Do Narcissists Have Selective Empathy?

Narcissists Selective Empathy

Why narcissists have impaired empathy?

As an empath, I’d love to be able to say that empathy is inherent in all of us. But all the research we have tells us the opposite. Empathy is a learned trait (and being an empath isn’t exactly the same).

But that’s probably why many narcissists have impaired empathy.

Most have experienced some level of neglect or abuse in childhood, and so they rely on the ego for protection.    

To avoid the pain of abuse, narcissists learn to manipulate situations to their advantage. In this way, they regain control. But they couldn’t achieve the level of control they require with pesky empathy weighing them down.

Empathy would demand that they face any pain or injustice they inflict upon another. And pain is exactly what they’re trying to avoid.

So for most narcissists, empathy is a useless tool. In fact, it would be counterproductive to their mission.

Can narcissists have selective empathy?

According to the DSM-5 criteria, all narcissists have impaired empathy.

And if you’ve had an encounter with a narcissist, this makes perfect sense. But in order to explore the answer to this question, we must take a close look at the word impaired.

Impaired empathy means that their empathy is malfunctioning. It’s not whole.

It doesn’t mean that it’s non-existent.

So can narcissists have selective empathy? Yes.

But if you’re trying to get to the bottom of this question, you’re probably wondering whether the narcissist in your life was ever genuine.

And here’s the hard truth…

You’ll never know, and it doesn’t really matter anyway.

Most narcissists are master manipulators. And since narcissism is on a spectrum, one narcissist may have more empathy than another. But you’ll never know whether you’re seeing true empathy or a master manipulation.

And here’s why it doesn’t matter.

You would have never learned about narcissism if this person had your best interests at heart. You’re here because this person manipulated and hurt you.

Do they have some redeeming qualities? I’m going to bet they do.

But as far as you’re concerned, their empathy or lack thereof isn’t of any consequence anymore. Your job right now is to heal and move past this (as much as possible).


Written By Common Ego
Originally Appeared In Common Ego
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