In what characteristics do narcissists differ from psychopaths?

Psychopaths (the term is no longer used) were formerly referred to as someone with a dissocial personalitydisorder.

This means that someone has, among other things, more or less severe problems in complying with generally binding rules, and is extremely manipulative and takes care of himself.what he desires. In addition, all his actions are geared to his own advantage. ‘Don’t play by the rules’ doesn’t always mean that the person ends up in the dock or in jail. In extreme cases, the person concerned may appear absolutely cold in emotion. The criteria are according to ICD-10 (For Germany and the WHO without America):

“In addition to social deviation, the ICD-10 criteria describe character peculiarities, in particular egocentricity,lack of empathy and lack of conscience.Criminal acts are therefore not mandatory. There must be at least three of the following characteristics or behaviors:


  1. Heartless ininvolvement in the feelings of others,
  2. Clear and persistent irresponsible attitude and disregard for social norms, rules and obligations,
  3. inability to maintain lasting relationships, although there is no difficulty in entering into them,
  4. Very low tolerance of frustration and low threshold for aggressive behaviour, including violent behaviour,
  5. Lack of guilt or inability to learn from negative experience, in particular punishment,
  6. There is a clear tendency to accuse others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behaviour that has put the persons concerned in conflict with society.

” (Quote: Dissocial Personality Disorder – Wikipedia)

The diagnostic criteria of narcissistic personality disorder are as follows:

“The narcissistic personality disorder is listed in ICD-10 only under the heading Other specific personality disorders (F 60.8).There it is not further characterized, although in practice it is often used as a personality diagnosis. Preliminary research criteria are included in Annex 1in the green band of ICD-10.


However, they almost literally correspond to the corresponding official criteria text of the DSM-5 (see below).


The ICD-10 emphasizes that the general criteria for a personality disorder (F60) must be met.

In the current classification system of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5), the disorder is listed under the code 301.81.Thus, narcissistic personality disorder is a profound pattern of grandeur (in fantasy or behavior), the need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. The beginning is in early adulthood and the disorder manifests itself in different situations.


At least five of the following criteria must be met:


  1. Has a grandiose sense of one’s own importance (e.g. exaggerates one’s own achievements and talents; expects to be recognized as superior without corresponding achievements).
  2. Strongly occupied by fantasies of boundless success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love.
  3. Believes of being “special” and unique and only being understood by other special or respected persons (or institutions) or only being able to interact with them.
  4. Calls for excessive admiration.
  5. Shows a sense of entitlement (i.e. exaggerated expectations of a particularly preferred treatment or automatic response to one’s expectations).
  6. Is exploitative in interpersonal relationships (i.e. takes advantage of others to achieve their own goals).
  7. Shows a lack of empathy: Is not willing to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
  8. Is often jealous of others or believes others are jealous of him/her.
  9. Shows arrogant, arrogant behaviors or attitudes.

Relatively modern psychoanalytic explanation approaches for the narcissistic personality disorder can be found in Kernberg and Kohut:

“Unlike Kernberg, Kohut understood narcissistic personality disorder as a failed turn within a normal development.While narcissism is usually a kind of motor for creating a realistic ambition based on realistic goals through early childhood identification with idealized parents, this process remains in the pathological case. unfinished, since here the child does not sufficiently idealize the negative parents and consequently does not acquire certain self-regulation skills; instead, it remains dependent on the service of other persons who are devoted to it and receive empathic attention for the day-to-day maintenance of one’s self-confidence.


Kernberg and Kohut presented their publications at a time when there was an increased interest in pathological narcissism; they therefore received a great deal of international attention.


Although they took a different view on etiology and therapy, they agreed in the diagnosis.Together, they laid the foundation for a conception of narcissistic personality disorder, which spread beyond psychoanalysis and was integrated into the influential classification system of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-III) in 1980. ) found its way in.” – (Quote from Narcissistic Personality Disorder – Wikipedia)

So we see that the so-called narcissists are mainly concerned with problems with relationships (proximity distance, affection), while the dissocial have more problems with compliance.

In practice, of course, you can see again and again that various disturbances can be present at the same time.

Those affected by both disorders are likely to behave very similarly when it comes to cooperation in therapy.A person with DPS will not normally have to suspend his own behavior. Both, however, can crash catastrophically socially and professionally. Then they somehow get into therapy. Of course, this should be individual for each patient anyway. As far as I know, the dissocial character is working more on the development of responsibility and empathy; While the narcissistic disturbed person is more concerned with restoring his confidence that it is possible to maintain and maintain the affection of others without projection of a false self-image. For both disorders, as far as I know, there are good approaches from the shape therapy that I am currently learning.

My personal perception is that at the moment many people would like to see their partner, who seems somewhat selfish to them, as the cause of all evil, whereby the diagnosis is then knitted itself.All I can say is this:

The ICD-10 (and in the USA DSM-V) are a good basis for diagnosing mental disorders.However, we lay men should leave these to psychiatrists on a case-by-case basis. Otherwise, projections and, as a result, dire stigmatizations usually come out of it. – But: In extreme cases, anyone can inform the police if really bad things happen, and in case of acute foreign or self-harm, this can lead to the briefing by the official doctor.

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