Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Personality disorders

A reader asked me to address other personality disorders associated with sociopathy besides narcissism. Narcissism and sociopathy are on the same cluster with the other "emotional" disorders -- Borderline Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder. According to wikipedia, the cluster breaks down as follows:

Antisocial personality disorder: "pervasive disregard for the law and the rights of others."

Borderline personality disorder: extreme "black and white" thinking, instability in relationships, self-image, identity and behavior

Histrionic personality disorder: "pervasive attention-seeking behavior including inappropriate sexual seductiveness and shallow or exaggerated emotions

Narcissistic personality disorder: "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and a lack of empathy"
I don't necessarily agree with these one-sentence descriptions. In fact, I don't believe that sociopathy is necessarily the same thing as APD. Like Dr. Robert Hare, I think APD isn't specific enough to give a good picture of sociopathy, and that the two do not necessarily share all of the same characteristics. Consequently, although I consider myself a high functioning sociopath because of my weak sense of empathy, failure to conform to social norms, manipulativeness, etc., I do not necessarily believe that i have APD. Nor do I think I have any of the other personality disorders with the possible exception of very mild Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which helps me fight my impulsiveness.

What about everyone else? Are there connections between sociopathy and other personality disorders that I am not aware of?


  1. My other diagnosis are Schizoid Personality Disorder and Intermittent Explosive Disorder, both of which were diagnosed at the sametime.

    At the moment it's more than I care to type fully out - but you seem to have a grasp of searching to find info so I'll assume you can find what you want to read about. I'm curious what type of person you think the joining of disorders would create?

  2. Joining of disorders doesn't "create" anything. Imagine trying to describe someone using ONLY descriptions permitted by INSURANCE SALESMENT.
    Welcome to DSM, "diagnostic criteria."
    It's well known (to insurance salesmen) that insurance salesmen are not only the most intelligent life forms in the universe, but have the best imaginations.
    So, it's all good.
    Have you ever had a significant head injury?

  3. Well, the thing is that when somebody is mentally "abnormal" enough to where they have a diagnosable personality disorder, the whole comorbidity aspect comes into play, which can mean multiple personality or mood disorders. A person who has a strong enough case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, if they're a covert narcissist, might also have Antisocial Personality Disorder, as well as Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder or at least Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. A Malignant Narcissist could very well have all of these. I also think that Histrionic types would often be Narcissistic. I don't know as much about Borderline and Bipolar, sorry.

  4. it's an emotional thing. I think with the amygdala playing a role....I think that hard wiring (as a kid) has something to do with it.

    BPD are on emotional fire. they can't rationalize when they have an emotional response. Sociopaths are the opposite (it seems).

    That emotional response is from the amygdala (with the higher brain-prefrontal cortex (rational human thinking) playing no role)). Sociopaths seem to be able to rationalize everything with very little amygdala action....

  5. i've been told that bpd's can drift back and forth between basing most decisions on logic and acting from extreme emotion. (i see this in myself, am bpd..) i think the intensity of emotion can scare someone into emotional sobriety for a while. but then things build... emotional intensity, then shutdown... and on it goes.

  6. Well Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not really a personality disorder, although Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, unsurprisingly, is. Wiki for the differences. I wonder actually if some of the people who post here as undiagnosed sociopaths, are not actually suffering with OCD. A common theme of the "pure O" manifestations of OCD are such anxiety-fueled concerns as gender disturbance, sexual orientation confusion, body dysmorphia and various other fears of psychological and psychiatric disorders.
    I would think most people who suffer with even mild OCD have experienced the unforgettable joy of a panic attack. Is it likely that a true sociopath would be able to experience anxiety to that level?

  7. I really don't get why sociopaths are compared to narcissist. Both are very different, may be similar at certain points. They might intersect at a point but both are very different. Narcissist believe they are, and are highly self obsessed, where as sociopaths don't believe in God and are not self obsessed like narcissist.

  8. These disorders very often overlap...when people have one they quite often have another. Someone with BPD or Sociopathic disorder can very often have Narcissistic traits without being a full blown Narcissist. These disorders are very similar in many ways, and by doing research you will see the differences as well as the similarities. It can be confusing at times but well worth the efforts of the research. Sadly these disorders/people are very difficult to treat because the Sociopath and Narcissist are usually intelligent and think they are smarter than their therapists, they feel they can trick/outsmart them making them difficult to help. Sad to know there are so many walking around... as these people can be very charming and certainly able to hide their true selves.


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