What Type of Empathy Can Narcissists Have?

It is a fact that there are aspects of empathy that can be mimicked or copied, and that is why it can be difficult at first to determine if someone is void of true empathy. There are three types of empathy. So, when I speak of true empathy throughout this article, I am referring to having two or three out of the three. We can view them as different levels of empathy. The first one, cognitive empathy, is one that anyone can have. But the next two, emotional empathy and compassionate empathy, are the ones that can really make a difference. From this diagram that I have created, we can see that narcissists, of course, do not have true empathy, but they are very good at pretending that they do. And only one of these types of empathy serves them the most. Yet they are brilliant actors and actresses, so they can convince some people that they are empathetic. But it is because they learn the right words, facial expressions, and carry out certain gestures to mimic someone who has true empathy. So, today’s article will hopefully shed some light on the different types of empathy there are, what aspects narcissists are likely to possess or learn, and why. I will also explain how detrimental this is to those of us who do have true empathy and what we can do about it.

Because narcissists have an ability to connect with people and develop relationships, although they do not possess true empathy, they can master certain interpersonal skills for their own benefit. These are skills such as communication, persuasion, negotiation, listening, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, etc. And the icing on the cake is how charming some of them can be. Mastering these skills gives onlookers the impression that narcissists are level-headed, sophisticated, and caring individuals. Basically, narcissists know the tools they need to get you to trust them, so they acquire them. Those who unfortunately get to see behind the mask are left with a totally different opinion, but they are usually outnumbered by those who still love and adore the narcissist. There is a majority that still views them as responsible, upright citizens instead of the liars, abusers, and traitors that they really are. This is especially true with covert narcissists because winning the favor of the masses matters more to them than maintaining healthy romantic or family relationships. Narcissists know that it is essential to appear cohesive and normal, and feigning empathy helps them to do that. The empathy narcissists have is limited, instrumental empathy, and very strategic. It is sometimes referred to as instrumental empathy because it serves only as a means to get what they want from others, and that is why it is called instrumental empathy. It is not only used by narcissists to win the trust, love, and affection of others, but also to manipulate and control them.

Now we need to talk about the type of empathy that narcissists can learn or possess, which is referred to as cognitive empathy. This means they can recognize and understand the emotional state of someone else, but that is it. They do not possess emotional or compassionate empathy, which would allow them to actually be caring or supportive. The insight they gain on your emotions is never to help anyone else but themselves. Knowing how you feel is what would allow them to cause the most damage possible. They do not use their ability to read your emotions to act appropriately, but rather to take advantage. The knowledge of knowing what makes you sad, mad, or glad is what allows them to keep you on an emotional roller coaster and gaslight you and play all these mind games to diminish your confidence and self-worth. We have to understand that narcissists have no emotional connections, and that is why they are not bothered or remorseful about any damage they cause.

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