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6 Comments to
Can Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Psychopaths Feel Empathy, Sadness, or Remorse?

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  1. Darius,

    Very well done and very well researched. This fits with my clinical experiences
    in behavioral health of over 40 years and as a psychology professor X 13 years.

    Narcissistic personality disorder occupies a cluster considered “wild” along with histrionic, borderline, and antisocial. There are some who do not meet the full criteria but show degrees of these traits. I refer to them as antisocial personality orientations.

    Personality begins to show itself around the age of 3; is dynamically formed by numerous interactions with others; it begins to consolidate in our early 20’s; and becomes relatively fixed in our early 30’s. In my clinical experience these full-blown personality disorders are ego-syntonic, meaning persons are relatively
    OK being this way. And they are very challenging to work with in psychotherapy.

    Thanks much for your article,
    Rich, MSW

    • Thank you for your kind feedback, Richard! And thanks for sharing your professional observations.

      All the best!

  2. As one who has struggled with my own narcissistic past and the fallout from relationships with narcissists, I believe this is an important and objective “document” on the subject. Great work and Mr. Cikanavicius

  3. My six year old son’s dad fits these descriptions to the letter. At the end of our marriage, he admitted sex addiction. Some of his closest friends also see the narcissistic characteristics. In a nutshell: We had a twelve year relationship (5 dating, 7 married) 6+ prostitutes, 3 coworker affairs, and an ongoing 12 year affair with his first ex-wife (whom it turns out, he constantly cheated during their marriage as well). Yet, when I filed for divorce his story: he wanted to work on the marriage, I chose to end it–our divorce is my fault.
    He admits it is his fault, but yet there is no remorse or responsibility for what he has done. I could write a whole book…but I will stop here.

    My question: how do I protect my son!?! How do I deal with him and the narcissist behavior? We have 50/50 custody. Zero contact with him is NOT an option. My son is a fantastic, sweet little boy. He has historically been a fantastic negotiator…at some point does this turn into manipulator? Or is it just normal kid stuff?

    I have come across some great articles, including this one, describing narcissists but the articles stop short at how to deal with them. Advice and resource suggestions please!

    • Based on my 40+ years as a clinician in behavioral healthcare and 13 years as a psychology professor X 13 years, here are my suggestions.

      Right now your son is too young to filter his experiences with his father. Your son engages in primary process thinking which is more magical based. Around ages 9 to 10, he will show a shift to secondary process which becomes more realistic thinking. It is then the two of you can have discussions about his experiences with his father. And these discussions can continue thru adolescence when he exhibits critical thinking. In his early 20’s he will exhibit moral and executive thinking and see his father much more realistic.

      When I worked with young children I engaged them in mutual-story telling and used a clinical game called “Talking, Doing, Feeling”. At some point you may want to consult a child-adolescent psychotherapist.

      There are no other quick solutions here, and I hope this helps a little.
      Best to you and your son.
      Rich, MSW


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