Lack of Empathy

{Please note:  I did not write this.  The trait of “Lack of Empathy” has been on my mind recently and I felt compelled to post something about it.}

Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

Lack of empathy is one of the most striking features of people with narcissistic personality disorder. It’s a hallmark of the disorder in the same way that fear of abandonment is in borderline personality disorder.

“Narcissists do not consider the pain they inflict on others; nor do they give any credence to others’ perceptions,” says Dr. Les Carter. “They simply do not care about thoughts and feelings that conflict with their own.” Do not expect them to listen, validate, understand, or support you.”

Here are examples from partners of narcissists:

  • He would actually get mad at me if I was sick. I said, “I sat here with you for days when you were depressed and couldn’t get out of bed. And now you can’t even be a little nice to me when I am sick?”
  • My partner would hurt my feelings just when things were going well. When I would question him about it, he would make up excuses and tell me I’m wrong for feeling the way I did, and if I didn’t like it there was something wrong with me.
  • I could spend an hour detailing how I felt hurt and she would sit there, cold as ice. When it was her turn to speak, she tore down every word that came out of my mouth until I had to apologize for expressing how I felt. I ignored this red flag and made excuses to myself and others.

Note that narcissists can pick up on social cues and can “fake it” when necessary.  Aside from looking “normal,” the hope is that they will get something back. {my emphasis}

This lack of empathy is so foreign to us–even some animals show evidence of empathy–that shocking instances can break through the denial and the hoping that one day we will get our turn. While it may leave us outraged, hurt, and feeling betrayed, it can be an eye-opening incident that we really need to acknowledge the limitations of individuals with NPD. As painful as it can be, though, we no longer feel as confused by the push-pull (or in some cases, just the push).

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