Narcissists at work

Upside of narcissismA Lovefraud reader sent me a link to a free e-book. The reader’s only comment was, “ugh.”  Here’s the book:

The Upside of Narcissism in the Workplace

The book was created by Hogan Assessment Systems. On its website, this company says, “Hogan uses the powerful science of personality assessment to help you hire the right people, develop talented employees, build great leaders, and impact the bottom line.”

I downloaded the e-book. It’s very short only nine pages. It points out that young people in general exhibit more narcissism than in the past, but in “controlled doses,” narcissism may be good for an employee’s career.

The e-book points out the potential pitfalls of narcissism. For example, people high in narcissism are often impulsive, entitled, insensitive and unrealistically confident about their abilities.

The e-book suggests that by presenting personal development as a “strategy for advancing their personal agenda,” narcissists can tone down their narcissism, and improve their career success.

Narcissism and sociopathy

All sociopaths are narcissists, but not all narcissists are sociopaths.

Here’s how WebMD describes Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

Narcissistic personality disorder is further characterized by an abnormal love of self, an exaggerated sense of superiority and importance, and a preoccupation with success and power. However, these attitudes and behaviors do not reflect true self-confidence. Instead, the attitudes conceal a deep sense of insecurity and a fragile self-esteem. People with narcissistic personality disorders also often have a complete lack of empathy for others.

One of the key differences between narcissists and sociopaths is mentioned in this description: Deep inside, narcissists are insecure. Sociopaths are not insecure about anything.

Another difference is that narcissists are so focused on themselves that they are somewhat clueless when they hurt others. Sociopaths, on the other hand, often set out to intentionally exploit and damage others. All they really want is power and control.

Deal with a narcissist?

Narcissism and sociopathy are both on the same continuum of personality disorders, and the criteria overlap. It’s often difficult to tell one from the other.

In romantic relationships, I don’t think it matters sociopaths and narcissists should be avoided. I mean, what is the point of a romance with someone who has “a complete lack of empathy for others?”

But what about in the workplace? Can you deal with a narcissistic co-worker or boss?

And what do you think about the suggestion that narcissists can rein in the negative aspects of their personality and become confident and energetic members of the company team?

If you have worked with narcissists, please post about your experiences.


Comment on this article

30 Comments on "Narcissists at work"

Notify of

Psychopaths are at the bad end of the spectrum, and they pull off the con on the world better than the rest. Everyone else is wrong or mistaken or trying to hurt them out of jealousy for their wonderfulness. They will stab you in the back while kissing you and telling you that they love you. They will tell you they will be in the office when they are at a hotel in another county humping a student, then abuse you for trying to reach them for a legitimate reason while they were “in a meeting” at the very same time. They will be home with you every night but tell their little trollops they are separated, so they are available, and they will show off your house while you are at work as if it is theirs alone. My psychopath former husband married his student trollop but then tossed her under the bus less than two years later. Probably had to look for someone younger, thinner, prettier and more compliant, yet again. Or maybe it was because that huge lawsuit was settled that was all about the jerk getting a rival fired to hit on the trollop? Marrying her would prevent her from testifying. Divorcing her would prevent her from getting any idea of having any rights. Or children. Or ideas about a future.

It’s all about keeping things shallow for these folks. Young, thin and pretty is good. 15 or 20 years later, they will need young, thin and pretty again, with no notice to their own ageing, wrinkly, sagging and not so attractive personage.

Some good points here. Number one is that all those with a Cluster-B Personality Disorder are relationship toxic and should be avoided at all costs, be they Histrionic, Borderline, Anti-social or Narcissistic.

Equally important, trying to diagnose or categorize a Cluster-B is futile, as co-morbidity both within the spectrum and outside it is high, particularly in the continuum’s middle, the ASPDs and Borderlines. Cluster-Bs can also be depressed, anxious or Bipolar.

Coupled with all this is a high tendency for substance abuse, again particularly among the ASPDs and Borderlines.

Even for a professional mental health provider differential diagnosis is difficult. My counselor thought the x-spath was Borderline, but did not want me talking too much about him, rather focusing on me and recovery. However, once I learned about sociopaths, I realized such a diagnosis fit my x-spath even down to such “non-clinical” features as his sociopath stare and monotone speaking style, technically called lack of local effect.

Perhaps one way to differentiate a borderline from a sociopath is that borderlines are emotionally labile whereas sociopaths only emotion is anger and such is usually displayed in unusual circumstances, typical when the sociopath is caught off guard concerning an issue or situation that they are masking.

Thus, sociopaths will go from cool to off the wall at the drop of a hat, whereas borderlines circumstantially go from depressed to excited.

In addition, having some emotion and empathy, the borderline will find ending a relationship difficult whereas sociopaths have no trouble ending one. A shared trait is that once in a relationship, neither ends one until “something better” comes along. Interestingly, borderlines seem more apt to completely cut ties once a new relationship starts, but the sociopath often will attempt to keep past relationships as “friendships”.


Send this to a friend