The Narcissistic Brain and the Shortage of Empathy
An absence of sympathy is frequently referred to as a distinguishing feature of NPD. It is associated with various features that weaken interpersonal functioning. However, clinical presentations of NPD suggest that empathy is dysfunctional and not simply deficient among these individuals. It is subject to a distinct series of motivational and situational factors. The studies demonstrate that empathy is a multidimensional factor which involves 2 distinct emotional and cognitive processes combined with an individual ability to appreciate and react to others’ mental and emotional states 5.
Leaders with Narcissistic traits are self-centered and hold views of power and dominance. They have destructive tendencies by facing disapproval and feelings to validate their self-worth by conflicting with others. This may lead others to notice them as being offensive 6.
A student reviews both neural and psychological factors of self-evaluation, self-views, and self-enhancement predisposition in his thesis. His research made associations for grandiosity and need for admiration, which are the main defining features of NPD. Neural connections are the medial prefrontal cortex, orbital frontal cortex, posterior medial cortex and anterior insula. The Narcissists have a decreased system of emotional empathy, but they scale themselves to have higher emotive empathy than they really have. This is linked to self-enhancement predisposition and magnificence. In relation to Narcissism, Alexithymia (Inability to identify, express or describe one’s feelings) has not attained much consideration, but the presentation of the research proposed a need for a change. Neural connections that are associated with the shortage of sensitive empathy and alexithymia are the anterior insula, frontal paralimbic areas, and the medial prefrontal cortex. NPD in the DSM-5 is identified to be expressed by a splendid consciousness of identity, a need for appreciation, and a non-existent compassion in either fantasy or behavior. It only covers the tip of an iceberg in the spectrum of narcissism according to researchers in the field 7.
Narcissism is an extremely complex phenomenon which involves a level of self-justifying and self-protective enhancement. Narcissists have avoidant connection styles maintaining a distance between the relationships and claiming not to need others. But, they are particularly delicate to others’ assessments. They always need positive replicated reviews to maintain their bloated self-views and show extreme responses (e.g., hostility) when excluded. A study tested this hypothesis that narcissists also show hypersensitive reactions in the brain systems which are related to pain during exclusion. Individual differences in narcissism were measured in NPI (Narcissistic Personality Inventory) and the neural responses to social exclusion were monitored (Cyberball). Narcissism was found to be considered related to activity in an anatomically demarcated social pain network (anterior insula, dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, and subgenual anterior cingulate cortex) during the period of social exclusion. Hypersensitivity to the exclusion of narcissists may be a function of reaction in the brain systems associated with distress. This suggests a possible pathway that connects narcissism to negative effects on a longer-term bodily and emotional well-being 8.
Gender differences in narcissism have been observed by the cognitive and the personality studies but the neural basis of these dissimilarities is not known. A study combined the voxel-based morphometry and resting-state Functional Connectivity (rsFC) examines to discover the sex-specific neural basis of narcissistic personality. The VBM results showed that the relationship between narcissistic personality and regional grey matter volume (rGMV) was different between male and female. Narcissistic scores had a noteworthy positive connection with the rGMV of the right SPL in females, but not in males. Another sex-specific analysis was conducted to investigate the relationship between rsFC and narcissism, using the right SPL/frontal eye fields (FEF) as the core regions (key nodes of the dorsal attention network, DAN). The reduced autocorrelations between the right superior parietal lobe SPL/FEF and areas of the pre-cuneus and middle frontal gyrus (key nodes of the default mode network, DMN) were linked to the higher narcissistic personality scores of the males, but the females showed the contrasting predisposition. Sex differences in narcissism are associated with variances in the basic and the dynamic interplay between the internally directed DMN and the externally directed TPN (Task-positive network). The Functional Connectivity and the Morphometry studies will help in improving the understanding of the neural basis of the sex-specific narcissism 9.
Narcissism and the Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
Narcissistic males do not make good romantic partners. The Narcissistic male has a lack of commitment. He engages in manipulative game-playing and is unfaithful. Despite this, they are still desired by females. Females value different unusual traits in short-term and long-term partners. Earlier mate sampling knowledge is important to enable mate assessment. A study was designed to determine the influence on attraction amongst young adult heterosexual females; their mate sampling experience and desire for marriage predisposed their attraction to narcissistic personality traits in a potential mate. The British females aged 18–28 provided information on the previous mating experience and the future longing for marriage. They rated their agreement with 20 statements relating to the degree that they found narcissistic personality traits attractive to a possible mate. Females with greater mating experience and those with the craving for marriage were more attracted to the narcissistic male personality. The narcissistic personality along with many negative qualities possesses merits associated with status and resource provision. These characteristics are desirable in short and long-term mating perspectives. Despite the future long-term mating desires, which are unlikely to be attained with a narcissistic male and the possession of substantial mate sampling experience, females view the narcissistic male as a suitable partner: which is a demonstration of the success of the narcissistic personality in facilitating short-term mating.
Features and the Highlights:
• Female yearning for marriage may diminish attraction to the narcissistic personality.
