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Understanding Antisocial and Narcissistic Personality Disorder

I am a licensed clinician with 22 years experience, and adjunct instructor in behavioral sciences with 26 years concurrent experience.

Some People Are Damaged, Some People Damage Others

Most psychological disorders are treatable with psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Personality disorders are the most difficult type of psychological disorder to treat. There is no medication to use, and most psychotherapy is ineffective. Psychological disorders cause suffering within the person who has the disorder. Some personality disorders cause suffering in other people.

Two of the personality disorders that are particularly harmful to others are Antisocial and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Someone may have one disorder or the other, or more likely, features of both.

What Does It Mean To Be Antisocial?

The term antisocial in this context does not mean someone who is a loner of isolated. To be anti- social, is to be against society, against rules, laws and norms of acceptable behavior.

Individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) tend to be charismatic, engaging, captivating, and very good at obtaining sympathy from others, by portraying themselves as the victim of some injustice. The intelligence of antisocials varies, but they share an ability to observe people and determine their needs and weaknesses. They deliver the right words in the right way to manipulate, control, and exploit. They harm and use other people in this manner, without remorse, guilt, shame or regret.

Who Are Narcissists?

The Narcissistic personality alternates between extremes of maxed out or bottomed out self-esteem and self-worth. They are grandiose, proud, and egotistical to hide the low self-worth they actually feel. They are always working to compensate for their feelings of worthlessness. They feel out of control, and compensate by trying to control others. They tend to feel misery inside, and often make those around them miserable in turn.

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Clinical Description of Antisocial Personality Disorder

The DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition) is the definitive guide to psychiatric conditions. Antisocial Personality Disorder is a psychiatric, or psychological disorder. In criminology, the terms Sociopath or Psychopath may be used instead of Antisocial, but the meaning is generally the same. The DSM-5 lists the features of APD as:

1. Failure to obey laws and norms by engaging in behavior which results in criminal arrest warrants criminal arrest.

2. Lying, deception, and manipulation, for profit or amusement.

3. Impulsive and reckless behavior.

4. Irritability, aggression and fighting.

5. Complete disregard for the safety of self and others.

6 Irresponsibility.

7. Lack of remorse, guilt, or shame. (American Psychiatric Association, 2013)

Clinical Description of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

The DSM-5 defines NPD as follows:

  1. Extremes of reliance on the opinion of others
  2. Extreme valuing or devaluing of the self.
  3. Setting goals based on whether or not approval and recognition from others will be obtained
  4. Extremes of personal standards; either very high, or very low based on an entitled attitude.
  5. Lack of empathy
  6. Many lovers and acquaintances, but no loved ones or friends.
  7. Grandiose thinking and behavior.
  8. Extreme attention seeking.

(American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

There is Such a Thing as Evil

Psychology, sociology and Positive Theory criminology have sanitized the most heinous human behaviors. This is an insult and indignity to the victims of evil This is a comfort to people who do evil. This lie allows evil to grow and consume, as people try to reason with evil, or plead for it to stop, which is not possible as evil ascribes to it’s own definition of reason, and is only encouraged by pleas for mercy.

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understanding-antisocial-and-narcissistic-personality-disorder

The Most Dangerous People You Will Every Encounter

There is such a thing as a malignant human being. They do not have a mental illness. They have darkest characteristics that they choose to embrace instead of resisting. Some of the most dangerous individuals I have encountered have the following characteristics:

  • Antisocial and Narcissistic personality traits.
  • A Machiavellian belief system that the ends justify the means.
  • Criminal pedigree. They are born and raised in a criminal lifestyle. They have never had a pro-social, law-abiding role model. They have no frame of reference for lawful behavior, and believe criminal behavior is normal.
  • Young. They have many years ahead to refine their methods of doing violence, and amass victims, and sow chaos.
  • Fit. They are strong and agile, and capable of hurting others.
  • Skilled fighters. They have training and experience in using violence with maximum effectiveness, and have a high pain tolerance.
  • Sadism. They enjoy scaring, humiliating, and hurting others, and making others uncomfortable or otherwise inflicting pain.
  • Smart. They can strategize and plan how to harm others.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse to lower any inhibitions against violence, or to lose sight of consequences.

