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How Are Empaths and Narcissists the Same?

Updated on November 8, 2018
Bishop55 profile image

Rebecca loves sharing what she knows about alternative medicine, health, frugal living, fun, animals, and how to live a better life!

Similar? Really?

Empath and Narcissism are words that are often haphazardly thrown around. There seems to be a lot of information online about each of these personalities, but not much comparing the two or showcasing how they are actually very much alike. Narcissism is a spectrum, there are many traits a true narcissist will have. Being selfish, or lying doesn't make someone a narcissist, and it is a personality disorder that is on a scale. We all carry narcissistic traits, sometimes permanently, sometimes at different points in our lives. Having NPD as a diagnosed disorder is not the same as just being a jerk. Being an empath is also not the same as having empathy. Which people seem to mix up. This article will hopefully clear up any misconceptions empaths have on how they may be like a narcissist (since they are the ones that seek self-growth and research, a narcissist is to busy thinking of themselves to care).

Born or made?

It has been said that Empaths are born not made. And that narcissists are a product of their environment. Everyone is born with empathy, this is not the same as being an empath. Empaths are wired differently, with very sensitive nervous systems. They've been labeled as highly sensitive people, empaths, INFP's (by Meyer's Briggs), and psychics. When someone is being empathic, they are relating to someone's predicament or pain. When an Empath is being empathic, they absorb another's mood, or situation as if it was their own. This is a very key difference between these two.

Narcissists, on the other hand, mirror compassionate beings, it's a very fraudulent form of relating, it is NOT empathy. This is one thing they rarely possess and if they do it is fake. Many kind and loving empaths are sadly fooled by this when the narcissist just mirrors to them their own wonderful traits. Depending on how far they are on the NPD spectrum the more this will be apparent. Codependents like narcissists are made and are very different from empaths. This article shows the similarities that empaths/codependents are like narcissists. You can, however, be a codependent and not an empath.

Core Wounds

Empaths/co-dependants and Narcissists share the same core wounds. Both fear abandonment, lack of love, and rejection. These wounds are developed during the first few years of life. The difference comes into play with how each chooses to perceive these wounds.

Most Empaths are raised in very dysfunctional families. From a very young age, they are taught to not trust what they feel. They see terrible things going on around them and are told that what they see is not really what is happening. Mommy is not really drunk, she's just tired. Even when the empath or HSP knows that mommy has had too many drinks, they are told what they see is not the truth. They then internalize events like these and sadly struggle to trust their feelings and intuition.

Empaths learn that their needs will not be met by their primary caregivers, and become mini-adults, or in very sick cases co-dependents. They see that those they should trust for love, support and comfort will not be available to take care of them. They learn to be independent of the need for love and begin to help and serve in situations that are not their responsibility. They do this to seek the love and connection that they so badly crave.

Narcissists, on the other hand, are often overly praised or discarded depending on the needs and wants of their primary caretakers. Most narcissists have one or both parental figures that are also narcissistic. One day they may be the golden child and the next insignificant. The narcissist child learns that in order to get what they need they need to manipulate. They learn that humans are appliances to be used for self-gain. So instead of connecting to experience human bonding, they connect to get something from the interaction.

Empaths and Narcissists share core wounds, but how they are processed are very different.

Exceptional intuition

Both an Empath and Narcissist are blessed with exceptional intuition and the ability to read people. True empaths are psychic even if they do not know how to use or control their abilities. Narcissists are very aware of human emotion in a way of mirroring, they don't typically relate to what they mirror, but can use the skill to manipulate others. This can often appear to be some type of ESP, but usually, it is not.

Again, we have two very distinct differences in how these two will use ESP or intuition in their lives.

The Empath will use intuition or psychic abilities to help others. Their drive is to make the planet a better place for all forms of life, including animals. They will try to help others by noticing their weak points and guiding them to grow as individuals and help them become better versions of themselves.

Narcissists will use intuition to serve themselves. They will hone in on others weakness to take advantage and exploit them for personal gain.

I'd like to note that there is no moral code for psychic abilities. What we choose to do or not do with it, we will answer for when we cross over.

Boundary Issues

Both the narcissist and the empath suffer from boundary issues. But how they approach boundaries are quite different. The empath has a hard time determining where they start vs. where they end. It's very easy for them to get lost in another person's energy. So even when they are not intentionally crossing someone's boundaries they have a tendency to do so. Also, those drawn to an empath will typically unload their life story on them, and the untrained empath will become lost in this. The narcissist, on the other hand, will push through someone's boundaries, intentionally crossing lines they are well aware they should respect. They do not care about morality, ethics, integrity, faithfulness, honesty, or fair dealings. Remember they are out for themselves, and depending on their needs at any given moment will depend on how they treat you. You are there for their use.

Empaths will learn over time how to develop boundaries, this will take time and effort but it will happen. Narcissists will not bother to do so, there would be no gain in doing so.

Time to be alone

Narcissists and empaths both require a lot of time to be alone. That is where the similarity stops. Empaths need to be alone to shut out the world, recharge, clear their energy and restore themselves. Narcissist's don't use alone time to reflect, especially not on their flaws, they cannot acknowledge they have any. They are more like aloof loners. They are detached from human emotion, their alone time is simply that...being alone. They may reflect on how awful of a human being they are only when no one is around to witness it.

Easily offended, Self Conscious, and Insecure

Both personality types struggle with being offended, self-conscious and insecure. They are really similar in so many ways, but it's all in the processing that makes them so different. Narcissism is a spectrum and although there are various types, overt (outwardly showy), covert (introverted), cerebral, they will all struggle to hide their emotional response. The narcissist when pushed will throw tantrums, very similar to a toddler, they will really lose all emotional control when offended, insulted, or told they are wrong. An empath struggles with these same issues, but you're more likely to find them hiding out in a corner, wearing something awkward and not wanting to speak. When hurt or offended they tend to shut down, cry, and internalize all the mistakes they perceive themselves to have.

A narcissist will blame shift, an empath will internalize. Very different emotional responses to the same real or imagined offense.

They Don't Fit In

Empaths are old souls. Narcissists are emotional children and peter pans that never grow up. Even though they are very different in personality and temperament, it causes the same response. Neither of them feels as if they ever fit in. The empath is driven by wanting to know the higher self. The narcissist is driven by ego and false self-preservation, regardless if that means trampling on everyone they come in contact with.

Narcissist's and Empaths...

So as you can see, there are quite a few similarities between these polar opposites. They just process information differently. The empath and narcissist are really each one side of the same coin.

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© 2018 Rebecca


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    • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

      Tim Truzy 

      2 years ago from U.S.A.

      Your article is interesting and gives great information about these individuals. Although I would like to mention, an empath can come from a loving home, and he/she may develop the mental and emotional "toolkit" to control his/her boundaries from supportive parents. Narcicism usually have a tougher road to go. They are usually judged and battered with expectations they can not fulfill as a child. Essentially, empaths are less likely to become career criminals; simply because they will feel the "pain" of others they would hurt in such actions. This is not true of those focused primarily on "selfishness."

      Yet, your article is well written and helpful for those wanting to learn about these different types of human beings.




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