Cold Empathy Garners Narcissistic Supply (Edwin Rutsch and Sam Vaknin)

Uploaded 9/7/2013, approx. 52 minute read

See the world through other people's eyes.

Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.

So, Sam, you write and speak about narcissism and psychopathy, and you write articles, books, you've done some videos, you have a website on narcissism and psychopathy, you've got a book called Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, and you were featured in a documentary, I Psychopath, and you were kind of like the star of that.

We've done a couple interviews, two interviews so far, and what I want to do in this here is to actually have a dialogue with you, and what we've been doing is something called Empathy Circles, and it's using the Carl Rogers approach to empathic listening, where Carl Rogers would, I don't know if you're familiar with Carl Rogers, he was a famous psychiatrist in the United States, and he would use an empathic listening approach with his clients, as he would call them, and he would do reflective empathic listening with them, and I thought it would be interesting if you and I would have a dialogue around what our needs are for empathy, and use the empathic listening approach, in that as you say something, you can share whatever is coming up for you, and I will reflect it to the best of my abilities to hear, really hear, until you feel satisfied that I'm hearing what you say, and then I'll respond or share something, and you can reflect until I feel fully heard, and I was just wondering, like you're saying you're a narcissist with psychopathic tendencies, I'm just wondering what the effect will be, what the experience will be if we have this mutual empathic listening approach.

So does that sound doable for you?

I will gladly submit myself to being mirrored and reflected and so on, I think I might find it a bit difficult to apply the same to you, the previous two encounters between us haven't been interviews in the classical sense, they will be stretching the word too thin, they have been dialogues actually, the second one has been a dialogue, the first one has been a furious debate, but they've both been interactive and we equally contributed to both, in this one the third one, you're asking me to deploy an asset which I do not possess, I may be able to reflect back at you syntactical and grammatical structures, I may be able to cure words and recombine them so as to elicit from you emotional and other reactions, but I think in the absence of true empathy, in the absence of the emotional component and correlate, it won't work.

Okay, so I'm hearing that you're willing to give it a try and that in our first interviews that we did...

There is a major delay in some.

Yeah, there's a major delay so we're going to have to give it a lot of space between speaking because you're in Macedonia and I'm in California and there's low bandwidth there in Macedonia, so just to give anyone an understanding of why there's such a lag with the audio.

So you're saying that in our first, we've had two calls, the first one was more of a debate you felt and the second one was just a real dialogue and that you're willing to give this a try, but you're feeling that you might be able to syntactically reflect what I'm saying, but you won't have the real emotional reflection, is what I was hearing.

So yeah, just to continue, I thought we would just talk about what our needs are for empathy, or we can talk about whatever comes up for you if there is...


Why don't we discuss the word empathy?

We mentioned in our first interview, it turned to confrontation, it was the first one, second one was much better, but we mentioned the first one that empathy is an English rendering of einführen, the German word, which is precise to some extent.

And we also mentioned that einführen in German had to do with the appreciation of art, with the aesthetics of art, with the ability of the spectator to project himself into the frame of mind of the artist.

But the word empathy itself, the etymology of the word, comes from Greek, not from German.

Empathy is a combination of prefix and word in Greek, and the word is pathe, which in Greek means to emote, to feel, but it also means to suffer, to be in great pain, to be tortured.

So empathy means the ability to commiserate, the ability to experience other people's negative emotions, suffering, torture, pain, at least etymologically.

Of course, since then the word has developed to engulf other emotions, including positive emotions.

But it's telling that the etymological source of the word has to do with the negativity in life, with the ordeal of life, with hell, that life is.

Okay so you're wanting to first, before we kind of get into the dialogue, you're wanting to look at what the word empathy means, and you're referring to the etymology of it, from the German einfühlen, that the word was brought into English as empathy, and it's based on the Greek.

And it's dealing with commiserating together, relating to em, pathe, I guess is, I'm not quite sure with that, it's feeling.

So if the etymology is not necessarily how the word is actually used now, but you're just saying it's important to look at what the meaning, the original meaning of the word is.

Yes, because there is a choice of words, there is a choice of words in Greek.

The people who invented the word empathy in the 19th century, the middle of the 19th century, they brought it into, imported it into English, they would have chosen another word, they didn't have to choose the word pathe, which is essentially a very negative word, pathe in Greek means mainly suffering, torture, and so the people who signified hate, and suffering, and torture, it's a very curious, that denotes love, you know, why didn't they coin a word which means to feel the love of another person? Why did they coin a word that says to feel the suffering of another person?

So I think it would explain why narcissists, for instance, lack empathy.

If empathy is about resonating with someone else's pain, narcissists can't do that because they are the products of pain.

Narcissists are the very set outcomes of abuse, mainly in childhood, but not only in childhood, by parents, peers, role models, so they are the residue of pain.

It's very difficult, they have engulfed themselves, they have encased themselves in narcissistic defense precisely in order not to feel pain.

So narcissism is about being immune to pain.

Maybe narcissists would not like to experience someone else's pain, or to translate it from Greek, they would not like to be empathic.

So it's an interesting path, in my view.

Physiology leads us to psychopathology.

So you're really looking at the word empathy saying that it's about being aware of pain and that narcissists, maybe through childhood, they've kind of suppressed the pain, or they don't want to feel the pain, and narcissism is about suppressing pain, and that's what's kind of inhibiting the empathy, because they just don't want to feel their own pain or the pain of others, either.

Yes, they're being averse.


Pain averse.

