Are Narcissists Capable of Feeling Empathy?

If you’ve ever had to deal with a narcissist, you know that they are very good at manipulating you and putting on a show for others. Everything always has to be about them, and it seems as though they never care about you or anyone else. The problem is that for those that suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), they tend to lack empathy. But can they help this? Is there hope for narcissists to be able to relate and feel empathetic towards others? The answer might have to do with their level of NPD.

 

Just like all mental health disorders, the severity of narcissism can vary. For those that have been clinically diagnosed with NPD, they are more likely to be volatile and unpredictable and refuse to see the problems and seek help. Subclinical NPD, on the other hand, can be much more manageable. This type is more common, and many with subclinical NPD even go on to live normal, successful lives.

 

In various studies involving subclinical narcissists, it was made clear that these narcissists didn’t show empathy when exposed to a saddening story – such as a harsh breakup or domestic abuse – while non-narcissists did.

 

Except! – when the narcissists were prompted with a comment such as “imagine how they feel in this situation,” or “put yourself in their shoes.” When subtly ask to do these things, the reaction of the narcissists changed.

 

When the non-narcissists were prompted with the same comments, they didn’t react because they were naturally inclined to put themselves in the other person’s shoes in the first place. This did not come naturally to the narcissists, but when prompted, they were capable of doing so.

 

This shows that, at least for those with subclinical narcissism, there is hope that they can learn to feel empathy towards others. We can see that this is especially true because our bodies physically respond to feeling empathetic as well. Your heart rate changes and increases when you feel empathy for another person.

 

During the studies and experiments with the non-narcissists and subclinical narcissists, we might’ve expected the empathetic responses from the narcissists to only be external, as narcissists have a tendency to be manipulative and say what they think others want to hear in order to reap the benefits. But monitoring heartrate disproved this, and we could see that what they were feeling was true and honest empathy for the people in the sad stories.

 

So the answer is yes – many narcissists are able to feel empathy. They just might need some help to get there. Giving them support and encouragement can go a long way in helping them learn to recognize when they should be empathetic, but the first step is for them to realize that they need to work on things and be willing to receive the help they need. A great option is to get therapy, as a therapist is going to be more experienced with narcissistic behavior, and know the right way to approach the entire situation.

Why Narcissists Hurt Their Loved Ones

Dealing with a narcissist can be a really difficult thing to do, especially when it is someone you are close to. Many times, you don’t realize that you have gotten yourself into a relationship with a narcissist until much later as things continue to get worse and worse, and they begin abusing you. In fact, they might not even act narcissistic at the beginning of the relationship.

Narcissists are predictable people, as they usually follow the same patterns of behavior. There are three stages of a relationship with a narcissist:

  1. Falling head over heels for you – In the beginning, the narcissist will want to do everything in their power to try to win you over because they want you. They believe you are the best thing to ever happen to them, and there’s no way you could ever let them down. You are the perfect person for them, and they want to show you by showering you with affection and gifts.
  2. Trying to fix you – Unfortunately though, the head over heels phase won’t last, and they’ll soon find flaws in you. They’ll start pointing them out and insist that you start changing them in order to make them satisfied. No matter how much you do to try to please them, it seems like it’s just never enough.
  3. Pure abuse – Soon, you’ll find yourself in the pure abuse phase, where life for you is miserable. The narcissist never has anything nice to say about you, and not only will they criticize you, but they will do it in public and around friends and family.

So why do narcissists always end up turning their relationships into nightmares this way? Wouldn’t they eventually learn that everyone has certain flaws that should be expected and accepted? Wouldn’t they soon be able to figure out that criticizing and putting their partner down is not a constructive way of handling conflicts?

As it turns out, there are two big character traits that those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder carry and these traits are responsible for the narcissist’s way of acting.

  1. Narcissists have no emotional empathy. Empathy allows us to feel and understand what another person is feeling. It is the thing that helps up to hold out tongues and think before speaking because we know that what we’re about to say could hurt them. We know this because we can imagine what it’s like to be in the other person’s shoes, then picture how we would feel if the same thing were said to us. Narcissists can’t and won’t do this. Even if a narcissist is able to intellectually understand that they might be hurting the other person, they don’t care because they are not personally hurt by it.
  2. Narcissists don’t have “whole object relations” or “emotional constancy”. This means that they think in extremes in terms of whether a person is good or bad. This is why at the beginning of relationships, a narcissist falls so hard and genuinely believes that person is perfection, but soon turns on them once they realize they have normal human flaws. Then, they can only think of them in horrible ways and are unable to see the good in them. This is where “emotional constancy” comes in, and it is when the narcissist is unable to maintain an emotional connection or good feelings about their partner when they fight or get upset with them.

