What the Narcissist Really Thinks When Help Is Needed





It is a well-recognised trait of ours that we do not feel empathy. We know how to show empathy. You and others have exhibited this on many occasions so we understand the facial expression to adopt, the tilt of the head, the appropriate body language such as a hand on the arm or an arm around the shoulders. We have listened most carefully so we understand the phrases to trot out,

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Is there anything I can do to help; it must feel terrible.”

“I understand where you are coming from, believe me and just tell me how I can help you.”

“I know how you feel.”

“I would feel upset too if this had happened to me.”

I have watched people like you in action as they exhibit their empathic nature and I have scoured the internet as well to gather a few choice phrases there also. Put all of this together and our kind is able to exhibit a convincing display of empathy which will fool almost everyone. You will see this false empathy exhibited during seduction when we want to show you how we are a kind, caring and sympathetic person so you will feel drawn to us even more. We know the correct recipients of this false empathy as well, the sick, the elderly, the stray cat, the homeless, the earthquake victim, the child with the distended stomach because he has not eaten for days, the earnest looking villagers crowded around a newly sunk well and so on. Yes, I know all of those who need some empathic reactions and I will provide them in front of you so you are all the more attracted to me. So that I fit in.

It is, of course, all for show. I do not feel it. Not at all. Not one iota, speck or scintilla of empathy. Show me a report of some tragedy and my eyes will glide across the text as I register what has happened. Inside I feel nothing. There is no response. I do not feel sorry for the people involved in the aftermath of the hurricane. I do not imagine what it must be like for them and how they must feel. Certainly I am intelligent enough to know how they must feel but I do not put myself in their shoes. I do not imagine what it must be like for them. There is no pulling at my heart strings, a feeling of upset, despondency or even anger at the injustice they may have suffered. Of course as you seek my response from alerting me to this latest disaster I will form a furrowed brow, shake my head and issue some suitable words to make you think that I care. That is of course if I want your positive reaction whereby you look on approvingly at my supposed compassion. If I no longer seek positive fuel from you then I will use it as an opportunity to provoke you.

“And?” is usually a good starting point for drawing a reaction from an empathic individual to something terrible.

“What do you mean and? These people are homeless and injured. They live on a small island and have no power and no clean water.”

“What do you expect me to do about it? They shouldn’t live there then.”

“What? Do you really mean that?”

“Yes. Their choice. They have to deal with it.”

This will invariably provoke a stunned silence or protestations. You may follow me as I walk away asking me how can I not feel for these people. You may express anger or outrage and naturally this is what I want you to do. The fact is I feel nothing. If I see a charity appeal on television I am unmoved. I have nothing in common with the people who are requesting help. I cannot identify with how they must feel in any way. It is a total disconnection.

The situation is different with those who I interact with and especially those who are an intimate partner when I am devaluing you. If you are ill and wanting some support and those three dreaded words “tender loving care” I do not feel nothing. I feel an overwhelming sense of disgust and revulsion. How have I come to couple with someone so pathetic and weak? Why did I agree to live with someone who is sneezing, coughing and rasping? They are trying to infect me aren’t they? Trying to bring me down to their level. I know what their plan is and I will not be duped. I see no reason why I should waste my time and energy dealing with somebody like this. It is a drain on my resources and there is little or no fuel to be had. Moreover, the sense of disgust drives me to get away from you. I cannot stand to see such weakness, such illness and such infirmity. I must escape it and thus I will disappear, sometimes with an excuse and often without in order to avoid this horrific scene.

When you are upset, perhaps over a bad day at work or an argument with a friend and you tearfully explain what is troubling you, expect to be met with a shrug. What do you expect me to do about it? It is your problem, not mine. Sort it out yourself. If you persist pleading with me to listen and to help you then I become irritated at your commandeering my time in this manner. Do you not realise I have much to do myself? I cannot forgo my own machinations and fuel gathering to play agony aunt to your whinging and whining. Your pathetic concerns annoy me and you will can expect me to berate you in order to further your misery so I at least draw some negative fuel from your upset. That way the situation is not one which will be completely written off. If your upset is even greater following the loss of your job or a bereavement, we will show no regard for your feelings and indeed exploit your misery during our devaluation. We will take this opportunity when you are vulnerable to extract further fuel. That is what matters to us. We feel the need for fuel. We do not feel any compassion or warmth towards you and indeed your selfishness in concentrating on yourself when you should be attending to us infuriates us. We will suggest that you never bothered much with that family member when they were alive so why are you now getting upset when they have passed away? You cry about your sacking and we suggest that you deserved it because you were not working hard enough. We will extract that negative fuel from your tears, your hurt, your frustration and your anger and once that has been obtained we will leave you to it. We have got what we want and there are other things, notably other people we can better spend our time with, rather than remaining with you and being subjected to your self-centred pity. We know you find such an approach heartless and abhorrent but there is no hope for anything else. We do not feel compassion or sympathy. There is no need for us to fake it because we can draw negative fuel, we do not need to make you like us or admire us and provide positive fuel. This is how we have been created. This is the cold comfort that you will always receive from us whenever you have a moment of need, upset or anguish. Deal with it.

