Why I’m no longer going to troll-tweet Donald Trump.

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Since Donald Trump won the election, one of my favorite pastimes has been trolling him on his favorite social media platform, Twitter.    It’s a lot of fun dreaming up snappy and sarcastic counter-insults to his constant stream of inappropriate, crass, self-centered, angry, and fear-mongering tweets.  It’s even more fun when strangers Like them or retweet them to their followers.   I won’t lie — I get a little boost of self-esteem from that, and even though I know Donald Trump will probably never see the insults I send him, knowing others do and agree with me makes me feel a little, well, vindicated.   It also relieves the existential stress of his presidency just a little.

But troll-tweeting Donald Trump all the time is like shouting into an echo chamber.  It’s as useless as mindlessly switching channels on the remote control.   It isn’t going to change any minds or make anyone think.  It isn’t going to inspire or enlighten anyone.  In fact, sending Trump insults on a daily basis is really displaying exactly the same sort of hateful rhetoric the far right seems to have in excess — and which I’ve been seeing more of on the left too.

America is more polarized than I’ve ever seen it, maybe even since the Civil War.  We seem divided beyond repair.   The comments sections of political articles are war-zones and getting worse by the day.  Like slowing down to gape at a car wreck, I don’t want to see all the verbal bloodletting — but I can’t help myself.   I have to look.   What I see is sickening and scary.   All that hate is soul-eroding.   I don’t want to be a part of that anymore.

Jesus instructed us to pray for our enemies and turn the other cheek.  By that, he didn’t mean that we have to put up with hateful rhetoric, bullying, name-calling, and aggressive behavior.   It doesn’t mean we have to submit to forces that go against our most deeply held beliefs and morals.  Far from it!  What I think he meant is that we have to fight our enemies a different way — by trying to muster up some empathy, a quality their side seems to have very little of these days.   Narcissism with its accompanying lack of empathy and sense of entitlement is exactly what got our nation into the sorry mess it’s in now.   It’s our national disease and maybe that’s why everyone is so obsessed with narcissism lately.  Trump is merely the mirror forcing us to look at ourselves, and the reflection is ugly and painful.    His presidency is the logical conclusion of where we’ve been headed as a nation for 40 years.   We finally hit our bottom.  We got exactly what we deserved.

But it’s not hopeless.

I think the antidote is for those of us who are willing or able to try to counteract that by showing exactly the qualities that are held in such low esteem these days.   We need to stop fighting fire with fire — and maybe with water instead.  Try to understand, even if we do not agree.   It might take a long time, but at least it’s a beginning.

This doesn’t mean enabling those who wish to destroy us or our democracy.  God, no.  But it does mean realizing the far-right hate-mongers are angry and scared. They’re acting out the way they do because they are are so afraid of everything outside their own warped reality.   We should pity them instead of hating them.

They fear their savior will be revealed soon as the fraud, criminal and charlatan he really is.   That’s why they’re lashing out at resisters now with extra vehemence and rage, even threatening to start Civil War II on his behalf (if you doubt me on this, type #civilwar on Twitter.  There may be civil war.  Some of them are talking about forming militias.   I don’t know how serious these threats are.  But I do know that with the external threats we’re facing right now with North Korea and China, the last thing we need is a civil war.  We can’t stay strong against outside enemies if we’re weak from within, and right now, we are ready to shatter like a cheap wine glass.

Trump is encouraging his far right supporters to act the way they do because he is terrified of being indicted.   He is acting very guilty — and he very likely is guilty.  His aggressive behavior at his rallies and hate-mongering  is intended to distract from Russia and his other probable illegal activities and scare us into submission.

We can’t submit to Trump or his supporters because that’s what they want from us.   They want us to fear them as much as they fear the truth.   If we back down, they will win.  That cannot happen!   But at the same time, we also shouldn’t fight them back using their weapon of hatred either.   We should lead by example and show them there’s a better way — a way out of the darkness that will bring us back together as a nation again.

Remember those WWJD bracelets that were so popular back in the ’90s?   Those days seem very far away now.   I wish more Christians tried to act like Jesus, but so many now preach values that are the polar opposite of what he taught.

