The Three Strands of Empathy


The concept of empathy can be divided into three types. There are three identifiable strands.

First of all there is the idea of cognitive empathy whereby one can understand the point of view of another person. I am able to understand another person’s point of view but I will rarely accede to it, unless I see some ulterior gain to be obtained from expressing that I understand their point of view. Even where I explain I understand, I am still unlikely to accept it. The Lesser and the Mid-Range are unable to understand that person’s point of view because it will oppose their own, stand in the way of what they want to achieve and frustrate their aims owing to their differing perspective. They lack the cognitive function to address this. Of course, empathic individuals are experts at understanding another person’s point of view but they will go further than this. They will exhibit patience to allow that point of view to be articulated, they will ask questions to draw out this view and they will apply it to their own situation and experiences. Empathic individuals want to understand the other person’s point of view. They not only give it a platform to begin with, but they also allow it to be aired, expanded and applied. It is little wonder therefore that this cognitive empathy bleeds into the empathic traits of patience, needing to understand and needing to know the truth. Furthermore, having such cognitive empathy means that the empathic individual is far more susceptible to the word salad, circular conversations, lies and half-answers that our kind provide. The empathic individual endures these manipulations as he or she tries to wade through the quagmire in order to flex their cognitive empathy so that they understand the narcissist’s point of view. Of course, since our point of view operates from a completely distorted and different perspective, you have little hope of achieving it.

Secondly, there is also empathy concern whereby one is able to recognise the emotional state of another person, feel a need to address that emotional state and therefore exhibit the appropriate concern for the individual. In all three schools of narcissism, our capacity with regard to empathy concern is skewed. The Greater is always able to perform the recognition part of this but has never been created with the sense of needing to address it even though our increased cognitive function means we can work out, through observation and experience, what the appropriate concerned response should be. This means that we can recognise somebody is in distress, understand that they need help but feel no compulsion whatsoever to provide it. We will however, because we have two of the three parts of empathy concern, feign a concern based on our understanding, but only if we see it as serving our interests. This is why, during seduction especially or for the benefit of the façade during devaluation, we can appear that we are concerned that somebody is worried or upset. We do not feel any need to assist them, but we recognise our own need can be served by doing so.

The Lesser is able to recognise the emotional state of another person, feels no need to address it and is unable to exhibit the appropriate concern for the individual. As a consequence, even during seduction, the Lesser will present as blank-faced when dealing with certain emotional episodes and will often vacate him or herself from the situation. During devaluation, he will only see the fuel advantage from this emotional state and indeed rather than be supportive, since he feels no need to, he will just exploit it further.

The Mid-Ranger also recognises the emotional state, feels no need to address it and has a limited repertoire by way of fake concern. Thus in some instances he can pretend that he is concerned and in others he has no answer and will leave the victim to their woe and distress and has enough calculation to state he has somewhere urgent he must be and thus he escapes the demand for assistance and help made by the victim.

Unsurprisingly, the empathic individual has all three elements of this particular strand of empathy intact and in intense quantities. The empathic individual is able to recognise the emotional state of another with considerable ease, even if they are trying to mask it. They absolutely feel and recognise the need to do something when they see somebody else’s emotional reaction. This compulsion is almost irresistible for the empathic individual and they are also fully-acquainted with what they should do by way of response. They will share in the joy, congratulate when someone is happy through good news, console when someone is miserable and hold them when they are heart-broken. The empathic individual is no different with our kind and see our emotional response – albeit from a limited selection – feels the need to address it and also knows how to address it. Thus when we discharge our fury, our hatred, our envy and our antipathy, the empathic individual owing to this concern empathy is always galvanised into action, will rarely shirk the challenge and addresses the issue even at considerable cost to themselves.

