5 Differences Between a Psychopath & a Narcissist

Hey Optimist Minds!

Have you ever wondered what the difference between a psychopath and a narcissist is? Both words are used for the kind of people you don’t want to get involved with. They seem dangerous to your physical safety and your mental health. But why can’t these terms be used interchangeably?

Though there are many overlaps in the behaviour of a psychopath and a narcissist, these are two separate concepts. This video will explain what these differences are and how to know whether you’re dealing with narcissism or psychopathy.

Please note that the information shared here is only for educational purposes. These words aren’t actual diagnoses but are instead descriptive terms for people with specific pathological behaviour patterns. Only a licensed professional can diagnose these individuals with underlying psychological disorders.

So, here are five differences between a psychopath and a narcissist.

Number One

Material gains vs an inflated ego.

Both categories of people have a different set of motives guiding their behaviour. The psychopath mistreats people for some kind of hedonistic pleasure. If they’re doing any kind of harm to you, they’re probably doing it for money, sex, or indulgence.

On the other hand, narcissists are abusive because they want to sustain their sense of superiority. They care more about fame, admiration, and control over their surroundings. 

For example, imagine that the narcissist and the psychopath visit a bank, and there is a robbery. The narcissist might intervene and try to look like a hero just so that they can keep reminding others of how great they are. Whereas the psychopath might use this as an opportunity to attack the robber and escape with the money.

Number Two

Level of neuroticism.

Under that obnoxious ego and haughtiness, a narcissist is actually an anxious person. Any kind of threat to their perception of superiority is met with intense insecurity. They feel a significant amount of discomfort when this happens, so they act emotionally.

Conversely, the psychopath is devoid of emotion, calm, and calculating. They don’t really care about criticism or what others think. All their thoughts and actions come from a place of careful thought without nervous energy.

So, if a narcissist is in trouble at work because of something deceitful that they did, they’ll be worried about how this makes them look. They might get agitated and try to blame others for the situation. However, a psychopath in the same position would simply deny the accusations in a cool and collected manner.

Number Three

A need for admiration.

Narcissists get envious when they see someone else being successful, looking good, or bringing attention. They usually can’t stand it as they want others to be envious of them. So it’s not uncommon for them to steal someone’s thunder or use exploitative tactics to impress the world.

Even so, such manipulation comes from the ulterior motive of being admired. The narcissist needs continuous praise to suppress all feelings of self-doubt.

Psychopaths, in contrast, do not crave attention, approval, or validation. If they’re abusive, it’s purely for profit or pleasure.

Number Four

Presence of guilt and shame.

By now, it must be clear to you that psychopaths don’t feel many emotions, especially negative ones. Narcissists too only feel emotions at a superficial level, which is why neither of these groups have empathy. Having said that, a narcissist feels a little more than a psychopath.

In fact, deep inside, narcissists are dealing with extreme shame and guilt that they don’t know how to process. It might seem like they don’t feel guilty for doing you wrong, but that’s just because they handle the guilt by bottling it up inside or by projecting it onto others.

When a psychopath does something wrong, they feel nothing except pleasure.

Number Five

Sensitivity to punishment.

Because of all the differences we’ve discussed so far, the narcissist is more likely to conform to pro-social behaviour. They want to avoid punishment as it’ll hurt their reputation and compromise their image as someone worthy of admiration.

Psychopaths, contrarily, aren’t as sensitive to punishment. They will try to avoid it because it acts as an obstacle to pleasure-seeking. Other than that, the idea of being punished doesn’t bother them much.

Are you now able to tell narcissists and psychopaths apart? Have you ever witnessed any of these differences in your life? Let us know what you think in the comments.

A link for further reading and the studies & references used in the making of this video are mentioned in the description below.

Thanks for visiting optimist minds, take care. Until next time.


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