Identifying a Narcissistic Sociopath

Sociopaths aren’t just the serial killers and rapists we see on the 6 o’clock news. They are our neighbors, co-workers, friends, family members, and sometimes our “soul mates.”

Sociopaths are the charmers and manipulators. They are the people who appear together and well-groomed at first glance, but hide many secrets and lies underneath their mask of sanity.

Sociopaths, in the early love-bombing stage of an intimate relationship, use many superlatives in order to woo and control their victims.

They say things to intoxicate you into compliance:

  • “You are the love of my life.”
  • “I have never known anyone like you.”
  • “You are perfect for me.”
  • “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
  • “I never want to leave your side.”
  • “You are the most beautiful person I have ever met.”
  • “We are perfect for each other.”
  • “You are exactly what I have been looking for my entire life.”

The following is taken from my book: Escaping the Boy: My Life with a Sociopath:


Do you know what it feels like to be locked up, placed in a dungeon of a partner’s creation? If so, you’re not alone. If not, pray you never do.

Abuse comes in many forms and affects many people in the victim’s life. Emotional, physical, and sexual abuses are equally degrading and harmful. One is not better than the other or worse than the other. They are ALL abuse.

This story is specifically about emotional abuse at the hands of a narcissistic sociopath.

According to Dr. Martha Stout’s book The Sociopath Next Door, sociopaths make up 4% of western society (Stout, 2010). That’s about 1 in 25 people walking around among us without a conscience, without the ability to measure, or care to measure, the morality of their decisions and actions. Would you know how to identify a sociopath if you saw one, met one, started an intimate relationship or entered into a business contract with one? More than likely, your answer is No, because unlike what we read on the television news or see in Hollywood movies, sociopaths aren’t just serial killers and murderers. Rather, they are members of our communities who we would never suspect of evil or wrong doing and who seamlessly blend into society with the rest of us. How? Through lies, manipulations, and more lies.

In romance, narcissistic sociopaths often appear too good to be true. They are charming, agreeable, and engaging. The narcissistic sociopath loves (or seems to love) everything about you. He hooks you. Then he breaks you. His emotional abuse is VERY subtle. The victim may not know she is being victimized until it is nearly too late.

Identifying narcissistic sociopaths

Although not all narcissists are sociopaths, all sociopaths are narcissists (Stout 2010). Therefore, if you can identify a narcissist, you’re one step closer to being able to recognize a sociopath. Below is a definition of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and a list of narcissistic traits taken directly from the website of Dr. Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-Love. (If you know someone who fits at least 5 or more of these traits, a psychiatrist could easily diagnose him/her as having NPD.)

The DSM-IV-TR defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder as “an all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts,” such as family life and work.

1. Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements);

2. Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion;

3. Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions);

4. Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation – or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (Narcissistic Supply);

5. Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favorable priority treatment;

6. Is “interpersonally exploitative”, i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends;

7. Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others;

8. Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of his or her frustration. Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions as he or she believes that they feel the same about him or her and are likely to act similarly;

9. Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, “above the law”, and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy (http://samvak.tripod.com).

Once it’s clear you’re dealing with a narcissist, go through the following list to see if the narcissist is also a sociopath. (You’ll discover many overlapping traits from each list.) The list below of 20 sociopathic traits is taken directly from the book Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us by Dr. Robert D. Hare, Ph.D:

1. Glib and superficial charm. The tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Sociopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A sociopath never gets tongue-tied. They have freed themselves from the social conventions about taking turns in talking, for example.

2. Grandiose self-worth. A grossly inflated view of one’s abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart. Sociopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.

3. Need for stimulation or proneness to boredom. An excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation; taking chances and doing things that are risky. Sociopaths often have low self-discipline in carrying tasks through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks that they consider dull or routine.

4. Pathological lying. Can be moderate or high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative, and dishonest.

5. Conning and manipulative. The use of deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of one’s victims.

6. Lack of remorse or guilt. A lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, coldhearted, and unempathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one’s victims.

7. Shallow affect. Emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness.

8. Callousness and lack of empathy. A lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.

9. Parasitic lifestyle. An intentional, manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline, and inability to begin or complete responsibilities.

10. Poor behavioral controls. Expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting hastily.

11. Promiscuous sexual behavior. A variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of several relationships at the same time; a history of attempts to sexually coerce others into sexual activity or taking great pride at discussing sexual exploits or conquests.

12. Early behavior problems. A variety of behaviors prior to age 13, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use, and running away from home.

13. Lack of realistic, long-term goals. An inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in life.

14. Impulsivity. The occurrence of behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations, and urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences; foolhardy, rash, unpredictable, erratic, and reckless.

15. Irresponsibility. Repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements.

16. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions. A failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial.

17. Many short-term marital relationships. A lack of commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life, including marital.