The behaviors of a narcissist can sometimes seem like they don’t make sense and are completely unpredictable. But when you look at the bigger picture, you’ll find that there is usually a reason behind it all, and narcissists repeat patterns of behavior.

 

How to Identify and Stop a Narcissist BEFORE They Trap You

If you’ve just gotten out of an abusive relationship with a narcissist, it can be hard to begin dating again, for fear that you might end up in yet another abusive relationship. What if you find yourself repeating the same patterns and being with a narcissist once again? After all, if you were with a narcissist before, you might have just the right personality that attracts them. They thrive off of those that they can take advantage of and control. They like those that are all too giving and completely willing to put others first.

 

So here are a few things that you can do to avoid repeating those mistakes:

 

Choose Your Relationships Wisely

Don’t let yourself fall head over heels for someone without feeling them out first. Keep your distance when beginning new relationships, and really try to measure out their words against their actions. If they stay true to their words, there shouldn’t be much to worry about. But if they are constantly making empty promises, that could certainly be a red flag. If they seem to always be in competition with you to try to get the upper hand instead of accepting you as their equal, that is another big warning sign.

 

Expect Failures and Disappointments

This might sound a little harsh at first, but you should never let yourself get your hopes up with someone who you suspect is a narcissist. Don’t let yourself get sucked into their persuasive words and charm. Doing so only gives them more power over your emotions and well-being. Instead, have a backup plan for when they don’t follow through on their word.

 

Avoid Trying to  “Fix” Them

A narcissist can’t be helped, especially if they don’t want to be. They can even thrive off of the arguing and frustration that it can bring out in you when you find that you can’t save them. They know that in this way, they can get under your skin, and that gives them even more power. Instead, the best thing to do is to keep your distance, maintain your own personal boundaries, and even cut them loose completely.

 

Practice Mindful and Effective Communication

Good communication can go a long way in solving many problems. Most narcissists are likely acting from their wounds, and having an understanding of this could help you in how you deal with them. Regardless though, you must be assertive and not give them any opportunities to run you over. Learning to say no is very important, and if a narcissist does not respect your answers or wishes, let them know that there will be consequences, and follow through on them.

 

Narcissists are not fun people to have in your relationship circle, but sometimes it’s hard to not fall for their tricks. Luckily, there are ways to identify a narcissist before they are able trap you. Keeping a good distance from those you’re unsure about, expecting failures, maintaining boundaries, and practicing good, solid communication are all great ways to help avoid being sucked in by another narcissist.

What will Happen with Kevin Spacey?

It’s a dangerous world out there, which is why the law was set in place to begin with. It is the duty of the law enforcement and court systems to keep its citizens safe and put away those that do harm to others. But sometimes it’s hard to tell who the real problem is in a situation.

 

Kevin Spacey, who many of us know and love from the show, “House of Cards,” was charged with felony sexual assault for an alleged incident in 2016. His accuser says that Spacey got an 18 year old drunk by buying him drinks, then without consent, shoved his hands down his pants and grabbed his genitals. The victim was a bus boy who had convinced Spacey that he was of legal drinking age, and it was said that he wanted a job and nothing more from Spacey.

 

It turns out that this was not the first time that Spacey would be called out for having sexual relations with boys and minors. Actor Anthony Rapp came forward admitting that Spacy had made inappropriate sexual advances towards him when he was just 14. Three more people spoke up later, admitting similar stories that had happened to them with Spacey.

 

With all of the accusations, it probably didn’t help that Spacey had come out as gay. After all the blame that was put on him, he even began receiving help in order to work through the trauma of it all.

 

Now, two years after the incident, Spacey has finally been spotted again. He was last photographed at the end of December as he was climbing into an SUV. He was wearing a big scarf that covered his neck and face, and a hat pulled down low to try to hide his identity as much as possible.

 

It must be hard to live through the embarrassment and shame of being accused of such horrible things, and no one knows this more than Kevin Spacey. It’s no wonder that he hid away from the world for so long. I think all of us would if we had that giant weight on our shoulders.

