I wrote in an old post once about the similarities between a sociopath (psychopath) and a narcissist. There aren't many differences, they are generally overlapping disorders.
The general consensus, however, is that ALL psychopaths are narcissistic, yet not all narcissists are psychopaths.
When I look back at my own experience as described in Web of Lies, it becomes clear which end of the scale my own experience was. As my therapist explained to me over a year ago, I was dealing with a narcissistic psychopath.
So, how can you tell the difference?
Well, a narcissist always seeks confirmation. He/she needs affirmation for everything they do. They look for sources of narcissistic supply and if they don't get approval from that source, they get mad, really mad. They can be sent into a narcissistic rage purely because their needs for affirmation are not being met.
A psychopath does not need this affirmation. He/she is so convinced of his/her superiority over others, that it really doesn't bother him/her if they are accepted, believed, or approved of.
I experienced this first hand when my ex was caught red-handed trying to screw over his employer by selling company secrets to a potential customer. He wasn't phased by the fact he could be about to face a criminal prosecution at all. Instead, he was genuinely amazed that anybody could believe he had deliberately perpetrated a criminal act, and poured public scorn on those who accused him, calling them 'idiots' and 'jealous fools'.
Whilst I reeled from the horror of our public ridicule, he simply got on with his life, secure in his belief that he had done no wrong, and the people who believed he was a criminal were mere idiots who didn't deserve a moment of his attention.
This is the sort of behaviour which differentiates a true psychopath from a narcissist.
Don't be lulled into any false sense of security though, a narcissist who isn't a psychopath is still a huge threat to your emotional well being. They are every bit as manipulative and controlling as a psychopath, and if they aren't getting the validation they so desperately crave, they can be equally as dangerous.
I found a good blog post about dealing with narcissists here. The crux of it is, there is no dealing with them. If you're involved with one, get the hell out as soon as you can.
There is an incredibly fine line between narcissism and psychopathy. But, in my opinion, at the end of the day the label is less important. What's important is the effect it's going to have on you, the victim.
Whichever disorder you are dealing with, you are in danger. There is no safe way to remain in a relationship with a person who has no conscience. The only solution is to escape.
There is no rehabilitation for this disorder, and the vast majority of those who have it, are walking amongst us.