18. Juvenile delinquency. Behavior problems between the ages of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes or clearly involve aspects of antagonism, exploitation, aggression, manipulation, or a callous, ruthless tough-mindedness.

19. Revocation of condition release. A revocation of probation or other conditional release due to technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation, or failing to appear.

20. Criminal versatility. A diversity of types of criminal offenses, regardless if the person has been arrested or convicted for them; taking great pride at getting away with crimes. (Hare 2011).


In addition to these two lists of traits, the biggest trait (or magic trick as I like to call it) that makes narcissistic sociopaths so dangerous and effective is their ability to divert attention away from these traits, hide their evil agendas, and convince everyone that they’re capable of being loving and caring. Using this trick, they establish a false sense of trust with their victims who, in turn, feel compelled to share their deepest and darkest insecurities and fears.

But how? How do sociopaths convince even the most guarded people to open up and share their souls with the devil?

The answer is: Through excessive charm, pretense, and an uncanny ability to hide behind whatever mask of lies they need to wear depending on their audience. They lie to everyone with calculated projection and transference, resulting in a false sense of absolute power and control over everyone in their lives. Armed with this false sense of intellectual superiority and the belief others will always comply with their whims out of fear of having their deepest secrets and insecurities exposed, sociopaths epitomize evil and everything that’s wrong in our materialistic and greed-driven society. And by remaining fearful and not speaking out or saying “no” to these fools, the rest of us perpetuate and allow their power, abuse, and destruction of our collective moral compass to grow exponentially.

Sociopaths will continue “winning” and wielding their power as long as the rest of us remain fearful of our own humanity.

I believe in the power of a collective consciousness and in the transformative powers of information and education. The more of us who awaken and become informed about the reality of sociopaths in our midst, the more likely we can shift the evil into good and strip sociopaths of their delusional power.

So join me and speak out without fear of being judged as weak for falling prey to one of these characters. Your experience doesn’t mean you’re weak, and It doesn’t mean you’re broken. All it means is that you trusted and loved someone who didn’t deserve either.

Paula Carrasquillo, author, advocate, mindfulness coach

1,128 Comments

  1. Confused in WV

    I noticed the early morning comment postings of most. Early AM. It gives me a little solitude to know that I am not the only one who has been so adversely affected by this type of person. I am trying to end a 4 year relationship with a narrasistic sociopath. We have a 2-1/2 year old son together which has made it really difficult to get away. We have been separated for about a year now with the “understanding” that we were working to get our relationship back. I have finally realized that I am the only only that truly held that belief. I have finally allowed myself to know that I have been used and manipulated and I am trying so hard to get away from them. Now that they have been exposed (at least to me ), I have somehow been turned into the evil one. In their mind and as they have been telling those around them. Is this common? For a long time now, things were done behind my back and even to my face, that I just put up with because I wanted to be loved by them and honestly , to keep this family together . Unfortunately, at times when I felt very hurt from the uncalloused behavior that was projected towards me, I said some hurtful things to this person. I guess to try and make them see how much I was being hurt by them. I truly regret ever having said anything because at the time I was deeply hurt and frustrated with their actions. Now I am being blamed for the relationship turning so unbearable. I’m being told its from my harsh words. Their actions that were so hurtful and harmful (to me anyway ) are not even being considered one tiny bit. No apology ever from these actions or their harmful words said. I did and continue to apologize for the hurtful things I have said. Those times of lack of self control in saying hurtful things are now being blamed as the whole reason the relationship did not work out. I realize it takes 2 and I’m truly sorry that I wasn’t mature enough to bite my tongue at times. I am being called and projected to their family and friends as a crazy and delusional person. I have been told that before when I would voice my displeasure and hurt. I even sought and attended therapy sessions because I was so sorry and afraid that I was those horrible things. Their actions continued and even tho I worked hard to think before I spoke , it seemed they increased the disrespect until I finally could not keep from speaking my mind. It’s like they knew I couldn’t not say anything and kept on until I did. I’m so hurt and confused. The other time in therapy , we attended twice together until they informed me that it was all me and they did not need to attend anymore. I continued with two more sessions until we moved away. I was told that I needed to leave the relationship but never really did. I am once again being made to feel crazy so I’m going to find help in the city I’m in now. If there is something wrong with me I Want to know. It’s like I have even started to blame myself for all that happened, even though I can recall all of the horrible things done by the other person. It’s like I don’t want to believe that those things happened. I don’t want to believe that someone could do that to me and not see how wrong they were. Did I blow things out of perportion? Did things not really happen the way I remember and continue to see? To tell the truth, I feel crazy ! Is this just them throwing it all back in me? Since they have never apologized for anything, I’m now wondering if I made the things up in my head. The way I perceive them and see them. Anyway , I hope everyone here finds leave and can sleep through the night.