23 thoughts on “What the Narcissist Really Thinks When Help Is Needed

  1. LYNN says:

    Great HG these things we have realised but not quite the extend of the disgust and revolution involved. This helps us so much when reflecting that some of our behaviours were responsible for the failure of the relationship, reading these works are a reasurance that no matter what we did or did not do the end would be the same and to keep hold of you would have been a life of misery that only a masochistic codependent could continue with until as you have told us in your works their breakdown ensues. How do Narcs manage HG when they are ill and the tables are turned when they are are old and not attractive anymore and cannot find a romantic caring source replacement if their only existing source reflects on their past treatment and then turns the tables on you. If your illness life threatening do you give up the fight to life, I guess you have no choice?


  2. Angela says:

    My mid-ranger would actually listen when I had something to complain about, but then he would always have some horrible advice on how to deal with it (aka make it worse) and he’d get offended when I wouldn’t take his advice and then he’d tell me to just keep my mouth shut if I didn’t want any “help”. Then again, when an old friend of mine committed suicide, he was annoyed when I wanted to talk about it for two minutes, ignored me, then asked me why I seemed upset, then told me she wasn’t that close of a friend, his friend that died a few years earlier was way closer to him than my friend was and people that commit suicide don’t deserve any sympathy or regard anyway. I guess he couldn’t think of any bad advice to give me on that one.

    My greater also listened to me, but would ALWAYS play devil’s advocate, tell me where I was wrong or that I was overreacting. Then he’d turn the whole thing into a huge character assassination on me and think of anything he could to show me how horrible I was for pointing out some way that I’d been wronged. According to my greater, nothing bad ever happened to me unless I had done something to deserve it. I once took my car in to renew the registration, and found out it needed some complicated repairs first. The repairs took so long that the registration expired before they were finished and when I went to pick the car up, I had a ticket on my window because the auto shop had parked the car on the street and a cop had ticketed me for driving a car with expired registration. I was so mad, I called my greater to vent. He told me I was “being ridiculous” and that’s what I get for waiting so long to renew my registration and maybe I should stop being such a procrastinator.

    My lesser never listened to a word I said. If my mouth was moving, he was annoyed.

  3. Morning sun says:

    I will never forget how during a drive I started talking to him about something that was worrying me and I wanted his opinion, and he cut me off and started teling me a stupid childhood story about the place we were driving through. I let him and then stayed silent, testing whether he would ask me what was bothering me and what I needed his opinion on, and of course he didn’t. When I ‘forced’ the issue, as I really wanted his input, he gave a deep sigh, and said “ok, let’s have it then”.

  4. /iroll says:

    It’s a psychological impairment, why we’d take emotions for granted when we know other senses can be lost, is pretty strange in this day and age.

    1. Twilight says:

      I was reading an article today on empathy they were stating while still pregnant if the infant is exposed to high levels of testosterone it can affect one being empathetic

  5. Quasi says:

    So is it safe to assume that when the person is in the golden period the narcissist is the knight in shining armour, gallantly cantering on his trusty stead; coming to their aid, to attend to their every need. Loving the acknowledgement that the narcissist is the only one who could possibly save them from their woes? But in devaluation the person is considered in the same way as a used tissue!

    The lack of emotional empathy also really lends itself to climbing the dominance hierarchy. Being industrious alongside this is why many narcissists, or people with a very low empathy level on the scale, are the top cheese in big companies, in politics, and presidencies.

    If they need to sack one hundred staff members, or cull an existence of life, it is easier for them to make decisions to do so. Because they literally don’t give a shit about said life, and they are not attached to the outcome; other then to profess that it was “for the greater good”.

    If we are honest there is a need for this ability in this world. A need for the teeth to be shown, to make the hard choices that the empathic could not make in the same manner; because we do give a shit about the lives of others. I may only be speaking for myself in this regard, and do not wish to over generalise the point.

    I know this is going off topic a little and a tenuous link, but I discovered a you tube series earlier today that literally had me wetting myself laughing ( well not literally but you know what I mean). So I wanted to share this with you all.
    You have probably heard of it before, Alec Baldwin’s -impersonations of Donald Trump.
    Very distracting to watch this at work ( more so for my colleagues as they believed mutley had infiltrated the building) but most amusing for me.
    If your a Trump fan it may be best to avoid, link below hopefully. But if in doubt a quick search on you tube will avail! Enjoy, x


    1. Merripen says:


      I agree that their inherent disconnect makes a narcissist tailor-made for climbing the corporate ladder. Frightening to consider the repercussions such people have brought upon the direction of our world and everyone in it.

