Let’s Pretend



Here we are again. In that all too familiar place. I have lost count of how many times I have found myself here. Despite my very best endeavours, my valiant intentions and earnest dedication I am stood in this hallway of despair. Some time ago this hallway was a welcoming place where polished tiles gleamed and marble pillars glinted. The air was filled with the scent of jasmine, bright sunlight pouring in through the glass dome high above.

So many corridors and doorways led from this hallway, offering exciting and intriguing possibilities, new experiences and enthralling opportunities. I can still picture you when you had crossed the threshold, invited into my world and you stood open-mouthed impressed and amazed by the grandeur. With a typically generous and expansive sweep of my arm I offered you the free run of those corridors and rooms. You took full advantage of my generosity and why not? You were a very welcome and special addition.

Now look at us. Your failure has made this a cold and desolate place. The dome has suffered as a consequence of your frequent eruptions of frustrated anger, the once clear panes now either broken or smeared with the grime of your betrayal. The sun has not shone into this hallway for a long time, in fact, neither of us can remember when it last did so. The tall pillars are cracked and chipped, testament to your unwarranted assaults on our person as your forked tongue of criticism lashed out at us.

The tiles are fractured and uneven causing you to regularly trip and fall to the floor, the cold slap of your downfall a stark reminder of the change that has gripped this place. You can hear the low moan of the wind as it billows, wuthering and gusting, seeking entrance through the broken windows and dilapidated shutters.

That is the wind isn’t it or is it the tortured protestations of the shades and spectres which still haunt this hallway? Sometimes you see them, the forlorn figures which glide haplessly along the dirty passageways, heads bowed as they seem to be seeking something. Whenever you see them you feel a strange sense of familiarity and understanding with their plight even though you are unsure who they are. No doubt a consequence of the empathic traits which still cause you to remain here.

I let you walk these beautiful corridors. I allowed you to marvel at the statues, the ornaments which adorned the walls and alcoves, mesmerising you with their beauty. You felt loved, you felt content and you felt safe as you walked this place never needing or wanting to step back through the door that you once entered all that time ago.

Now you are sat on the icy floor, your hands clasped together and raised in a gesture of contrition and pleading. Your face is etched with wounding woe and the lines of desperation evidence your determination to remain.

I brandish the heavy iron key that will unlock the dark door which looms over you and which will reveal the doorway to the cold, uncaring and harsh world beyond, a world you have no desire to return to. I hold the key as I stand over you watching you and although I hear your voice I cannot discern what you are saying. You struggle to your feet, weakness pulling at you as you pull down the sleeve of the tattered garment which you wear and you begin to rub at a nearby pillar.

You spit on it and frantically try to remove the grime as if you are showing me that the damage can somehow be undone. You turn and look at me, hand still moving back and forth and I see that eternal optimism in your eyes. That look which once looked like paradise to me and now only serves to reinforce your selfishness in wanting to remain here after everything you have done and everything you have not done as you let me down. Again. The distortion that has surrounded your voice has gone and now I can hear you as you are pointing to the windows and the doors which hang from their hinges, holes smashed into them.

” This place was once so beautiful and you have let it fall into neglect, why have you done this? I just do not understand. I helped you keep it shining and in a pristine condition but then you just lost interest, you would not work with me anymore and it began to fall into decline. It was too much for me to maintain alone though heaven knows I tried, I really did. Not only did you not help me but you then started to hinder me, stopping me from carrying out my tasks, holding me back and diverting me.”

Why are you saying such things to me? Why are you seeking to pin the blame on me? Why are you trying to make me responsible for the demise of this once grand place? I shake my head and point the key at you, a clear signal of my intent. Your face twists and the tears start to form in your eyes. Perhaps they might fall into the now dry fountain and bring about restoration. Does such restoration hang from your sadness?

“Don’t make me leave, please I do not want this to end,” you plead, your eyes, which once shone with delight and joy, which are now glazed as your fear of abandonment starts to rise.

“This does not have to happen, ” you continue as you place a hand against my arm, ” let me stay, I only want us to be happy, to be as we once were. Surely we can do that? Our laughter once echoed through this place and it can again.

