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.

16 thoughts on “What The Narcissist Really Thinks When Help Is Needed

  1. Lily says:

    How does such an individual react if help is offered? And how would one offer help?

    The context is that such an individual recently wrote of being overwhelmed etc with some new changes. With anyone else, I would have offered help (even if only a call), but this time limited it with a “Sorry to read that…” (any offers of help in the past was rejected or disregarded). So is it possible to offer help (& be true to oneself) or just go down the above route (& do some self-flagellation)?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      The article is about the failure of the narcissist to provide help to others. Are you asking what happens when a victim offers to help a narcissist?

      In your example, is the individual you are referring to as declaring to be overwhelmed a suspected narcissist?

      1. Lily says:

        Yes, HG. The other side of the post’s main gist: What happens if they are offered help in response to something they say?
        The once suspected is now diagnosed

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Define the help being offered.

          1. Lily says:

            In this case, calling them up, providing moral/emotional support, finding strategies for mitigating the stress, and (if needed) doing some tasks so that the stress is alleviated …. things an ordinary individual (i.e without any personality disorders) would have done for a similar individual in need.

          2. HG Tudor says:

            That is positive fuel.

          3. Lily says:

            In the past, most such offers were treated with contempt. So I am wondering whether, as a rule, offering such help to one of your kind would be considered insulting? But I am now guessing that perhaps other unknown factors might determine the response (e.g. spheres of influence, other sources of fuel, position in the matrix)?

          4. HG Tudor says:

            In general terms, if the offer is made when painted white, it will be accepted. If the offer is made when painted black, it will be rejected/criticised/said to not be enough/ said to be patronising etc. Your making the offer may cause you to shift from white to black or black to white, dependent on additional considerations with regard to your position in there fuel matrix, the current state of the dynamic and other influencing factors from the other appliances in the fuel matrix. The various combinations are too detailed to address in a blog comment but ultimately underline this principle, that when you realise you are dealing with a narcissist you obey the first golden rule of freedom – when you know, you go. You get and you stay out.

          5. Lily says:

            Thank you, HG, for illuminating this. Explains a lot, especially the responses of my mother. Staying out sometimes can be difficult, but your resources have helped me to be on guard.

          6. HG Tudor says:

            You are most welcome.

  2. December Infinity says:

    How very accurate. I experienced it exactly like this with him. However, when he was the one who spent a great deal of time whining and whinging about his various ailments (methinks including fake illnesses also!) in addition to the rage outbursts because he was constantly quitting jobs, all of which were part of the ongoing drama and chaos he bulldozed me with for almost 4 years, that HIS behaviour was completely acceptable and he made a point of not helping at all EVER. I stopped asking for help in any means because all I was ever met with was dismissal, insults and rage.

  3. smarinucci1970 says:

    I almost feel thrilled for you . You’re spared of the heartache I’ve felt at the discrtions you gave . My prayers to God begging him to take the Horrible images out of my brain so I could sleep , the sad things I see everyday that I can not deal with . 50 years of animal rescue ., finally laws put into place for neglect and abuse. Pertaining to farm animals race horses ,Working our ass off when everyone else never gave a dam about any thing but their good times .
    Oh yes I sometimes wished I was like the NARCISSIST in my family and all around me , its been a lonely existence ,Long talks with our .Maker asking why did you make me like this, someone had to speak for the ones who COULDN’T speak for themselves so I guess I Really wouldn’t change who I am afer all .

    1. Violetta says:


      You’re back! How have you been? I wondered how things were going; I think you had a procedure scheduled.


        1. Violetta says:

          Whatever works. Wearing actual stockings (as opposed to pantyhose) has eased the misery of life for me a significant number of times.

          1. Yeah from being in a wheelchair and then a walker and to two Cane’s I needed a total hip replacement very badly and the pelvis everything was affected and not being able to walk in shoes it was pretty traumatic .I stocked up every summer on many pairs of flip flops but I get the kind with the jewels in them they look real Snappy accept my toes and feet and skin and everything is exposed to the elements so I have to wash my feet a couple times a day and then I developed a toenail problem very serious problem and then I got these big purple blotches on my feet . now they think there’s a little bout with skin cancer right near my ankle so not wearing shoes and not wearing stockings or socks or something has been difficult and to put those stockings on yesterday morning was, wow you know I couldn’t see the marks in my feet or Toes or anything and it was just it was me again and the potential of wearing high heels I mean I lived in two and a half 3 inch heels for 40 years or more and enjoyed it and could run and everything in high heels ,then be reduced to this I was a model in my young years I modeled mink coats .reduced to ,you know walking basically like a lumberjack it’s not me so I threw this little shorty robe on yesterday and a friend of mine came in ,he used to see me like this before I felt so free you know just wonderful but please take care of yourself Violetta happy to hear from you. 👠👠👠

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