And being empathic, being empathic means also feeling other people's pain, sharing in their pain, sharing in their predicament, existential predicament, and narcissists don't want that.

Narcissists invented the false self, narcissists invent these defense mechanisms, complicated perimeter offenses, fending off pain, because as children they've been exposed to tremendous unendurable amounts of pain and agony, and so they have developed this shell, this cocoon, which isolates them from the environment, especially the human environment.

Humans are sources of pain. Humans are like beacons of pain, and they are averse to humans because they are averse to pain, therefore they are not empathic, and the Greek's root of the word empathy seems to indicate that because empathy in Greek means to commiserate, to share someone's suffering and pain and torture.

So you're saying that the root of the word itself, kind of the etymological root of empathy is the Greek, and it's about sharing other people's pain, so you kind of translate to the current where people don't want to feel other people's, I mean narcissists don't want to feel other people's pain because they kind of cocoon themselves off from that pain, and they don't want to feel their own pain, and they don't want to feel the pain of others, so there's like a block to empathy there.

And you see throughout history, you see that when pain was at its height, when pain ruled, like in the 14th century during the Black Death, and in the 20th century during the Second World War and the Holocaust, and you know when pain was king, you see an increase in narcissistic behaviors, narcissistic defenses and narcissistic traits. You see a rise in narcissism, and I think a rise in global narcissism is a reaction to being overwhelmed with pain, societal pain, individual pain, you know take more than men, families are crumbling, social safety networks are nowhere to be found, terrorism, AIDS, I mean it's a pain infused environment.

And so I think we are becoming more and more narcissistic, we are retreating and withdrawing and isolating ourselves, and society is being analyzed because we are trying to avoid pain, it is maybe precise because we are empathic that we turn off our empathy.

It's like you know the volume is too high, the volume is too high, there's too much input coming in, you know, you open your television, you open your television and you see starving people here, people bloom to bits and pieces there, you know, it's just too much of it, it's an overload of pain, and a pain fatigue if you wish, and I think we are learning as individuals in this mass communication society, we are learning to turn off our empathy, and so we are becoming narcissists in a thing.

So what I'm hearing you say, Sam, is that society is so full of pain and during wars there was a lot of pain, and that there is correlation with narcissism, because narcissism is about turning off that pain, because it just becomes too overwhelming, so in war there is a huge amount of pain so people become shut down, it's almost like an avoidance.

Then you're kind of like avoiding pain, you don't want to empathize with others because you know that pain, it just becomes too much.

And in fact that maybe people who are narcissistic are actually very empathic, but that they just can't deal with that constant stimulus of pain, and so that they start shutting down and go into this narcissism, but actually underneath that might be a deep sense of empathy, I mean it's being the narcissist is trying to shut down.

Yes, exactly what you said, I do think, and that's one of the tenets of my work on narcissism, where I made what I consider to be an original contribution, because a lot of what I do is the rehash, but where I made an original contribution I think is where, when I suggested that actually narcissists are highly empathic people, and it's what I call cold empathy, what they have done, they've turned off the emotional resonance of that empathy, they turned off the emotional component of the empathy, they turned off the video, they're left only with the audio if you wish, so they have the cold empathy, in other words they have the ability to identify with other people, to put themselves in other people's shoes, to read other people's body language and so on and so forth, but they don't have the emotions that usually go with that, because they turn them off, and they learn to turn off these emotions, because when these emotions were on with their children, it was painful, it was a painful experience, they were surrounded with abusive adults, and they were subjected to recurrent trauma and recurrent abuse, and they learned that if you want to survive, it was a survival instinct, it was a mechanism, they learned that if they want to survive, if they want to avoid becoming suicidal for instance, they have to turn off the emotions.

And so they were left with a kernel of empathy, which I call cold empathy, but there is no envelope of emotions, and there is no emotional reaction to their perception of the other, but they disagree completely with current so-called knowledge of current textbooks, which say that narcissists don't have empathy, because in a narcissist doesn't have empathy, how can the narcissist manipulate other people?

To manipulate other people, to exploit them, you need to rig them well, you need to understand human psychology, you need to resonate with your victims, you know, and so it's exactly what you said, narcissists used to have full-scale, full-fledged empathy, and then they turned off the warm empathy, they turned off the emotions, because they were too painful.

So you're saying that the narcissists actually do have empathy, they were maybe growing up very empathic, and they just couldn't deal with the pain, so they kind of shut that down, and they can still kind of read people, but there's no kind of emotional effect, they kind of read people for getting, maybe getting something from them, but it's a cold empathy, it's without the kind of the emotional warmth or emotional feelings that are within that.

Exactly why I say that narcissists are for robotic artificial intelligence, because in laboratories all over the world today, machines, devices are being developed. Some of them are robots, some of them are not robots, some of them are sophisticated cameras that can read social cues, body language, and even emotions, you know, so these machines have cold empathy, they can, in the future, and not too far future, like ten years from now, you have a camera on your laptop, and that camera will be able to identify when you're sad, when you're happy, so the camera would have the rudiments of empathy, it would have cold empathy, but of course the camera is not gonna have emotions, it's the same with the narcissist, narcissists turn off their emotions because the adults around them abused their empathy, the adults around them tormented, tortured them, traumatized them repeatedly, time and again, day after day, hour after hour, it became too much. The circuits were overburdened, the circuits were overwhelmed, and so the empathy circuit in the narcissist's brain was short-circuited, and what's left is the hardware, but not the software.