We can repair the damage, it is not about who caused it, I can put that to one side, I just want us to be together and for us to rebuild what we once had. We did it once, I know we can again, let us join forces and re-create that wonderful time once more, let us admit sunshine and clean away the dirt and the hurt that seeks to envelope this place. We can fix the glass, mend the doors, scrub the floors and clean and tidy and make good. We can do it. I know we can. I can sense it deep inside you, I know it to be the case.”

Your words are impressive and burgeoning with hope. Perhaps it can be done but then you let us down and for that you must pay the price. That momentary consideration of allying with you and recovering what we once had is dispelled. We shake our head.

“It cannot be recovered. There is no hope to do so,” we say slowly.

A tear spills down your cheek and hovers on your chin as if unsure of where to go.

“Then let us at least pretend that we walk through gilded and fragrant halls once more. Please? We can pretend can’t we?”

Yes, we can pretend. It is all we ever do.

24 thoughts on “Let’s Pretend

  1. Another Cat says:

    For a reason I can’t remember, I stumbled upon this old thread.

    What wonderful interesting explanations, Asp Emp, and Winning Path too.
    The everyday work you do, AE, for communications with people,
    for e g searhing for subtitles and transcripts to films and audios, and many other situations
    I can’t even imagine.
    And on top of that, all the interpretations you do on a daily basis in order to read people’s feelings and their situations.
    <3 <3 <3

    1. Asp Emp says:

      AnotherCat, thank you 🙂 Wow. Thank you for your considerations 🙂 Admittedly, I used to get very frustrated when having to tell someone I am Deaf, nowadays I find myself not getting “stressed” about it. What I do find amusing and interesting is when I have to speak with someone in public ie a member of staff, I am much more aware of whether someone is helpful, or not. Sometimes, there is a moment of a ‘malfunction’, shall we say? 😉 It is not necessarily indicative but it is a good clue 🙂 I have to say that ‘reading’ people has been made so much easier since learning about narcissism. Then again, it could be someone who is not a narcissist but has a neurodiversity / difficulties with ie social interaction, social cues etc. Thank you for bringing this thread up, it was good to re-read it. Hope things are ok with you 🙂

      1. Another Cat says:

        Thank you, Asp Emp, this week has been a sunny one! Yours too, I hope.

        😉 Ha, ha. Yes, the malfunctions. The midranger narcissist I was ensnared with seven years ago was apparently a care taker staff, for people with different needs, living in their own homes. It was about psychiatry, adhd, wheelchair, being deaf, being blind, etc. Very different needs for every individual, apparently.

        Needless to say many patients quickly wished for a replacement, a new caretaker. Yikes. The guy told me. “We didn’t function, this old man and I”
        This was three months before I learnt about narcissism. He was a jolly Type Midmidrager man.

        On the outside.

        I can’t even imagine what care receivers go through in life with all these “wellmeaning” disastrous encounters …

        I have an empathic friend who is now completely blind. He meets narcissists a lot. A lot. (There is a big lack of caretakers in my country, so applicants can easily get a job, like narcissists and others) I have once mentioned this word to him and he doesn’t want to use it.

        So neither do I. He rather talks about people not fitted for eachother. A glitch in communication. Or abuse. Thankfully, the magnet he is, there are lots of empathic ppl as well in his life, like at work.

        1. Asp Emp says:

          AnotherCat, thank you for your response. Yes, people with severe disabilities do struggle to communicate at times. So if they have a narcissist ‘care-giver’, the needs of the individuals with those disabilities are not always met, they do not always know whether they are being abused, which makes it worse. There will always be some individuals who have severe disabilities that would not understand what narcissism is, so they do not recognise the behaviours. Saddening to read that there is a lack of care-givers where you are. Some narcissists are good at ‘talking’ their way into vulnerable people’s lives.

