Types of Toxic People

What is the difference between toxic people, narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths?

Hi, I'm Kat!
What I am most passionate about is to inspire you to see that your life is your own and biggest masterpiece.

Have you ever wondered about the people around you? Are they simply un-sympathetic and un-empathetic or mean? Do they know what they are doing? Or are they unaware of the effect they are having? Who are they? Are they all the same? 

I was wondering this when dealing with a very un-empathetic person in the last couple of weeks. So, I will share my findings with you. 

Now, in the beginning, I thought there were four types of people that could really ruin your vibe and researched them: 

  • Toxic
  • Narcisstic 
  • Sociopathic 
  • Psychopathic

Turns out, they are different – yet the same. 

Disclaimer: I am no psychologist or psychiatrist. I am just curious about the human condition and have amassed my findings here 🙂 


Toxic people

Cambridge Dictionary: Toxic // very unpleasant or unacceptable; causing you a lot of harm and unhappiness over a long period of time

A toxic person is someone who is in some way manipulative, self-centered, needy, or controlling. Most of the time, their behavior is unpleasant or malicious toward others.

How to spot toxic people

You can easily identify toxic people with these tell-tale signs

  • Inconsistent and erratic behavior, so you are constantly walking on eggshells around them
  • Have no respect for your boundaries
  • Always need your attention
  • There is always drama around them
  • They manipulate – yet you might not notice this until you see them doing it to someone else
  • Constantly judge others, including you
  • Extreme neediness – yet when you need them, they are nowhere to be seen
  • They may not see themselves as the problem — everyone else but them is at fault though

Sometimes it is easier to detect toxic people by how they make you feel: 

  • You might feel like you are being manipulated into something you actually don’t want to do.
  • You’re confused by the person’s erratic behavior. 
  • You feel like you deserve an apology that never comes. In fact, the other person does not even see that they might have done something wrong.
  • You always have to defend yourself to this person.
  • You never feel fully comfortable around them.
  • You continually feel bad about yourself in their presence.

Reasons for their behavior

  • Feelings of low self-esteem
  • Mental health conditions like narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), childhood trauma or other deeply rooted personal issue

How to protect yourself

  • Set clear boundaries
  • And if they cannot respect your boundaries and you are able to, cut them out of your life


Cambridge Dictionary: Someone who has too much admiration for himself or herself

Someone who has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), a clinically diagnosed personality disorder characterized by grandiosity, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy toward other people.

How to spot them

  • Have an overwhelming sense of self-importance and need to be admired
  • Are constantly pre-occupied with power, beauty, or success.
  • Feel that they deserve privileges and special treatment.
  • Expect to be recognized as superior 
  • Continuously take advantage of others to get what they want.
  • Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others.
  • Make their achievements and talents seem bigger than they actually are.
  • Be critical of and look down on people they feel are not important.
  • Entitled.
  • Can only be around people who are important or special.
  • Arrogant.
  • Lack empathy..
  • Become impatient or angry when they don’t receive special recognition or treatment.
  • Have major problems interacting with others and easily feel slighted.
  • React with rage or contempt and try to belittle other people to make themselves appear superior.
  • Have difficulty managing their emotions and behavior.
  • Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change.
  • Withdraw from or avoid situations in which they might fail.
  • Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection.
  • Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, humiliation and fear of being exposed as a failure.

Reasons for their behavior

The root of the disorder is actually a strict resistance to feeling vulnerable with anyone at any time. Other factors are

  • Environment — parent-child relationships with either too much adoration or too much criticism that don’t match the child’s actual experiences and achievements.
  • Genetics — inherited characteristics, such as certain personality traits.
  • Neurobiology — the connection between the brain and behavior and thinking.

How to deal with them

  • Try to avoid direct confrontation or keep any conversation of confrontation brief
  • Value action over promises
  • Set and enforce clear boundaries
  • Remind yourself that you are not to blame
  • Don’t accept or tolerate their behavior
  • If boundaries are not respected, cut them out of your life
  • When arguing, stay in the present and with the present issue without falling for their digging out old stories and monopolizing the conversation
  • Your feelings are valid, never let anyone gaslight you
  • Focus on your own needs
  • Build your self-esteem – narcissists love to have people with low self-esteem around them. Because they are easy to manipulate
  • Learn how to remain your calm 
  • Be aware of the situation and when you (or the narcissistic person) need help


Definition by Cambridge dictionary: A person who has no feeling for other people, does not think about the future, and does not feel bad about anything they have done in the past

How to spot them​

  • Behavior that conflicts with social norms
  • Disregarding or violating the rights of others
  • Inability to distinguish between right and wrong
  • Difficulty with showing remorse or empathy
  • Tendency to lie often
  • Manipulating and hurting others
  • Recurring problems with the law
  • General disregard toward safety and responsibility
  • Expressing anger and arrogance on a regular basis
  • Lack of deep emotional connections
  • Superficial charm
  • Aggression
  • Anger
  • Need for stimulation
  • Grandiose sense of self-worth
  • Impulsive
  • Lack of realistic long-term goals
  • Numerous marital relationships and promiscuous behavior

Reasons for their behaviour

This might involve a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Psychopaths are clinically diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder (ASPD). Previous research estimates that between 38 and 69 percent of cases may be hereditary. Some environmental triggers of ASPD may include childhood neglect or childhood abuse. ASPD may also be seen in people who previously received a diagnosis of CD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

How to deal with them​

  • Get as far away from them as possible
  • Set clear boundaries
  • Try to find win-win situations as they will never concede
  • Focus on other and stronger relationships to weaken your dependence on them
  • Accept their personality – you cannot change it
  • Keep your emotions and body-language in check
  • Don’t get intimidated and definitely don’t show it 
  • Don’t get fooled by their stories
  • Try to not have direct contact

Both the term Psychopath and Sociopath refer to people suffering from antisocial personality disorder  (ASPD).

The difference: Psychopaths generally have been influenced by some genetic factors, like interrupted brain development, while sociopaths probably might have bad an interruption of their personality development – maybe through abuse or childhood trauma. 


Definition: Someone who is completely unable to behave in a way that is acceptable to society

Sociopaths have less consistent behavior, are not planning ahead, do not try to manipulate from the get go. 

How to spot them

  • Lack of empathy for others
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Attempting to control others with threats or aggression 
  • Using intelligence, charm, or charisma to manipulate others
  • Not learning from mistakes or punishment
  • Lying for personal gain
  • Showing a tendency to physical violence and fights
  • Generally superficial relationships
  • Sometimes, stealing or committing other crimes
  • Threatening suicide to manipulate without intention to act 
  • Sometimes, abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Trouble with responsibilities such as a job, paying bills, etc.

How to deal with them

Same as with a psychopath

With all my love!




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