Finally there comes the idea of the emotional contagion. This is a deep-seated and one may even regard it as a spiritual element of the empathic individual. This is not just about understanding a point of view or recognising an emotional need and response, this is about feeling the emotion just as somebody else does. Thus if a friend is upset over the death of a parent, the empathic individual is contaminated by this grief and experiences the same emotions as if they were grieving themselves. This not only means that they fountain with fuel which of course our kind will exploit but that they are powered into recognising the need and doing something about even more than would be afforded by the cognitive empathy and concern empathy. The emotional contagion exists in all empathic individuals but is more intense in certain people. Indeed, its intensity may even go beyond being proximate to the person experiencing the emotion. A highly-attuned individual with the emotional contagion will watch a television programme and where the main character is frightened,they will feel that fear also. They will read a moving newspaper article about the plight of an orphan and they will feel that despair as well. It is an immensely powerful part of empathy and causes the empathic individual to have to respond to it.

We have no such emotional contagion. It is completely absent and therefore we have nothing which might cause us to feel something so we act upon it. There is nothing there. The plight of the orphan is not felt by us and we are utterly unmoved. The fear of the heroine on television is regarded with annoyance since our primary source seems more concerned about that person than us. The only time that we regard this emotional contagion as any use is when it serves our purposes when the empathic individual fountains with fuel because of it and directs their empathic traits towards us. We do not have this contagion and we do not feel anything in the way that you would do.

44 thoughts on “The Three Strands of Empathy

  1. Leslie says:


    Empathy is FEELING another person’s feelings as though they were your own.

    Emotions recognition and comprehension is about emotions management, which in narcs is used for managing/manipulating emotions in their victims.

    Really, HG, we are not all Little Red Stupidood.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Yes which is precisely what I have written. Thank you for telling me what I already know and have written.

      1. Leslie says:

        You’re welcome HG. :DDD

  2. mollyb5 says:

    I tell the narc other people’s way of thinking and why I tell him about how our son wasn’t thinking of hurting him purposely …etc just being a teenager. I tell him how perhaps a customer may be thinking this or that ….not purposely being an asshole to him etc . He seems to understand and calm down when I do explain others points of view and that others do not think like him . HG if he gets this and he actually listens does this mean he is a greater ? Or :..what ?

    1. K says:

      I think it is facade maintenance and cognitive empathy. He sounds like a midranger and your explanations are fuel, which addresses any wounding and challenges these people present.

      1. mollyb5 says:

        that sounds right

      2. Mercy says:

        K, do you think it is possible that he has some understanding and relies on Mollyb5 to point out certain behaviors so that he can strengthen his facade with others?

        1. K says:

          Absolutely, Mollyb5’s explanations may provide character traits that he could apply to his facade to strengthen it, which would help facilitate fuel gathering. Although he has understanding, acquiring character traits is purely instinctual.

          1. Mercy says:

            K thank you, Molly’s situation reminded me of things I experienced where advice I gave was used toward other fuel sources.

          2. K says:

            They will swipe your advice, words, ideas and suggestions so fast, that it will make your head spin and they will do it right in front of you. It is amazing and it is all instinct.

          3. Mercy says:

            K, ugh I know! BS use to do it on a smaller scale but I’m dealing with someone at work like that taking credit for my research. Its like “wait, what?” It does make your head spin.
            The people that matter know so it doesn’t bother me too much but I’ve been caught off guard a few times. Is that an example of shell shocked? When your caught off guard and can’t even think how to respond?

          4. K says:

            Something similar happened to my daughter at work and she couldn’t believe her ears! WTF?!? It is very good that the people who matter know but it can be very frustrating to experience that. It’s gaslighting.

          5. Mercy says:

            K, I know what she felt like, it’s infuriating. I’m lucky I have a great boss that has a good sense of what’s going on in the office.

          6. K says:

            Absolutely infuriating. You are VERY lucky to have a boss that has a good sense of what’s going on because more often than not, people are bullied at work by narcissists.

            I explained to my daughter that the woman swiped her idea for character traits, as part of the Prime Aims. My daughter understands and that makes it much easier for her at work now.