So you're using kind of the metaphor of machines, that machines can kind of read kind of the cold empathy, but not the feelings of it, and it's the same thing with the narcissist, that they were kind of emotionally abused, kind of growing up, and then they kind of shut down that emotional part of the empathy, and just left the kind of mechanistic cold empathy.

Yeah, the empathic circuitry, well one thing with the empathic listening is that I'm going to just keep listening to you until you feel fully heard.

Once you feel fully heard, you can just let me know, and then I will share something of myself.

Oh sorry, I'm just sharing that with you.

So whenever you feel ready that you feel satisfied to have been heard, there are some things I would like to share too.

I definitely heard and overheard.

I've heard, I've heard.

So what comes to mind is, I have a friend who, her mother was very much a narcissist, and she is very sensitive to narcissism, and we were doing one of these empathy circles, you know with reflective listening, and then she was kind of dealing with that narcissism, she was afraid that she was narcissistic, because her mother was so narcissistic.

And then I said, well let me play the narcissist, I will become the narcissist, I will take on the role of your narcissism, and we'll have a dialogue as your, so if you would reflect what you're hearing so far.

You described a situation where one of your acquaintances or friends was exposed to narcissism, and you suggested to put yourself in, to make yourself available as a stand-in for the narcissist and the life, and to see whether this can elicit reactions or a dynamic which might be beneficial to them, if I understand correctly.

I said exactly, and we started doing a dialogue, and I acted as her narcissist, you know.

And I got into a state of mind where it was so enjoyable to only have her empathize with me.

It's like, when she empathized with me, it's like it felt good.

It was like, oh this is so good, I'm totally in my own head, in my own world, and this person is empathizing with me, and it was like, oh then I'm interested in you, I'm not interested in you unless you're empathizing with me.

And so it was, and it was so interesting, it was such an interesting, it felt really good to have people empathize with me, and I'm only interested in her as long as she's empathizing with my state of being and moving me forward in my self-absorption.

So when you emulate the narcissist, when you put yourself in the shoes of a narcissist, when you try actually to empathize with a narcissist, you discover that the experience is gradually becoming kind of addictive, because you discover that it's great, it's very gratifying to be the center of attention, but more importantly it's very gratifying for her to provide you with empathy that you could consume, and that you did not have to reciprocate.

That said exactly, it was such an insight for me.

And the other thing is growing up, I would say my mother has some of those narcissistic tendencies in that she will talk and talk and talk, but she just doesn't give any space to anyone else to talk.

And she went through a lot of trauma, World War II, just really terrible things in Germany, and nervous breakdowns and all this kind of stuff, so I kind of have a sense of feeling and compassion for what she went through, but it's hard, if you're growing up and you're not being heard, you're not being seen, and the person is only just sharing where they are and they don't have space and time for you, it's very difficult.

So as you were growing up, you were actually exposed to someone who has, I don't know if she's still alive, but who has, she said, well, I'll use this.

So as you were growing up, you were exposed to someone who has, at the very least, narcissistic traits or behaviors, and it was a very difficult experience because you felt that you were not being seen, that you were not being heard, that you're not being validated in a trait or a following.

Exactly, yeah.

And that you served merely as a foil, as a kind of projection screen and a sounding board for your mother in this case.

However, equally, you felt pity, you empathized with her, you took into account emotionally where she came from, her very traumatic past, the difficult experiences she went through in her life and so on and so forth.

So while you felt that you were not being validated and that's not a very nice experience, you still were able to understand her, if not to justify.

Yeah, it's more now I understand, you know, now with time, as time has gone on, I kind of understand it.


So they are not simultaneous experiences.

When you were an adolescent or a child, you felt only the negative aspects, but now you were more understanding.

Exactly, yeah.

And so that's the need for empathy.

I think, you know, for my own personal development, my need for empathy would have been to have heard more, you know, to have been seen and heard more fully.

I think it would have helped my personal development, you know, growing up.

So I was kind of asking about our needs for personal needs for empathy.

And I think that's one of the needs for empathy that I had was having would have liked to have been seen more deeply and heard more deeply, you know, kind of growing up and even though I was raised.

Do you believe this?

Yeah, go ahead.


Do you believe that your preoccupation with empathy is doing your personal background?

It's an obsession.

It's a preoccupation.

It has to do with your personal background since you have lived with and grown up with a very important figure in your life who was not empathic in the sense that she didn't hear you and she didn't see you as an autonomous individual with needs and emotions and priorities and so on.

Since you've gone through this harrowing experience, you believe that your personal background is the reason that you're so interested in empathy and so on.

Yeah, it wasn't a harrowing experience.

A little inaccurate and I don't know if that's my I'm not sure if it's really why I'm interested in empathy.

You know, Paul Rogers, he came from an evangelical Christian background, conservative background. So he talks about, you know, growing up in that environment, your family, your parents love you. You feel the love.

But there's things that are kind of suppressed and you're not really deeply heard.

And so when he started being heard, it was in hearing other people, it was just very fulfilling feeling, something that he hadn't had.

So I think it's I feel more along the lines of Carl Rogers that, you know, come from a loving background.

And it wasn't harrowing.

And you know, I had a lot of self independence, but just, you know, feeling empathy, it feels pretty good.

So I just really that's rather than rather than reflecting you.

I would make a comment on what you just said.

If you finish reflecting, then I'll be complete and then you can move, we can move to I still want to relate. I still want to relate to what you have said as soon as you reflect, then I will say I'm fully heard and we'll turn it over to you if that just to use the format.

