of any form of self-reflection that might lead to release. some narcissists do have remarkable insight into their own pathology (like sam vaknin), and i think it is because in such cases the false self, in a manner of speaking, does not have the true self completely imprisoned. the true self escapes from the dungeon periodically to look at the world beyond.

persistent

Top
#1519 - 10/19/02 05:54 PM Re: difference between NPD and psychopathy
neverthesame Offline
member

Registered: 09/13/05
Posts: 53
A brilliant post Persistant. This is the best explanation I have read about psychopathy vs. narcissism. I agree with your opinions. This supports my own experience. I lived the "warped reality" and unwittingly supported the guardianship of his self delusion. I now understand how even an educated and aware individual can be brainwashed. It is a baffling and profoundly horrendous experience considering the insidious way a Psychopath entered my life and changed my reality. I was no match. I suffered and am recovering, stronger, more aware, and determined not to ever go through this horror again. I support the premise of "no contact" and no hope for the possibility of change or modification of behavior. A psychopath never changes. They are to be avoided at all costs.

Neverthesame

Top
#1520 - 10/20/02 05:16 AM Re: difference between NPD and psychopathy
Anonymous
Unregistered


persistent, Neverthesame is right. This is a brilliant post. So often, a phenomenon can be understood better by dropping the names and labels, and describing the thing itself. You are "thinking outside the box". Going straight to the heart of the matter.

And I think you describe it exactly. A continuum on which, at one end the true self is present and unguarded, and at the other, the true self is locked behind an impenetrable fortress. This image is ripe with gifts of understanding for me. The victim of the psychopath becomes captive to the guardian, too, because her essence of truth and reality is a threat to the guardian who will have none of that, lest, through resonance, true self should draw to itself true self. This is the way it works on the spiritual plane. In fact, love is nothing more than a resonance of truth, hence phrases like "two hearts beating together" and "I felt like we were one". It is chilling how the psychopath (guardian) so perfectly creates the impression of this experience in the beginning, seduction phase.

You image also helps me to put into a spiritual perspective the condition of the psychopath, in a way that nourishes my forgiveness a little bit. If the guardian is not the true self (and clearly it isn't), then the psychopath is a human being in captivity. The captor is certainly a warped malevolent monster, and this is the only one a person attempting to get close to the captive human being will ever really encounter, but it defends (and destroys) an actual human being.

I agree that the narcissist escapes, periodically, goes out into the real world and takes a look around. And I agree that the psychopath has no hope of release. At least, not in this life. Not unless God himself effects a miracle.

This phenomenon called psychopathy is one of life's great tragedies.

Top
#1521 - 10/20/02 07:40 AM Re: difference between NPD and psychopathy
Anonymous
Unregistered


hi kris

you said:

"You image also helps me to put into a spiritual perspective the condition of the psychopath, in a way that nourishes my forgiveness a little bit."

i am glad. i wanted to say that i write to facilitate my own forgiveness as well as my understanding of the nature of the P. while anger is both a natural and necessary part of the understanding and recovery process in the P aftermath, it is not sufficient. our anger still partially chains us to the P and the experience. it does not serve our spirit in the long run. i think that the only complete release is genuine forgiveness and, i believe, some degree of sympathy. i hope that i can get there someday. strangely, sometimes i find myself becoming furious at myself for wanting to forgive, to express sympathy. but i want to get to the point where i could honestly say to the Ps I knew: "i am sorry i was not strong enough to rescue your imprisoned soul. i am sorry that the dragon at the gate turned all my love and friendship to piles of ash. but i had to move on when the well ran dry. i am sorry for what you have to be." if i could get to that point, truly, then i think maybe i would finally be free.

forgiveness arises out of understanding and shifts in perspective and insight. kris, you have said that you compensated for the lack of love and acceptance that your mother showed you by helping others and opening yourself up to them, basically just putting yourself out for others on a consistent basis to get recognition for the good inner self that your mother could not see. then the psychopath drops in out of the blue, a person with the power to zero in on your inner self and exploit and drain it for all it is worth. when you say that the children of people with personality disorders are the future prey of Ps, i believe you are are exactly correct.

