Do narcissists have empathy

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

The various types of Narcissists

Let me begin this article by telling you about a study where some Narcissists were asked to read a document written by someone who suffered from a severe break up.

As expected most of the Narcissists did not feel empathy for the person who broke up even though the person was describing a horrible experience.

So does this mean that Narcissists have no empathy?
No that's not 100% correct.

Narcissists have a reputation for having no empathy at all. The presence of many studies that show that Narcissists can sometimes have no empathy have made them seem like people who can never feel the suffering of others but that's not correct.

First of all there is a very big scale of Narcissism that people fall within. This means that there are people who are extremely high on Narcissism and people who are low on Narcissism. Of course the less of a Narcissist a person is the more empathy they will have for others. See also How to spot a Narcissist

Do narcissists have empathy

One of the things few people know about Narcissists is that they can empathize with the people who have been through their same problems.

This means that even a high Narcissist can empathize with someone just because they felt the pain of that person before. Contrary to common beliefs Narcissists can empathize with people and feel their pain but this empathy is usually a selective empathy. See Why do we have empathy for certain people but not others

While a typical Narcissist might have a problem empathizing with someone going through a bad experience they can still have lots of empathy for people who are going through the same type of suffering they have been through before.

For example a typical Narcissist might hardly empathize with someone who has severe depression until they develop a severe depression themselves. Only then the Narcissist will be able to see the other side of the story and they can have a lot of empathy for that person. See also Can a narcissist fall in love

How a Narcissist can become a normal person

Theoretically if a Narcissist was put through a great amount of suffering then they are very likely to develop a high empathy for people and so they might become less Narcissistic.

In my previous article How i got over narcissism i explained how i have been through this experience myself. Back in year 2002 i was a typical Narcissist the way it's described in books.

After that phase of my life i have been through so much suffering that i started to feel the suffering of others. I did not only develop normal empathy but i actually developed more empathy for others than the average person.

So to answer the question yes for sure Narcissists can develop empathy and even give up a big part of their Narcissism. But for that to happen the Narcissist must go through some serious life events that would allow them to feel the pain of other people.

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