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A Look at the Differences between Antisocial and Narcissistic Personality Disorders

written by: Nicholas Kuvaas • edited by: jen2008 • updated: 10/14/2010

Antisocial and narcissistic personality disorders have many similarities between them, but differences exist. These differences mainly occur in symptomology and behavior. To find out more, read this article.

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    A Brief Summary of Anti-Social Personality Disorder

    Personality disorders are difficult to diagnose, and they tend to develop in early adulthood which is why someone needs to be 18 years old to be diagnosed with one. There are many forms of personality disorders of which anti-social personality disorder is just one, but it tends to be extremely debilitating for those who suffer from it. Anti-social personality disorder is a disregard for other people's rights and safety as well as authority1. People who suffer from anti-social personality disorder would usually be considered to be callous, cynical, and lack empathy for others. This behavior is also commonly referred to as sociopathic, and people who suffer from anti-social personality disorder tend to become criminals or confidence men.

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    A Brief Summary of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

    Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental illness where sufferers think unrealistically high of themselves and have for a long period of time2. This belief or behavior is known as grandiosity, but they also exhibit an unhealthy need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others and think that they are the most important part of other's lives. They are also likely to exhibit behavior that is rude or patronizing, and they look down upon others. Likewise, the term "narcissist" would likely refer to someone suffering from this disorder. While there are many similarities between this disorder and antisocial personality disorder, the rest of this article will focus on the main differences between the two.

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    Differences Between Antisocial and Narcissistic Personality Disorders

    There are many differences between antisocial and narcissistic personality disorders, but these exist mostly in symptomology. For example, someone with narcissistic personality disorder would expect to be recognized as superior without any work or achievements to justify the feeling, or they would exaggerate their accomplishments to a grandiose level2. Someone with antisocial personality disorder would lie regularly, but this would be done to take advantage of somebody. The grandiosity of the narcissistic personality disorder is related to feeling better about themselves. In essence, they feel they are deserving of excessive admiration and have a strong sense of entitlement. At the same time, they are envious of others, but they are also likely to be arrogant and are very in love with themselves.

    People who suffer from antisocial disorder do not feel they are special and will partake in risky behavior where they are likely to be incarcerated or be seriously injured1. While they may appear to have an inflated self-appraisal, they is used for manipulation and personal gain. People with antisocial personality disorder do not need excessive approval and are less likely to disparage others publicly. Another major difference is that people who suffer from antisocial personality disorder are impulsive and do not think about their future while people with narcissistic personality disorder are very concerned about their future. Their exploitation of others is justified because it will benefit them in the long term.

    These personality disorders are highly similar in many ways, but there are key differences in the basic motives and behaviors among them. Narcissistic personality disorder behavior is about building up themselves while tearing others down in an attempt to maintain their feelings of superiority. Antisocial disorder may incorporate some arrogance and a lack of remorse, but this behavior is related to personal gain through illegal methods and a lack of respect for authority, and they regularly engage in unnecessarily risky behavior.