Narcissism, as a distinct condition, is very common and is probably the source of
most of the challenging behaviour we might experience in life from others.
Psychopathy is still poorly understood, but is not synonymous with sociopathy or
There are all kinds of reasons why someone might display challenging behaviour. Somebody
might be overly concerned with their own needs because their own needs are great
and pressing; they may be damaged, wounded, seeking to replay a story so that it
finally turns out right. They might just be a spoilt brat, be inexperienced, or
have poor social skills. They may have had a stunted development. They may have
been taught to be narcissistic, without actually being a genetic narcissist. They
may be insecure and so they feel a need to lash out, as an ego defense. Often, fear
or trauma can lead to long term anger, a state of high arousal and vigilance, and
a high sensitivity to perceived threat.
Narcissists, psychopaths or others who may present challenges should not be vilified
on the strength of this “diagnosis”. Even if someone causes harm to those around
them, they are still a flesh-and-blood human being like the rest of us, and as such,
deserve to be given human rights. It is best to be kind to them as much as possible.
See also: how to get the best out of a narcissist
Challenging behaviour in children
Professor Essi Viding gives a lecture at University College London, Psychology and
Language Sciences, 2014.
Despite the title of the video, this is an exploration of the research into “callous-unemotional
traits” (whether low or high) in children showing challenging behaviour.