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, recognise and understand what the emotions of another person mean and what the accepted response should be. 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.

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.

Greater Narcissists have substantial cognitive empathy. We understand the other person’s point of view and emotions. We also know how to respond so we can mimic the external indicators of those emotions which we do not possess (such as joy, happiness, sadness or concern) and thus we fit in with those around us with considerable ease. There is the slightest discernible delay as we rapidly recall what the appropriate response is and then ensure we arrange our features, language, tone and body language to match the emotion we wish to convey. We do not feel it.

Mid Range Narcissists has good cognitive empathy and therefore follow a similar path to that of the Greater Narcissist, however there may be more of a delay before the mimicked emotion is displayed. Sometimes the MRN will get it wrong and provide a response which is somewhat out of sync to what is required, or may come across as stiff and robotic, since they do not have the practised ease of the Greater in mimicking the acceptable response.

As for the Lesser Narcissist, they either have no cognitive empathy at all (Lower Lesser and Middle Lesser) or very limited cognitive empathy (Upper Lesser) accordingly you will be faced with someone staring at you as they are unable to comprehend what they should be doing. This coupled with their lack of awareness means they often have no idea that there is something wrong and similarly have no idea of what the appropriate response ought to be.

Secondly, there is also empathy concern or emotional empathy whereby one is able to instinctively feel the emotional state of another person, feel a need to address that emotional state and therefore show the appropriate concern for the individual usually through actions, as opposed to solely through words.

In all three schools of narcissism, our capacity with regard to emotional empathy is absent. We feel nothing for anybody else. Our cognitive empathy (where applicable) enables us to recognise something is wrong, what the response of the individual means (anger, hurt, upset, frustration etc) and therefore we can (should we deem it in our interests (calculated where Greater or instinct for the Mid Range Narcissist) to respond in a particular way, but we do not feel anything. There is no emotional response from us to your situation. We do not share your joy, we do not feel the need to comfort you because of your pain, we do not feel concern in our chests for your misfortune. We merely observe and intellectualise the response (where appropriate).

We feel nothing.

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. An element of 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. Those with a majority element of the emotional contagion (the Contagion Empath) experiences the positive and negative feelings or energy of others, even when distant and this feels uplifting possibly overpowering, or draining and indeed burdensome. Those with the majority element of the emotional contagion feel a deep-seated connection, they experience the ‘presence of others’ and find it necessary at times to remain away from people in order to divest themselves of the deleterious effects of being able to ‘feel’ so much.

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.

24 thoughts on “The Three Strands of Empathy

  1. Ren says:

    Hey all

    Firstly, thank you for all your lovely words. I always hate goodbyes. You’ll see me again. But not on the scale it was.

    I especially like the comments about humour.

    Now I can speak.

    I’ve known for a long time about the ‘special relationship’ between PN and the UMS. Moreover, it’s a typical relationship of MRNs where I know enough about each to sink them both. I’m the lynchpin. My.mum is the enabler (why? money). Despite the fact that he has repeatedly cheated on her and admitted it – she will support him because she wants his share. This is clearly both deluded and sick. She is continually giving my brother money whilst equally ensuring I’m the bad daughter.

    This is facade management and I request all take note. Not because of me but this is a highly unusual set of circumstances. Abd also, they are operating day to day. Never a thought who their actions in will affect their reputations in years to come.

    A Mum, typical MMRN. Passive. Prolly Som.

    Ex. Diagnosed UMS, Psychopath.

    Dad. Not the bog standard. It’s TRUE to say he has hegemonic free reign. The NDC will happen.

    I have welcomed your support and I’m glad you feel I’ve helped.


  2. truthseeker6157 says:


    “How can I advise others when I won’t take my own advice?”

    Easily. If after listening to my story you advised me to go No Contact, but then slipped up in your own No Contact, does this mean that your advice to me was wrong? No, it doesn’t. It just means that our situations are not identical and our lives don’t have the identical ebbs and flows or level of complication. It means that I return the favour and haul you back up where you need to be. I’m allowed to help you back.