So I like to pretend I’m back in the 1990s and ask myself, “what would Jesus do?”

I’m sure he wouldn’t troll-tweet Donald Trump.

When I started this blog, I wrote mostly about narcissistic abuse. I was enraged at the narcissists who had tried — but failed — to kill my soul.   In the early days, I wrote blog posts filled with rage and hatred toward narcissists, but eventually I moved away from that.  I went through a phase where I tried to understand their way of thinking instead (which enraged some other narc-abuse bloggers) but that was the only way I could begin to see my own narcissism and how it was holding me back.    I’ve been working on that and trying to become a better person.   I feel like it’s working, and now I’m ready for bigger things.

In a way I feel like I’m going through that process again.   I’m past hating on Trump and his supporters.   It’s time to move on.   There’s too much hate in the world.  Why add to it?

So, I decided I’m not going to troll-tweet Trump anymore even though it’s fun, sometimes ego-boosting,  and relieves stress.   I will keep on sharing relevant articles, studies, memes, and blog posts that state what I believe is the truth.  But even more importantly, I’m going to pray that some people on the other side may be cured of their truth-blindness.   In fact, I’m already doing that.  That’s the best way we can love our enemies.

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Rich people are more narcissistic and less ethical.

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Time Magazine published several articles citing studies showing that the wealthy are more narcissistic and less ethical than average folks.

Wealthy Selfies:  How Being Rich Increases Narcissism

Why The Rich Are Less Ethical:  They See Greed as Good

The Rich are Different: More Money, Less Empathy

Contrary to popular belief, the rich give less of their income to charity than even poor people, by percentage of income.   The poor are more, not less, likely to be grateful and less, not more, likely to feel entitled than the rich.

I think these articles explain a lot about our current government, which is full of narcissistic, unethical, even criminal billionaires, their wealthy donors (The Koch Brothers, the Mercers, Russian oligarchs, and others) and the apparently unlimited power they wield.   Great wealth, insatiable greed and a sense of entitlement is what has allowed these people to take control of all three branches of government and gerrymander state elections.  Sure, both parties are corrupt and there are rich donors on the left too (the alt-right loves to scream about George Soros), but they haven’t had nearly the influence the donors on the GOP side have had, and at least their donations are transparent — they don’t hide behind front organizations the way the Kochs or the Mercers do.   We must get the money out of politics now.

Trump’s budget, repealing the ACA, the triumph of evil, and the rebirth of community spirit.

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I absolutely hate Trump’s projected budget, as well as Trump’s Obamacare replacement, which although is nearly universally hated  not only on the left but on the right too (albeit for different reasons), is likely to pass this Thursday when Congress votes on it.

This administration not only wants to repeal Obamacare and take from the poor and middle class to give more tax breaks to the rich, they also want to eliminate (not just cut) the EPA, as well as Meals on Wheels (which help many disabled elderly and half a million disabled VETERANS), after school programs that help single moms, free legal services that help the poor in civil cases, federal grant programs for colleges, the NEH and NEA (both which promote arts and culture to the masses for free or nearly free), NPR (the only place on the radio where I can get the factual news while I’m driving), PBS (how can anyone hate Sesame Street? Really?), and many,many other programs that help families, and the poor and middle class.  Not only that, but they want to privatize public education, making it impossible for the poor or those who live in rural areas to send their children to school at all.  A voucher just isn’t going to cut it for these people, many of whom voted for Trump.   Next I expect they’ll try to repeal the child labor laws.  “Send those kids whose parents can’t afford to send them to school to work to teach them about the value of hard labor,” they’ll say.   “Let’s make America great again — like it was in 1900.”

Let’s stop kidding ourselves by making excuses like “more jobs will be created” and “taking away entitlements will force people to be self reliant.”   Nearly 40 years of trickle down economics has shown it does not work.  It doesn’t create more jobs and the money funneled to the top doesn’t trickle down to the most vulnerable Americans whose poverty, illness, or advanced age is almost never their own fault.   It’s become popular to blame them though for all the nation’s ills, instead of the greedy corporations and billionaires who keep taking and taking and taking and seem to be voracious in their need for more and more tax breaks and perks.     This is typical “blame the victim” mentality on a national scale.  Their greed and narcissism is off the charts and is destroying our country. The destruction or privating of everything good about America, and destroying its people and the environment we live in is exactly what they plan to do.

