Why don t narcissists have empathy

Do Narcissists Have Empathy (The Truth About Narc-Empaths)

Do narcissists feel empathy for certain persons in their lives? Is the idea of narcissist-empath a myth?

Many believe that a narcissist can feel empathy, and there is some truth to that idea, even if it appears odd at first. The truth, according to psychology, is a little more complicated.

When a narcissist experiences narcissism, they need to talk about themselves compulsively. You can’t make them stop with your gestures of boredom or disbelief; they can’t read those signals.

Who is a narcissist?

A narcissist is a self-absorbed person who believes they are unique, feels entitled to special treatment, has an inflated sense of their own importance, lacks empathy, and expects constant praise from others. There are six types of narcissists.

By definition, a narcissist lacks empathy.

Do Narcissists Have Empathy (Truth About Narcissist-Empaths)

Yes, narcissists have empathy, but it is mostly cognitive empathy (or perspective-taking) that they possess. They lack both emotional and empathetic empathy. As a result, while they understand your suffering, they are unmotivated to take action to alleviate it.

The great truth about narcissists is that they can understand the pain, thoughts, and emotions of others, but not feel the same emotions or get moved by their suffering to act in compassion.

However, they can train themselves to be good at faking emotional empathy.

Narcissists fake empathy because they desire to feel appreciated.

They can respond to your emotions like someone who really feels for you.

They use their cognitive or intellectual empathy to figure out what emotion they should be feeling in response to the person they are interacting with. Then they use their acting skills to mimic that emotion to fit in.

So, while they can fairly accurately read what’s going on in your mind, they cannot feel the same emotions as you are going through.

They can correctly read thoughts like,

“This guy is planning how to escape this conversation right now. However, they do not have feelings like, “I am overwhelming this guy with my achievement stories, so I need to shut up.”

Do narcissists completely lack empathy?

No, narcissists do not completely lack empathy but they are capable of one type of empathy called Cognitive Empathy. It helps them read your mind and make accurate guesses about your thoughts and emotions. This allows them to profile you and determine how to manipulate you, whether by hurt or by a show of love and praise.

A lack of empathy can also lead to antisocial behavior, including physical abuse and crime.

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Why do narcissists struggle with a lack of empathy?

A narcissist struggles with expressing wholesome empathy because of an arrest of empathy development caused by abuse in childhood. Narcissism evolves as a child’s defense mechanism against parental maltreatment. It teaches the child to grow callous and indifferent to the pain of others as well as their own.

The root of narcissists’ lack of empathy lies in their troubled childhood.

When a parent neglects a child, pushes them away when they seek love or attention or mistreats, blames, and abuses them, the child’s brain constructs a false world for itself. For narcissists, this internal world is more real than their external world.

The fake self serves as the future narcissist’s defense against insults and abuse. It builds up delusions of grandiosity, self-importance, and apathy (opposite of empathy).

How to deal with a narcissist with no empathy?

The best way to deal with a narcissist who doesn’t have empathy, and most narcissists don’t, is to not deal with them at all, and to go No Contact with them.

If that is not possible, then an effective way is to treat them with the “gray rock method” to disengage from them.

Another way is to show them that they have power over you. If you listen to their tall tales and validate their feelings without leaking your disbelief, they will believe they are in control.

Do narcissists feel sympathy?

Narcissists can feel sympathy, which is a feeling of pity or sorrow for another’s suffering or distress. However, their sympathies are profoundly misdirected, intended to take pleasure in others’ suffering rather than feel for the sufferers. They are good at faking sympathy while also concealing their enjoyment of it.

Narcissists are copycat empaths, not true empaths.

Narcissists usually choose empaths for intimate roles like partner and friend since they are easier to manipulate. Then they learn from them how to show empathy and use the skill to achieve their own goals.

What is empathy in psychology?

Humans survive by what we were pre-programmed for – sharing of knowledge and emotions, caring for each other, and helping others.

Our species always knew how to step into a fellow human’s emotional world to understand and appreciate their experiences. Because we could intuitively do so, we were able to build strong and large societies.

That crucial skill was empathy, long before Titchener named it “empathy” in 1909.

Empathy is our ability to vicariously experience feelings and understand the situations of another (Hoffman, 2007). Psychologists see empathy as an act, a skill, a state, and also a personality trait.