now, i would like to offer something else for your consideration. i also think the exact same processes may breed the predators as the prey, just that those who become the predators have chosen to react in a different way to the initial abuse, to compensate for it in a different manner. they come to believe that the true inner self is worthless and consequently set up the narcissistic fortress. they only want people to support their false or illusory self, not the true one which they perceive as unworthy of support, based on years of systematic devaluation and invalidation. they will not permit the true self to be loved, or rather, the dragon at the gate will not permit it. contrast that directly with the person who has chosen to deal with the same type of abuse by showing the inner self in all its perceived goodness to others, in hopes of finally getting the core goodness to be appreciated. so we have two vastly different entities born of the same pattern of devaluation. then these two entities meet, these two distinct people who have been formed by the same process, this person we choose to conveniently call the "psychopath" and the other which we can call........? perhaps they are both "targets." one wants the true inner self to be recognized, one wants support for the false projected self or image. they each derive sustenance from the other, the participants in this strange form of symbiosis. but something goes wrong. the one who is of the true inner self cannot support the other's false inner self indefinitely. the hunger of this entity is too great. a great imbalance develops in the symbiosis, and so the dragon appears, out in the open in all its flaming terror to defend the inner self of the one we call "psychopath", once the questioning starts, once the demands of the other for meaningful and subtle expressions of love appear. this point in the symbiosis is what we have conveniently chosen to call "the slipping of the mask." this is the point at which the true battle with the dragon begins. and there is no knight with a sword and shield that will come to slay it. no human can.

it all overwhelms me. thinking that the same essential cycles of abuse forge human personalities destined to collide like billiard balls, starting new causal chains.... round and round we all go. and here we are, a small group of people brought together by those processes, a group well on its way to understanding and forgiveness, not just of the Ps but perhaps of their lives in general. the others, those we call "psychopaths", are still lost, or more accurately, trapped.

persistent

Top
#1522 - 10/20/02 09:42 AM Re: difference between NPD and psychopathy
Anonymous
Unregistered


persistent, I agree with kris and neverthesame that your post is brilliant regarding the relationship between Narcissism and Psychopathy. I've been struggling for a lifetime to achieve liberation from the training and injury of being a child raised by narcissistic and psychopathically disordered parents, being in a very long term marriage to a psychopath, and dealing with changing the the ways that I have dealt with similar disordered people in my life. I, as nevertherthesame also wrote about, have achieved some progress and healing through no contact. No matter what deluded thinking passes through my mind I have ruthlessly held myself to this one rule. Its been almost a year since I initiated it and has been more difficult than I ever imagined. I can't even really describe it. Cold turkey withdrawal and detoxificaton from a soul killing poison. No more ramming myself against that impenetrable fortress to the false self. I'm awake now seeing more of myself. This is a blessing

I'm making progress, gaining skill and strength. Life is getting more delicious.

Cherie

Top
#1523 - 10/20/02 10:14 AM Re: difference between NPD and psychopathy
Anonymous
Unregistered


persistent, I write for the same reasons you do, to process hurt and anger, gain more insight, and move toward forgiveness (for the peace of my own soul, among other reasons). And I believe you are right that we will not be truly free until we reach the point of forgiveness and sympathy for them. More like sorrow. Not the kind of sorrow that arises out of personal pain, but the kind we feel about any other blight on the face of humanity. I don't expect to reach this goal in my life time, but I will make do with just trying to keep moving in that direction.

I am in line with your ideas about how psychopaths and psychopath's prey are created. Maybe, in this regard, the term "narcissist" is more apt than "psychopath", since there is the biological aspect to consider in the formation of true psychopaths (but I'll leave that aside for now).

My husband serves as an interesting example when using your model to examine the formation of a narcissist. On the surface, no child was ever more loved than my husband. His family and extended fmaily worshipped him like royalty. As an adult, his visits brough out the red carpet, feasts, and endless speeches of adulation, including raves about how precious and loved he was as a child. On the surface, he and I could not have come from more different backgrounds. But scratch the surface, and you find the same malignancy: narcissism. My mother's narcissism expressed itself as hatred of anyone not a perfect extension and reflection of her ideal (and unreal) self. My husband's family's narcissism expressed itself as maniacal self-love seeing its reflection in all of its "own".

This is also the difference between BPD and NPD. A BPD is self-centered, but consumed with self-hatred. An NPD is self-centered, but consumed with self adoration.

Over the years with my husband, I came to see that all of the fawning "love" in his family was just as toxic as the hatred I got from my mother. Because none of it, not one drop, ever had anything to do with the actual human being being fawned over. A child knows that. An infant knows that. Especially when some of that "love" is expressed sexually, which, in my husband's case, it was. The actual human being is annihilated by all that selfish carrying on, the real meaning of which is, "Aren't I something special? My kid is genetically superior, a gift to humanity from God."

"...these two distinct people who have been formed by the same process, this person we choose to conveniently call the "psychopath" and the other which we can call........? perhaps they are both "targets." one wants the true inner self to be recognized, one wants support for the false projected self or image."

Yes. I follow. Though, while I am clear about what the psychopath wants from "her", I am less clear about what she wants from him. Initially, she wants that overwhelming recognition and validation of her inner self that he so gloriously mimicks. But what keeps her there when it all turns to the worst kind of invalidation and blindness to her inner self? I think maybe that is where she is stuck inside. Maybe she really believes that others are valuable and she is not (although his initial adoration of her gave her great hope that it wasn't true, hooked her in her softest place). And so Psychopath is able to work this flaw into a deepening valuation of him, and a reciprocally deepening devaluation of her. All the while convincing her that if she asks for anything or says ouch, she is a selfish, terrible person (which on some level, she believes).