          Some of these individuals with disabilities are really lovely people, so innocent. I was remembering my previous volunteer work earlier today because I was getting rid of more paperwork ie meeting notes etc. It does put me in a reflective ‘mood’ if you can understand but it is not necessarily ET related. It is good that there are empathic people around 🙂

        2. Another Cat says:

          *sorry, I meant to say he was a “jolly Type A Midranger”

          I always err when emotional. 😯

  2. December Infinity says:

    Even when the narcissist pretends, it is only an illusion. There is only the abyss, a black hole.

  3. Winning Path says:

    Some of my theories, written below, are along the lines of what HG says, but some diverge from his stance.

    I still can’t help but feel that the narcissist’s pride was severely injured as a child (through the control of another over the narcissist, or lack of control from the environment); the trauma of that may have altered the structure of the brain, as occurs in other types of trauma. And, to protect his pride from ever being injured again, he pushes away anyone who he may begin to care for. He may have adopted this defense mechanism so early and so vehemently that he might not even consciously realize he is utilizing it. He pushes away ones he may care for by devaluing them in ways HG has described, like finding fault in them, or abusing them sexually, physically or emotionally, or by withdrawing from the relationship. For the rest of the victims whom he doesn’t particularly care for, he doesn’t need to push them away, but doesn’t care if his behaviors do push them away. I think all the fuel, control, character traits and residual benefits are sought to feed the pride and avoid injury to the pride.

    As HG says, the first line of defense, is denial; how perfect the denial of claiming that the narcissist never cared about the victim and that everything was just manipulation … it is the perfect defense to defend the pride, as it could never be proven otherwise; it protects the narcissist’s pride; it hurts the victim’s pride; it amplifies the pushing away of the victim to prevent the attachment, and therefore, protects the pride; it bolsters the narcissist’s pride because the narcissist was the one who ended it, and if he wasn’t the one who ended it, saying that he never cared and it was all fake, defends the narcissist’s pride; it feeds his pride by exerting control over the victim’s pride; it feeds and protects his pride because the narcissist was the “winner” of the battle over pride, unlike the time when the narcissist had been the victim as a child.

    I think the narcissist “shoots himself in the foot” to avoid ever feeling the injury to his pride again; pride is everything to him, so he will push away anything that could make him vulnerable and “weak;” because if he gets attached to someone, that gives that person the power to injure his pride. I think that in the golden period the narcissist really does feel infatuation or obsession (which I think is a normal feeling in the beginning of a relationship for non-narcissists, as well); then the narcissist begins to push away the victim to avoid attachment because attachment could result in something like what we consider love, and that would result in weakness and put the pride at risk of injury. Then, perhaps similar to the way non-narcissists try to keep the heart satisfied, narcissists try to keep the pride satisfied, and gets satisfaction from knowing he could still win over the victim, or that the victim still loves or thinks about him, or that the victim’s pride is still injured by the narcissist, and that his pride is still the “winner.” I think the narcissist willingly refuses love in exchange for pride.

    Sadly, at least it is sad in the minds of normal empathic people, I think that somehow the narcissist learned that pride was more important than love. Of course, who’s to say that our belief that love is more important than pride is the “correct” belief? And, realistically, even though empathic people don’t purposely set out to manipulate and hurt others, inevitably, in our love pursuits, others do end up getting hurt when relationships don’t work out. People’s hearts get broken all the time, even if not intended; probably almost everyone has broken a heart at some point; and whether we realized it or not, I’m sure we have injured a lot of people’s pride. Who can really determine if breaking an empath’s heart is more or less painful that breaking a narcissist’s pride? (I didn’t intend to go that route, empathizing with narcissists, but I guess that’s the empathic philosopher in me.)

    Anyway, perhaps what HG refers to as fuel, control, character traits and residual benefits are all things that feed the pride, in the way that I look at it. And I look at narcissism as, quite possibly, a defense mechanism to protect pride that was catastrophically injured at some point, and possibly, in some cases, differences in brain development. I think there might actually be some similarities between the brain development in narcissism and autism, mostly in the areas of empathy and social cues/expectations or socializing. In analyzing my abuser, who I am now convinced was a narcissist, I originally was considering the possibility of him having Asperger’s Syndrome (high functioning autism); I still wouldn’t completely rule it out.