      I tried to download your video link, but it seems to have been blocked in my country, but I googled Alec doing Trump and found the video. It was hilarious! It even felt like Alec was channeling a bit of his character, Jack Donaghy from his time at 30 Rock. I enjoyed that! Thank you!

      1. Quasi says:

        Hi merripen,

        I’m glad you enjoyed the skits of Alec inpersonating trump.

        I agree with you re – the direction the world is going in, I’m sure that this is directly linked to our empathy and feelings for others. Every cultures history is littered with malevolent acts, which were in no way warranted, and directed by individuals who made a point of being in a position of influence.

        Saying that I can think of examples in history where it was absolutely nessecary for decisions to be made with a lack of empathy to reduce the impact of tyrannical forces.

        The most obvious one that comes to my mind is Winston Churchill, he was put into a position where he needed to counteract the motivations of a tyrant filled with malevolence and magical thinking in his ideology, and view of what the world should look like.

        I have no idea if Churchill was a narcissist or not, but he clearly had narcissistic traits, and a lower empathy level on the spectrum, he was certainly a character lacking in the agreeableness archetype trait.

        Saying that he knew what Hitler was, he knew that he was a snake that could not be reasoned with, and there would be no rationality in a treaty.

        In my opinion it all comes down to the intent / motivations behind the decisions made by people with the power to do so.

        Hitlers intent/ motivations were seeped in his magical thinking, his omnipotence. He was not in it to win it, because at the point he could see they were losing he didn’t allocate resources to continue the fight or look at new strategies. He appeared to focus on the mass killing of all living beings who remained in camps, his intent was to destroy all that disgusted him.

        Churchill had to make very difficult decisions early on in his position as prime minister. When he had troops backed into positions on the French coast at Calais and Dunkirk, he was in a position where he made the decision to sacrifice the 3000 men at Calais to delay the German advance to Dunkirk. More troops were located here, he wanted to delay the advance, until he could get them evacuated on a mass of civilian vessels. He decided to sacrifice a smaller troop of men to save a bigger troop. “ greater good”. The majority did die, and a very few were taken to pow camps.
        Churchill also then made a decision to destroy an Allies (French) fleet at a point when German soildes were advancing, with the knowledge that the fleet were at a high risk of being commandeered by the German forces, and used to cross the channel to the uk.
        Again he felt he made this decision for the greater good. Lots of different opinions about that, but it marked a turning point in the war, although many view him as a war criminal.
        My opinion is that he was the person the country needed to be in power at that time.

        I know that I would not have the capacity to make those decisions.

        My point/ opinion at the end of that history lesson … is that a lack of empathy is often what is needed at key times by people in power to make decisions for the real greater good… and this can only be determined by the intent / motivations of the person.

        In tomorrow’s a lesson we will cover …..

        Seriously only joking, I promise I won’t do this often, I don’t want you all to slip into a coma, that may hinder things for you.

        I hope everyone is having a good day x

        1. Merripen says:

          Thank you Quasi!

          Don’t apologize for your swan-dive into this.
          It’s refreshing to see someone engage deeper than mud-puddle depth. I very much enjoyed your spot-on example of Churchill! Interestingly, I recently saw a documentary about Dunkirk and am all wound-up about that event. The outcome of that battle in particular and the war in general would have been very different had he not been at the helm. I agree that the ability to be unimpeded by empathy makes wartime’s brutal decision-making possible. Yes, people like you and I would be destroyed by the repercussions of such commands. We are where we need to be and this post reminds me to be quite thankful for that!

      2. Quasi says:

        Advanced apologies as my knowledge of history is patchy so there are likely to be many inaccuracies in my post, it was more about trying to a highlight a view regarding lack of empathy and the intent / motivations in which it is used in decision making. Also apologies again for the long post I could only just see how epic a length it is…. I will pipe down now ….. x

      3. Quasi says:

        Hey merripen,

        I have no idea if you will get to see this … I have only just seen your 2nd reply…( only few months late lol) I had only been commenting on the blog like 3 days before I posted this comment… I don’t think I had notifications set so I didn’t realise that you had replied again.

        It amused me to read our conversation again as it was epic long ( start as you mean to go on.. lol) and I added a footnote apology which spoke of me piping down again … haha, I have not managed that one yet.

        Thank you again for this chat, I really enjoyed expanding on the topic with you- testing myself with my not so Great recall of history. I love Churchill and have wondered often if he was a narcissist, he really didn’t care, some of the quotes from him were so cutting but hilarious… if he was I’m thinking cerebral upper mid range.
        I always have second thoughts though as if you believe some reports of him meeting the people of London and actually asking their opinion and appearing to care, being warm with them.. – maybe it was just a brilliant facade as needed by so many politician narcissists.