One can have low or high empathy. Two tools to measure empathy are the Hogan Empathy Scale (Hogan, 1969) and the Multidimensional Emotional Empathy Scale (Caruso & Mayer, 1998).

In psychology, empathy is not a single concept but is divided into four types:

1. Cognitive empathy

It is the ability to understand what another person is thinking (point of view or perspective) or feeling without actually experiencing those feelings yourself.

Cognitive empathy makes us better communicators because it allows us to pass on information to the other person in the most effective way possible.

It is also known as intellectual empathy or perspective-taking.

2. Emotional empathy

It is matching and resonates with the emotions of other people.

Emotional empathy is the ability to understand as well as experience another person’s emotions. It is like feeling “your sorrow in my heart.” This type of empathy helps you strengthen your emotional bonds with others.

It is also called affective empathy.

3. Compassionate empathy

It is taking compassionate action after sensing a person’s plight.

Compassionate empathy goes beyond understanding others and sharing their feelings; it inspires us to act, and to reach out in any way we can to help.

It is also called empathic concern.

4. Motor Empathy

This is a recently recognized concept. Motor empathy is the unconscious mirroring of another’s gestures, like yawning on seeing a person yawn.

It is based on both cognitive and emotional empathy, as a lack of either would prevent one from subconsciously mirroring something they understand (cognitive) or care about (emotional).

Primatologist Frans de Waal is one of the most well-known researchers studying empathy. He likens empathy to a Russian doll with many layers: intellect, recognition, and imitation, around a central core of emotion.

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De Waal found that body contact and imitation ease the ability to empathize. He wrote a book on this: The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society.

Frans de Waal’s Russian Doll Model of Empathy (Image Courtesy: Embrace Autism)

So, empathy means understanding and identifying with another person’s thoughts, feelings, or emotional state. Now, the question is, do narcissists feel empathy?

Who is an empath?

An empath is a person who feels more empathy than the average person. Their heightened empathic capacity, which allows them to quickly sense the emotions of those around them, is unexplainable by conventional science. It often pushes them to help others without being asked.

By the way, the word “empath” is highly looked down upon by psychologists. What comes close is Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs).

An empath can accurately understand what other people (and animals) are experiencing, even when there are no verbal or physical cues.

Moreover, they frequently have intense reactions to other people’s emotions and can become unusually sad, furious, or afraid when they sense another person’s suffering.

Empaths intuitively feel other people’s emotions, but most specifically pain. They are particularly sensitive to the distressful conditions of others, even strangers, and hang on to the resulting negative emotion for a long time.

They can accumulate high concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol, making it difficult to release the imbibed emotions.

Unhappy movie endings haunt me for hours afterwards, and sometimes for days. — An Empath

Empaths on the right of the curve.

Judith Orloff, the author of Thriving as an Empath: 365 Days of Self-Care for Sensitive People, defines empaths as “emotional sponges” who absorb the world’s joys and stresses. She says empaths lack barriers (that most of us have and use) to shield themselves from emotional over-stimulation.

5 FAQs on Narcissism and Empathy

1. Can a narcissist be an empath?

Yes, a narcissist can be an empath. Narcissistic empathy is mostly limited to perspective-taking, that is, cognitively understanding another person’s point of view beyond one’s own point of view. However, a recent study found that those with higher scores for narcissistic personality tended to be less motivated to take others’ perspectives (Lee & Kang, 2020).

So, while narcissistic empathy may help them understand where your shoe pinches, they are unlikely to wear your shoe and experience the pain that you feel.


What type of empathy do narcissists lack?

Narcissists lack both emotional empathy and compassionate empathy. They do not feel an empathic connection with others because other people’s emotions do not let move them enough to sense their painful condition.

To compensate for their lack of emotional empathy, they use their cognitive empathy to mirror postures and gestures to mimic emotional empathy.

Narcissists are incapable of prosocial behavior (that is, unable to act out of empathy) because narcissism is a defensive mechanism that blunts emotional response to witnessing others’ distress.

3. Do narcissists know they are hurting you?

Narcissists are well aware when they are hurting you. In fact, they spend their time hunting for and gathering your shortcomings and weak spots, so that they can hurt you at your most vulnerable points to cause the most damage. Their awareness of your pain, however, does not compel them to respond with compassion and stop their cruel acts.