• Mate selection experience may reduce attraction to the narcissistic personality.
• Females longing for marriage were more attracted to the narcissistic male personality.
• A knowledgeable female was more attracted to the narcissistic male personality.
• The narcissistic personality is attractive to females, despite its undesirable merits 10.
Significant individual and public costs of domestic violence have encouraged law regarding the necessary coaching in the assessment for the condition by health care providers. However, funds for the management are limited. The priciest form of domestic violence, Intimate Partner Terrorism (IPT), is measured by supremacy disproportion in the relationship that is forced through emotive, mental, bodily, sexual and economic abuse (Stark, 2009). Signs of cluster B personality disorders (narcissistic, antisocial/psychopathic, borderline) relate to the patterns of violence in perpetrators of IPT. Targets naturally enter into the relationship unaware of their partner’s disorder. The commencement of abuse is very dangerous. The perpetrator slowly weakens the prey’s self-confidence and realism testing while detaching him/her from the societal support (Geislin, Leedom ; Hartoonian Almas, 2013). The abuse experience leads to anxiety, depression, PTSD, substance use disorders and stress-related physical illness. Good evidence-based therapies are present for these disorders like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamics, but there is little research about how the presence of IPT influences the management. There are no evidence-based therapies which exactly targets the victim syndrome. The first step in designing such a therapy is to determine how the needs of the victims of IPT are met by current community treatments. The study was aimed to survey a large number of the IPT victims of their experiences in psychotherapy. This was to determine the comparative strengths and weaknesses of current community therapy exercise. A mixed methods approach was used in the study that collected statistical data and allowed the victims to describe their experiences in their own words 11.
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) researches have regularly confirmed that abusive men are a dissimilar group of men who differ in terms of individual personalities, psychopathology, and also in terms of the type and the brutality of their violent behavior. Some Partner-Violent men use violence Instrumentally in a way that is calculated, careful, and goal-oriented, while other partner-violent men are unthinkingly Reactive by acting out of anger, in reaction to an observed danger (e.g., sexual jealousy). It would be anticipated that these subtypes may be distinguished by their tendency of risk towards re-offense and in terms of the approaches that are most likely to reduce the risk of violence. The study was aimed to define the dissimilarities between the Instrumental and Reactive Intimate Partner Abusers that might be related to the offender management and healing program. A total of 105 files of partner-violent men were referred to threat assessment. Their data was reviewed and coded which showed: The Instrumental Partner-Violent men were distinguished from the Reactive Partner-Violent men by greater overall risk scores, IPV reassuring mind-sets, the offense features and a lesser occurrence of early life trauma. Inconsistencies between the expected and the perceived re-offense aftermaths proposed that the aspects which were unaccounted for in the existing research may have differentially persuaded the results of Instrumental and Reactive abusers. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, All Rights Reserved) 12.
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is an important and persistent public health problem, distressing as many as 5 million women yearly in the United States. A picture of society presents that military families are likely to be involved in such violence at rates equal to or greater than the civilian colleagues. IPV is a complex problem frequently operated by a similarly complicated combination of risk elements, including childhood abuse and trauma, PTSD, depression, personality disorders, substance abuse and various other stressors. The US Department of Veterans Affairs delivers nearly 9 million Veterans annually to the healthcare sector, including for IPV and the connected risk factors. The article described the risk factors of IPV, as well as the challenges associated with successfully healing it. Due to the complexity of the issue, the requirement for an interdisciplinary, wide-ranging method of management is required. An illustration of such a program was given in the article 13.
A new study uncovered that women’s focus to return to the abusive partners is connected to their forgiveness of the abuse; however, scarce studies have recognized analysis of forgiveness in this population. Subsequently, a study was aimed to identify factors related to forgiveness of intimate partner violence (IPV). It was imagined that obligation would predict forgiveness and the minimization of aggression would facilitate this relation, as women may be more likely to diminish the severity of the IPV to reduce the conflict or tension that occurs from being committed to an unhealthy relationship. Outcomes largely supported theories and conclusions; boundaries and prospective guidelines were considered 14.
Another study was conducted to determine the association between pathological narcissism and men who commit Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). In a struggle to appreciate the origins of domestic violence, society must observe the mindset of the batterer to identify the triggers. It is required to investigate the association between these variables due to the common characteristics of self-entitlement, magnificent views of individual dominance, an absence of empathy, and an endangered egoism which are shared between the pathological narcissism and domestically violent batterers (as cited in Baumeister et al., 2000). While many philosophers have implied a link between narcissistic pathology and violence, a very rare practical research has examined this relationship. The most recent research has exposed a wider description of pathological narcissism than the DSM-V’s conceptualization of narcissistic personality disorder. Two phenotypic themes of dysfunction (narcissistic grandiosity and narcissistic vulnerability) comprise a combination of overt and covert elements (Pincus et al., 2009). The study observes pathological narcissism from a multidimensional viewpoint of both overt and covert expressions of narcissistic grandiosity and vulnerability. The conclusions of the study exposed that a significant relationship is present between pathological narcissism and men who commit IPV 15.