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Narcissists can now be given the ultimate title they deserve – a Psychopath

Sarah Strudwick


In a recent article written by the New York times entitled “A Fate That Narcissists Will Hate: Being Ignored” according to some professionals Narcissists are about to become an endangered species.

When I first read his article, like most other people who are trying to educate people about narcissism I was somewhat alarmed especially as I know how much damage those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder can do to their victims. However on further investigation I had a look at the new guidelines outlined in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (due out in 2013, otherwise known as DSM-5). The work group is recommending that this disorder be reformulated as the Antisocial/Psychopathic Type.

It appears that some of the traits of the narcissistic personality have now been included in what they call the psychopathic type.  Apart from recklessness, impulsivity and aggression which may apply to the narcissist in varying degrees. According to the new list below the majority of the new traits would fit into the both the psychopathic AND the narcissistic personality.

From my own experience and those who have had relationships with those who have had NPD many have the following characteristics although often they may be loath to admit that their partners were in fact psychopaths.  My own personal opinion has always been quite different. To highlight this I have listed the new guidelines and and highlighted those in blue that a narcissist are most likely to have. You can see the full criteria changes here

The new list comprises a number of psychopathic traits i.e.

1. Antagonism: Callousness

Lack of empathy or concern for others’ feelings or problems; lack of guilt or remorse about the negative or harmful effects of one’s actions on others; exploitativeness

2. Antagonism: Aggression

Being mean, cruel, or cold-hearted; verbally, relationally, or physically abusive; humiliating and demeaning of others; willingly and wilfully engaging in acts of violence against persons and objects; active and open belligerence or vengefulness; using dominance and intimidation to control others

3.Antagonism: Manipulativeness        

Use of cunning, craft, or subterfuge to influence or control others; casual use of others to one’s own advantage; use of seduction, charm, glibness, or ingratiation to achieve one’s own end

4.Antagonism: Hostility

Irritability, hot temperedness; being unfriendly, rude, surly, or nasty; responding angrily to minor slights and insults

5.Antagonism: Deceitfulness

Dishonesty, untruthfulness; embellishment or fabrication when relating events; misrepresentation of self; fraudulence

6. Antagonism: Narcissism                              

Vanity, boastfulness, exaggeration of one’s achievements and abilities; self-centeredness; feeling and acting entitled, believing that one deserves only the best; preoccupation with having unlimited success, power, brilliance, and/or beauty

7.Disinhibition: Irresponsibility

Disregard for, or failure to honor, financial and other obligations or commitments; lack of respect and follow through on agreements and promises; unreliability; failure to keep appointments or to complete tasks or assignments; carelessness with own and/or others’ possessions

8.Disinhibition: Recklessness

Craving and pursuit of stimulation and variety without regard for consequences; boredom proneness and unplanned initiation of activities to counter boredom; unnecessary risk taking; lack of concern for ones limitations; denial of the reality of personal danger; high tolerance for uncertainty and unfamiliarity

9.Disinhibition: Impulsivity

Acting on the spur of the moment in response to immediate stimuli; acting on a momentary basis without a plan or consideration of outcomes; difficulty establishing and following plans; failure to learn from experience 

Under the older model. The diagnostic criteria for NPD was that a person had to have 5 or more of the following traits: 

  1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g. exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

  1. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love 

  1. Believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions) 

  1. Requires excessive admiration

  1. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., they have unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment for themselves or automatic compliance with his or her expectations 

  1. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e. they take advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends. 

  1. Lacks empathy and is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.

  1. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.

  1. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes

Under the new model they have a rating system. ie. The person would be either mildly psychopathic with low levels of psychopathic traits or significantly psychopathic with high level traits.

What's interesting is that they have called Narcissism an 'Antagonistic' trait. In the past narcissism has always had a somewhat glamorous title to it which is reflected in the media all the time. We often hear headlines where the press say so and so is a narcissist. Its flouted around almost as flippantly as if saying that someone is a flirt and that actually narcissism is OK. Healthy narcissism is but unhealthy narcissism is extremely antagonistic as most people will know having lived or had an encounter with someone who has NPD. At the extreme end of the Narcissistic Personality whereby someone does have some of the aggressive traits listed above which would might otherwise been known as "narcissistic rage" they can easily kill someone.

Perhaps the new rules and regulations are actually a good thing. Its certainly not going to be very glamorous for people to say they are a psychopath and as the New York times article rightly says the last thing a narcissist wants to be is ignored.

In my opinion the narcissist is now being given the ultimate honour and a title they should have been given a long time ago, that of a psychopath. It also means that with education more and more people will be able to spot these dangerous predators and instead of saying “oh they are harmless because they have NPD” people will start to take them and their victims more seriously. 

Sarah Strudwick