::Because Aunt Alex gets mail.
Dear Aunt Alex,
You call them narcissists, but they also sound just like psychopaths, or sociopaths, or antisocials. They do the exact same things. Does calling them narcissists let them off the hook, when, really, they are social predators? Do you think there’s a difference between narcissists and sociopaths?
This is a great question. The short answer: There are differences between all of those, but those differences aren’t meaningful for the troops. All toads are toxic, and useless in relationships, and will ruin your life. Neither arsenic nor gasoline are good in a pie, and neither narcissists nor sociopaths are good in any part of your life.
So, having said that, here’s a primer on toads:
Narcissists, psychopaths, antisocial types, and sociopaths all are “defined” by the way they are seen by mental health professionals.
Unfortunately for those who seek understanding, this mental health perspective of things is always changing. However, most doctors, scientists and therapists agree that there is a lot of overlap among them all. The general issues clumping them together are empathy and disordered thinking. They’re bat-house crazy, and don’t care about other people. The subtle differences between them tend to involve whether they’ve been arrested yet or not, minor differences in their ability to control themselves or cover their butts, how grandiose they are, and whether or not they’ve tortured anyone physically. Those differences are important for scientists who are working on figuring things out, but they’re not important for the rest of humanity.
The point? They’re all the same. So, the next time a narcissist sends you a text, assure yourself: I want to gush to my friends about how thrilled I am that the psychopath is still in my life. I want to invite the criminal over for dinner. It’s really not so hard for others to see how adorable a sociopath can be. It’ll ruin your life, but it’ll keep him away from the rest of us.
I like your question a lot, Gracie, because the words we use are critical to how we make our decisions and sort out our feelings. Toads are nasty business, and if calling a toad a ‘psychopath’ or a ‘criminal’ instead of a ‘narcissist’ helps put their true nature into focus, by all means, do it.
It’s absolutely true that he is all of those things. Whether he comes in “has a police record” or “physically abusive” varieties, doesn’t matter. Call it poison, or toxin, or contaminant, or bad-bad-icky-stuff, I want that arsenic kept out of my pie.
Aunt Alex is finishing up work on a manuscript, the research for which has taken the Army’s understanding of toads (and the hopelessness of trying to get along with them) to a whole new level. Stay tuned.