The Harm Caused by APD & NPD

The clinical descriptions above are dry and academic, intended for clinicians to make a diagnosis. They do not reflect the reality of dealing with people like this face to face. Antisocials and narcissists hurt anyone around them. They victimize others including family, spouse, partner, associates, neighbors, and strangers, through financial exploitation, theft, emotional abuse, assault, rape, domestic violence, child abuse, and homicide.The clinical descriptions do not encompass the sick feeling when you see an empty bank account, or you realize you have been used and betrayed. These neat, clean, sanitized definitions do not reflect being called stupid, a slut, useless, and ugly and worthless. The descriptions do not reflect swollen shut black eyes, swollen, tender split lips, being choked, and being sore and limping for a week.

I can make people do whatever I want, when I want, and nobody can do anything about it. Why would I give up all that power?

— The Antisocial belief system regarding psychotherapy

Why would someone like me need therapy? I already have everything figured out. There is nothing any therapist can tell me.

— The Narccissistic belief system regarding psychotherapy

Can Antisocial & Narcissistic Individuals be Fixed?

There is little in the way of effective treatment for Antisocial Personality Disorder. Both APD and NPD, may be treatable with CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) but like all personality disorders, they are very treatment resistant. The narcissistic personality will tend to hold the view that others need to change to suit them. The Antisocial will be unwilling to surrender their power over others. Both personality types may actually get worse with therapy if they turn it into a game as they maneuver to outwit the therapist and prove their superiority. They may also use therapy as an opportunity to further refine excuses for their behaviors, and their ability to manipulate. Don't people change? Yes, of course, constantly. But some people change by getting worse. Their psychopathology runs too deep.

I think it is dangerous to even try to change people like this into functioning members of society. This can lead to the gravely mistaken belief that they are fixed and no longer a threat. This is akin to teach a scorpion not to sting, or a cobra to feel bad about striking.

One thing is certain; a spouse, partner, family member or friend is not going to be able to do anything to change them or fix them. If you are in a relationship with an Antisocial/Narcissist, you will be in for a great deal of suffering. You cannot fix them.The very best outcome is they will leave you heartbroken.

Concluding Thoughts

There are two ideas about the topic of narcissism and antisocial tendencies that I have an especially difficult time understanding.

  • People on social media will talk about their ex-narc, or my narc. They speak of a relationship with a narcissist as though it is something trendy to have, or something they have been proud to be a part of.This is a sign of both personal and cultural degeneracy.
  • People, including psychotherapists defend narcissists and antisocials, treating them like they are the victim. There is a difference between between being professional and showing your patient respect, regardless of who they are, and defending the most heinous and malignant actions. Naive members of my profession can practice very misplaced compassion when a predator gets more consideration and sympathy than a victim.

What If I Saw Myself When I Read This?

Do you think you just read about yourself? I am glad I have your attention. Start looking at yourself and thinking.

Step one is accurate diagnosis. It is very easy to see yourself when you learn about a psychological condition, but you cannot accurately self-diagnose. Becoming a skilled diagnostician takes a years of education, training, and practice, and you can still get it wrong. If you are concerned, find a good psychotherapist and find out more about yourself.

If you lead a hard life, with chaos and drama, losing friends, relationships, and jobs, or in and out of jail, how many more consequences of your own making do you want to endure? If you continue making the same choices, where is your life going to end up? Narcissists and antisocials drive other people away and wind up alone, and typically take a path of self-destruction. Step back. Look at what you are doing. Ask if the juice is worth the squeeze. An integral part of psychotherapy is expansion of free will; seeing choices and options you didn't realize you had. You don't have to give up power; it can be re-directed.

Consider the potential power inherent in knowing yourself thoroughly, and internalizing control by practicing discipline and self regulation. Consider the most powerful people in the world; presidents, prime ministers, CEO's, and senior military officers are surrounded by staff who give them feedback, opinions, advice, direction, information, and ideas. This is part of what makes them so powerful; it does not diminish their power.

If you think you have the personality traits of a narcissist or antisocial, these traits exist on a spectrum. On the low end you have people who have some of the traits, and they lead difficult lives as a result, but they can learn to manage these traits so their lives do not unravel. Most of this article has been discussing people on the far end, who are very far gone. Just reading this and being concerned can be reason for hope.

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.(5th Edition). Washington, DC.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 David A Porter

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