 

For those that are victims of narcissistic abuse, we get a taste for what it’s like to be accused of things we may not have actually done. Stories always get twisted around to make things seem worse than they really are and to make the truth harder and harder to find for everyone else. Do we truly know what happened between Spacey and the bus boy? No. So why should we always assume the worst? After all, Kevin Spacey has only charged with – not yet convicted of – a felony. Plus, would a predator really seek therapy like Spacey did? Spacey was looking for help to get through the whole mess, so it just doesn’t make sense. Things aren’t always black and white, and those that have dealt with narcissistic abuse should know more than anyone that you shouldn’t always believe in the very first thing you hear.

When You Leave A Narcissist Alone

It takes a lot to free yourself from the grip of a narcissist, and once you do, it should feel like a big victory. But it’s not easy to forget that although the relationship was an abusive and unhealthy one, you still loved and cared for that person for a long time before realizing what they were doing to you. Because of this, you might find yourself wondering what has happened to them now that they are alone.

 

Now that the narcissist is on their own, they have no one to put down in order to bring themselves up and build their self esteem. They don’t have anyone to take all of their punches, and they find themselves spiraling deeper into self loathing and worthlessness. With no more good supply for their control addiction, they will become weak. Having little social life and little to look forward to at all.

 

They will likely become angry or depressed in their life but know that none of this is your fault. You are not responsible for keeping the narcissist happy, and neither is anyone else. Your only responsibility is to take care of yourself, and removing yourself from your relationship with the narcissist is the right thing to do because it isn’t healthy to let them feed off of you. Let them be miserable for a while. After all, it’s their own doing. Plus, it probably won’t be long until they find another victim to take your place.

Smear Campaign – a Narcissist’s Public Attack

You’ve finally gotten yourself unhooked from the claws of the narcissist, but the problems just don’t want to go away. You’re having to debunk rumors left and right, and the embarrassment just never seems to stop. When a narcissist continues to attack you indirectly and publicly like this – spreading rumors, telling lies, and making everyone you know start to doubt you – this is called a smear campaign.

 

The narcissist has already lost the battle with you, but in doing so, you have further damaged their ego, and they fear that you’ll ruin their reputation too. They know that if they don’t do something, the truth about their behavior will soon come out, and they can’t let that happen. So instead, they begin to tell on you. The narcissist will tell your friends, family, and coworkers that you are the crazy and abusive one. This way, everyone has it in their minds that you’re the bad one first. Now you’re left on the defense and it becomes a battle of he-said, she-said.

 

While you can’t stop the narcissist from talking to everyone you know, your reaction to their efforts to destroy you can make them do a double take. If you find yourself in public with the narcissist, getting angry and upset with them with everyone watching is only going to make the narcissist’s false stories seem truer. But by disengaging, the narcissist could even lose interest.

 

When dealing with a narcissist, it’s always a good idea to have a great support system and even a plan in place for when bad things happen. Through all the mess of the smear campaign, you’ll find out who your real friends are, but you will be the one to come out stronger in the end.

Do Narcissists Love Their Children?

Narcissists are very self-centered human beings, and their actions are all based on their own needs and desires. They have difficulties maintaining good relationships because they care only about themselves and what they can gain from it. So what does this mean when a narcissist has children?

 

Narcissists, by nature, are incapable of loving. From the outside perspective though, it might seem like just the opposite. Narcissists like to trick you into believing what they want you to believe, and that means if they want you to like them, they will show you what you want to see.

 

When a narcissist has children, they think of them just as they think of anyone else – like objects. But even worse, because the children were born from them, the narcissist feels that they own them. Because the narcissist went through all the trouble and pain of creating and birthing, now the child is indebted to them. They are supposed to be there to give the narcissist whatever they need, whenever they need it.

 

If a child has a narcissistic parent, they will have low self esteem and self-confidence issues from the parent constantly tearing them down to gain control and make them feel better about themselves. So when the narcissistic parent actually does give a compliment or show their love, it’s a much bigger deal. Narcissists are very manipulative, and they don’t stop with their children. They see their love as a tool that can be easily taken away and only given back as a reward. Because of this, the child feels it is their responsibility to keep the parent happy, and they will do anything and everything to give them what they want. They know that if they do this, they might actually win over their parent’s approval and finally be loved by them.

