There are numerous differences between sadism and narcissism, and by definition, they’re not even the same thing in any way.
There is, however, a dark connection between the two.
By definition, narcissism is excessive interest in positive attention paired with lots of entitlement and a lack of empathy. On the other hand, sadism means getting pleasure out of causing pain to people, whether it be physical or emotional.
The truth is, most narcissists normally don’t get any kind of true satisfaction from causing pain to others. It is also important to note that while many people believe sadism is connected to sexual desires, the case isn’t always so.
People who fall into the category of sadistic narcissists were mostly victims of emotional neglect and emotional abuse unlike other types of narcissists.
Needless to say, we should do everything we can to avoid the narcissists in our lives, but we should also be on high alert for sadistic narcissists. The thing is, the regular narcissist doesn’t necessarily want to hurt you but they’ll do whatever they can in order to be made feeling special.
The sadistic types, however, are the ones who will stop at nothing to cause you pain, whether or not they benefit from it. The only thing they’re after is the pleasure kick they get from hurting you. Regular sadists are after the same thing but sadistic narcissists are also experts in manipulation.
It is also worth noting that sadistic narcissists appear to have lower self-esteem than other types of narcissists. In a piece for Psychology Today, clinical psychologist Dr. Seth Meyers wrote the following:
“We must discuss the term “gratification,” which isn’t the same as enjoyment or deriving actual pleasure. The gratification I’m referring to—the type narcissists seek—is called “narcissistic supply.” This refers to attention and admiration from others which make the narcissist feel noticed and special. In some ways, narcissists aren’t so different from young children whose emotional needs are not met and who desperately seek appreciation from others. Those who find themselves in close relationships with narcissists see the inconsistencies that others don’t: How the narcissists appear on the surface day to day is in direct opposition to how they really feel inside. This is the paradox of narcissism. How can narcissists feel so bad about themselves but act like entitled kings and queens? To those around the individual, it doesn’t make any sense.
This distortion—acting superior but feeling inferior—is a central component of the disordered, narcissistic personality. A narcissist has two different selfs: their real self, and the self they wish they were. The narcissist’s real, true self is best conceptualized as a wounded child, whose emotional development was arrested due to emotional abuse or neglect by early caregivers.
So why are some narcissists sadistic and others not? In my clinical experience, I have found that sadistic narcissists were more seriously neglected or emotionally abused in childhood than other narcissists. Many narcissists are difficult to get along with, have a grandiose sense of self, and won’t take accountability for their actions, but they don’t have a driving need to punish others. I have found that the sadistic narcissist has lower self-esteem than the non-sadistic narcissist, even though neither truly has high self-esteem. The most important point to understand is that the drive to punish or upset others on a regular basis typically stems from an individual having been on the receiving end of confusing, mind-twisting behavior from a parent early in life.”
For a more in-depth analysis on the topic, please see certified life coach Lise Colucci’s video below.
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