How to Identify Narcissistic Psychopaths

The narcissistic psychopath is a figure that's born from the two personality disorders that give it its name. Discover everything you need to know and how to identify them.
How to Identify Narcissistic Psychopaths
Sara González Juárez

Written and verified by the psychologist Sara González Juárez.

Last update: 08 April, 2023

Selfish, manipulative people without remorse and with an excessive ego. In other words, toxic people. In popular language, these individuals are called narcissistic psychopaths and it’s extremely likely that you’ve come across some of them.

Although this profile isn’t listed as a disorder in the DSM-5, it does share features with two conditions: narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. These characteristics result in a personality profile that’s well worth keeping away from.

In this article, you’ll find useful information for recognizing a narcissistic psychopath. This is something that’s not always easy, because these people are full of lies and charm, at least until they get what they want (or someone prevents them from doing so). Let’s take a look.

Narcissists and psychopaths, what characterizes them?

To know what narcissistic psychopaths are like, the first thing is to understand the two disorders after which they’re named. Here’s a brief summary of both:

  • Narcissistic personality disorder. Sufferers are characterized by strong personality traits, such as an inordinate sense of self-importance, great insecurity, and a lack of empathy. They’re people who tend to have conflicting relationships and a deep and excessive need for attention and admiration.
  • Psychopathic personality. The most distinctive trait of psychopaths is a lack of empathy. They’re people who are manipulative, feel no remorse, and don’t establish real emotional bonds.

Born from these two disorders is what’s known as the narcissistic psychopath, a personality that’s not yet classified as pathological, but is extremely dysfunctional. In the next section, we’ll list the most distinctive features of these people.

Man talking on the phone
Narcissistic psychopaths often use lies and deceit to manipulate others and get what they want from them.

The traits of narcissistic psychopaths

Narcissistic psychopaths usually show a series of behaviors typical of both narcissistic and antisocial disorders. Therefore, they’ll exhibit several of the following traits.

1. They don’t meet social norms

Whether provocatively or covertly, narcissistic psychopaths tend to bend the rules to their advantage. They adopt non-compliance and weave a rescue net around themselves. This usually involves blaming someone else, gaslighting, or lying.

2. They lie and cheat

Lying is a daily part of their lives. Having low levels of empathy and remorse, they don’t usually have any scruples in deceiving others to their own ends. In fact, their lies are often so elaborate and detailed that it’s really difficult to unravel them.

3. Inordinate sense of their own worth

Their need to feel admired is usually born from an oversized sense of worth. They feel superior to others and try to configure their environment so that reality and their ego coincide. Hence the social mask, the false self-confidence, and their refusal to acknowledge or take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Lack of empathy

A lack of empathy is common to both the psychopath and the narcissist. Their affectivity is cold and distant, and although they might make an effort to appear friendly and charming, at some point their inability to put themselves in somebody else’s position is revealed.

5. Cruelty and violation of boundaries

There are two main reasons for the abuse – which is usually emotional – that narcissistic psychopaths exert on the people around them. These are utilitarianism and the preservation of the excessive and fragile self-esteem they possess. Consequently, if they can get something from others by making them feel bad, they’ll have no problem doing so.

6. They don’t tolerate criticism

It’s not that it’s difficult for them to digest criticism or that they avoid it, but that they can’t tolerate it at all. Indeed, any comment, even if it’s constructive, that’s detrimental to their image will be badly received. The narcissist psychopath will react with lies, manipulation, or violence.

7. They attack other peoples’ self-esteem

As we mentioned earlier, narcissistic psychopaths can easily become cruel. However, this isn’t always their first choice when dealing with others. The best way to use someone is to destroy their self-esteem. By doing this, it’s much easier to make them think that they’ve given in to the demands of the narcissistic psychopath of their own free will.

8. They’re promiscuous in their relationships

As they see others as a means to their own ends and to satisfy their desires, it’s common for them to have relationships with several people at the same time. While this fact isn’t necessarily reprehensible, the way in which they use people they have relationships with is certainly unacceptable.

9. False beliefs

To maintain an image so exaggeratedly high and, at the same time, so fragile, the narcissistic psychopath feeds distorted thoughts of themselves and others. They’re usually oriented toward devaluing others and extolling their own attributes.

self centered boy
Narcissistic psychopaths despise other people, they think they’re superior to anyone else.

10. Need for attention

They place themselves at the center of attention and strive to create social groups that revolve around them. If someone threatens this protagonism, they wage a campaign against them.

11. Some are impulsive

Although it depends on the specific personality profile of the individual, it’s been observed that some narcissistic psychopaths are impulsive when making decisions. They’re individuals who feel such discomfort when something threatens their self-esteem or their network of human ‘tools’ that they impulsively overreact.

Bear in mind that the term ‘narcissistic psychopath’ is only present in popular culture. If you suspect that someone in your environment fits this profile, it’s best to stay away from them. You may also need professional help to deal with the emotional havoc they create, so, if this is your situation, don’t hesitate to seek support.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.