4. Do narcissists apologize?

Narcissistic people find it extremely hard to apologize verbally. They never admit to their guilt or offer an opportunity to discuss the situation. This is because most narcissists lack strong self-esteem to admit they were wrong, so they are sorry and want to be forgiven. Instead, the usual narcissistic act of apology involves reparative acts such as buying extravagant gifts.

5. Can you teach empathy to a narcissist?

Yes, narcissists can be taught to empathize. According to research, narcissists can learn empathy if sufficiently motivated to see the world from another person’s perspective. However, they do so only when they are told to or when it lies in their self-interest. They cannot automatically be empathic, especially emotionally and compassionately.

Narcissists are people with all sorts of grandiose ideas about their success and luck. But when you get right down to it, narcissists always seem to be looking for sympathy and empathy from you. Because they lacked those while growing up.

7 Signs An Empath Is Really A Narcissist In Disguise: Unmasking the Narcissistic Empath

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Final Words

Anyone can have a few narcissistic qualities, but not everyone with narcissistic tendencies is a narcissist. Of course, unless clinically diagnosed, a narcissist cannot be classified as having a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

NPD, as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition, is a mental condition defined by an inflated feeling of self-importance, a deep need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others.

Remember, a narcissist is a manipulator who may easily fool you into thinking they are empathizing with you when, in fact, they are faking the empathetic response. One giveaway is that they often overdo it.

If you see the narcissist overreact or over-express, especially if you’re an empath, enforce your boundaries and disconnect. This will help you preserve your mental balance.

NPD is a serious mental disorder with high suicide rates (Pompili et al., 2004). If you feel someone close to you is narcissistic, suggest they see a mental health professional.

• • •

  • Do narcissists cry? If yes, why do they cry?
  • Did you know about Vulnerable Narcissism: The Not-So-Dark Side of Narcissism?

• • •

Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental health, happiness, mindfulness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).

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Who is a narcissist?

Do Narcissists Have Empathy (Truth About Narcissist-Empaths)

Do narcissists completely lack empathy?

Why do narcissists struggle with a lack of empathy?

How to deal with a narcissist with no empathy?

Do narcissists feel sympathy?

What is empathy in psychology?

1. Cognitive empathy

2. Emotional empathy

3. Compassionate empathy

4. Motor Empathy

Who is an empath?

5 FAQs on Narcissism and Empathy

1. Can a narcissist be an empath?

2. What type of empathy do narcissists lack?

3. Do narcissists know they are hurting you?

4. Do narcissists apologize?

5. Can you teach empathy to a narcissist?

Final Words

Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links.

Do Narcissists Actually Lack Empathy?

We generally assume that narcissistic people lack empathy, and we employ this assumption to account for some of their undesirable behaviors and traits. However, there are circumstances where narcissistic individuals will display empathy, which can be confusing. Many narcissistic people who seem to lack empathy for other humans in their lives can express enormous compassion for their pets, and they may overtly express empathy to a sad child or to an injured animal. Thus, let’s consider the possibility that narcissists are consciously and unconsciously unwilling to empathize, rather than lacking the capacity to do so. If this is so, then how do we make sense of their unwillingness?

A lack of empathy is often considered to be one of the distinctive features of narcissism. However, this is not entirely the case. The criteria for the formal psychiatric diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association includes “lacks empathy,” but this designation has a critical qualifier: namely, “is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others." [4] An unwillingness to empathize with another person is not the same as being unable to empathize. The notion that a person has a capacity for empathy, yet is not empathically responsive, may be useful for understanding the personality characteristics of people we label as narcissistic.

Empathy is the capacity to think and feel oneself into the inner life of another person. [1] Some regard empathy as a vicarious affective response based on the awareness of another person’s emotional state. [2] Many definitions of empathy include the concept of perspective-taking—emotionally or cognitively seeing things from the other person’s position. [3] Thus, empathy can involve both a cognitive process (the ability to understand another person’s view in terms of what the other is thinking or feeling) and an experiential process (resonating with another person’s emotional response).