    Reply
  2. Matt

    Very interesting read. I actually just resigned from a new position as I found that my new boss was a narcisstic sociopath. I stood up to him and put my career and livelihood in jeapordy as a result, but I had to speak up as to the monster he is. It worked out in the end, but it makes my hair stand on end thinking about the amount of power entrusted in such a hollow set of eyes. I’m a combat veteran with a purple heart and have seen the most evil version of mankind sitting behind a desk, not a gun.

    Reply
    • Paula Reeves

      Matt, I currently partner with a combat veteran who also has a Purple Heart. I’m always amazed at how similar our “battles” were/are. Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s very validating for many.

      Reply
  3. Jill

    Hello, I am married to a man who has several of these traits, but they seem to come and go. Its so hard for me to see clearly who he really is, perhaps because im too close to the situation. He has been at times completely irrational, illogical, unable to take any form of criticism (says im attacking him and saying hes a terrible person when I tell him something hes done or said hurt me deeply). Yes, ive been emotionally abused for at least 4 years now and see it clear now.
    He doesnt have the inflated self image, rather, he has embraced a sense of worthlessness his farher has made him feel his whole life.
    My husband is controlling but surprising that he is not jealous of other men and has never accused me of cheating or questioned my every minute like my ex used to constantly. He knows im faithful, its me that doesnt trust him, because of his coldness and abuse, why would he be faithful?
    He is like two people and I dont know which one is real and after almost 10 years, I dont feel he loves me, or know if he can truly experience bonding and connecting with me deeply because he never has.
    But the really confusing thing for me is, when we met he had been the victim of domestic voilence, so i thought he knows what thats like he could never become an abuser. And yes I have fully seen personally that his ex is 100% a full blown Narcissist and she has not 5 but every one of the listed traits, word per word.
    So how is it he was (and still is, she has alienated their daughter from us completely) so controlled by her and with me he is abusive (not physically) and can scream at me like he hates me as I cry and he shows no empathy at all?

    Reply
    • Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo

      Jill, Thank you for your comment. It’s very enlightening.

      Your husband has essentially taken on the “tyrant” energy of his past abuser. Tyrant energy is the opposite of Victim energy in how it’s projected outwardly. However, both are rooted in fears of abandonment and lack of self-trust and worth. The energies feed off of each other. It’s like he’s in a toxic relationship with HIMSELF and can’t escape. Everyone else, including you, is collateral damage. Did your husband receive any type of counseling or therapy following his DV experience? And how long did he wait before entering into a relationship with you? I do not sense that he is unfaithful to you physically. However, as you note, he’s not available emotionally. His heart chakra is shutdown. He’s deep in trauma but doesn’t realize it. His past abuser is still HOOKED INTO him and into your relationship. Did you access the FREE Energy Activation toolkit on this site? The three (3) exercises will greatly benefit you as well as your husband. How you present the idea of him trying them may be tricky but if you use the toolkit on your own for a few weeks, I’m sure the right action and answers will come to you. Regardless, if this relationship is breaking apart your heart and shutting you down, it’s toxic. It doesn’t matter what label you put on HIM, it’s clear the relationship is unhealthy.

      Reply
  4. James

    You need to switch all your pronouns to “she” and “her,” or at least make them gender neutral. The statistics show that narcissists are overwhelmingly female. You long for equality, right? Start here.

    Reply
    • Paula Carrasquillo

      Thanks for your suggestion, James. I’ll definitely consider making these changes. I write from my personal experience; I wrote this from my experience with a romantic male partner. Perhaps, as a compromise and so as not to alienate anyone, I can add clarifying language, a disclaimer of sorts, to the top. 🙂

      Reply
      • Cas

        What are signs of a sociopath mother to her newborn child?

        Reply
  5. Chris

    This describes my ex-wife to a tee she cheated on me from the time I met her til the end of our relationship and she had no conscious about doing it.She lied and manipulated me our whole relationship she had two kids from another marriage we separated but I thought we were working on our marriage she was seeing another guy the whole time and I was watching her kids and picking her up from work everyday!She cared about her kids and herself that’s it,she didn’t really have any female friends when she did she would get jealous about something pertaining to them and would turn on them if she was sick she expected me to wait on her hand and foot if I got sick she treated me as a inconvenience.After I would catch her cheating on me she would not have any contact with me after that fling ran it’s course she would start calling me and she would pull me back in then I would catch her again and the whole cycle would start again this happened at least 3 times and she didn’t care how it effected me it was all about her i’m not proud of how stupid I was but I loved her.It finally ended for good 15 years ago we have a 20 yr old son so I had to deal with her from time to time but it still effects me today I haven’t had a meaningful relationship in 15 yrs I don’t want to get hurt like that again it was much to painful I don’t know if I will ever be able to have another meaningful relationship.