It’s time to face the ugly truth about this presidency.  I believe this budget (and the repeal and “replacement” of Obamacare) is actually an intentional death sentence for the so called “nonproducers” — the most vulnerable members of society — the poor, old, disabled, and sick.   Remove their only hope for healthcare, then take away all the popular programs that fill in the gaps and help many of these vulnerable people have better lives, keep them alive, and keep them from becoming totally ignorant. Many will die.  Those who don’t die  or suffer with chronic medical or mental conditions will be faced with lives so difficult and painful they may be forced to suicide.  But this administration doesn’t care.   In fact, letting the vulnerable people kill themselves off is probably what they want.   They are evil.   They want people to suffer. They want “the little people” to have nothing.  They don’t even want us to have clean air or drinking water.  They don’t care.

Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will be next.   What will happen to all the elderly, disabled, and sick who rely on these programs? What will happen to the nursing home residents who rely on Medicaid to cover their expenses?  Guess they’ll all be tossed out in the streets and be forced to move in with their adult children, whether those children have the means to take care of them or not.   If they don’t have adult children to care for them, they will die lonely, painful deaths with no one to care.

Yet these same far right conservatives wring their hands and shed tears over the unborn.  Once you’re born though, it’s “bootstraps, baby!”  Your child is sick?  You shouldn’t have gotten pregnant.   Don’t have the money to buy health insurance for your child?   It’s not our problem!

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It’s all because they want to keep everything for themselves.  They decry socialism as the ultimate evil and tell lies about long wait times in European countries who have universal healthcare and other social programs that help their people.  But I don’t know one European or Canadian who complains about having to pay higher taxes in exchange for having decent healthcare.   In fact, every one I know is very happy with their single payer healthcare, and feel very sorry for us that we don’t have it.   They wonder what is wrong with us that we still think healthcare should be for profit and don’t share their philosophy that “wer’re all in this together.”

I would be more than happy to pay higher taxes for single payer healthcare.  I sure as heck would rather pay taxes for programs that help people and cultural enrichment programs like the NEH and PBS and NPR  than I would for a ridiculous, unnecessary wall or for even further buildup of the military and nuclear weapons than we already have.

They say socialism is evil, but they are hypocrites.   They believe in socialism alright — socialism and welfare for the wealthy and for corporations (remember, corporations are people!); but rugged individualism for everyone else.   These people have no empathy.  They have no conscience.  They are morally bankrupt.  Their hearts are black and shriveled like prunes.  You can see it in their hard, cold, dead eyes and cruel smiles.

What they really are trying to do is thin the herd and create a banana republic that cares only about the wealthy 1% and f*ck you if you aren’t one of them.

But there’s a plus side to this.  People will be so outraged if this budget (and the ACA replacement) goes through and these programs are abolished that charitable giving and community spirit will increase to levels we have never seen. Many corporations, celebrities (almost all who are liberals), and other compassionate wealthy people (they do exist!) will set up funds to fill the vast hole left by the Republicans or to fund the dying programs so they stay in existence — or create new ones. Grass roots organizations and community organizations will spring up to help their neighbors and fellow citizens. There will also be backlash from the left the likes of which has never been seen before, and Republicans are nearly guaranteed not to win another election.

Within the ruins these hardline conservatives leave in their wake, emerging from the ashes they leave behind of a once great nation that cared about the common people both here and around the world–the proverbial phoenix will rise again.  People will start to take care of each other again, because we will have no other choice.

Rich people see the world differently.