    2. WhoCares says:


      Simply your act of taking the time to address your narc directly and explain the point of view of others is fueling him…so his calmness or appearance of listening just encourages you to continue doing it.

    3. Wissh says:

      Might it be just that in your explanations you are giving him the attention and fuel be needs?

  3. Butterfly says:

    I’m sorry. You are missing the most gratifying thing in life: Being able to feel with your significant others, feeling happy for them, being proud of them…

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You have no need to be sorry. It is neither your fault nor is it something that I need to feel.

      1. Butterfly says:

        I can’t help it. I’m an empath. I can not decide whom to be sorry for… it’s emotional not rational.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Sucks to be an empath eh?!

      2. foolme1time says:

        HG you commented the other day that you are proud of SM for all of her accomplishments. So you do feel pride and happiness for others correct?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          I feel pride but not happiness.

          1. foolme1time says:

            Do you feel pride for others only if it reflects back to you and gives you fuel? Or can you actually be proud of someone simply for their accomplishments even if it has nothing to do with you?

          2. HG Tudor says:

            Everything is to do with me, you know that FM1T!

          3. foolme1time says:

            I do HG. Sometimes I just like making you repeat yourself! 🤪

          4. foolme1time says:

            Ha ha, I see I finally have you using exclamation points HG. That does good things to my heart!!

      3. Butterfly says:

        Being an empath is not easy. We have limitations due to our feelings and values. But at the same time we can enjoy life in a way that narc. will never be able to. That’s why narcs envy empaths though this is something they will never admit…

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Some narcissists envy empaths, I will grant you that.

          1. Bekah B says:

            Which school of narcissists envy empaths the most? (my guess is mid-range)

          2. HG Tudor says:

            Mid Range.

          3. Twilight says:

            Damn straight and why they don’t like me…..makes it easier to expose them.

    2. Wissh says:

      I felt the same as I was reading this and actually experienced a moment of sadness for HG that he’s missing out. But then, more logically thinking, I realized he doesn’t miss this, he likely never had it. Still, for me, who isn’t even sure what kind of empath I am, not caring about that orphan or heroine, caring only about oneself is completely foreign to me. And, TBH, I wish I had just a tinge of that in myself. All this emotional thinking can be quite draining.

      1. Butterfly says:

        @Wissh, I´m super-empath, maybe you are too?. I have a very compassive soul combined with a strong self-steem. I also think I have many attributes of a magnet empath.

  4. kel says:

    Anyone who is so reliant on others for emotional support, shouldn’t boast of not possessing those emotions themselves or feel superior for not feeling a need to reciprocate. After all we have all of your emotions too, and we don’t have to care either. Don’t confuse having manners and social graces for caring. Just as the world is becoming more narcissistic, so are empaths getting hip to being less sympathetic. Devaluation is getting rather overused these days to sustain its usefulness.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      The world has empathy fatigue, but that is not generally amongst the empaths. Devaluation remains as effective as ever, hence those who beat a path to my door.

      1. kel says:

        Well I’m all for spreading your good works and putting a stop to devaluation, and to stop anymore empaths from wondering down any well trod upon paths to any narc’s door. Viva HG’s lessons!

        1. HG Tudor says:

          I am obliged for you doing so, Kel.

      2. shesaw says:

        Empathy fatigue? What about ‘corporate empathy’ – which is still seen as an important indicator for corporate succes?

      3. Joanne says:

        Why do you say the world has empathy fatigue? What are you referring to specifically?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Certain elements of the world’s population have become weary of exhibiting empathy, leading to a reduction in its strength and application.

          1. Bekah B says:

            I agree with this, HG.. Certain people are rather instinctively harsh and critical instead..

          2. Joanne says:

            Would you say that is a result of outrage fatigue?

          3. HG Tudor says:

            I agree that is a contributing factor, Joanne.

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