But what I'm about to say has to do with you.

So it's still the same protocol.

Yeah, that's the same protocol is that we just the person speaking speaks until they're fully heard. And then they say, I'm fully heard, and then you can say anything you want, and I'll reflect what you have to say.

All right.

So do you feel that you're pulling her? Or do you want to do that last piece just about the car Rogers and seeing a similar level, yeah, well, you feel some affinity with the car Rogers, both of you came from families that you described as loving families, however, with a lot of suppressed content and suppressed material in these things you don't talk about in these families.

So if there's some affinity with him, you believe that you've come, you spread forth from us from a similar background.

And for him to discover empathy, both as a recipient and as a giver, was a liberating experience.

And you believe that you are undergoing the same kind of experience of transformation.

And that now that you are deeply into empathy, both as a giver and as a recipient, you believe that you're experiencing the same thing that car Rogers went through.

That's it.

I feel fully heard.

Thank you, Sam.

I just wanted to make a comment about something you have said.

You said that you came from a loving family and almost with the same breath, you said that you were not being heard and seen.

And I think these are two mutually exclusive propositions.

I do not believe that it is possible to be loved without being heard or seen.

I think the essence of love and the epitome of love is exactly the ability to discern the other as an autonomous entity with needs, with emotions, with wishes, with fears, with priorities, with preferences, with personal history, and so on.

For instance, I say that I love this person, I love my wife, I love this, but I'm aware because of my inability to actually see or hear people, I'm also incapable of loving them in any sense of the word.

I think people often confuse love with dependence, or they confuse love with provision, with a provision of existential essentials like food and shelter.

This is not love, this is a working arrangement, it's a business arrangement.

The love entails being seen and heard.

There is no love without full-scale empathy, it's not a spectrum, it's like pregnancy.

You either are capable of loving or you're not.

There are no gradations of empathy, you can't be 40% empathic and 26% loving, it's a binary state.

When you say that your mother did not hear you and did not see you or your friends that you were not heard and seen, and therefore did not validate you, I am not sure in which sense you can equally state that she loved you, it's between you and yourself of course, none of my visits, but I'm just commenting on the, I'm perplexed by the juxtaposition of these two statements because they are incongruous, they don't go together.

This is the first thing.

The second thing is...

Well let me reflect that so I can...

So what I'm hearing is, I had said I did have felt not seen in some cases, but loved, and you're seeing that as a juxtaposition, that you can't really, that they don't go together, that it's binary, you're either seen and loved or you're not seen and loved, and there's no kind of gradations between the two, it's either on or off.

And so you're just kind of noticing about that, about what I've said, and you see that as kind of, I don't know if it's maybe an, you're seeing it as maybe an inconsistency or something like that.

Yeah, exactly.

It is an open question why you feel the need to protest and to say that you did come from a loving home and so on, but that's between you and your therapist.

We are dealing now with the issue of empathy, not with your specific psychodynamics.

The second comment I would like to make with regards to what you have said, when I use the word harrowing, which is admittedly a very loaded and very harsh story, when I use the word harrowing, you were quick to, maybe not protest, but you were quick to suggest a substitute.

You say it wasn't harrowing, it was this, it was that, but I think that if one grows up in an environment where one is not seen fully, not hurtfully, and therefore in my view at least not loved, and where it's all kind of a secretive cult-like thing, things that you should never talk about, secrets that are in the family closet, the past, which is unmentionable, this kind of ambience for me, doesn't apply to you.

But as far as I'm concerned, this kind of ambience is harrowing.

I cannot think of something more difficult than not being seen and heard, and I cannot think of something more difficult than living in an environment where free speech is curtailed by some kind of clandestine occult protocols of what can and cannot be seen, taboos, floating taboos as to what can and cannot be seen.

For me this is a harrowing experience, but of course you may have a different psychological and mental constitution and composition you may react differently, but I'm trying to explain why I use the word harrowing, it's my experience.

I see, so when you had reflected that you thought that my experience was harrowing, and I kind of said no, that's not what my experience is, you're kind of going into, you're saying that that's what your experience is, if you're not seen and you're not felt and you're not experienced, that that would be your experience, it would be a harrowing experience, and so it's not necessarily, yeah, it's like, so I guess that's your, is there more to that, or did I get it?

No, I thought it would have been pretty hard.

Okay, yeah, with the empathic listening with, you know, Carl Rogers, it's really about the speaker to be heard to the way that they're feeling, like when you said the word harrowing, I checked my feelings, and it's like the feeling didn't match, the word harrowing didn't match to my feeling, so that's what I was just saying, that word, your reflection, you were reflecting, and that reflection didn't quite match my visceral feeling of harrowing, for me, harrowing is, you know, it's like, if there's a, you know, I mean, I don't know, it's a different, it's like kind of like this, you know, and my feeling wasn't like that, it was like, you know, it's, you know, it would be nice if I was heard more, but I can kind of live with it, because I have friends, I have other, you know, it's, so yeah.

So what you said is that my choice of words should have under the protocols of Carl Rogers and Phenetic Listening and so on, my choice of words should have resonated with your inner truth, with the way you feel, and we didn't, you felt that the word harrowing did not describe your inner landscape, and how you truly felt about your upbringing and life and family of origin, or you also said that it's not harrowing, or you don't feel it's harrowing, you have other sources of empathy, like friends and so on, which sort of compensate for this.

So, you know, in general, harrowing would not describe how you feel about it, and that's why you took the, to the trouble of substituting another word.