Some researchers have found that the cognitive functioning necessary for empathy, such as the ability to role-play or take another person’s perspective, occurs in a different location of the brain than the emotional aspects of empathy, such as sensitivity to what another person is feeling or experiencing. [5] Whether one is narcissistic or not, our brains simulate the feelings of those around us. This ability to unconsciously mimic another’s feelings enables us to reconstruct within us what other people may be experiencing. [6] [7]

Given the many and complicated interactions we have with others throughout our lives, the ability to automatically understand what is going on with someone else is a crucial skill for successful social functioning. Some studies have shown a relationship between narcissism and deficient emotional empathy, but that narcissists, nevertheless, can recognize and react to the suffering of others, even if they are motivated to disregard such distress in other people. [8]

The capacity to empathize does not preclude its use for bad behavior or destructive purposes. [9] [10] Some people may consciously or unconsciously be motivated to withhold an empathic response to control a partner, or they may exploit their understanding of another person’s emotional state to manipulate them or to gain power. Using their empathy manipulatively, for example, people with narcissistic pathology know how to evoke insecurity in their partners and provoke attachment anxiety. [11]

Consider for a moment that narcissistic people do not really lack empathy, but instead, their vulnerability and need for self-protection limits their freedom to express it. Consciously or unconsciously they are unwilling to empathize rather than lacking the capacity to do so. In particular situations, someone with a narcissistic personality may feel emotionally safe and capable of vulnerability. The subjective experience of trust can be a powerful tool for narcissists that reduces perceived threats and allows them to attend to the needs and feelings of others. [12] There is evidence indicating that narcissistic individuals are hyper-sensitive to information that could cause them psychological distress, but at the same time, they may be oblivious to such information at the level of conscious awareness. [13] Interpersonally, where someone with narcissistic traits experiences helplessness or vulnerability, they are likely to withhold an empathic response automatically, appearing cold-hearted or as refusing to take responsibility for hurtful behavior.

How do we understand the personality development of someone who appears to lack empathy or has an unwillingness to empathize? The answer involves a personality organization that is scripted to avoid shame. Our lifetime of emotional responses and the responses of others to our emotional expressions script or automate our behavior in different ways. [14] When emotions occur in persistent or repeated forms, we consider them as dispositional characteristics of the individual or personality traits—situations that typically activate a coherent pattern of interacting emotions or scripted behaviors. Unfortunately, the language of personality traits overshadows the emotional states that motivate the behavior. [15] For example, we generally consider narcissism as having to do with behaviors or traits, such as grandiosity, entitlement, and a lack of empathy, but this obscures how these behaviors and traits are patterned responses to specific emotional experiences. Shame is the central emotional experience of narcissism, and narcissistic disorders reflect behaviors that disown or regulate shame. [16] [17]

Since an empathic response often involves an unconscious assessment of one’s vulnerability to experiencing shame, the narcissist’s inhibition of an empathic response (“unwillingness”) may simply be self-protective. This also points to the affective limitations that accompany narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissists do not consciously feel a lack of empathy or experience an unwillingness to empathize. Instead, in many situations where one might expect them to empathize, their limitations activate a sense of helplessness—an imagined vulnerability— followed by scripted responses to shame, such as shame-fear (fear of loss of face) or shame-rage (protection from some trauma or imagined trauma from the past). [18]

Thus, if you are involved with someone whose behaviors are motivated by shame-avoidance, your task is to protect yourself since they will be consciously or unconsciously unwilling to empathize with you. Commonly, heartbroken people explain their relationship rupture as due to their former partner’s “lack of empathy,” concluding they had been in love with a narcissist. However, it is possible to respond to our own shame by attacking the other who could not provide what we needed in the first place, given their restricted emotional freedom. Instead, by accepting our disappointment and misdirection, and looking inside ourselves, we can learn because we have the emotional resources and willingness that enable us to do so.

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[1] Kohut, H. (1984). How Does Analysis Cure? Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

[2] Eisenberg, N., Miller, P. A., Schaller, M., Fabes, R. A., Fultz, J., Shell, R., et al. (1989). The role of sympathy and altruistic personality traits in helping: A reexamination. Journal of Personality 57:41-67.

[3] Hoffman, M. L. (2000). Empathy and Moral Development: Implications for Caring and Justice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

[4] American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed. ). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596

[5] Eslinger, P. J. (1998). Neurological and neuropsychological bases of empathy. European Neurology 39:193-199.

[6] Lundqvist, L., and Dimberg, U. (1995). Facial expressions are contagious. Journal of Psychophysiology 9:203-211.

