The Unreal World of Narcissists & Sociopaths

April 25th, 2011

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Narcissists and Sociopaths live to dominate and thrill to win. They can excel marvelously anywhere ruthlessness is rewarding.

And recent research brings us new understanding of just what these serious emotional disabilities are; what causes them, how prevalent they are, and how studying them helps us to draw the connections between psyche and society.

Join host/producer Jari Chevalier as she talks with experts Dr. Nina W. Brown, Dr. Linda Martinez-Lewi, social worker Lisa Charlebois, Dr. Philip Zimbardo, Gabor Maté, MD, Dr. Sandy Hotchkiss, Dr. Scott Baum, and Dr, Martha Stout. Narration includes in-depth research and synthesis of the work of these and many other researchers and healers.

Learn just how and why narcissists and sociopaths might be a bigger part of your life than you imagine. We focus on the many factors of unreality inherent in these personality structures and how they spin unreality into the world.

Listen Now:


  • Elizabeth

    Thank you for making this. People do not realize the destruction narcissists cause to others. Society at large thinks of this as just someone who is an egomaniac. They have no idea of what damage they leave in their wake.

    I suffered 2.5 years with someone with NPD. The betrayals, the vengeance, the emotional devastation he caused still lives with me 2 years after we split. This man is evil, and I never thought I’d say that about anyone. Unfortunately I still have to deal with him because oaf a legal matter, but am grateful I am no longer with him. I sincerely feel if I did stay I would have had a nervous breakdown.

    Listening to this podcast has made me realize this affliction was present in my mother, nothing was good enough for her. Not my brothers who had achieved fame for their work, and certainly not me. Criticism was part of everyday life with my mother.

    I now understand why I was attracted to that cruel man. I only hope I can beware of anyone else with this disorder. Healing has been a long road, and continues to this day.

    Thank you so much for this information. It affirms everything I have undergone and allows me to realize this was not something in my head, I was not responsible for their behaviour and I could not change them.

    We are better off to stay far away from such malevolent people. Unfortunately they come off as charismatic so most people will not recognize them, but thanks to your podcast, we are all the wiser.

    Apr 26, 2011 at 9:21 am
  • UJ

    This is a work of brilliance. It is a clear, informative, fascinating and very important work. THIS is the stuff that should be mainstream media! This is what will create social change.

    When society is exposed to information such as what is provided in this piece: we will begin to free ourselves from the delusion and ignorance that keeps us trapped in dysfunction, while at the same time actively evolving toward a world based in knowledge and wisdom.

    Thank you for this work. May it continue unimpeded.

    Apr 30, 2011 at 3:57 pm
  • Paul

    “THIS is the stuff that should be mainstream media!” I agree with your above comments, I just listened to this podcast. Unfortunately mainstream media loves reporting about narcissists and sociopaths. Some of them make “great news” in the hyperactive 24-hour nonstop news cycle.

    May 15, 2011 at 9:22 pm
  • Susan

    The information is arresting and motivating at the same time. I believe my family is living many of the behaviors described. Determining which one is which and where it starts is the arresting piece of my reaction. Wanting to become part of a group that will stop the behavior in society is the motivating piece of my reaction to the information. Thank you. I have much work to do.

    May 22, 2011 at 2:42 pm
  • Daniel

    Thank you! Not very good news for someone raised in a family that has carried the “narcissistic bug” thru at least three generations and seeing symptoms of it in himself. I have recently tried to reconnect with my mother after four years of “cutting her off”, trying to heal myself and gather up strength to deal with her … not going too well. She’s living in a foreign country and have just about “fallen out” with everybody around her and re-married to a man that, from what I can tell, has some similar problems. Sure! I could just cut her out again. After all, today I’m a grown man, but I really don’t want to leave her in this hell. There MUST be a way? Still, once again, Thank you!

    Jun 10, 2011 at 8:34 am
  • Julianne

    Wow, hearing this has made me realize so much about the person I love and have been with for over 2 years. It was an exact description of this person, and I am troubled that I don’t seem to have the strength to part with this person. It is a daily struggle, with many ups and downs, and I know deep down the outcome will not be good. For the time being, I continue to try to cope with my situation, because I truly love this person. It is probably ignorant on my part to put up with this and continue to live with it, but I can’t help it, I love this person. Thank you for the insight.

    Jun 15, 2011 at 7:44 pm
  • susan

    My ex (divorced 17 years ago) is a Sociopath & a Pedophile (possession & distribution of child pornography)now seving 14 months. He has completely manipulated his 2 daughters (34 & 36 years of age) who visit him in jail & write him letters. How do you break through the denial? I’m desperate & afraid once released that he will re offend & cause them more pain & grief. Any help/suggestions would be appreciated

    Sep 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm
  • jari

    Susan, how unfortunate. Your daughters will have to take care of themselves and their own children, if they have children: you can point them to truth and that’s what I suspect you have already tried to do. And for yourself, keep as much distance as you can from your ex and all he does.

