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

1,224 Comments

  1. Jessie

    I have been married for a little over 5 years. The man I am married to is a Narcissistic Sociopath in every sense of the description. About a year ago I was finally able to leave him it lasted a few months and I had to return home because he made my life so miserable and with my position in Law Enforcement as well as his I did not want to be embarrassed in front of the community I serve. When I moved home he immediately sold everything out of my apartment so I could not leave again he promised he would change, he would see a councilor, and he would never hurt me again. The 1st year was not that bad until I got pregnant then he knew I was stuck and the real him shined through. This man has mentally, verbally, physically, and sexually abused me for years and since my return home it’s so much worse. I’m not allowed to have friends, when I’m on duty I will find him stalking me to make sure I’m on the call I say I’m on, He blows up my phone constantly and if I don’t answer I’m accused of everything under the sun, he will FaceTime me to make sure I’m where I say I am, he has threatened every single person and friend I have, he lied to my mom told her when he met me I was so addicted to drugs he had to help me get off of them (I have never touched a single drug ever). He has told lies around town of me cheating on him because I found where he had been seeing 3 other women. He is a pathological liar and uses his charm to get what he wants. When I met him I was an outgoing, fun, loving, people person so full of life. Now I fear going anywhere because I know he will show up and embarrass me and then when I get home it gets so much worse. Often times I dream of running away but my daughter is 4 and loves her dad she needs him and I need her. My police chief knows of the abuse but since they are great friends nothing will ever be done about it. I live in a place where I have no family no one to turn to for help. My checks are spent before they hit my account because he has to be in control. I feel like I’m trapped in a dungeon with no way out. He often tells me I need to love him the right way which I can’t fathom what he thinks he’s doing to me. I love the community I serve I hold great pride in my position I try to hide the fact that my home life is a nightmare because I don’t want people to know that I am such a broken and weak person. I just want to leave and not look back. This is my second marriage there will never be a third my picker is obviously broken. I have no advice to give because me myself doesn’t know how to escape this nightmare yet. I will continue to wear a fake smile, hide the tears, and pray that one day I’m able to leave, get my own place, continue growing in my career, and find happiness…

    Reply
    • Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo

      Jessie ~ You WILL leave. You WILL get your own place. You WILL continue to grow in your career. You WILL be happy! And…you are protected. You’re protected. The power to articulate your situation in such clear and direct language speaks to your current capacity to think straight and devise your plan. You’re in a better place than you realize emotionally and mentally. You already know and understand why this relationship is toxic and unhealthy…which is often a place very few are able to reach inside the trauma. You are ready. You have the support you need…look around you. They’re standing by waiting for you to ask for their help. They will believe you and they will say yes. Embrace the help and support. You deserve to be happy and free. ~ Paula

      Reply
  2. Chlo

    I have just woken up and smelled the roses I given 13 what I thought fabulous life,but in the end everything was a lie.I totally adored and respected him he was my soulmate and so says everybody else.Yes he has a lot of traits of evil.The perfect husband and father or so everyone seemed to think so,and we here can justify certain things he says due to his job that’s,what we did fooled a lot of people and he does not care at all for what he has done no remorse or respect.I found out 1 month ago having an affair one of many probably. No emotion and total dis respect for his child, callous as that kissing me in the morning by the afternoon have to sell the house I don’t love you I never have.I really look at him no passion there’s nothing in his eyes he just looks dead, I ask for answers he does not answer at all. Just sits there in his own world.I need answers for my own sanity. Anyway he has manipulated my son and forever he will do so.I just realised and read his school report for this year.your son shows no sympathy or empathy for others. Grant has now moved in after 1week with his new victim and children and without asking my permission is taking the child to his new faMily.I tried saying no it’s too soon then he’s starts to say nasty things mad useless he knows me so well.I can deal with this but my son who is 10 cannot please help me