[7] Hatfield, E., Bensman, L., Thornton, P. D., & Rapson, R. (2014). New perspectives on emotional contagion: A review of classic and recent research on facial mimicry and contagion. Interpersona: An International Journal of Personal Relations, 8, 159-179.

[8] Baskin-Sommers A, Krusemark E, Ronningstam E. Empathy in narcissistic personality disorder: from clinical and empirical perspectives. J Pers Disord. 2014; 5: 323–333. doi.org/10.1037/ per0000061

[9] Decety, J., and Moriguchi, Y. (2007). The empathic brain and its dysfunction in psychiatric populations: Implications for intervention across different clinical conditions. Biopsychosocial Medicine 1:22-52.

[10] Kohut, H. (1984). How Does Analysis Cure? Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

[11] Lamia, M. and Krieger, M. (2009). The White Knight Syndrome. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.

[12] Burgmer, P., Weiss, A., and Ohmann, K. (2019). I don’t feel ya: how narcissism shapes empathy. Self and Identity. DOI: 10.1080/15298868.2019.1645730

[13] Bilotta, E., Carcione, A., Fera, T., Moroni, F., Nicolo, G. Pedone, R., Pellecchia, G., Semerari, A., and Colle, L. (2018). Symptom severity and mindreading in narcissistic personality disorder. PLoS ONE, 13(8). DOI: org/10.1371/journal.pone.0201216.

[14] Tomkins, S. S. (1995). Script theory. In E. V. Demos, Exploring affect: The selected writings of Silvan S. Tomkins (pp. 389–396). Cambridge, MA: Cam- bridge University Press. [15] Plutchik, R. (2000). Emotions in the practice of psychotherapy: Clinical implications of affect theories. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

[16] Lewis, H. B. (1987). Shame and the narcissistic personality. In D. L. Nathanson (Ed.), The many faces of shame (pp. 93-132). New York, NY: Guilford.

[17] Nathanson, D. L. (1992). Shame and pride: Affect, sex, and the birth of the self. New York, NY: Norton.

[18] David, G. F. (2020, January 4). Personal email communication.

Stony Insensitivity, or Zero Negative - Citizen K - Kommersant

Empathy is not a mental propensity at all, but a function of the body, like digestive juices - such a discovery is found in the book of psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen called "Zero Levels of Empathy."

1. Pretend coldness

The most complete data on how the human body behaves in conditions of extremely low temperatures were collected in the first half of the 1940s by Nazi researchers from the Dachau concentration camp. They were doing an experiment called Cold Water Immersion. The aim of the experiment was to understand whether a person can withstand three hours at zero water temperature. nine0003

2. An emotional question

Scientists from Dachau pursued a very human goal: to help those who would be shipwrecked in cold seas survive. They just worked with a kind of inhuman composure. But why? How can this be?

3. Villainy is not an explanation

The usual answer to this question is that they are villains. Baron-Cohen has long explored the problem of human cruelty - this is his third book on this topic - and considers this answer as explaining nothing. Scientists always refer to the material they work with as a “subject of study,” and the Nazis at Dachau are no exception. For them, people lose their humanity and become objects. Researchers treat subjects with zero empathy, explains Baron-Cohen, and empathy is, by the way, a physiological category: more or less known how and where it is formed in the brain. nine0003

4. Measuring feelings

According to Baron-Cohen, there are only seven levels of empathy (to what extent you are prone to empathy, you can check by taking the test from the book "Zero Levels of Empathy").

4.1. Zero level. The man has no compassion at all. He almost always has problems with the law, often a murderer, tormentor, rapist. Not every Null is a criminal, but every one has a terrible problem with human relationships. If Null is told that he is hurting someone with his actions or words, he simply will not understand. nine0003

4.2. First level. He does not hesitate to injure others, but is still able to understand what he has done, and even portray regret. The minimum of sympathy that the Unit has does not affect its aggressive behavior at the very moment of aggression: the victim is not a person, but still an object.

4.3. Second level. Enough sympathy to slow down the beginning aggression. The two cannot help screaming or hurtful words, but they are able to understand that they are doing something wrong. The deuce is ready to listen when they explain to her what she is doing. nine0003

4.4. Third level. Aware of his difficulties with sympathy, can mask indifference and somehow compensate for the lack of cordiality; but you never know what to expect from the Troika. He tries to avoid working with people - for Troika this is a huge stress. Often does not understand jokes, often cannot interpret facial expressions. Small talk is a nightmare for Troika.

