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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I'm worried I have NPD -- honestly the only thing about NPD

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Hi, I'm worried I have NPD -- honestly the only thing about NPD that I don't think describe me is a lack of empathy. I think of myself as a very caring and kind of person, who likes many people. What is the psychological definition of empathy, and how can I tell if I'm empathetic or not?
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

As you may know, Narcissism is a personality disorder which is a category of disorders that are difficult to treat with therapy, even if the person wants help. Everything about a narcissist is "me first". They lack empathy and only want to be involved in something that benefits them in some way. They do not hesitate to say or do hurtful things to someone else. When told about their behavior, they often find ways to make it the other persons fault or they just ignore the information. This does not sound like your behavior.

On the opposite end of the scale, someone with empathy is a person who can emotionally put themselves in someone else's place. This is not just understanding what a person is feeling, but actually being able to feel what that person may be experiencing. As a result, your emotions are affected as much as the other person's feelings. For example, if the person feels sad over a loss, you can find yourself tearing up and feeling the loss as well. Maybe not as strongly, but enough so you understand what they are experiencing.

This differs from sympathy which says you feel for the person that is sad, but you do not experience the emotion of sadness nor do you relate.

You can tell if you are empathic if you have ever felt the emotions of another person without directly being involved in the situation that created those feelings. So if your friend as lost a relationship and tells you about it, you feel sad for him. With sympathy, you would understand but not experience the sadness. And with narcissism, you may wonder why he feels sad at all or even not care that he feels sad, and instead think of yourself and your own needs.

I hope this has helped you,
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