    1. A Victor says:

      Interesting theories, written by an (self described?) empath. Thank you.

      1. BC30 says:

        AV, The main reason I value and trust HG’s expertise is that when I initially researched narcissism, I researched the medical and psychiatric perspective. HG’s view is congruent, but HG’s work is especially valuable because it is from the narcissist’s perspective and teaches us how to deal with the narcissist.*

        It’s 100% a self-defense mechanism arising from environmental factors and genetic predisposition.

        * In short, GOSO.

        1. A Victor says:

          BC30, thank you, I am aware. I have the same faith in HG’s work. I have not even questioned much of what is in WP’s comment, I don’t care about most of that honestly. I just keep seeing these “theories” and I do question that a bit. But, not my concern. Yes, GOSO, the best response. Thank you.

          1. Winning Path says:

            Maybe I should clarify that I am in no way encouraging victims to stay in or return to a narcissistic relationship. Yes, GOSO, the sooner the better.

            But that doesn’t mean we can’t try to look at the narcissist from another perspective to be understanding. And I am not disagreeing with HG; I follow HG’s posts and videos because the things he says, by and large, fit with and explain what I experienced with my narcissist. But I also take into consideration things that my narcissist did and expressed, and see how that fits in with what HG says. It adds layers and reasoning; I don’t think it refutes it.

            In regards to the idea that the narcissist cared in the beginning of the relationship, I recall reading somewhere that HG stated that the mid-range narcissist believed that he loved the victim. So that fits with that stated idea. But, nevertheless, my narcissist (who I presume was a malignant somatic mid-range) told me at the end of our relationship that he had manipulated me all along since the very beginning. That was his defense mechanism, because I “injured” him by injuring his pride in the end by rejecting him, not giving him what he wanted, and pointing out his declining appearance from age and weight, and by out-manipulating him. Sex, appearance and his intelligence/manipulative abilities were all things that he prided himself on, to the extreme. As one can imagine, my rejection, insults and manipulation did not sit well with him; so he tried to deal the ultimate blow with the denial that he ever cared or that any of it was genuine. For someone who supposedly never cared about me, he sure expended an exorbitant amount of energy, time, effort, frustration, etc. In all, it spanned 17 years, intermittently, since we lived in different states; he did an awful lot of driving, and faced a lot of rejection, for not much reward … maybe he thoroughly enjoyed the challenge; but I doubt someone would put in that much effort for something they didn’t care about. One could argue that he didn’t care about “me” and instead cared about conquering me; for argument’s sake, even if that’s the case, it’s still about me, something special or particular about me that he wanted. And, ultimately, I derived some enjoyment out of our relationship, as well; although, to say that the bad certainly outweighed the good, would be a gross understatement. I think both of us lost more than we gained unfortunately. I don’t think that was the goal of either of us. My goal wasn’t for either of us to lose anything. And his goal, I’m sure, wasn’t for him to lose anything; whether or not he wanted me to lose anything, I don’t know. But, I’m sure he lost more than he anticipated.

            The point I was trying to get to is that for the victim, the thought that the abuser never cared and it was always just a game is especially hurtful; and I believe it is inaccurate. I imagine for some, it is accurate; just like with non-narcissists, there are certain people who will lie to get what they want. But certainly, there are many who embarked on a relationship because they genuinely cared or liked the person. For the victim, they suffered enough throughout the relationship; they don’t need the added pain of thinking they never meant anything to the abuser. I am not saying that they should falsely think or be told that the abuser did care in the beginning; but I think that in many cases, the abuser did care in the beginning; and I think that is important and helpful for the victim to know. They should not stay or return because of that, but knowing that can help to limit or ease the hurt.

            None of what I ever say is to encourage the victim to stay or return or try to “fix;” doing so would destroy the victim. I am thankful that I walked away so many years ago; but because I was such an extremely young victim, I have only recently remembered all of this, so I am now dealing with the emotional fallout and aftermath. Luckily, my abuser has passed away, so there is no way for me to fall into the trap of returning, except in my mind. I do vacillate between being glad I left, and wishing I had tried to break through with him, because I feel I was close. But I have to remind myself that any possible “fix” to him would have destroyed me so much more than he already did; I had already given so much to him. And, ultimately, he did not deserve me.

