While not all narcissists can be described as sadists, narcissism and sadism go hand in hand. Let’s explore the relationship between sadism and narcissism, as well as the psychology of sadistic narcissists.
How is sadism different than narcissism?
Once you begin to learn the traits of a sadist, you might have trouble distinguishing them from people who have narcissistic personality disorder. Both are manipulative, arrogant, disdainful, indifferent, critical of others, controlling of others, and lacking in empathy. Both will seek to isolate their targets through the use of contempt to encourage social alienation.
What is sadism?
Sadism is the enjoyment of cruelty in others, including in oneself. To be titled a sadist, this enjoyment must be intentional, not accidental. The term is derived from the name of Marquis de Sade, an 18th-century philosopher, and writer who got pleasure from inflicting pain on others.
The diagnostic criteria of the DSM-IV-TR, a catalog of distinctive symptoms used by mental health professionals to categorize psychological conditions, lists sadism as a potential symptom of certain personalities. In particular, it is considered a symptom of antisocial personality disorder, psychopathy, and paranoid personality disorder. In the context of BDSM, the term “sadomasochism” is used.
What are the traits of a sadist?
- Sadists are known for their aggressive or dominant behavior that stems from a desire to impose their will on others, whether they be friends or strangers.
- Sadists often portray themselves as victims of circumstances beyond their control.
- Sadists are people who have a strong interest in inflicting pain on others, especially if they derive pleasure from the suffering of others. That sounds like a lot of online commenters, doesn’t it?
- A sadist is someone who takes pleasure in pain, malice, or suffering.
- They don’t care about their partners, their children or even themselves.
- They often make you feel like an object without a past or a future or a reason to exist.
- They can be charming at first but eventually, they reveal their true nature and make you feel small, insignificant, and worthless.
What is narcissism?
Narcissism is a deeply rooted personality trait whose roots may be traced to childhood experiences. For the most part, when we’re referring to narcissism, we’re talking about the kind that might also be a personality disorder – usually a cluster B personality disorder. When we say “narcissist” what we really mean is someone who is a malignant narcissist or pathological narcissist.
What are the traits of a narcissist?
- Extreme lack of emotional and compassionate empathy for other people
- May or may not be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
- Has an extremely inflated sense of self-importance.
- They may engage in grandiose fantasies.
- Feels that they are special and unique
- Feels they should have special privileges and allowances of every kind
- Requires excessive admiration
- Thinks that only they are acceptable and deserving of love
- Bragging/requiring admiration for their accomplishments and attributes
How are narcissism and sadism connected?
- Sadism is one of the dark triad traits, along with narcissism and psychopathy.
- More than a third of people who are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder reportedly have a sadistic side.
- Narcissists tend to be self-absorbed and self-centered. They often have no empathy for others and have difficulty identifying with the feelings or feelings of others – which leads to a lack of concern for their well-being and safety.
- A sadist enjoys inflicting pain on others or being the cause of others’ pain. This may include aggression, cruelty, lack of empathy, and indifference to victimization. In other words, people who exhibit these character traits tend to derive pleasure from the suffering of others.
- Sadistic narcissists combine these two personality traits into one very dangerous combination: they enjoy inflicting pain on others and enjoy seeing others hurt as well.
What is sadistic narcissism?
If sadism is to love (and/or lust after) another person’s pain, then it certainly can coexist with narcissism. Sadistic narcissism seems to be almost ingrained into the person displaying it, which is sort of possible since it most often begins to develop as early as infancy and is dependent on how the mother bonded with the child, or not. It is often also the result of being controlled, ignored, over-controlled, and/or otherwise traumatized later in childhood during important developmental years. People who become sadistic narcissists often use their lack of empathy and cunning nature to get ahead in business (ethically or otherwise) and to attract the partners they want, who will often later become their victims.
What are the traits of a sadistic narcissist?
A narcissistic sadist is someone who has both a sadistic personality and a tendency toward narcissism. The narcissist-sadist combo is especially dangerous because it can create intimidation and fear in their victims, making them more vulnerable to further abuse.
- Feel superior to others.
- Can be shockingly cold to people, and also irresistibly kind and warm if and when it suits them.
- Indifferent to punishment (which allows them to get away with things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to)
- Lack empathy.
- Highly manipulative
- Use their knowledge of others’ weaknesses to control them.
- Find pleasure in the suffering of others and in treating others as objects – in other words, they treat people like things.
- Take pleasure in hurting others by inflicting pain or humiliation, or by taunting them with cruel jibes.
.How do you deal with a sadistic narcissist?
There are several steps you can take to deal with a sadistic narcissist.
- First, you’ll need to recognize that the abuse is happening. Maybe that sounds funny to you, but it is really difficult sometimes to even recognize the abuse from a sadistic narcissist, thanks to the extreme mind games they’re prone to play. In fact, many victims will describe their abusive relationships as normal and even good before they realized they were being abused. Narcissistic abuse, in general, can be subtle and sneaky, so don’t beat yourself up if you’ve missed it.
- After you’ve recognized the abuse and you’ve started to learn about what you’ve been dealing with, you’ll want to know more about both narcissists and about narcissistic abuse. This is normal – take your time and do the research you need to do to fully understand it. But don’t stay stuck in research forever!
- You’re going to want to assemble a sort of support system to help hold you up during this process. Start by identifying the people closest to you who you can completely trust. Don’t be surprised if this group is very small. You can also look for local support groups if you feel comfortable with in-person support.
- In any case, connecting with others who have also experienced being victimized by sadistic narcissists can be incredibly validating and can help in your recovery. Whether you’re worried about face-to-face contact because you’re afraid people will find out what you’ve experienced, or because you don’t like crowds, or because you’re struggling with fear or even just social anxiety, you might not love the idea of connecting in person.
- You might also not know anyone you can trust with this particular problem because those who understand won’t support you, or because no one understands at all. In that case, and even if you just want a little extra support, you can look into online narcissistic abuse recovery support groups, or you can seek help from professionals who can provide support and guidance as you begin the healing process.
Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today
Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. If you feel you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist. But, first, you have to decide what to do from here – if you’re unsure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.
- Sign up for our free email newsletter service that includes a free guided recovery experience via your inbox.
- Start your narcissistic abuse recovery here with our free narcissistic abuse recovery support system and program.
- Join one of our free online narcissistic abuse recovery support groups!
- Join one of our private small coaching groups!
- Get private, one-on-one narcissistic abuse recovery coaching or counseling.
- Get a therapist who will work with you online. Check out our guide to finding a therapist or psychologist who understands narcissism and narcissistic abuse.