    Reply
  3. Cynthia Thomas

    Iv been married 23yearhe walked out 5yearsago he just about drove me insane the mental abuse I had a nervous breakdown and was. In the hospital almost a month I’m still married been on my own for about 4yearshe continued to mental abuse me until I said enough I told him if he ever came around me again I would kill him not a problem for me my faith kept me going but he’s still a threat he doesn’t know it yet but I filed for back pay that he owes me its a lot of money he’s all about his money my daughter is in with him him and her tried so many times to kill me but GOD wouldn’t let them when he finds out what I done yes I fear for my life because I know he’s capable of it I’m not going to stay shut in all the time I can’t then he would think he won I will not give him the pleasure of thinking he’s won I want to get him committed but I can’t get anyone to help me but it’s a big possibility I could end up dead after he sees what iv done he’s not going to control me anymore I will not let him I refuse my head is good and clear I live in high security but I have to continue on with my life and your probably thinking let the money go it’s not the money it’s my way of showing him and my daughter they can not get away with this any longer it’s not even his daughter there’s a lot to my story I don’t think I have enough space to write it all down it went on for some years until I said enough I’m very strong because of my faith and I refuse to let him or her continue to intimidate me I haven’t seen him in about six months haven’t seen that daughter going on4years they are both still in it together both of them doesntknow what I know about yet what they conspired against me I know the whole truth it’s just a matter of time before they find out I hope my story helps some one else please if your in a relationship with someone that poses these traits get out yes you can get out just get up and go if it’s bad arm yourself save yourself please go

    Reply
    • Dani

      Bless your heart I’m glad you got out, I also have still have days I want to leave this earth I have 3 children and its awful from them and me my oldest son hates me because of the bad that my ex has talked about me. This month has been bad hes trying to get a restraining order so that me and the kids cant go see my mom and he got my location and sent it to other people reason unknown but I hope that this will be grounds for a PFA finally this is sad of all of us involved and our children…. I’m glad I found this site because I’m at my wits end and ready to do something stupid

      Reply
  4. Bronk Stamford

    My adult daughter is a narcissistic sociopath who has destroyed my and her mother’s reputations, and family and friend relationships with devastating lies of abuse. So very few of our family, and none of our friends, questioned these allegations. Those who did so question her assertions have been shunned by my daughter’s “minions”, who blindly and unquestioningly believe her lies, and act on her behalf to black out all information and contact. My daughter went so far as to file a complaint with the state police, who showed up at our doorstep Christmas week. They acknowledged they had insufficient “evidence” to arrest, but wanted to inspect my computer looking for child pornography (another false despicable allegation). thankfully I got good legal advice and the police have closed the investigation as unmerited. nonetheless my and my wife’s reputation is besmirched. At this point we live our lives “under the radar” lest we be publicly pointed out as the monsters my daughter’s lies paint us to be. We cannot even defend ourselves lest she spread the lies to as yet “unpoisoned” parts of our lives (work, friends unknown to her, church, etc.). We live in constant fear of more embellished lies coming forth to do further damage.

    Reply
    • ANTHONY OLIVA

      A person develops Narcissism due to flawed parenting that includes significant physical and/or mental abuse during the child’s developmental years (0-5). So a parent calling their own child a narcissist is the irony of all ironies.

      Reply
      • Michelle

        Another victim blaming sham Anthony, many narcissistic people have shared their early lives with siblings, same parents and parenting, and their siblings do not develop narcissism. Blaming the parents is such crap, it could just as easily be a teacher or peers that indoctrinated the kid into Entitlement and toxic personality, or even TV. Whatever they feel attracted to, whatever Hooks their attention shapes their development, not just genetic either. Per. psychology book, parenting is only 20% if that.

        Reply
  5. Misty Wilmarth

    Reading all this makes me very sad inside for the life that I live with a narcissistic sociopath. I can’t find a way to get away when I’m financially at his disposal. My very existence is dependent on the fact that I have nowhere to go no family and I live in yes. He is living inside of me and nobody will ever love me or want me around. He says if I ever get another boyfriend that he will beat the s*** out of me because I’m such a stupid girl and that he’s the only one that can put up with my b*******. What do I do when I have nobody to turn to?

    Reply
    • CJ Tanner

      I’m sorry you’re going through the B*””**”” he only tried to throw dhafe on you to make him feel better. I had and now have the same problem no family or anyone to turn to.
      You need to remember that he’s projecting how he feels abt himself, how he feels right now doesn’t matter untill he figures out how to talk, or down grade you without being a Cactus.
      We both need good luck!

      Reply
    • Dani

      Please don’t feel that way I did to and I had no one I saved money and found a place to go and didn’t tell him a single thing till the day it was time to move I’m not going to blow smoke its not easy but its doable. I still struggle 3 years later but I’m alive and safe. You will find a man that will love you and treat you like a queen but you need to seek counseling and get strong I have days I feel bad for my man he has to deal with this broken woman but he is very understanding and loving

      Reply
  6. AJ

    I lived in a few relationships with these traits. It starts off gradually. By the time you realise it is a bit too late.You are already hook line and sinker.Their insecurities creep up and try to turn it around that you be the first to apologise for something that was not you that started the problem.I swear at times i am a target to attract these types of people in my life.Now i speak up and i am the one who causes drama so I am told lol!Ifeel sorry for these type of people for it is a sickness for them. It is like they cannot stop to control everything. If you are weak it seems to already make that connection with you.They hate that you do not say much for they cannot figure you out and you are a chsllenge to them.It is a blessing in disguise if they move on.