            It is interesting that HG describes how differently the narcissist receives insults, etc. when they are wrapped in emotion, versus not in emotion. I was just reflecting on my perception of my narcissist throughout the abuse. It struck me that I accepted, dismissed, forgave, forgot, or overlooked so much when it was delivered during his anger or fury. It’s like I continued to see the “beautiful” person that I adored, and excused the monster that reared its ugly head sometimes, like it wasn’t the same person; psychologically splitting him. It wasn’t until 12 years in that he finally showed me the “ugly” person inside of him in the absence of anger or fury. On that day, I finally saw and acknowledged that there was an undesirable, unsavory, “ugly” person inside of him. I was immediately disenchanted and disillusioned. Whether or not the “beautiful” person really existed at all, I cannot be sure; I think he did. But, it was of little consequence, because I couldn’t dismiss the “ugly” person that was there either, instead of, or in addition to, the “beautiful” person. All along, the “ugly” person was cloaked in anger, so I didn’t see him for what he was; I dismissed it because of the anger that brought the “ugly” person out; for, that was the only time I witnessed this “ugly” person … until that one day. When I saw the “ugly” person in absence of anger, just in an everyday situation, I realized this was not a person I wanted to be with. I had been devalued; and with that, he showed me his true self — shallow, superficial, bitter, petty, disagreeable, etc.. Because he devalued me, he either didn’t want to put in the effort of pretending to be nice; or, he purposely became bitter and petty in his behaviors as part of his devaluation. Either way, it turned me off to him; it enabled me to walk away without feeling like I would be missing out on something.

            As HG has mentioned, narcissists tend to act in such a way that NOW is what matters, and they either don’t think about the future or figure they’ll deal with it later. My narcissist always seemed to operate that way; he never seemed to realize or care about the future repercussions of his behaviors. Every time he did something malicious, he did so as if it was the end, never thinking that one day he was going to want to be with me again or that one day I might give him another chance. Each time he hammered another nail into the coffin. It is ironic that with all the horrific abuse I was subjected to by him, the thing that pushed me over the edge was showing me the shallow, superficial, petty, bitter, disagreeable person inside of him. It’s interesting … because of what I, as an empath, value in a person, he became devalued in my eyes when he showed me those undesirable character traits, much in the same way that he, as a somatic narcissist, devalued me over the fact that my body wasn’t perfect in his eyes at that particular time (because that was what he valued in a person, seemingly the only thing he valued), and he failed to take into account that it was temporary in nature; he only considered the NOW.

            After five years with no contact, I made contact with him to retrieve the pride he had taken from me; it was a zero sum gain, the pride that I got, I took from him, except for the part that he had to swallow and choke on. But I digress …

            Anyways, the main point I wanted to make was that even if I express empathy towards narcissists, or any views that might shine a different or more favorable light on them, it is not meant to encourage victims to stay with, return to, or attempt to “fix” a narcissist. Doing so would cause the victim more destruction. Alternatively, they can possibly find some comfort in some of the things I express, such as the idea that it is possible that their abuser did care about them in some way at some point, which is way better than feeling like they were nothing but a pawn in some careless person’s sick ruthless game. Hopefully, they can get comfort knowing that there was something special and likable about them, and they can take pride in knowing that they are a better person, and take comfort in the fact that they are better off without the narcissist and that the victim is not missing out on anything because the narcissist is not who the victim thought they were and is not the kind of person they would want to be with.

          2. A Victor says:

            Hi Winning Path, thank you for your reply, and for sharing your experience! That is always helpful to me for understanding context. In a nutshell, in my case, I do believe that my abusers “cared” about me (or as I now know, my fuel) in the best/only way they could. It just was not in a way that was sustainable as a good thing on any level. Also, I feel that your desire to “express empathy” toward narcissists is along the lines of me stating, on a different thread, that coming to understand how they function helps me to “forgive” them. It was probably a poor choice of words on my part but in the end, it does help me to have empathy for them. I always have for my mother, knowing what she likely grew up with, it had to be hell. But, then to make the lives of her children hell, that did not make sense until I arrived here. Now my empathy toward her is further extended but still I need ANC to be in place. Thank you again for your response and for sharing your story.

