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Have you ever asked yourself this question? Have you shared some of your private agony with a close friend and then followed your remarks with this question? Well, it is confusing—although it might become less so after you read this article.

First of all, do realize that not all abusive men are the same. I write about the man who displays narcissism, whether it’s in the form of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or in a milder form where he exhibits fewer narcissistic traits. This man is different from the abusive man with Antisocial Personality Disorder—or antisocial personality traits. Oh, and by the way, at one time the term sociopath was used to describe the person who now would be seen as having this personality disorder. Prior to that, the term psychopath was used. I thought this deserved clarification since materials are out there on the internet in which people attempt to delineate differences between the three of these. This shouldn’t be happening because, again, today we talk about the person having Antisocial Personality Disorder whereas the person with this type of mental disorder would once have been called a sociopath or psychopath. Some of the diagnostic criteria may have changed since those times, but for the most part, the behaviors of this group of people have remained quite consistent. Does this make sense to you?

That said, it might be helpful to try and delineate between the two personality disorders, though, since some men we see creating abusive relationships tend to be narcissistic while others would fall into the category of having antisocial personality disorder. Now indeed, a person can have traits of more than one personality disorder, so it does get confusing.

It might help to distinguish the two personality disorders by thinking about abnormal behavior as occurring along a continuum. Thus, while the man with Narcissistic Personality Disorder might exhibit some of the same types of behaviors as the individual with Antisocial Personality Disorder, they won’t be as extreme. Thus, both types of men are into power and control. They also will use abuse to gain one or both of these. However, the narcissist who’s successful in his business or profession is not inclined to resort to violence in the way that the man with Antisocial Personality Disorder is. The man with NPD has a higher level of impulse control, and so he’ll use more subtle tactics to get his partner to do his will. He likes to play king, while making his partner and others serve him as his subjects. But then, those suffering from pathological levels of narcissism see themselves as far superior to others anyway—and as entitled human beings.

The man with Antisocial Personality Disorder will use violence when he becomes angry or his will is thwarted. Thus, he’s inclined not just to beat up his partner and his children, but he will get into fights or engage in physical violence with most anyone—because he doesn’t have good impulse control and, in his brain, the fight response seems to be easily triggered. Thus, the man with Antisocial Personality Disorder may beat up a policeman even though he knows the consequences—and he undoubtedly doesn’t want to suffer them, either. But again, he is an out-of-control man. On the other hand, the man suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not. He will act quite deliberately to achieve the ends he desires—believing that the ends always justify the means.

Neither the narcissistic man nor the one with Antisocial Personality Disorder really are capable of showing empathy for others. It is easy for them to use the tactics they do, to get whatever it is they want, exactly because they don’t identify with others’ feelings—that the means they are using to reach their desired might be very painful and hurtful to others—if not deadly. However, depending on the degree of pathological narcissism a man suffers from, he might be able to realize, at least to some degree, how his behavior has impacted others. He also may try and make behavioral changes because he wants to maintain his family, for example. Nonetheless, while his partner may want to believe this suddenly cooperative response is about love, in reality, love might have nothing to do with it. The narcissist might be more concerned with preserving an image or continuing to gain some benefit he perceives as important—that essentially demands having a seemingly happy family. He might actually consider the wife and the family a necessity, on the one hand, while actually perceiving them as a nuisance.

A man with either of these two personality disorders will tend to treat others as objects, there for his personal benefit and use. However, again, the individual with Antisocial Personality Disorder is most inclined to resort to the most extreme measures to accomplish this. Still, there are cold-hearted narcissists who can engage in despicable behavior. And, as they seek to maintain control and be in charge, or as they strive to be better than the female partner and seek to prove this, such narcissists can make the lives of the women in their lives quite miserable--but without yielding to physical violence as the men with Antisocial Personality Disorder will do.

These narcissistic men are cool and calculating. They operate in a world constructed of fear versus one of love. They seek to achieve desired results by making others feel compelled to go along with them—because these others don’t want to suffer the anticipated painful consequences of doing otherwise. The thing is, the partner might well have conceded to the narcissist’s wishes anyway—without having to endure the abusive behaviors. But how could a narcissist appreciate that someone might be motivated purely from love when indeed, they don’t know what love is? They don’t feel it—they only know how to act it out, in order to seduce and get their way.

Don’t Expect the Partner with either Narcissistic or Antisocial Personality Disorder to Change

Neither the man with Narcissistic or Antisocial Personality Disorder is apt to change. Unlike the neurotic, they do not really suffer emotional pain because of who they are. Thus, they are not motivated to change. Rather, they are often quite proud of the pain they cause. They wear this as if it was a worthy accomplishment—a badge of courage.

the man with either Narcissistic or Antisocial Personality Disorder can be charming. However, the narcissist can often offer more than that; he can often provide the good life because of his aggressiveness and willingness to win at all costs. The man with Antisocial Personality Disorder, on the other hand, is apt to be bad news in every respect. His impulsivity is apt to result in problems with relationships. In turn, this affects his ability to hold a job. He is also more apt to become engaged in crime and to get into trouble with the law. Major substance abuse issues are often a problem for this man as well.

What’s His Excuse for Abuse?

Why does your partner abuse you in the ways that he does? Because, that’s the type of man he is. He wants to have the power and control in the relationship. Furthermore, he doesn’t care what tactics he uses to gain these. While the narcissist may not resort to behaviors that the man with Antisocial Personality Disorder regularly does, the narcissist would probably use tactics beyond those he does if he believed he wouldn’t get caught. Remember, though, the narcissist is more concerned about the consequences of his actions. He is aware of cause and effect, in other words. The man with Antisocial personality Disorder is inclined to just go ahead and act.

The thing that you must remember is that neither the man displaying pathological levels of narcissism not the one with Antisocial Personality Disorder is inclined to act in a way that is in your best interest. It is all about him—and it will continue to be that way. Furthermore, no matter how perfect and accommodating a partner you are, you will undoubtedly continue to suffer emotional abuse and verbal abuse—if not worse. As my former husband used to say, and I had trouble for the longest time believing that he was stating something that he truly believed, “It is better to be feared than loved.”

Tell me, is this how you really want to live your life? Do you want to be with a man who wants you to fear him more than anything else? I suspect that when you hooked up with him, it was because he essentially seduced you into believing that he wanted what most normal human being want—to love and be loved. But remember, he is not normal, but has a mental disorder instead. Indeed, he suffers from a personality disorder—or something pretty close to it. And the likelihood is that he has co-existing mental health issues—such as substance use disorder. As a result, he is not capable of being the type of loving partner you desire. And while this hurts you emotionally, he certainly isn’t losing sleep over it. He undoubtedly has you exactly where he wants you—under his thumb.

Again, is that where you want to be—now and forever? This is the question you need to be asking yourself. After all, those with either Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder are apt to always remain the same—with this mental disorder that feeds verbal abuse and emotional abuse that destroy you a little more each day. And so frankly, if you want the insanity to stop, you must make that move. Furthermore, the sooner you do it, the better.

Besides writing on narcissism, addictions, and abuse, Diane England also writes on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. If you know of someone whose partner is displaying PTSD, addictions, and abuse--since we often see this trio exist together, too--do that person a favor and buy him or her The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Relationship today. It has been designated one of the "Best Books of 2009" by theLibrary Journal.

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