And it does make me wonder about harrowing is, if that was your experience, I'm wondering kind of what your personal need was for empathy, if you had a need, you know, what are your actual needs is what I'm kind of wondering, what are your personal needs for empathy?

Where are you around?

So you should say fully heard, or if you just reflect back my question, then all right.

So you're wondering, you know, now that we have discussed the mismatch between how I described your experience, and how you experience your experience, he traces in mind the question where I was actually referring to myself, and how I must have felt in a situation of not being heard, and not being seen, did I feel that it was a harrowing experience?

Yeah, I feel fully heard, yeah.

Thank you.

Mike, personally, personally, I grew up in an exceptionally abusive household. Mainly, there was no sexual abuse, but there have been all the other forms of abuse. Severe physical bakings several times a day, up to the age of 16, and I mean hospitalization stuff, hospitalization stuff, psychological abuse, verbal abuse, mediation, social abuse, you name it.

I don't want to make this into a soap opera, but generally, abuse of all kinds on a permanent basis every single day, and so on.

Normally in such an environment, I didn't, I of course did not feel that I'm being seen or being heard, I felt that I am an object, an extension object, and that if I do not fulfill my parents' expectations, I am to be penalized.

So whatever love they professed to was definitely conditional upon performance, and if I deviated from their performance targets or performance expectations, they would penalize me in exceptional ways.

I mean, exceptionally painful.

So yes, for me, it was a harrowing experience, but it was harrowing partly because of not being seen or heard, and partly because of the objective abuse.

So you grew up in a family where there was a lot of punishment, and if you deviated from the way that you were supposed to be, that there was punishment and a lack of love in that sense, so it was kind of like a harrowing experience in that you weren't really seen and heard, and then if you were kind of off the mark, off of what was supposed to happen, it was like these beatings, and it sounded like you were just beat on a kind of a, or punished, or on a kind of an ongoing daily basis almost.


So of course my defense, the only defense open to me, the only defense open to anyone in age three, and four, and five, and six, and even ten, and even thirteen, the only defense open to a child and a young adolescent is either to escape from home, and if that's not an option, to escape not outside, but inside.

So what I did, I escaped inwardly. I developed a private world which had very little to do with reality, which is totally delusional, and included pronounced narcissistic defenses, such as the belief that I'm omnipotent, or the belief that I'm omniscient.

In other words, the fourth self, what I deliberately transformed myself into, was a kind of Superman, and this Superman, the main attribute of this Superman was his inability to feel pain, because he was omnipotent, and omniscient, and godlike in a way. Something in my case was an escape route, a delusion of being immune to pain, and to humiliation, and to punishment.

So you're saying that as a child, three, four, five, eight, whatever years old, that you couldn't really escape away, kind of get away, and so you kind of escaped into yourself, and kind of became kind of a superman inside yourself, and kind of had this sense of, you know, I'm Superman, I'm omniscient, and then, so, and kind of immune to pain, so you kind of had that, kind of developed that kind of narcissistic omniscient, can't even say that word, but omnipotent feeling, as a kind of a superman.

Yes, yes, that's what it reflected, this Superman was everything that I was not.

I was weak, Superman was omnipotent, there were many things I didn't know.

And because I didn't know that I was being punished, so Superman became omniscient.

I was, you know, immobile, I was a kid, you know, but Superman was only present, so Superman was everything that I had more pain, and because of that Superman was immune to pain, not subject to punishment, and in a way capable of becoming the abuser rather than the abused, had the potential to become the abuser rather than the abused, and this in a nutshell is narcissism.

The narcissist invents a totally fictitious character, everything that the narcissist is not.

The narcissist is god-like, this character, he is not prone to be abused, he, and if necessary, he can abuse others.

The narcissist says, it's never going to happen to me again, from now on, I'm not never going to be the victim of it, I'm going to be immune to the vagaries of life, to the punishments of life, pain, and all this, and if need be, I'm going to abuse other people.

It reminds me a little of the Israelis, but that'll be the next and last segment.

So what you did is you kind of created this Superman, and the Superman was immune to pain and was everything that you were not, like if you were weak, Superman was strong, if you were kind of like small, Superman was big, and then, so that was kind of the, you know, withdrawing into yourself, kind of becoming that, and then from that point you can actually can become kind of the abuser yourself, and say I'm not going to feel pain anymore, but you're willing to kind of abuse others at that point.

And the last segment in my part right now, I want to talk about the Israelis.

Israelis are descendants, well at least half of them in Israel, are descendants of Jews, all of them actually are descendants of Jews who have experienced persecution and extermination for centuries in dozens of countries, Arab, Jews who used to live in Arab countries of which I am descended, were also persecuted and maltreated and so, and the Jews of Europe were exterminated.

So Jews were the quintessential victims, with the quintessential victims, they have never been truly seen, they have never been truly heard, no one empathizes with them, they were constantly beaten, punished, killed, and you know, so finally they decided that they should become supermen, and they established a state of Israel where they are immune to pain, immune to punishment, and if need be, they are the abusers.

So Israel is a narcissistic response to totally linear of persecution and victimization, it's a classic narcissistic creation, and if you, I grew up in Israel, and so Israel is a totally narcissistic narrative, like never again might is right, we're going to use weapons to settle affairs, you know, so it's a totally narcissistic defense against what has happened to the Jews over 2000 years.