    Sep 17, 2011 at 8:22 pm
  • Someone

    Eh, it might be accurate. I’m sure everyone is different, even if they fit into the category of a sociopath. I’ve been apparently diagnosed as a sociopath/psychopath, but I doubt such things. I’m good with talking and such. I have friends and I laugh from time to time. I have a boyfriend, he is useful to me and puts up with my antics and I love him for this. I’m amused by all of these people who have apparently dated sociopaths or narcissists, because I can see by their posts how easily it must have been for their “loved ones” to fool them. If you keep yourself weak, you’re going to get hurt. That was your mistake, don’t blame it on someone who was clever enough to figure it out before you did.

    I suppose I want to just say this as a supposed “sociopath;” We’re still human. We still aren’t perfect. Our brains might not work the same, but that doesn’t make us satan reborn. I have friends, I make jokes, I have dreams. The difference is on how I obtained these things and how I’m going to use them. I use my friends for entertainment, my jokes for more friends to entertain me, and I’ll achieve my goals through the easiest way possible, which is always people. Yes, I use people. Sue me. So do you, we’re just better at it. You can say what you want, but I honestly don’t care (and I apparently don’t have the capability to, either). We’ll never cry over you, but I’m sure many of you have cried because of us. Again, that’s your brain, your reactions. I chose not to cry at my family member’s funeral, because it’s not going to help the situation at hand and I see no use for it. Many of us are this way. 1 out of 25 people you know are this way. Welcome to the world, I’m disturbed by the fact that you didn’t figure this out sooner.

    May 1, 2012 at 2:17 am
  • Andrea

    What an amazing broadcast Jari! Following the death of my father a year ago, in my estimation my father was a narcissist. My mother was deeply intimidated by him and weak. She would not leave him and retaliated by assassinating his character and using her children as weapons. I was the first child and my physical and mental health were deeply affected. At the age of 50 and a year on from daddy’s passing, I understand that my mother is a narcissist and my youngest sister who was the golden child, is a socio/pyschopath who is very dark and evil. I am devastated by what I have learnt and suffer with being an effective single parent and working mum. I am dogged by ill health and feelings of hopelessness. My relationships are damaged and/or manipulated by my mother and ‘golden child’ sister. My child suffers so much. I am in so much pain despite fighting the negative feelings. It is very difficult. Would appreciate your comments.

    Jul 15, 2012 at 3:56 pm
  • jari

    Andrea, it really is so difficult coming to terms with these family dynamics. The psycho-spiritual fallout of emotionally ill people living together or in close proximity, usually leaves everyone with damages.

    I should say clearly that I am not a trained mental health counselor. Whatever I say, the shaping of the program, my line of questions, all come from my heart and mind as a lay person and truth seeker, one who has learned about these things through study and asking questions of experts who would talk with me.

    Big question: could you disengage completely for some time from your mother and sister? Could you seek more wholesome and therapeutic relationships and helpers in the raising of your child? Can you explore a spiritual practice that can help you rebuild your own emotional health and sense of autonomy?

    Once you are whole and strong, the entire context changes and the impact of the family becomes less prominent in your sense of who you are and what life is all about.

    You may be in your 50s, but it’s not too late, so don’t give into such tendencies of thinking. You’ll need catharsis (emotional expression) with therapeutic support and also the building of spiritual fortitude.

    Your own gradual healing will be so good for your child. As I see it, you need to remove yourself from the toxic environment — seeing and speaking with them — at least until you are strong and independent, which may take some years.

    I also offer you this poem by Mary Oliver, from her book Dream Work.

    THE JOURNEY

    One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, thought the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice – though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. “Mend my life!” each voice cried. But you didn’t stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations – though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice, which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world determined to do the only thing you could do – determined to save the only life you could save.

    Jul 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm
  • lavie

    I’d interested in finding out more about “Heroes”.

    One of the brilliant things about capitalism is that it provides a mechanism to turn base self-interest of narcissists and sociopaths into a common good which makes “heroes” more of an antagonist to the whole system.

    I myself have become rather good at defending myself and others from attempts at manipulations against their own self-interest and intimidation employed by these types of people. My wife on the other hand takes an alternate tact of not calling these people out for what they are, but playing their games, which has put her in a position where she’s able to right more wrongs than if she hadn’t.

    If “heroes” could be united as a political force it would be possible to nudge the capitalist system in a direction where sociopaths and narcissists are more focused on using their abilities towards value-creation –benefiting everyone, rather than potentially destructive value-capture which we’ve seen led to the recent financial meltdown.

    Aug 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm
  • O.Twist

    WoW!

    This fascinating podcast explains the whole story below the surface of our family’s vicious estate dispute and the reasons for the siblings horrible behavior. The helpful notes I have taken while listening will be a comfort to reflect upon.

    I can’t forget Albert Einstein’s quote that you mentioned about the world being a dangerous place but not because of the evil people in it… but because of the people in the world who do nothing about them. (!)

    Thank you Jari!

    Nov 26, 2012 at 10:44 am
  • Another

    @someone you typed my point up for me. just because we are different doesn’t mean we are evil, thanks for saving me the trouble

    Nov 29, 2012 at 10:34 am