 

This is why narcissistic parents are able to get away with so much. All a child wants is to be loved and cared for, and the narcissist knows this and uses it against them. Narcissists are great at putting on a show and pretending, and they teach their kids to do this too. No matter how much abuse is going on, the child is going to defend their parent because they know that if they do, they might be rewarded. If they do what their parent says, they will love them even more. They might even get a compliment or a hug if they are lucky, and this is all the child ever wants. This is very manipulative and abusive behavior, but it is the way of the narcissist.

 

If you’re going through a divorce and your spouse is a narcissist, you can expect them to use your children and try to turn them against you. The children are afraid that the narcissistic parent won’t love them anymore if they don’t do what they say, so they feel they have to stick up for the narcissist. This can be very hard to deal with, but know that it is only the result of abuse and manipulation.

Why do Narcissists Discard Good Supply?

If you know a narcissist, you know that they can be difficult to understand, due to their volatile personality. They tend to go from one extreme to another pretty quickly, and this can make it hard to keep up with them. In one of my last blogs, we talked about how and why narcissists act superior – why they think they are better and deserve better than everyone one else around them. But this act that they put on actually stems from low self esteem and a dependency on needing constant validation to make them feel better about themselves.

 

And they feed off of you to get that validation.

 

So if a narcissist needs you to help them feel that they are actually worth something, why would they want to then discard you? You are a good supply, and you give them everything they need to thrive, so even when you are giving them everything they want and ask for, why do they still want to destroy you and scare you away?

 

The answer is simple. They are out to destroy. Narcissists don’t know love or trust, so they see people as objects and tools. This makes you seem dispensable to them, and they know that they can find someone else to take advantage of.

 

The longer the narcissist is with someone, the more easily they are able to find flaws in them. These flaws make them feel better about themselves, which boosts their ego, making them think that they deserve someone even better – someone with fewer flaws.

 

It’s a vicious cycle for the narcissist, and no matter how great you are, you can never fully please them.

Does a Narcissist Think they are Superior?

It’s hard to understand how a narcissist thinks and feels, and why they act the way they do. Narcissists don’t interact the same way as others, as most of their actions are influenced by their own desires and personal gain. They can come across as normal at first, but once you develop a closer relationship with them, you begin to see their true colors.

 

One of the things that are easy to notice about a narcissist is that they project an image of superiority. They act as though they are better than you and everyone else, and they want you to know it. They want you to be beholden to them, to follow their orders, and to let them be in charge of everything.

 

But while a narcissist might act like they are bigger than they really are, it might just be that all that acting is the result of an internal wound. Narcissists feel as though they need to be in control because they are insecure about themselves. Because of this, they end up putting on a mask and acting superior to you. They try to gain back control in their lives and make themselves feel better by taking it all out on you.

 

Don’t let them take advantage and walk all over you. Stand up for yourself and put an end to the abuse. It’s hard dealing with a narcissist, but once you can begin to understand them, it can make healing much easier for the both of you.

How to Tell if You’re Being Played by a Narcissist Pt. 2 (Post-Relationship)

In a previous blog, I gave three things to look for in a narcissist when trying to figure out if they are just playing you. It’s easy to be deceived by a narcissist. After all, deception and games are what they are the best at. But once you’ve left the relationship and finally been relieved of their grasp on you, is should seem as though you’re done being played with. Unfortunately, this might not be the case. Narcissists will play you for as long as they can.

Once you’ve gotten out of the relationship, here are 3 more signs to look for to tell if you’re still being played by the narcissist:

  1. They are hypocritical – A narcissist might be posting all over social media, saying you did abusive things and complaining about certain things you did that they didn’t like, when in reality, they were the ones being abusive and doing all the things to you that they are now claiming you did, even though it’s not true.
  2. They play people against each other – if there is more than one person involved, the narcissist might begin to spread rumors and get them to turn on one another so that the narcissist looks like the better person.
  3. They only come to you when they need something – Once you have broken up, the narcissist might actually back down and want nothing to do with you ever again. Until they need something. This could be money, a favor, or something else. Whatever it is, it’s for their own personal benefit, and they’re using you to get it.

As you can see, there are lots of ways that a narcissist will play you, especially if you let them keep going with it. Learn the warning signs and don’t let them get away with trying to play you any longer.