4.5. Fourth level. Empathy is below average. Fours generally lead normal lives, but find it difficult to talk about emotional topics. The four may already be friends, but her friendship is based more on spending time together - sports, walking - than on emotional closeness. nine0003

4.6. Fifth level. Empathy is slightly above average. The friendship of the Five is based on emotional intimacy, on trust, mutual support. Five does not always think about the feelings of others - only as a rule. He cares a lot about human relationships at work and at home. Does not insist on his opinion, does not climb into the soul. Gives advice, guided not only by his own opinion, but taking into account many circumstances.

4.7. Sixth level. Outstanding empathy. Six is ​​always focused on the feelings of others. nine0003

5. Zero Negative

Baron-Cohen did not study either the solar Six or even the aggressive One — only Zero. Zero is imprisoned in lifelong loneliness; he knows no obstacles to his desires, he can express the wildest thought, commit the most monstrous deed; Null simply cannot imagine how his actions might affect other people.

Zeros, according to Baron-Cohen, are divided into Negative and Positive; the life of Negative Zero is worthy of the deepest sympathy. There are three types of negative zeros, the behavioral features of all three are caused by similar damages in the empathic ring. nine0003

6. Zero Negative First, or Borderline Personality Disorder

These people live under the slogan that became the title of a famous psychological book: "I hate you, don't leave me!". They do everything to draw attention to themselves, but even if they achieve their goal, they are not at all consoled. Often they try to commit suicide - but not for real. Usually depressed and inactive. Living with them is often a branch of hell - to such an extent people with borderline personality disorder do not understand how much they hurt their loved ones with their self-destructive and senseless behavior. nine0003

7. Zero Negative second, or Psychopathy

Also senselessly cruel people, but not passive, not directed inwards or on themselves, but active, acting ruthlessly and super-energetically against other people. Infinitely touchy - and do not proportion their response to the offense inflicted; An additional danger of null psychopaths is that, as if protecting themselves, they are able to exceed the limits of admissible defense by orders of magnitude. For example, for a bad grade at school, take and burn the gym in front of her. Pathological liars, attentive tormentors, indifferent killers - and at the same time people who completely do not understand what caused such, say, aloof attitude of others towards them. nine0003

8. Physiological aspect

How the father and mother treat the child is how the level of sympathy is formed in him. Zeros Negatives, in particular psychopaths, often become those whom parents disdained in childhood. The abandoned child has an angry response inside - silently - to them; a strong feeling of hatred develops. This kind of powerful negative emotion is very difficult to control; a child cannot throw out hatred on his parents, it accumulates, pressure is created, which - like in a steam boiler - is just waiting to break out. nine0003

8.1. Physiological aspects boil down to the fact that prolonged and severe stress damages brain structures that are part of the empathic ring in a variety of ways. And the damage is irreversible.

8.2. Parents who give their child plenty of love and attention in his first - critical - years, provide him for the rest of his life with the strength to withstand any troubles, as well as experience and show deep feelings.

9. Zero Negative third, or Narcissism

Such Zeros think that only they do good deeds all their lives and no one - no one! - in the whole world does not reciprocate them. They differ markedly from other negative zeros.

9.1. What narcissists, psychopaths, and borderline sufferers all have in common is the inability to understand that human relationships are a two-way street. Narcissists are a calmer form of Zero Negative: they are by no means ready for cruelty. The narcissist is sure that he is much, much better than others, that he has been given something that no one else has (but this something, we note, is definitely not compassion). And the narcissist is tormented by the fact that people do not understand his greatness and beauty and therefore treat him unacceptably casually. Relief is rare for a narcissist, but it can still come: for example, if he feels like a really important person. In principle, a narcissist can even be witty, and charming, and attentive - if he talks with people on whom he depends. But if it seems to him that these influential people are not attentive enough to him - the end. nine0003

10. Zero Positive, or Asperger's Syndrome

If there is no empathy in a person, but there is a wonderfully subtle, clear mind - such are people with Asperger's syndrome, one of the milder forms of autism. They, according to Baron-Cohen, should be classified as Positive Zeros. They have many difficulties - with personal hygiene, with the food that they would like to eat is always the same, with clothes that it would be better not to change in the same way. People of Positive Zeros do not like it, because they strive to always tell the most that neither is the truth. But such people have outstanding, endless ability to systematize. Positive zeros often reveal patterns where no one else could see them. But they are unfortunate geniuses, because often they cannot even understand that they are brilliant. nine0003

11. Child killer Reha, or what Baron-Cohen is getting at

Reha Kumari-Baker is serving a 33-year sentence for the murder of his two daughters. Rekha explained in court that she wanted to ruin the life of her ex-husband, who quickly got a new woman after the divorce, but Rekha did not find anyone for herself.