    To spend less time here because you feel hypocritical in not taking your own advice is not the right move Renarde. If you aren’t taking your own advice there’s a reason for it. You need more time here then not less. Not taking your own advice doesn’t make you any less effective in helping others due to your own level of understanding. I for one would not judge you in that sense. I can’t judge, because I’m not you. Understanding it all isn’t the end. It isn’t job done like a final exam in a degree course. Life moves, things happen, feelings fluctuate, ET rises and falls. This is an ongoing battle.

    Check yourself, check your ET please.

    Sorry Violetta, not meaning to but in.

  3. Leela says:

    “Mid Range Narcissists has good cognitive empathy and therefore follow a similar path to that of the Greater Narcissist, however there may be more of a delay before the mimicked emotion is displayed. Sometimes the MRN will get it wrong and provide a response which is somewhat out of sync to what is required, or may come across as stiff and robotic, since they do not have the practised ease of the Greater in mimicking the acceptable response.”

    Sensei H.G. gets it exactly and hits the nail on its head! 😉 I had been ensared by a middle mid ranger and that´s exactly what I experienced. Sometimes the delay with the blank stare! Blank stare for a couple of seconds and then came the response, either right or wrong. Or he just abruptly changed topic!

    The funniest was when he got it wrong 😀 That was really funny! 😀

  4. Ren says:

    Dear NS

    I’ve been wanting to write this for quite some time. Many weeks in fact.

    I have loved my time on here with my comrades-in-arms. However, I fond that I’m increasingly repeating myself.

    That is no fault of the posters, far from it. It’s just you see life repeating in circles.

    My path is a different one now.

    Doesn’t mean to say I won’t check up on you miscreants from time to time. I know I will.

    I did think about just slinking off. But as 99.9% of you are Empaths – that didn’t sit right with me.

    Thanl you all of you for your support.

    Thank you Hg.


    1. Bubbles 🍾 says:

      Dearest Renarde,
      You are such a wonderfully added dimension here my lovely, I luv reading your comments
      I am going to miss your clever witty repartee, your vibrancy, uniqueness and indepth discussions
      Narcissism is indeed repetition, but we constantly learn here and I have never stopped learning from you
      You’ve kinda broken my heart a little as I have formed a unique bond with you
      You’ve also taken my by surprise, I sincerely hope you change your mind as you will be sadly missed
      I wish you nothing but the best and hope you kinda miss us here as well
      Luv you gorgeous, take care and I will definitely be thinking of you 😔 …. hope you change your mind
      I’m crying as I read this back to Mr Bubbles …. how silly of me 😢
      Luv Bubbles xx 😘

      1. Ren says:

        Dearest Bubbles

        Aww I’m sorry!

        I have loved reading your posts, you are also insightful. And wise. And funny.

        I’ll be around, to still want to read articles.

        Gonna miss you.




    2. FoolMe1Time says:


      You will be greatly missed, I wish you well, and I also wish you peace! As far as repeating yourself, that is what we do! For ourselves, and for all of the new empaths that find us, we repeat and repeat until all finally get it!You are, and have been an important part of this blog, kind of like ice cream and flakes, they just belong together! I wish you wouldn’t go but I understand why you have to. Please stop in to visit. Miss you already! 😘💞

      1. Ren says:


        Now, how could you have known that my favourite ice-cream was a ‘Mr Whippy’ when growing up? With a flake. A ’99 and of course raspberry ripple topping.

        That means such a lot. It really does.

        You take care

    3. karmicoverload says:

      Ren, I will miss your contributions! Take care. Xx

      1. Ren says:


        Thank you. You take care of yourself x

    4. Bubbles 🍾 says:

      Dearest Renarde,
      Once you reach my age lovely, you get used to repeating yourself 🤣

      ‘I’ve grown accustomed to her face’

      I’m going to miss your quirky uniqueness Renarde, you are like no other and that makes you very special indeed
      You have my very heartfelt best farewell wishes Renarde, however, I hope you return sooner rather than later and hope you miss us as much as we will miss you 😔
      Take care gorgeous
      Luv Bubbles xx 😘

      Ps I wrote a previous comment, but in my haste to post, may have forgot to press send seeing as it’s not here, if it pops up, think of it as an extra added bonus 😂

      1. Ren says:

        I do Madame.