So you're saying that you're from Israel and you're looking at kind of the state of Israel that are in Jews that over history, Jews have been persecuted, there was a lot of pain, there was in the Arab world as well as in Europe with the Holocaust, extermination, so it was all this, there was a lot of this pain, and that the state of Israel was kind of created, and out of this pain came kind of a narcissism, like no more, we're not going to be, you know, kind of take this anymore. And so we're going to, if anything, we're going to be the abusers. And so you're seeing Israel is kind of like having kind of grown out of having kind of this quality of narcissism from all the pain that the Jews have experienced through history.

Another sentence of turn I'll be here, so in Israel you have a narcissistic narrative that underlies the state, it's the ethos of the state, and the Israelis consider themselves omnipotent, they consider themselves omniscient, they are very arrogant, so they are very narcissistic.

Now, we have to link all this to empathy, when you as an individual, as a collective, when you reach a decision that you will never again be victimized, that if anything you will become the abuser. You must sacrifice empathy, empathy stands in the way of never again being victimized. Of if need be being an abuser, you need to get rid of empathy. So getting rid of empathy is an essential and critical step in transforming yourself from a victim to a narcissistic abuser.

So you're seeing the relationship of empathy within this Israel, in that to become kind of that super person and that you need to kind of inhibit your empathy, and so it's kind of like the empathy is kind of out of the society because that's part of that narcissism is to suppress the empathy, so empathy becomes less, and that's what you're seeing happening in Israel because of that history.

Okay, so what I'm thinking about is growing up, you know, my family was conservative, you know, evangelical Christians, and I grew up during the 60s, you know, I was young in the 60s and kind of came of age in the 70s, and so I kind of got caught up in that 60s, you know, confrontation, the generation gap, as it was called, and so there was a lot of fighting, you know, it's like you feel kind of suppressed and then fighting back, right, so that's kind of like I see what the 60s was, it was a fighting back and I was fighting back and, you know, trying to have my own sense to be heard, right, I want to be heard, I think this, you know, there's a lot of self-righteousness and whatnot in myself too, as well as on, you know, family, other side, so I'll just let you say that first.

You grew up in a specific period in history, the 60s and the 70s, that was a period when young people fought back against being ignored, they wanted to be heard, they wanted to be seen, they wanted to be listened to, and even consulted, and you were part and parcel of this rebellion, this anti-establishment and anti-older generation kind of sentiment, and you describe it as, it was called at the time, generation gap, but it was a form of intergenerational conflict, that you found yourself caught in, or that you became willing, you became part of, and you believe that, like I understood that you believe that this form part of, we were.

Exactly, and, but now I've come to see is, in that rebellion, it was not empathic, I see now empathy is another path, right, that as I've gotten older, and kind of learned more about empathy, now I just try to empathize with my family, you know, I try to hear where they are, what's important to them, and so I find, I think that that's, I can understand, you know, fighting back because you don't know any better, but then I really see empathy as a whole other route to go, in terms of, well, you know, you have to have empathy yourself, have been empathized with yourself, so you have the space and the capacity and the resilience for empathy.

But now when I speak with them, I just try to hear, I do a lot of reflective listening like we're doing, and just try to really hear what their deeper feelings and needs and aspirations are, and it has, it's really helped the relationship immensely.

Coming back to your relationship with your family, you, as you matured, as you grew up over the years, you realize that the rebelliousness of your youth was not really about empathy, that empathy entails and means other things, and that as you applied empathic listening and other empathic techniques, and as you develop your capacity for empathy, you are able to truly hear and see other members of your family and develop a much better relationship with them.

Exactly, and there's been, I've been trying to get the family more interested in empathy, and there was some, and they, for them it was a little strange, you know, but some conflict started in the family, and I was able to empathically mediate them and kind of bring the whole family together, and that led to other mediations, and just recently we have on July 4th, we have a holiday here where all the family gets together, I did an empathy circle like we're doing now, and we talked like this with empathic listening for four hours, you know, and it really slowed the conversation down, and everyone, it was my brother, sister, and my sister-in-law, my partner, were talking about growing up our childhood experiences, and it really, for four hours we just did this empathic listening, and it really opened these real doors to really a lot deeper connection.

So at the beginning, your family might have found it a bit strange, this whole new empathy thing, or they didn't know how to calculate or accept it and so on, but gradually you were able to put empathy and what you learned about empathy to good use, you were able to mediate in certain conflicts or misunderstandings, and this had practical effects of resolving the problems, and then you were able to run an extended empathy circle with many members of your family, more than one, you know, quite a few members of the family, during a get-together of the family on 4th of July, and it went on for four hours, which would indicate that they were interested and they derived something from it.

The conversation was a lot slower than usual, because people were actually listening to each other, and you were discussing your upbringing and childhood and so on and so forth, but you felt that it got all of you closer together.

Exactly, yeah, so I feel very optimistic about the empathy as a way, you know, it's the same with the narcissism, if you just grew up without being heard, without being seen, without being felt, that you just don't have any other means, any other tools, you know, you just, and so we need to, so I just see that we need to kind of be doing this at a whole cultural level, but somewhere we have to start the ball rolling, somewhere we got to start the empathy ball rolling, somebody's got to start it, you know, so that's what I'm hoping that, you know, I can contribute to, you know, the best I can to kind of getting that ball rolling.

So your experiences with your family and probably with others have made you optimistic.

You believe that using Catholic listening and empathy circles, and probably many other techniques of which I'm not aware, using these techniques, you believe using this can lead to a better world, can lead to an improvement in people's ability to see and hear each other in the fullest and deepest sense, can lead to more social cohesion and solidarity, can lead to good results.