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I’ve long noticed that middle, working class and lower middle class families seem to care more about each other and show more empathy and generosity to each other than upper middle class and wealthy families, who often seem cold and unsupportive, even to their own. Many upper middle class families, including my own, seem to take the “sink or swim” attitude even to their own children. They refuse to offer either emotional or financial support when you fall on hard times. Their attitude is, each man or woman is an island and no one is responsible for you but yourself. They don’t seem to believe in lending a helping hand when one of their members falls down or is having difficulty. In fact, too many seem likely to kick that person when they’re down and blame the victim for their troubles. “Well, if she had only done this or that,” or “she never listened and this is what she gets,” or “well, she always made such poor choices.” If you’re not doing well, they seem embarrassed or ashamed of you and may even exclude or shun you.

In middle to lower-class families, there just seems to be more empathy and understanding and emotional support shown to other family members who are having difficulties. They seem more likely to listen without judging or shaming, and will even try to help financially when they can, even though they might not be able to afford to.

Of course, this isn’t an ironclad rule. There are many well to do families who are very emotionally supportive and empathic to one another, and may also give generously to charity. There are also many dysfunctional lower class families who treat other family members horribly. But the class differences in empathy is a pattern I’ve noticed, especially as someone who came from one of these cold as ice upper middle class families. I think narcissism runs rampant in the upper middle class even more than the truly wealthy, who are more secure in their status. In my own family (we were far from rich, but I suppose we were solidly upper middle class), I might as well have been an orphan, for all the “love and support” I got from them over the years. Now I’m a source of shame for most of them. Oh well, too bad. I feel like I’m a better person than they are because I don’t judge people based on their physical appearance, financial status, or job title.  I look at what’s inside, or at least I try to.

I thought it was just me, but apparently there is empirical evidence that supports the idea that rich people are less empathic and care more about themselves while the less wealthy feel more like “we’re all in this together.”   This article from NYMag.com  explains the research behind this finding.

Rich People Literally See The World Differently

By Drake Baer, for NYmag.com

http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/02/how-rich-people-see-the-world-differently.html

The way you view the world depends on the culture you come from — in a granular, second-by-second sense. If you present a Westerner and an East Asian with the same visual scene, for instance, the former is more likely to focus on individual objects, and the latter will likely take in more of the scene as a whole. East Asians are more holistic in their thinking, the research indicates; Westerners are more analytic.

The same thing is happening with people who are from the same country, but belong to different social classes. With America’s top one percent of earners earning 81 times the average of the bottom 50 percent, the research shows how the wealthy and the working classes really do live in different cultures, and thus see the world in different ways.

One of the most powerful examples come from Michael Varnum, a neuroscientist at Arizona State University. In a 2015 paper on empathy, he and his colleagues recruited 58 participants for a brain-imaging study: First, the participants filled out a self-report on their social class (level of parents’ education, family income, and the like) before sitting down for an EEG session. In the brain-imaging task, participants were shown neutral and pained faces while they were told to look for something else (the faces were a “distractor,” in the psych argot, so hopefully the participants wouldn’t know they were being tested for empathy).

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Read the rest of this article here.

 

Why empaths and narcissists seem to need each other.

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Credit: Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed

The concept of narcissism and HSP (highly sensitive person) or empathic traits coexisting in the same person is a matter that has very little research behind it, but I definitely think there is a strong case to be made for it. Hear me out before you hit the backspace key. I actually think it’s at the core of why empaths and narcissists are so uncannily drawn to each other.

In my article A Match Made in Hell: Narcissists and HSPs, I wrote about the tendency for narcissists and HSPs to form trauma-bonds with each other–that’s really just a fancy way of saying these two seemingly opposite types of people are often attracted to each other and form codependent relationships.

The trauma bond.

The narcissist is both attracted to and envious of the empath’s vulnerability and high empathy. They are attracted to it for a very simple reason:  they need it badly. As children, narcissists failed to be mirrored or loved unconditionally by their parents, and are love-starved, even though they’d rather die than ever admit it.   The empath, in turn, is able to love the narcissist without condition, to the point of allowing themselves to be sucked dry.