And then, we come to the spiritual challenge. At least the more real person (the victim) can take it up. She has a true self, if only she can wrest it from the psychopath's control. And that is her spiritual path. Which, in essence, is the same one presented to Adam and Eve, in the garden. Once they had eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they had to learn to discern between the two. In order to move toward spiritual freedom.

The victim is more fortunate than the psychopath. As a result of choosing right from the beginning, perhaps. the psychopath cannot take up a spiritual path. He is spiritually frozen in this life.

Top
#1524 - 10/20/02 10:35 AM Re: difference between NPD and psychopathy
Anonymous
Unregistered


A clear cut example of the accurateness of all this, is a dream the P, that targetted me, told me one day.


In his dream he was standing outside of a mobile home (the body )with a friend who only had one eye. ( the third eye? ) There are all these people inside the mobile home. He sees his son ( himself ), a little boy trapped, in a car ( another moving vehicle, the body ), he and his friend are powerless to rescue the child out of the car, so just stand and watch, helplessly,from a distance

Betrayed

Top
#1525 - 10/20/02 10:46 AM Re: difference between NPD and psychopathy
Anonymous
Unregistered


Now I'm going to jump back in here with more the of the endless gibberish that goes on in my head. There are some things that have bothered me for a long time and this might be a good time to get them off my chest.

I believe the p's resoundingly, from a percentage standpoint, tend more often to be males than females, correct me if I'm wrong. This would indicate that boys are somehow at risk in a way that girls are not. Of course, boys and girls are different, although we hope to lose sight of that in our nonsense attempts at a unisex culture. So, as to my observations, having lived for a while with children, I've noticed that the boys seem to be in some way more tender, more in need of mother's protection, more vulnerable, than the girls. The girls are out there ready to conquer the world at a young age, learning everything faster, from small motor to verbal skills. They are relational in their orientation, learning from babyhood to communicate their inner self with others. The boys are slower to develop these verbal and motor skills and more focused on the objects of the world and mastery. They seem clueless when it comes to understanding the more subtle interactions of human behaviour. Of course, I am speaking in generalizations, but it is something that I have observed, so I accept it as my own empirical truth. I remember being struck by one experiment where two 4 yr old girls are sent into an empty room with two chairs. The girls immediately take the chairs, which are side by side, and turn them to face each other. They then sit there and talk with words, gestures, and eye contact. Then two 4 year old boys are sent into the room. The boys sit in the chairs side by side, no eye contact, looking at the floor, kicking their feet, not saying a whole lot to each other. Even by the age of 4, these children are exhibiting a totally different approach to the world, based on their gender.

Yes, we can say, viva la difference, but doesn't this imply that the the raising of boys and girls demands different approaches? Well, apparently we do often take different approaches to boys and girls, but maybe not the right one. I read somewhere that girls are held more by mothers and receive more attention from teachers. Don't we tend to be more protective of our girls? We all know that boys are treated more roughly, in some misguided attempt to make them 'men' at tender ages. How would this rough treatment feel to a sensitive boy who does not have the verbal skills to communicate his feelings or society's permission to do so?

And so on. You can see where I'm going with this. Has anyone other than me noticed how smart these p's tend to be? Does that intelligence itself imply a certain built in vulnerability? And, what about the targets they pick? Are they all as loving, nurturing, and protective as they seem to be? Sounds like the perfect mother those boys longed for, doesn't it? Of course, 'perfect mother' is an idealization which doesn't exist, but is this what they are looking for? I've said it before, but how much of a hook for the target is this lost boy buried within the p? When the perfect mother turns out to be human, with her own needs and wants rather than a bottomless pit of giving, does she then trigger all the pent up rage of that 2, 3, 4 year old real self, buried beneath layers of urbane sophistication and sophistry, becoming the target of the only thing the p allows himself to feel from his true self, the infantile 'scorched earth' desire to destroy that which frustrates?

I'm not a child psychologist, of course, but my opinion is that mothers need to make more of an effort to protect the tenderness of their boys and teach them to communicate their feelings, and fathers need to show their boys that real men can have feelings and still be strong. At a time when our children need us more than ever, it seems that we are turning our backs on them, farming them out to daycare, after school care, latchkeys, and gangs.

Whether p's are born or made, it seems to me that if only the adults knew better how to deal with this properly, they could make a lot of difference in the outcome. This is just all my opinion, of course, and I could be totally off base, and so I will step off my soap box as gracefully as possible.

Molly

Top
Page 1 of 8 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 >

Moderator:  Dianne E.