    Reply
    • Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo

      You’re so right, AJ! It’s slow and insidious…a bunch of projections we’re not prepared to clean up easily after they vomit all over us with their insecurities and self-loathing. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Jennifer

    Im definitely with a narcissistic sociopath. 22 years and i thought it was me to blame for his infidelities and mental abuse. The constant breaking up with me and coming back has gone on for way too long. 2 grown kids and you would think he’d grow up but nope hes still that nasty manipulative prick! We arent together currently cause he left me yet again but he wont leave me alone; hes always there and i feel stuck with not knowing how to move forward and say good bye for good!!!!

    Reply
  8. muppey

    At this time it’s to late to save my marriage as the sociopath has won. He’s the father of my now ex’x two children with one dead via suicide.
    This guy seems to fit nearly all category’s mentioned above.
    He is a Mormon and they are known as the “God Makers”. In the afterlife they become gods of their own planet and he intends to have Mary as his goddess who will be obliged to produce babies for him going into “infinity”. They were sealed in the Oakland, CA Temple which means that my wife will be his forever in their Celestial Heaven. Weird but true. A lot is on youtube.
    Also witness to this liars thieving. He somehow convinced Mary to deceive and lie to me and finally to simply disappear one day from the beauty shop. Very strange people. Feel for my wife as I did warn her when I became aware what was happening.

    Reply
  9. Vampie

    My so called best friend was EXACTLY like this it’s crazy how I only found out too late , a few weeks ago I stood up for myself and told her that I decided to not talk to her ever again (I had enough of bullying , big lies , arrogance, physical and verbal abuse , not to mention her not so pleasing life style as she drinks, smokes and goes clubbing regularly although we are not of age yet ALSO I found out she uses black magic and that was the drop that flood the glass) now she is playing the victim , she cries in front of our other common friends and turned most of them against me , she brainwashed everyone into believing that I did her bad and that she loved me so much etc I do not know what to do ..
    My experience is to never be forgotten, as I’m suffering from a lot of new found emotional problems , I became antisocial as she never lets me speak , now I can not start a conversation with anyone , insecure as she considered everything I did as funny , cringeworthy or not attractive (even the way I walk, laugh , talk, dance..), I am feeling stupid (like she used to call me all the time) and I hate it , I hate that I’m feeling that way .. I just want everyone to see her true colors , no one can know how I’m feeling right now as she’s crying and pretending to be the innocent betrayed person while I look like the evil girl that did nothing but turn on her amazing, perfect best friend and break her heart

    Reply
  10. rose

    my problem now that he probably seeing another hid it but his behavior was so drasticly indifferent gone until i showed signs of hurt i exploded he said u left so go he cut me off but not angry has someone else i truely believe my lroblem is He does not fit the job sucsess changing work not taking care his kid hes powerful build alot of wealth and takes care his som and mom but fits all the other profiles i am left devistated and he could care less off to young women hid it until secured her i felt it reacted he turned it around on me in end but i was crying out to understand why he changed explosion he happy i left and got away with say “ u want to go u said it so go” of course i dont hear from him again except for my things is he a narcassit if he fits ALL the traits except wealth power same job for decades not taking money just manipulating sucking the life out of and trying to hang on to me b4 totally had her i mean just if i made no noise id probably be in the loop still NOw ive been thrown down elevator shaft is he a narcassit sociopath hischarm and image control is extreem but he is sucessful no lies on that confused who he is? would never tell me he started woth new women let me twist guts bleeding out till i left ha ha he got what he wsnted thats how i see what happened is this a sociopath nacassit

    Reply
  11. Callie Girl

    I read a couple of the comments and am in complete disgust. I am going through a divorce right now of someone with the same personality. The only good thing I have is no physical abuse. It is all emotional and psychological. Even to his oldest he emotional and psychological abused to hide his affair. Made me out to be a crazy person when I would accuse him of an affair with that person and turned my son against me. When my son found out what his dad did he totally hates him. I also have a young child that doesn’t know any better yet. All their dad says is I want to see that child. He has three kids and all he ever fights about seeing is the youngest cause he can still be manipulated. His two other children are teenagers and hate him for what he has done. How can I save my youngest from this man? From what I have read these poor children are still getting hurt. Where is the justice for the kids. Make these horrible narcissistic abuser parents pay support and have supervised or no visitation. I thought the kids are suppose to be safe.

    Reply

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