Narcissists also envy the empath’s ability to love unconditionally because on some level, usually unconsciously but sometimes consciously, they know they jettisoned their own ability to love and feel empathy a long time ago in order to survive.  Most were highly sensitive children but shamed for it.  Many were bullied.   So they learned to bury their emotions behind an invulnerable facade because continuing to be so vulnerable hurt too much. Empathy may be a gift, and I think most narcissists were born with that gift, but were never shown how to use it and were punished for having it.  It became a curse instead of a blessing, so they sent the gift into exile and shored up a false self to make sure it never saw the light of day again.

Knowing they jettisoned their ability to access their own vulnerability, combined with a continued starvation for unconditional love and acceptance, is what draws narcissists to empaths. They abuse the empath, either consciously or unconsciously, because they hate the fact they need their love so badly, and the empath’s sensitivity also unconsciously reminds them of their own sensitivity that caused them so much pain. It’s a constant reminder of the shame they felt as children for being so sensitive, but they also can’t live without it. So they punish the empath for reminding them of their own “weakness” and making them feel so needy.

The narcissist, in their neediness and simultaneous resentment of being so needy, feeds off the empath like a vampire. If they are malignant, they don’t care that they’re destroying the very person who gives them a reason to live. They may even get some satisfaction in knowing they are punishing them. If the narcissist is not malignant, they may feel some guilt over what they do to  the person who gives them so much love, but be unable to stop doing it. Or more often, they aren’t even aware they are doing it. They just seem like a bottomless well that can’t get enough and keeps on demanding more.

Of course such a relationship is extremely unhealthy, even deadly, for the empath, who will eventually either leave the narcissist or be completely sucked dry or in the worst cases even destroyed. But the empath does gets something important out of the relationship too. They truly believe that through their unconditional love, they are saving the narcissist from him or herself.

Common roots.

Empaths and narcissists often both come from abusive or dysfunctional families. Both started life as highly sensitive children. But at some point they diverged. While the empath embraced their own vulnerability and learned how to use their gift to help others and find joy and authentic connection with others, the narcissist rejected it because it seemed more like a curse and made them feel too much pain. If they were never shown any empathy or were shamed for being too sensitive, it’s understandable why they might have rejected their own empathy and covered it over with a facade of toughness.

Why are empaths drawn to narcissists?

Empaths, like narcissists, often have narcissistic parents, and are unconsciously drawn to those who remind them of their parents or perhaps a sibling or other close family member.  They are naturally drawn to those who seem to need healing, and in embarking on a relationship with a narcissist, they are unconsciously attempting to heal their parent or other family member. This is why empaths so often become codependent to narcissists.

Empaths are able to see through the facade the narcissist presents to the world, to their hidden true self. They can see the hurt, abandoned child that lives inside every narcissist. They truly believe they can “fix” them and transform them into authentic, feeling humans capable of returning what they have been given. Of course, this belief is almost guaranteed to end in disappointment (if the empath is lucky), and possibly much worse. For a narcissist to change and stop the pattern of abuse, the desire to do so must come from inside of them. They must be willing to drop their mask of invulnerability and do the hard work of reclaiming the vulnerability they were born with and gave up a long time ago. The empath can’t make a narcissist want to change. Just because they can see through to the sensitive true self doesn’t mean they will be able to draw him or her out. They can die trying, but it probably won’t work. The unwilling, un-self-aware (or malignant) narcissist is likely to punish them for trying.

Failed empaths?

There may even be a genetic connection between narcissism and those who become empaths. I’ll go out on a limb and even speculate that they might even be the same thing–the narcissist being a “failed empath.  It’s ironic but I definitely think there’s a connection.

But how can that be? Narcissists are incapable of empathy, have problems feeling and expressing deep emotions, and are incapable of loving anyone but themselves. Isn’t that the opposite of being an empath?

Well, yes and no. The explanation is complicated, so I hope you stay with me here.

