Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD is a personality disorder defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-V) as a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and a lack of empathy. Because a lack of empathy and the inability to recognize how someone else is feeling is such a prominent sign of NPD, several researchers determined that the opposite of narcissistic personality disorder is empathy.
Empathy requires someone to consider other people’s feelings and be able to offer some level of support. Both of these characteristics can be learned or may be influenced by someone’s environment. Children exhibit signs and symptoms of NPD, but they aren’t diagnosed with the disorder because they aren’t considered to be fully developed. Parents have the opportunity to teach or demonstrate how to be empathetic towards other people, but other researchers believe that similar to several mental health conditions, NPD is a chemical imbalance.
Someone with NPD may be successful in their careers because of their high self-confidence, but because of their lack of empathy, their interpersonal relationships may suffer. Possessing empathy is an essential part of having good relationships. Understanding what other people may be feeling can help people work together effectively.
It’s not that people living with NPD aren’t capable of being empathetic, it’s more so that they don’t put in the effort to see someone else’s perspective. To change someone with NPD’s behavior, it is important to give them a reason to look at another perspective. The reason may still benefit them, for example, the reason could be the potential threat of losing their job, status or a loved one. Treatment for NPD is a life-long commitment, but small changes like these can help someone with NPD change behaviors.