Here's a fact, you have obtained good results with your family, there's no reason whatsoever, I want to extend it and apply it to much bigger frameworks and finally to society in general.

Yeah, I feel fully heard, yeah, thanks.

I want to talk about rebelliousness, you mentioned the 60s and the 70s, when you have a gap, any gap, gap between generations, gap between ethnicities, gap between family members, any form of gap, you are faced with a choice, always, it's an inevitable choice, you can either try to bridge the gap by using empathy, by putting yourself in someone else's shoes, in that person's shoes and trying to see things from this or her point of view and then try to bridge the gap, regrettably most people choose the second way, the second way is to objectify and dehumanize the other side of the gap, the adversary, the guy across the abyss, by dehumanizing and objectifying your counterparty, this allows you to adopt measures which are short-term, efficient in the short-term, they may not be efficient in the long-term but they are very efficient in the short-term, they are definitely much more efficient in empathy, they are much faster, they achieve much more visible results and they settle the affairs usually in your favor.

So when we are faced with a gap, with another generation, with another ethnicity, with our family members, with our neighbors, with our colleagues, with our bosses, when we are faced with a gap, with a conflict, with a misunderstanding, we very often objectify, dehumanize and de-empathize or de-empathize because this is what we need to allow us to act efficiently in the short-term, empathy is a long-term view, all other tactics and strategies are short-term.

So you are seeing kind of the word rebellion kind of came up to you but you are seeing that when people have a gap, there is a gap, cultural gap, generation gap that in the short-term for kind of efficiency you can kind of objectify someone and kind of get your way, maybe get something in the short-term but empathy takes time and is kind of a long-term approach and so you are just kind of juxtaposing that long-term empathy versus short-term objectification and efficiency.

We live in an age of attention deficits, it is an age of sound bites, it is an age of instant gratification, it is an age of what is the bottom line, it is an age that is centered built around the short-term.

You have versions of smartphones coming out every six months now, it used to be five years or ten years, every six months, sometimes less. You have technology is obsolete in a matter of a year, Twitter is 140 characters, everything is compressed, everything is short-term, so the emphasis is on short-termism, that is a failure of empathy in the modern world, it provides much more solid and stable solutions but it definitely requires a lot of investment and it is very long-term, sometimes very long-term and so there is a discrepancy between the characteristics and typology of modern world and especially technology and the characteristics of empathy and in this sense I would say that our technology is this empathic or if you wish narcissistic.

So you are seeing our culture, our current culture is kind of geared towards efficiency and there is technology and there is just this constant change of technology and kind of looking at what is the immediate, the short attention spans and that is kind of looking at the immediate and that is kind of the society and technology is kind of built around that and if that is kind of like a non-empathic because the empathy really takes an awareness of the long-term and you have to have that time and space for that empathy and it just takes time and you have to be aware of that.

I want to make one last comment, when you mirror me or when you reflect me it provokes in me new ideas and things that I might not have emerged by themselves.

So reflection, mirroring, especially probably empathic reflection and mirroring is bound to resonate even with people like me who lack the most substantial part of the gear, the most substantial part of the device for empathy detection and amplification.

So there must be even in me the psychopathic narcissist, there must be even in me some dilapidated appendix if you wish, some underused organ which can probably be provoked or enhanced to empathize more, the example is not.

I empathize via my brain, I don't empathize via my heart because I have cold empathy, so if I do empathize with you but it is a fact that you are succeeding to provoke my cold empathy, it's still cold, you did not succeed to provoke in me any emotion because I lack that part but you did succeed to provoke in me much higher levels of cold empathy than normal, than usual.

So you're kind of looking inside yourself and saying oh you're a narcissist, you're seeing that something about this reflection, this empathic listening is stimulating some kind of a deeper level of cold empathy, you're noticing some kind of a change within yourself about having a deeper level of a more cold, no along with the query because this is not accurately reflected, my fault, maybe I misfear myself, what I meant to say is I don't possess the apparatus, I don't possess the devices, the technology, the inner technology necessary for warm empathy, I would never probably feel an emotional reaction, emotionally empathic reaction towards anyone.

I have cold empathy, what you succeeded to do in this conversation is you succeeded to increase the frequency with which I use or deploy my cold empathy, not the depth and you did not succeed to provoke any emotional reason, you just made me use my existing equipment much more, my cold empathy was provoked much more than usual in this conversation.

So I think with empathic listening and empathy circles and so on, even with narcissists and psychopaths you'll be able to provoke their cold empathy, you'll be able to make their cold empathy work more, it's not deeper, it's not different, it's not a transformational experience, it's nothing to do with emotions, it's just the cold empathy that I do possess and which I use once a day in this conversation was provoked 300 times, it's just a frequency, you forced me, you forced me to empathize with you, it's part of the game, this is the protocol you understand, I must empathize with you because these are the rules of the game that you have set, you said seven, seven you must empathize with me, in order to reflect you properly. I have to listen to you, you have to resonate with me on some level, so it's not an emotional level, for instance when you told me about your family, it had zero emotional reaction but you did force me to listen to you, to truly hear you and to reflect your back, so I have to use my cold empathy equipment much more frequently than normal.