As I’ve explained before, I think most narcissists began life as highly sensitive people who at an early age suffered trauma due to abuse. This caused them to shut off their too-vulnerable true (authentic) selves from the world and in its place construct an elaborate defense mechanism–the false self–initially meant to protect the vulnerable true self from further harm, which has no defenses at all. Even empaths who are not narcissists have some protective psychological armor, so they did not need to construct a false self to take the place of the true one. Healthy empaths are truly authentic people who feel deeply and are emotionally honest with themselves and others. Narcissists were born with no emotional defenses at all; the false self replaces the true one and appears invulnerable. But this is only an illusion. When you face a narcissist, you will never know who that person really is because all they will show you is the protective mask they have created. They are so terrified of being hurt again that they will attack with vicious ferocity if they think you pose any threat to its flimsy underpinnings. It must be a terrifying way to live.

The high sensitivity of a narcissist is retained in the way they react to personal insults or slights. They overreact when they feel like they are being attacked, ignored, or they perceive their source of narcissistic supply may be in danger. They are paranoid, touchy, and often lack a sense of humor about themselves. They may try to appear as if they don’t care, but if you know narcissism, it’s usually not too hard to see the emotional fragility behind their defenses and acts of false bravado. When it comes to other people, they can seem incredibly insensitive.

Narcissists who aren’t high on the spectrum and become self aware may be able to reclaim emotional empathy toward others, because empathy is a skill that can be learned.  A forum member on the NPD board I read (who has NPD) described something that happened with her husband that warmed my heart.  She said he had hurt her feelings, and she caught herself about to attack him.  She felt her defenses go up, but instead of acting out, she decided to NOT act out and just allow herself to feel the hurt.  Instead of attacking him as she normally would have, she cried.   He put his arms around her and she allowed herself to be held and comforted, to feel vulnerable and cared for.   She said at first she felt awkward and uncomfortable, but the next time it happened, she felt less uncomfortable.  Now allowing herself to be loved is becoming second nature and she says she is starting to feel some tenderness toward him too, and even moments of a new feeling that she thinks is real love, a warm feeling not based on getting supply from him or bolstering her ego.   So I think empathy takes practice.  If you were born with it, you don’t lose it, but it may be hard to access and takes a conscious effort to learn to reclaim and use.

But before a narcissist can really get better and feel empathy toward others, they first need to develop self-compassion (this is NOT the same as self-pity, but is actually empathy for the rejected child-self). They must also be courageous enough to stay in treatment and confront and release the traumatic feelings that lie hidden beneath the mask.

This usually only happens when the narcissist hits rock bottom and suffers a massive loss of supply, sending them into a depression.  At that point they may enter therapy or realize the problems they have are because of themselves.   The problem with this is once things begin to improve or they begin to feel better again, they are likely to leave therapy because the work to get to their authentic self is too painful.    It takes an enormous amount of motivation, courage and positive thinking for a narcissist to stay in therapy long enough to begin to access their true self and embrace their own vulnerability.  It can be done, but it’s not easy.

For malignant narcissists though, things are very different.  Stay with me here because things are about to get complicated.

The connection between malignant narcissism and high sensitivity.

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Warm and cold empathy.

In my research about NPD, there has been a lot of discussion about a concept called “cold” empathy.   Most of us associate narcissism with a lack of empathy, but this isn’t exactly the case. Most narcissists–especially malignant ones–do have empathy, but it’s not emotional or affective empathy; it’s cognitive or “cold” empathy. What this means is that a narcissist KNOWS what you are feeling, and may use what they know you are feeling against you. Cold empathy is “felt” on the cognitive (thinking) level, but not as an emotion, and that is why the narcissist can feel no compunctions about turning your feelings against you in order to punish or hurt you.

An extreme example of this would be the sadistic, psychopathic rapist. The rapist “smells” your fear and uses that against you to become even more sadistic. It *is* empathy, but it’s “cold”–the rapist understands exactly what you are feeling and your fear makes him feel powerful, so he increases the level of torment. He feeds off your fear like a vulture feeds on carrion. You don’t need to tell him you’re afraid; he KNOWS. He just doesn’t care and even derives pleasure from it.

