The Differences Between Abusers with Narcissistic Personality Disorder vs. Borderline Personality Disorder

Abusive behavior can manifest in different ways and can often be diagnosed as a personality disorder. Two personality disorders commonly associated with abusive behavior are Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). In this article, we will discuss the differences between abusers with NPD and BPD and the impact of their behavior on their victims.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a personality disorder characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. Individuals with NPD have a sense of entitlement and are preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, attractiveness, and intelligence. They often lack interpersonal skills and have difficulty regulating their emotions. They may become enraged when others do not comply with their expectations or when they are not given the admiration and attention they desire.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder is a personality disorder characterized by a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotions. Individuals with BPD have intense and unstable relationships that often oscillate between idealizing and devaluing people. They experience emotional dysregulation, which means that they may become easily overwhelmed, frustrated, or angry. They often have intense fears of abandonment and engage in impulsive and self-destructive behaviors, such as substance abuse, reckless driving, and self-harm.

Differences in Abusive Behavior

Research has shown that individuals with NPD and BPD may engage in abusive behavior, but the nature and severity of the abuse differ. Individuals with NPD are more likely to engage in emotional abuse, such as belittling, demeaning, and manipulating their partners to feel superior. They may use their charm and charisma to seduce their partners but become dismissive or hostile when their partners do not meet their expectations.

Individuals with BPD, on the other hand, are more likely to engage in physical or sexual abuse, such as hitting or forcing their partners to have sex. They may also engage in emotional abuse, such as extreme jealousy or possessiveness, and make threats of suicide or harm to themselves if their partner leaves them.

Impact on Victims

The impact of abuse on victims can be devastating, regardless of the type of abuse. Both NPD and BPD have been associated with intimate partner violence, which can lead to physical injuries, mental health issues, and even death. Victims of NPD abuse may experience a loss of self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and a sense of isolation. They may feel that they are always walking on eggshells, trying to avoid triggers that will set off their abuser.

Victims of BPD abuse may experience intense emotional turmoil, such as confusion, guilt, and fear. They may feel responsible for their partner’s mood swings and may believe that they are the only thing keeping their partner from self-harm. They may also feel trapped in the relationship, as their partner may threaten suicide or self-harm if they leave.

Treatment Options

Both NPD and BPD can be difficult to treat, and individuals with these disorders may resist seeking help or acknowledge that they have a problem. However, with the right approach, individuals with these disorders can learn to manage their symptoms and improve their relationships.

Individuals with NPD may benefit from psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy, which can help them develop empathy, regulate their emotions, and improve their interpersonal skills. They may also benefit from medication, such as antidepressants or antipsychotics, to manage symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Individuals with BPD may benefit from psychotherapy, such as dialectical behavior therapy or schema therapy, which can help them learn skills to manage their emotions, improve their self-image, and develop healthier relationships. They may also benefit from medication, such as mood stabilizers or antidepressants, to manage symptoms of anxiety or depression.


In conclusion, both NPD and BPD can manifest in abusive behavior, but the nature and severity of the abuse differ. Understanding the differences between these disorders can help victims, clinicians, and policymakers to develop appropriate interventions to prevent and address intimate partner violence. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, it is essential to seek help from a healthcare professional, a domestic violence shelter, or a helpline. No one deserves to be a victim of abuse, and there is help available.


FAQs: The Differences Between Abusers With Narcissistic Personality Disorder Vs Borderline Personality Disorder

1. What are the main differences between abusers with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

NPD and BPD are two distinct types of personality disorders. Individuals with NPD often display a grandiose sense of self-importance or entitlement, and have little empathy or concern for others. On the other hand, individuals with BPD often struggle with unstable emotions and relationships, and have a history of impulsive or self-destructive behaviors. While both disorders can lead to abusive behavior, the motivations and patterns of abuse may differ.

2. Can individuals have both NPD and BPD?

It is possible for individuals to have traits or symptoms of both NPD and BPD, as these disorders share some common features such as emotional dysregulation and difficulty in maintaining relationships. However, having both disorders simultaneously is uncommon and can complicate treatment.

3. How can understanding the differences between NPD and BPD help victims of abuse?

Identifying the type of personality disorder an abuser has can help victims understand the motivations and patterns of abuse, and provide a guide for seeking appropriate support and treatment. Understanding these differences can also help mental health professionals tailor their interventions based on the unique needs and challenges of each individual.


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