Okay, so you've got cold empathy and warm empathy and you don't have the equipment you're saying the mechanism for warm empathy but by doing the empathic listening it's really stimulated your equipment for cold empathy and it's like 300% or something more, that you've kind of stimulated the cold empathy, that you've used the cold empathy more than usual because of the reflective listening and you're just kind of noticing that and you're seeing it's kind of like an insight to you and you're just wanting to kind of share that insight, say oh you have this has had some kind of effect on me and that maybe you know you're seeing that with empathic listening and empathy circles can have some kind of an effect on narcissists

But it's not the warm empathy because I shared about my family, you just didn't have any feelings about that, but you had kind of more of the cold kind of empathy that that was stimulated.

Okay, well I we've gone for about an hour and a half, we didn't talk the whole time, so I'm not sure how much time you have. I don't want to keep you over, or if you're needing to get to bed or whatever. I have dinner actually, dinner. So I think that might have been a good closing for now. I'm willing to try more of this empathy. It's a very interesting response that you had about your experience with this. So far. So yeah it surprised me as well.

Okay, I did not think that I thought that I am the master of my cold empathy, that I deploy my cold empathy when I needed, or a case-by-case basis and only when I want to pierce someone's armor to sort of spot vulnerabilities and chinks in the armor and susceptibilities and soft areas where I can penetrate manipulate and exploit.

So cold empathy for me was a weapon, and I thought I'm going to use it on the war.

But this conversation has taught me that cold empathy is an equipment that can be used even when there is no need for me to manipulate or to exploit someone, because I have no need to manipulate you, or to exploit it.

Yet, I have been using my cold empathy equipment during this conversation, and it's a bit perplexing because I always thought of my cold empathy equipment as a weapon, any inevitable war between me and a hostile world, where I have to like a virus, like a virus, I have to penetrate the membrane of the cell, and take over the contents, and so on.

So this cold empathy equipment, when you just show me where the holes and port holes and doors are, and so, but I discovered that it's an equipment that can be used, similar to life, you know, you can kill someone in life, or you can cut food with life.

So I discovered this is a multi-purpose piece of equipment. It's not limited to warfare.

Okay, so you learned with kind of in the empathic listing that we've been doing, you've learned something more about your cold empathy.

That the cold empathy is not just like a virus, looking for the chinks in someone else, where you can go and kind of get into it, and you know kind of take over.

But that the you can actually use, which is kind of like a knife for for damage.


But then there's in battle, there's a sense of battle, there that goes on, but that you can actually use it more like a scalpel, or like a positive, maybe even I'm rough, that's a pocket.

You're meaning it's a positive tool, like a mirror. You can use it like a mirror.

And that's so you've really learned something new about your cold empathy.

You've learned had a new insight about your cold empathy.

And the dynamics, new use, new use, new use, then you wait to use it, you discover a new way to use your cold empathy.

No, h-h-h, well great.

YouWell, you know, we can end the conversation here.

Then you know maybe if you have some other insights, we can actually continue exploring.

Just one thing.

Okay, we can, if you wish, we can dedicate another session. It's some other time.

We can dedicate another session to how, what can be done with with the because narcissists and psychopaths, according to me, do possess empathy. So how can this empathy be leveraged for one behavior mitigation and behavior modification? And two maybe to achieve socially acceptable goals?

Because I'm a psychopathic narcissist yet what I'm doing in the last 16 years is both socially acceptable and I'm being told beneficial to many people because I write about narcissism.

And people read my textbooks or books, and so they claim that I've helped them.

So here I am leveraging something, which essentially is malignant and sick, and so on, leveraging it to produce, I think, similarly, cold empathy can be leveraged to good use socially speaking, and can be leveraged to good use as far as the narcissist and psychopaths are concerned. To modify and mitigate their more pernicious behaviors. The more problematic behavior

Because the other victim of a psychopath is the psychopath. It's the psychopath who ends up on death row. It's a psychopath who ends up impoverished, excommunicated, isolated.

The ultimate victim of narcissism and psychopath is the narcissist. And it's the psychopath.

So if the narcissistic psychopath, or the psychopath, or whatever, if they were to learn how to leverage his cold empathy to modify this, be this counterproductive, self defeating, self-destructing behavior, there will be a great achievement.

And I want to dedicate some thought to this before we have the next session.

If we do it's up to you, I want to dedicate some thought to it. And then we can discuss, maybe, how to use cold empathy as opposed to the garden variety, which is warm empathy.

How can we use this aberrant, this sick kind of empathy? The cold empathy to achieve these goals? To help the psychopath, and the narcissist, on the one hand, and to help society, on the other.

Okay, so you're saying we can have another conversation, which is works for me. I'd love to do.

But it would be to look at the narcissism and a narcissist and psychopath that they are actually harming themselves.

The ultimate victim of narcissism and psychopathy is themselves. And that how can we really look at, kind of leveraging the experiences that they have, for kind of in some kind of a positive way? How can we leverage that cold empathy to kind of to support the psychopath, the narcissist, and it maybe even can be a benefit in some way to a society?

And you're actually saying that we, what you've done is sort of been some people say that what your narcissism and psychopathy and writing about it and articulating it has actually been a benefit to society. People tell you that, at least, so you would like to spend some time kind of thinking about it and then we can have another conversation and kind of kind of explore that topic.

Yeah, okay.

Well, let's do that then.

I'm for that.

Okay, oh this is really a lot of fun, like this is really for me. It's very interesting, because I was kind of wondering about that empathic listening and what would be the role of empathic listening with psychopathy and narcissism.

So this has been a great learning experience for me as well.

Thank you.

So thank you, Sam. Thank you. Have a great day. There, and sorry I had to wake up soon. Yeah that's okay. I had my coffee, my whole pot of coffee.

Okay, take care, great talking to you. Bye.

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