        Like the 🎩🎩🎩 too!

        Keep well 🍾🍾🍾 xxx

    5. Kristin says:

      You will be missed! Thank you for all the support you have given me over the past 8 months, I have taken it to heart. Take care of yourself and pleae do check in from time to time. XX ❤️

      1. Ren says:


        I shall and take care of yourself too.


    6. dollysupreme says:

      You have given me some grand advice . Tha nk you. May the road rise with you.

      1. Ren says:


        I’m really pleased that I did.

        Take care x

    7. truthseeker6157 says:


      Are you sure? It’s only a very short time since patrinarc was really getting under your skin and you were having to deal with the fallout from his behaviour. Please think carefully.

      This is by no means a criticism or an assessment to say you aren’t ready. It’s just me asking you to check and double check that you are.

      I for one will really miss your humour and the way you look at things. You have made me laugh out loud and your comments always get me thinking. You are a big personality here and seeing you less will be a loss.

      I don’t mean to be the little rain cloud. I’m happy that you feel strong and equipped to tread your new path. Just be sure to stay on it. No wandering into the woods!

      Check, double check, before you set off please x

      1. Ren says:


        As have everyone who has contributed, your posts too have frequently made me smile.

        I will address that point uncertainty at the end of this train.

        Thank you


    8. alexissmith2016 says:

      Awwww you will be missed Ren x I hope you check in on us soon xx

      1. Ren says:


        I’ll be certainly giving you all a drive by ‘Renning’ in a month to two.months or so.

        Love you, your dirty nun

    9. Violetta says:


      1. Ren says:

        Dear Bi

        Yeah I know, partner-in-crime. I know. We have had some good times on here. You’ve had me crying with laughter.

        I dont think there is any one reason we do anything. Certainly, I just felt it was time. The second reason is that in the last few weeks I’ve realised how serious my PTSD is. Usually day to day I’m.ok. but if I’m ‘triggered’ nightmares. They are still happening, not every night. Nut there is a clear link between the actions of parents, the UMS, how these three are working to drive a wedge between the children and I. Plus the make friend who has betrayed me.

        These dreams are not about me witnessing trauma, its where I become unusually frightened. Then the twonk cropped up. Twice now. You wake up in a cold sweat and thank the Gods it wasnt real.

        I still have a lot of work to do but in reality, how can advise others when I wont take my own advice?

        Gonna miss you missus. Take care.


        1. Bubbles 🍾 says:

          Dearest Renarde,
          If anyone here is a winner and fighter, it’s you dear heart
          If I can survive my anxiety, panic attacks , PTSD and nightmares, so can you and I’m a hellava lot older than you, believe me
          If we stand together, we stand strong and we will win and we will survive
          I’ve always said, luv yourself first
          Stuff everybody else
          You can do this
          I sincerely believe getting over the biggest hurdle is the hardest, once you’ve conquered that, it’s up hill
          Never give in, never give up
          I mean that
          Conquer the fear and win back your power
          I did, I look back now and it’s a whole heap of crock
          Take back what’s rightfully yours and no more living in the past and no more nightmares
          The only way is forward
          Conquering ones emotional thinking is everything
          Luv Bubbles xx 😘

        2. FoolMe1Time says:


          Have you never heard, Do as I say, not as I do?!

          Maybe sometimes being able to offer advice and help others will eventually help us also?! I know that some have been far more damaged then others on here. I also know that some can learn and move on very quickly, for others it takes a bit longer, and then there are the ones that there is no hope for and the only peace and joy that comes there way is to stay here advising others and supporting HG and his phenomenal work. The experience of living and surviving this nightmare is what gives you the right to offer advice. Peace be with you my Sister, stay safe! 😘

Vent Your Spleen! (Please see the Rules in Formal Info)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.