Cold empathy is the twisted mirror image of warm empathy, which non-pathological people are capable of feeling on an emotional, not just a cognitive level. HSPs and empaths have an excess of warm empathy.  Here’s where things get complicated. If a narcissist is also a failed empath, their high sensitivity could morph into a quality that seems almost supernatural and is utterly chilling–a cold, sadistic form of “empathy” where they seem to be able to see into your mind. A non-sensitive person would not be able to detect your emotions without you telling them how you feel, and therefore not have that creepy, unsettling way of “seeing into your soul” that the malignant narcissist does. So, the higher the sensitivity a narcissist has (and the more the “warm” empathy has been shut out or turned “cold”), the more malignant they will be.

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Malignant narcissism is high on the HSP spectrum.
Credit: http://dondepresso.rujic.net/post/116940034025/manic-chart-narcautism-spectrum

This idea was actually illustrated in the humorous-but-true graph (shown above), where initially I wondered why malignant narcissism was showing so high in empathic/HSP traits. But actually it makes perfect sense. An empath who adopts narcissism as a way to cope and whose warm empathy all turns cold will become malignant. A less sensitive person (or a highly sensitive person who still retains some warm empathy) may still become a narcissist, but they won’t become malignant. Of course, at their core, all narcissists are highly sensitive. They just don’t want you to know.

In summary, then, empaths and HSPs can be the most kind and caring people you can ever hope to meet–or the most dangerous. A narcissistic empath is definitely someone you’d want to avoid.

They are two sides of the same coin. The tragedy is that a malignant narcissist can destroy a previously healthy empath, but it doesn’t work the other way around: a non-narcissistic empath can’t change a malignant narcissist into a good person.

*****

Further reading:

Narcissists and Empaths: The Ego Dynamic

Can you have too much empathy?

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Believe it or not, the answer is “Yes”! But it really shouldn’t be too surprising, since people with high empathy are also highly sensitive, and since they feel everything so keenly, sometimes the negative emotions surrounding them can drag them into a depressive state.

A friend who reads this blog sent me this article, thinking it could possibly explain the depressive state I’ve been in. While I’m not sure that’s the reason I’ve been so down, it’s still an interesting article and should bring some clarity to HSPs and empaths who are feeling inexplicably depressed. If you are an HSP or an empath, think about whether you’ve been exposed to negative people or people who are going through bad experiences or suffering depression. You might have picked up on the emotions of others.

Empathy is a wonderful trait to have but having too much of it can hurt its bearer. At some point, you can even suffer from “empathy burnout,” which basically means you shut off your ability to feel empathy after you’ve been drained emotionally by giving too much of yourself to others. Empathy burnout is common in people in the helping professions, many who are naturally empathetic. After a few years, they may find themselves no longer able to empathize with the people they help, and even beginning to resent them. That’s why there’s so much attrition in these professions.

I think practicing mindfulness is a good skill, not only for people with C-PTSD and personality disorders, but also for empaths and HSPs who may have too much of a good thing!

Here is the article she sent me.   It also explains the differences between empathy and sympathy.  (They are not the same thing!)  Sympathy is more detached and cognitive; even narcissists can feel sympathy, though they might have a limited capacity to feel emotional empathy.

Exploring Hyper-Empathy Syndrome

Why Trotting Out the Tropes Makes Us Feel Hollow

A friend called me the other day frustrated about a situation that happened at work.  She was upset and angry, and as she told the story, she asked me, “Don’t you hate it when people sa…

Source: Why Trotting Out the Tropes Makes Us Feel Hollow

The narcissist’s dark and twisted brand of empathy.

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Do narcissists have empathy?  Yes, and some of them have a lot of it, but it’s probably not the kind of empathy you want anything to do with.

Some lower spectrum narcissists do have some capacity for normal emotional (not just cognitive) empathy, but it tends to be selective–that is, they can turn it off when it’s too dangerous or it makes them feel too vulnerable. That’s why, for example, a low-to-mid spectrum narcissist can feel empathy for fictional characters in a movie or novel and even shed tears for them, or can feel empathy for a stray or sick animal, but when you tell them you just lost your job, or that what they just said hurt your feelings, they turn into a block of ice. Their reaction to your pain is about as heartwarming as the Siberian wilderness in January. If they’re love-bombing or trying to hoover you, they may FAKE emotional empathy, but they don’t really feel anything.  They show you what appears to be tender compassion in order to manipulate.

