Is anyone as confused as I am regarding the difference between a narcissist, sociopath and psychopath? As a psychology major, I know the difference in psych terms, but am flummoxed by how they are being used in support groups and blogsites There are some fantastic sites about the subject that I never checked into but now wish I had, thinking they did not apply to the problems around narcissistic personality disorder.
Traditional definitions, simply put are that the three terms belong in ascending order of lack of humanity on the part of the perpetrator - arriving at the psychopath, who takes great pleasure in torturing and annihilating the victim. This isn't me, but wait, of course it is. The intimate narcissistic experience is definitely torturous and has long-lasting after affects. The narcissist absolutely does take enormous personal pleasure in watching the pain of another human being, someone they initially claimed to love. The "victim" (not fond of that word) certainly feels annihilated and literally is for a long time.
But there's the difference.
Time. We may feel dead but we have the choice to approach deep inner healing, a healing that goes deeper within than we ever imagined possible, so deep many turn away and stay with the easier (but ultimately more painful) option of constantly reiterating "What was done to me". They stay with their story until it becomes an identity - the role that defines them and so defies healing.
If we take the deep inner solitary journey, we can heal from the narcissistic attack. Recognizing my own responsibility, through writing here and exposing my tribulations to other women, I took a year away from blogging to heal (and also write a novel around NPD in mothers and lovers, which turned into a trilogy exploring the damage wreaked across an entire family and the innocent child).
But the choice to make the lonely trip is tough as it involves taking responsibility for our own contribution to the experience - co-dependency. This is one aspect that causes anger and resistance in many of those attacked. I liken it to the character in the movie "Forest Gump" played by Gary Sinise, who after getting both legs blown off in Vietnam becomes the victim, self-destructive in his anger and bitterness. Forest helps him through and in time, prosthetic legs are invented and Gary is back to his old self, only improved through his experience and grateful to be alive.
Ultimately it doesn't matter which label we slap on the attack - narcissistic, sociopath or psychopath, in the moment all are equally devastating to the experiencer. However, there is one difference - Time to heal. Generally the psychopath is a physical annihilator, nothing but literal death will satisfy, while the narcissist is an emotional annihilator, by definition preferring invisible wounds that make the victim appear crazy. This is part of narcissism's devious pain - the hideous damage they inflict is in private and invisible so the victim seems like a liar and hysteric for complaining.
After narcissistic abuse, we may feel dead but we do have a choice that is denied the psychopath victim. It is our responsibility not to allow the narcissist the pleasure of destruction. We owe it to ourselves and to every other woman suffering the same maltreatment to say "Enough" and to commit to the work of healing