    2. Asp Emp says:

      WP, again, a very interesting comment.Before I subscribed to KTN site – I came across information online – not necessarily factual because, not yet proved scientifically, nor has the DSM ‘lists’ been updated to reflect any up to date “research findings” as per Autism / Empath / Narcissim comparisons. However, I read that it was said there are similarities in character traits between those with Aspergers & Narcissists and also between Aspergers & Empaths.

      More specifically on Aspergers & Empaths – especially in relation to sensitivity with for example: loud & unwanted noises; bright lights & preference to natural daylight; touched by strangers ie on the arm (like fk off, don’t touch me or invade my personal space); unwanted and over-powering smells ie silage……. here I have given an example of each of the 5 human senses.

      Aspergers & Narcissism – I have no idea.

      But you have raised an interesting point and I feel this is something that can be explored further – by asking people who know ie ‘experts by experience’ and by contacting organisations ie National Autistic Society and so on. I am quite confident there is information out there somewhere but it just has not been ‘put together’ in a reliable and reputable place (ie DSM lists….. ehem).

      So you saying at the end of your comment “I still wouldn’t completely rule it out” – totally agree with you on this. So it was good to read another of your comments, thank you.

      1. Winning Path says:

        Thank you Asp Emp.

        Emotional empathy is thought to be lacking in Asperger’s. Proper or expected social interactions or reactions do not come naturally in Asperger’s. Many of the things that come naturally to neurotypical people, have to be taught in Asperger’s. They may laugh when someone gets hurt, not because they are heartless, but because they don’t understand the proper response. They can learn, in time, if it is pointed out to them. There are social classes for people with Asperger’s to learn things like how to keep a comfortable distance with others, social expectations like smiling and saying hello and goodbye, how to read other people’s facial expressions and emotions, how to pay attention to someone else’s interests in order to carry on a conversation, how to make eye contact, how to express concern when someone is sad, etc. My son has Asperger’s Syndrome. He attended social classes for years to learn such things, and still struggles with some things. Sexual interactions will be another challenge as he gets older. Many people with Asperger’s will struggle with the appropriate ways of interacting sexually with others. They might not understand what is appropriate or not, they don’t instinctively know how to gauge someone’s reaction and to adjust their own action accordingly. I think there are many instances where someone with Asperger’s gets in trouble for inappropriate sexual things because of their lack of understanding and the lack of ability to read people. As an example, using a non-sexual thing, my son would sit next to someone on a bench, he would sit too close, the person would slide away a bit, my son would slide over next to them again; he didn’t understand the space that was expected between them and couldn’t understand that they were sliding away to try to get that comfortable distance. Initially, if he saw me cry, he didn’t understand it; now if he sees me cry, he understands that I’m sad, but he doesn’t seem to feel sad about it of for me. So many of these things must be taught to people with Asperger’s. People with Asperger’s obsess on things. They go through lengthy periods of being hyper focused on a particular thing, then switch their obsession to something else for a long time, then switch to another. During these periods, it is hard to get their minds on anything else for any reasonable amount of time. They are very persistent in getting what they want, and they have a hard time not touching things. They are obsessive and have issues with impulse control.

        Many of these things are similar with Narcissists. They have studied and learned how to act in the ways that others would expect, and in ways that will get them what they want. My somatic mid-range narcissist was very aggressive sexually. A person with Asperger’s might act in the same way, because he doesn’t understand that it’s not appropriate to continue doing something when the person said, “No,” if he is not explicitly taught that. My son has learned to manipulate to get what he wants, and he is extremely persistent in trying to get his way. We didn’t explicitly teach him those things, perhaps he learned them from watching others manipulate, and perhaps his obsessiveness and lack of impulse control drives it.

