Narcissism: A Deficit of Empathy?

Narcissism: A Deficit of Empathy?

Narcissists capture our attention with their larger-than-life presence, inflated sense of self, grandiose accomplishments, achievements, and status. But that is only one reason we can’t seem to stop focusing on them.

Narcissists also defy a fundamental principle of any relationship – reciprocity. Reciprocity is the act of responding in kind to oneanother. In a friendship, reciprocity occurs where the contribution of each person meets the expectations of the other.

The problem with narcissists is that they don’t have the empathy required to understand or respond to the needs of another person.

Part of the reason for this, suggests a study done by a team of scientists led by Privatdozent Dr. Stefan Röpke from the Charité Department of Psychiatry and Director of the personality disorders working group, is that that people suffering from narcissistic personality disorder were found to have structural abnormalities in the cerebral cortex, which is involved in the processing and generation of compassion. For patients with narcissism, this region of the cerebral cortex was markedly reduced in thickness compared to the control group (Röpke et al., 2013).

Explains Dr. Röpke, “Our data shows that the amount of empathy is directly correlated to the volume of gray brain matter of the corresponding cortical representation in the insular region, and that the patients with narcissism exhibit a structural deficit in exactly this area” (Röpke, 2013).

Research to date has also shown that narcissists’ empathy deficit, feelings of entitlement, and perceptions of being deprived of ‘deserved’ admiration and gratification can make them prone to aggression and vengeance – particularly toward heterosexual women (Keiller, 2010).

Even working for a narcissist can have detrimental effects. One study showed that those who work for leaders who display narcissistic traits had lower job satisfaction and scored higher on a clinical measure of depression. Also not only did employees’ well-being suffer, but incidents of counterproductive work behavior and workplace bullying were higher (Phillips et al, 2017).

It is not surprising then that, according to Abigail Phillips of the University of Manchester’s Business School, narcissistic bosses are also more likely to be workplace bullies and engage in power and control tactics to take advantage of others.

The good news is that there are constructive ways to interact with narcissists, set boundaries and mitigate the damage narcissists often cause to the well-being of those around them.

Click here to learn more.

Narcissism & Empathy DeficitsNarcissism & Empathy Deficits is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines narcissistic personalities and the traits that affect their ability to maintain satisfying personal relationships with others.

This course will address key ideas emerging from neuroscience about empathy and empathy deficits, because narcissism is essentially a problem of lack of empathy. Emotional intelligence, heritability, and factors thought to influence the onset of narcissism are also discussed. Diagnostic considerations for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are reviewed along with signs and symptoms, prevalence, characteristics, subtypes, comorbidity, and treatment options.

What’s more, it will help you discover constructive ways of interacting with destructive narcissistic traits, drawing on the latest international scientific research. Case examples illustrate scenarios of individuals with narcissistic personalities and show how their behavior, when left unchecked, impacts the lives and wellbeing of other people. Advice on setting interpersonal boundaries, dealing with verbal hostility, and finding ways to effectively deal with narcissists are also provided. Course #21-21 | 2018 | 35 pages | 15 posttest questions

This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. After enrolling, click on My Account and scroll down to My Active Courses. From here you’ll see links to download/print the course materials and take the CE test (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document).

Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

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