    Reply
    • Paula Carrasquillo

      Chris, Thank you for your honesty and sharing your struggles. It breaks my heart knowing you’ve kept yours closed to the possibility of a true, genuine, and authentic connection with others. Until we feel safe, we tend to keep our hearts closed. We’re always on high alert and distrusting of others, including ourselves. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You deserve to feel safe, to open your heart, and to love again. Sending you lots of encouragement and peace.

      Reply
  6. Ruby

    This is Dr William Smith, breast center in St luke’s East Hospital in Lees Summit.

    He has done to Ashley, who is radiology technician accusing her
    that she did take wrong images, which makes for him very difficult to diagnose.

    Reply
  7. Jack

    I’ve been reading a bunch about narcissistic sociopaths and at this point I’m very positive that my father is one. I grew up believing I was worthless because he kept calling me lazy and irresponsible, regularly yelling at me over school grades despite always getting sufficient marks to get approved in the end. Currently I’m trying to gather the strength to get him expelled from my life completely and say he should forget I’m his son.

    But one thing to add is that he seems to be a special kind of a narcissistic sociopath, that he doesn’t intend on harming people but instead convinces himself that he’s doing the right thing and that anyone harming him is being evil. He’s been working in commerce for a few decades now, overworking his employees then yelling at them when they fail to deliver and concludes that him not getting good employees is because there’s ton of lazy and ill-meaning people around. That should be something to consider.

    Reply
    • Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo

      Thank you, Jack. All covert sociopaths/narcissists are “special” in this regard. They use other people’s polished and shiny personas as their mask. A narcissist/sociopath believes status and reputation are EVERYTHING but take shortcuts to gain a respectable reputation by making it their #1 purpose in life to associate and align themselves with good, hard-working people who have worked hard to establish themselves. We’ve all heard of “guilty by association”, right? Well, this tactic by sociopaths is the positive side of that idea. They’re automatically “judged” as good just because they have good, loyal friends sitting on either side of them. A thorn between two roses, one might say. But a thorn that goes undetected. And once these roses, these good, hard-working folks make a misstep (like normal human beings do), the narcissist/sociopath interprets the misstep as a personal and deliberate attacks inflicted by the good, hard-working folks. Instead of idolizing the good, hard-working folks, now the narcissist/sociopath degrades, demeans, and crucifies them…LOUDLY…so as not to be judged by others as being as careless and “at-fault” as the good, hard-working folk. It’s truly mind boggling and disgusting how easily the general public can be manipulated and brainwashed by a narcissist’s tantrums and shouts of injustice against them by the very people the sociopath/narcissist once praised.

      Reply
    • Nicole Henry

      I was in a relationship with someone just like this. I am currently in the process of getting him evicted from my house. Like your father, I truly believe he has convinced himself that he is doing the right thing at all times. He has a fifteen year old son that adores him. It’s hard to watch the way he treats him. He turns on his son in an instant. Then, other times, he allows him to do whatever he wants and forgets about all the other things he told him. He’s a contradiction, and I know it must be confusing for the boy. Anyhow, when I read your comment, I connected with your description.

      Reply
  8. Lady01

    I was just reading a comment and felt i would share something. The scariest thing about the whole ordeal, is when you split from a narc, they now ahve that much information on themselves onlne that they are now getting even more clever. They are actually goig around delivering themselves as the victum. Is this projecting? So before I even know what is going on, I find out they are pretending to have done to them what they are doing to me? You acnt post anything as its used against you that your nasty, evil etc and you are in fact the narc. They copy your personality, its all quite over bearing. I just pray God answers everyones prayers on delivering people from there enemies.

    Reply
    • Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo

      Thank you so much, Lady01, for addressing one of the most frustrating conundrums/paradoxes we face when inside and/or attempting to explain and share what happened to us while inside the toxic relationship with a narcissist/sociopath. I encourage everyone to stay strong and true to your experiences and never doubt or question the devastating impact of someone like this and how he/she hurt you, your children, your friends and others you loved. These people don’t just harm us; they harm everyone and everything we love and hold dear. That’s the biggest difference between a REAL target and a sociopath fake crying about being victimized.

      Reply
      • Vickie

        I experience this on a daily basis. I have been divorced now for almost 3 years. My ex husband has spent more time on destroying me in those 3 years then he ever spent paying attention to anything in the almost 18 years we were married. Our 5 children are destroyed and torn. His family also facilitates in the vicious cycle of abuse towards both me and thr children. Everyone had adapted a personality of conforming because its easier than the alternative. Its so sick and dangerous. I have 4 daughters and I am so scared of who they will be or end up with and I have 1 son who I am afraid will end up the same. Every single day someone is a target. He calls the police so often the children know them by first name. He has called Child Protective Services 4 times. Each time we have to go through the stress of drug tests and an inveatigation. Even though all of them are unsubstantiated its just a brutal brutal attack each time.
        It truly is something that no one understands.

        Reply

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