It’s not news that most narcissists are ultra-sensitive, but their sensitivity is retained only for themselves, and that’s why they are so easily offended. But that sensitivity seems to have a switch that turns to “off” when it comes to other people and they can appear appallingly insensitive. Many narcissists were so sensitive as children they were actually potentially empaths. Their empathy didn’t really go away, but remained in a twisted and barbed form. Their developing disorder transformed their natural emotional empathy into something dark and malevolent. Some experts call he kind of empathy narcissists have cognitive empathy–which means the narcissist KNOWS how you feel, but can’t share your feelings or care how you feel. If they are malignant or sociopathic, they may even want to hurt you. Because most of their emotions went into hiding as a form of self protection, the emotional, caring aspect of any empathy they might have once had disappeared too, and what remains is only the cognitive portion. Narcissists have an uncanny and unsettling way of knowing EXACTLY how you feel–and if they are malignant, they use their twisted brand of empathy against you. For a malignant narcissist, empathy–a quality we normally associate with loving concern–becomes a weapon used to control, attack, and belittle you.

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Cognitive empathy.

On HG Tudor’s website, Knowing The Narcissist, he wrote a post about the way some narcissists mock their victims using mimicry of their emotional reactions as a form of abuse. I am going to quote a portion of that post, because of how well it illustrates the way a malignant narcissist uses cognitive empathy as a weapon to cause pain. It’s quite amazing how well they know EXACTLY how their abuse is making you feel, but instead of feeling remorse and apologizing the way a normal person would, they instead use that knowing empathy as fodder for their mockery cannon. My ex did this to me constantly, and Tudor’s description of the victim’s feelings of overwhelming helplessness and frustration at the receiving end of this type of abuse is absolutely spot on.
WARNING: THIS MAY BE TRIGGERING.

When you stood there crying with frustration and I drank deep of the delicious fuel you provided me, I would raise my hands to my eyes and draw pretend tears on my cheeks and make a sobbing noise to humiliate you further. Here I was letting you know that I copied everything that went before yet now I copy again but not with the perfection I once exhibited. I allow the sting of sarcasm and the malicious mockery to infiltrate my copying of your behaviour so that your hurt and bewilderment was increased. You would shout at me and I would shout back using the exact words before standing and laughing at you as you burned with frustration, unable to find any response. You might stamp your feet in exasperation and I would do the same but with a leer of disdain writ large across my face.

There were times when you would scream. A terrified scream as my vicious manipulations would take their toll and as you tried to curl into a ball and hope you might just disappear and escape this nightmare, I would lean in close to you and mimic your scream into your ear, creating this fabricated falsetto of distress in order to further your own. Every reaction to my devaluation of you had the potential to be met by a mimicked reply from me in order to further your misery and demonstrate I did not treat your responses with any sincerity or concern.

Another way a narcissist can use cognitive empathy is to scope out your vulnerabilities–knowing exactly which buttons to press to upset you. In the comments, Katie provided a great example of this. Her mother, who scapegoated her and knew she was sensitive about her poverty, used this against her, saying things like, “Oh, Katie dear, it must be SOOOOO hard to be living the way you do and never have enough money for the basic things.” And then followed that up by crowing about how successful her siblings were and the vacations and new cars they were buying. My mother used to use my sensitivity itself, knowing I was sensitive about my sensitivity, saying things like, “It must be so awful being so sensitive.” What’s happening here is a kind of fake, sarcastic “empathy” is thinly veiling a cruel jab at one of your buttons, which their cognitive empathy is used to discern. And then, should you complain, they will act all hurt and innocent and tell you they were only trying to be nice or were showing concern for your well being. This is a vicious kind of gaslighting.

Please keep in mind that cognitive empathy in itself is not a bad thing.  It could be a tool used in mindfulness training to help a person learn to “walk in someone else’s shoes” before acting out against them.  Cognitive empathy can be learned, but emotional empathy cannot be taught–it’s either there or it isn’t.  Most empaths have both cognitive and emotional empathy.  Cognitive empathy lets them know how someone else feels, but the emotional aspect allows them to care.