Posted by: frogstale | October 5, 2014

Different but the Same – Aspergers and Narcissism – Self Absorption



The book Disarming the Narcissist lists 13 traits of narcissism:

1. Self-absorbed –  Acts like everything is all about him or her

2. Demeaning – Puts you down, bullyish

3. Demanding –  of whatever he or she wants

4. Unempathic – Uninterested in understanding your inner experience, or unable to do so

5. Compulsive – Gets overly consumed with details and minutiae

6. Addictive – Cannot let go of bad habits; uses them to self soothe

7. Emotionally detached – Steers clear of feeling

7. Entitled – Makes the rules; breaks the rules

9. Distrustful – Suspicious of your motives when you’re being nice to him or her

10. Perfectionistic – Rigidly high standards – his or her way or no way

11. Snobbish – Believes he or she is superior to you and others; gets bored easily

12. Approval seeking – Craves constant praise and recognition

13. Unremorseful – Cannot offer a genuine apology

In my experience, the first 7 traits are common between my narcissistic ex husband and my Aspergers husband.

Self-absorption and lack of empathy however are the key.

Self-absorption and lack of empathy are experienced in the same way by the onlooker – total lack of care and understanding of other people’s needs, wants and desires and the selfishness of only meeting their own needs wants and desires.

The reasons for the two similar types of self absorption are different.

For example an Aspie with a ‘specialised interest’ in photography might work on his photos on the computer all evening, so focused that he doesn’t want to stop to eat or even go to bed will be experienced as selfishness on his part.  The Aspie is however just so focussed on their special interest that everything else pales to insignificance and they are oblivious of the effect their behaviour has on their partner. The Aspie just can’t help himself and doesn’t understand.

The same behaviour from a Narcissist, still experienced as selfishness by the partner, occurs because of entirely different set of reasons.

The self absorption of the narcissist goes hand in hand with the traits of entitlement, self importance and lack of remorse.  The Narcissist is being selfish and just doing what he wants to do, despite know that it is annoying and upsetting his partner and that shouldn’t be doing it .  He just doesn’t see why he shouldn’t do whatever he pleases, even if it is pissing of his partner.  He just DOES IT ANYWAY.

Different reasons, same effect.


  1. True…

  2. The similarities here are real and are based in the same parts of the brain but come about in entirely different ways. I think the jury has not entirely returned on the causes of Aspberger’s/autism but we’re starting to get a pretty good idea about socios and psychos. The sociopath, or narcissist, comes from a place of abuse and the behaviors manifest as products of brain “malfunction.” In actuality, the malfunctions exist as survival mechanisms and are generalized into adulthood.

    Recent work in the field of “brain plasticity” suggests that such mechanisms may actually be cognitively retrained…but that, of course depends upon the subject and their willingness to undergo change. So don’t hold your breath…

    These disorders seem as though they could easily be confused, especially when considering the dishonest nature of sociopathy and this is what I think happened with Elliot Rogers, the virgin killer…his manifesto screamed psycho, not Aspie, but Aspie was what hit the popular media.

    I’m glad you’ve changed relationships and your observations seem to be dead on, but it’s best not to compare or associate the two with each other.

    Good read.

  3. So, what if you tell the Aspie that his self absorption is hurting you and he continues?

    • Hard to say, if he really wants to keep you he will try. In my experience, my aspie will make a change when I get to the point that I blow up and we argue about something. He won’t admit immediately that maybe he has hurt me, or there is a better way. He seems to go away and think about it and then make a change.

      Problem is the change never lasts. Over time he reverts back to his old ways – and I have to remind him again. A roller coaster, of another sort to the narcopath but nevertheless still a roller coaster

  4. Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing this of your life. I am writing about asperger-related issues with grammar and the ability to write to the reader, and I found in several peer-review articles that this results in their ability to write reports or reviews as being less than those like them, with the same IQ, without any autistic spectrum disorders.

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