        I hope your well Merripen, I feel like I have not seen you commenting in ages.. thank you again for being so lovely to me when I was so new here and unsure..

  6. Enjoying the Show says:

    Rings clear to me. Had a father who would bail on my mother anytime she was sick. Would never lift a finger to help unless there was an audience that was not immediate family. Her being sick infuriated him no end. As a teen, I broke my leg at a job site and called my mom to come and get me at the hospital. I refused treatment at the hospital because I knew I’d be in trouble if I didn’t speak to my mom first. Did she come pick me up seeing as she was only a few miles away? No, she did not. I had to hitch a ride to get to her with a stranger who wasn’t familiar with the area instead. Such wonderful narcs! I guess my dad needed to get some sort of hero fuel because after my mom ignored my broken leg for hours, he was the one who finally took me to a clinic to get it casted. I walked on a broken leg for ten hours before getting it tended to. And in the years that followed this event, it was always my dad who ended up getting me medical attention after my mom ignored whatever the issue was for literally months.

    1. Merripen says:


      What awful things they did to you. Physically and emotionally. Like a one-two punch. That you somehow ended up thriving after a start in such such perverse growing conditions, is telling about your inner fortitude. I’m glad you are not fully jaded by them and the rest of your familial narc-ring!

      1. Enjoying the Show says:

        I cannot say I was happy with any of it at the time but remember, it was “normal” behavior so I was used to it. My parents had quite a group of narc family friends around them and in all those families, that behavior was also “normal.” So I really didn’t get that it was not actually normal until I was in college. The good news is, I have a very high pain tolerance so something good did come of it.

  7. Merripen says:

    The daily news-tragedy dynamic is especially familiar to my time with the narcissist. Jeez, when I think (in hindsight) about the number of times I must have pissed him off by flowing my pain for the victims in front of him (effectively interrupting my worshiping of him), it’s amazing he hung around as long as he did. I remember he did enjoy a good debate and we often engaged in them. Now I see those debates for what they really were, his way to draw more fuel from me. Luckily, it was on rare occasion that my physical health wavered, so he was never put to task to care for me in that way. Too bad, really, because if he’d been put to task on this and turned away, it may have helped me see him sooner for what he really was. I don’t know. However, he did sort of combine the sickness/unemployment into one hell of a death-blow discard. Here’s how:

    The surgeon who employs me has a history of cancer and has been fighting it off & on for the 11 years I’ve worked with him. His most recent diagnosis was quite grim. The narcissist knew this because, per usual, we communicated, all day, every day, by Skype, texts, phone calls and face time. On the very morning of my good doctor’s cancer surgery (the thing that would determine if he was to live or if he was to die), that VERY moment that myself and the girls in my office were huddled together, wringing our hands with worry – THAT’S the exact moment his Skype disengagement text came thru, stating that he loved someone else. He prefaced it by saying “Sorry your day is going to get worse, but” Boom. Heartless. And quite effective at collapsing the oh-so-carefully eroded pillars of my self-esteem. He bows, he exits stage left.

    1. Enjoying the Show says:

      Merripen……no words for that one other than glad you got rid of “it.” Sorry it had to be on that stressful day and in that “common” manner for narcs…….you know, kick you when you are down. Ugh!

  8. 12345 says:

    This is terrible but every time you say this “I feel an overwhelming sense of disgust and revulsion” I laugh. It’s such a total lack of respect that it stuns me every time. I have no idea why laughter is my impulse reaction. Not even a smirk or chuckle…it’s a full on laugh. I am so fucked up. Gotta laugh!

    1. LYNN says:

      Yes i did too really belly laugh!!! its great therapy for me I actually feel fondness for HG for being so honest and shoving it so hilariously in my face, I love it, I think it must mean I’m healing or just feeling a sense of freedom from slowly moving from a victim to an onlooker observer and my pain replaced with acknowledgement and just the side splitting realities that ultimately start to make the first fractures of the big nut to crack of Acceptance that there is nothing you can do to change them or make it right to keep the relationship happy.
      Never would I ever have thought that I would have found something like this comedy


  9. Lori says:

    Mr. Lesser has said everyone of those things. Every single one

  10. Authenticity says:

    The empathy seems so real as if your kind really does mean it. Part of the problem is that I really want to believe that you do mean it. I want to know that there are truly caring and sincere people out there. I want to believe it with all of my heart!

  11. Twilight says:

    Thank you HG you unknowingly gave me the answer I needed for a situation I have been placed in. I was reminded of something I discussed with you awhile back.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Sounds like a win to me Twilight.

      1. Twilight says:

        Can I borrow you love of the spotlight for a bit HG?
        An empath that has walked in the shadows, going unnoticed now is told she is in the spotlight and to show them what she is made of…..how the hell do I get myself into these situations

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