11.1. Official psychiatry recognized Rekha as capable. Baron-Cohen agrees: from the point of view of the current state of affairs, when the decision whether a person is normal or not is made according to a handbook, in which exactly 297 diseases, Reha is normal: her condition is not included in the list.

11.2. But a man who kills his own children is, by definition, abnormal, or, in Baron-Cohen's terms, Reha is Zero. Obviously, at the moment when she went up to the nursery with a kitchen knife, when she plunged this knife into her daughters, she had a zero level of sympathy. She did not experience any feelings - only a desire to attract the attention of her ex-husband. This desire is not on the 297 list. So it's time to introduce a new category into psychiatric and judicial practice - empathy disorder. nine0003

11. 3. Of course, murderers and tormentors still have to go to prison, but people who suffer from empathy disorder and have committed less violent crimes do not belong in prison.

11.4. An Asperger's sufferer named Gary McKinnon, who hacked into the Pentagon's computer network, is clearly not a criminal. He is Zero Positive with the highest level of systematization, he is a computer genius. Gary does not realize at all that his act has any socio-political consequences. nine0003

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Narcissists always strive to be the center of irritation attention. At first, we may be fascinated by their reasoning or mysterious appearance. But soon the gilding crumbles, and we see a capricious child who cannot bear it when someone does not admire him for a long time. nine0003

Such people can cause irritation, a desire to put them in their place. But research shows that the most appropriate and effective response to the behavior of narcissists can be pity and even kindness.

1. They are very vulnerable, although they hide it

Suffering and chronically low self-esteem hide behind the arrogance and selfishness of the narcissist. This has been shown in numerous studies. For example, in a quick association test, participants with narcissistic traits automatically correlated words like "I" and "mine" with negative words like "pain," "suffering," and "death." nine0003

The attention of others is necessary for narcissists to maintain self-worth.

Perhaps self-centered behavior is actually necessary for narcissists to compensate for their lack of self-confidence. When they don't receive attention, their brains show high activity in areas associated with social and emotional pain.

Research by an international team of neuroscientists has shown that narcissists have weak connections between the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for the feeling of "I", and areas responsible for the sensations of reward and pleasure 1 . Perhaps narcissists simply lack a positive sense of self and need the attention of others to maintain their self-worth.

2. They suffer because of their character

Self-love and emotional deafness are qualities that are rarely found in truly happy people. On the contrary, they often become the cause of conflicts and hostility from others.

Psychologists at the University of Bern confirm that those who have pronounced narcissistic traits are more likely than others to experience difficulties in relationships, and usually they themselves cause them. nine0003

Empathy can be aroused in narcissists by asking them to imagine what another person is going through

Another study by psychologists at the University of Illinois found that narcissists are even more sensitive to stress than other types. The feigned indifference does not at all relieve them of their feelings - on the contrary, according to the diaries of participants with a tendency to narcissism, they experienced more negative emotions 2 .

3. They can learn empathy

One of the most unpleasant features of narcissists is their inattention to the problems and concerns of others, their inability to sympathize. Relatives often take offense at them for coldness and callousness. At times it seems that they simply do not care about those who are nearby.

However, psychologists at the University of Southampton and the University of Surrey have found encouraging data: Empathy can be aroused in narcissists by asking them to imagine what the other person is going through.

Psychologist Erica Hepper and her colleagues asked participants to read a story about a woman who had experienced violence. nine0003

Participants with relatively low levels of narcissism said they shared the feelings of the victim. The high narcissistic participants were able to truly empathize with the woman only when the scientists asked them to imagine themselves in her shoes 3 . Before the experiment, both of them were shown a film about the fate of victims of domestic violence.

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