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28 Dec 2015

Difference Between Narcissists And Psychopaths

This entry is part 11 of 11 in the series Psychopaths in Workplace

Many show no difference between narcissists and psychopaths. Though minorities, they can wreak havoc on careers, organizational cultures, office politics and teams. Unless we have a good picture of how they work, we will make bad decisions. We will hurt our companies.


A difference between narcissists and psychopaths is the willingness to do the dirty work.

The difference between narcissists and psychopaths is an emotional one.

In Greek myth, Narcissus falls in love with his own reflection in the water. A reflection though cannot return love. Narcissus, forever in love with someone who cannot return that love, kills himself.

This is why narcissists seek the love of others. We are their reflections. This shows up in overt displays of leadership (authority), entitlement (things) and appearance (exhibitionism). They crave to be the center of attention.


Psychopaths are about self-preservation, the basest instinct in any living thing. They are on an endless pursuit to acquire power to protect themselves. They see threats in all places. No power is ever enough.

They are not emotional though. They neither love nor hate themselves. This allows them to endure much that would emotionally deter the rest of us. As long as it enhances their power, they will endure.

Difference between Narcissists and Psychopaths

The difference between narcissists and psychopaths is emotional. Narcissists intensely love their images, their persona. Psychopaths do not have this. They will give up image if it enhances power. Narcissists will not.

Sycophants are good examples of this difference between narcissists and psychopaths. Sycophants seek power by gaining favor of those with power. They seduce through flattery. Narcissists find this hard. They deserve flattery not others. Psychopaths will flatter.

The hard part is that their actions can be the same. For instance, many types of dress and possessions convey status. Status is a form of power. It is also a form of exhibitionism.

Their intentions are not the same though. For narcissists, status will draw attention. For psychopaths, it will exert power.

By thinking they are the same though, psychopaths blind side us. They are willing to work in subservient and obscure jobs as long as it helps them build their power. Narcissists are too much in love with themselves to do such dirty work.

Both will harm us and our businesses though.



Series Navigation<< Self-Regulated Psychopath, Implications for Emotional Intelligence (Pt 2)

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