        HG has described learning to mimic expressions and emotions that would be expected in a given situation. Many times, my narcissist seemed to fail to implicitly understand or anticipate what was expected, or right and wrong, or what my reaction would be to something, that should have been so obvious. His facial expressions typically seemed appropriate, and he could muster a concerned or remorseful appearance, even tearing up on rare occasions; but when answering a question about something he had done, he seemed to not anticipate that what he had done (and was admitting to) would be considered wrong and would result in my displeasure. (One might argue that he didn’t care if I was displeased, or that he was seeking fuel; but, for example, if he drove 1,000 miles to try to get me to run away with him, and was trying to convince me to run away with him, it would defeat the purpose to tell me something that would cause me to not go with him.) Many times I would have to point out the unfairness of something or explain why it was unfair, before he would realize he needed to alter his behavior or reaction. He was really good at manipulating most of the time, but there were areas that he just didn’t seem to comprehend which would result in a missed opportunity for manipulation, and instead resulted in failure to achieve his goal.

        I see many similarities between Asperger’s and Narcissist’s emotional empathy and cognitive empathy and understanding of social expectations or social cues. My son does cry and laugh and smile and like to hug and kiss, so he does feel emotions like happiness and sadness, and always has; but he struggles with understanding expectations of others or how something might make someone else feel. He can read happiness and anger and sadness on someone’s face; I don’t think he was always able to; some other expressions he might not pick up on.

        I just did some reading on Asperger’s versus Narcissistic Personality Disorder. They can be very similar; one distinction I read was with regard to malicious intent. Someone with Asperger’s might hurt someone, but without the intent to do so; whereas, a Narcissist has malicious intent. I also came across an interesting article about a brain study of Psychopaths (which some Narcissists are), in which the part of the brain responsible for emotional empathy became active when they were asked to imagine how an injured person felt.

        Another distinction might be that people with Asperger’s seem to need to be taught social lessons explicitly, while Narcissists seem to learn them implicitly by observing others. I’m only basing that observation on young people with Asperger’s; there is the chance that by adulthood, they may learn implicitly by having observed others.

        However, to complicate matters more, there can be overlap, and the conditions can exist comorbidly.

        Thank you for your comment, and triggering me to look into it more.

        1. Asp Emp says:

          Winning Path,

          Thank you very much for your response. What you have said is very interesting and the fact you have done some further reading is touching.

          I learned since very young to observe others, I had no choice to do so, because of my hearing loss. So my eyes do the ‘reading’ of situations and it is difficult when I cannot hear the tone of spoken words so I rely on facial expressions and body language to be able to gauge how the other (or people) are coming across to me (if directly engaging with me). Some people are so easy to ‘read’, others are not. Learning about narcissism has been very interesting and with the knowledge I have gained to date, I will be able to bear this in mind when I go out in public places (ie shops etc).

          In relation to emotional empathy, I believe I do possess that to a certain degree (more than other people who have Aspergers, possibly due to my empath traits). Eye contact is something I am forced to do for communication purposes, I believe that if I did not have a hearing loss, I would be one to use less eye contact. There may be occasions where I am talking and I have caught myself looking away from the person – simply because my brain is ‘processing’ what I am talking about – not because I am avoiding to look at the other person. Because of my hearing loss, I have to concentrate on what the other person is saying as well as the eye contact while all the time, my brain is processing all this information in one go – not a very easy task for someone with Aspergers.

          Granted, growing up and being someone with Aspergers and hearing loss, I was not ‘taught’ social ‘cues’ as I should have been – mother being a narcissist, would not have assisted as compared to a parent who is a neurotypical. My sister was brilliant for me but I do not have her around for the kind of ‘support’ that someone like me needs from time to time. I have missed that type of ‘support’ for many years, which has not helped my confidence in myself. All it would take would be one person to be there and just knowing that they are there would give me reassurance and increase my confidence within myself.

          As Aspergers is effectively a ‘developmental disorder’ (I don’t like that description, ‘difference’ would be better, in my opinion). It takes many years for someone with Aspergers to learn about social cues and so on, even after ‘training’ (of which I never had, due to also going to boarding school – so the first 20 years of my life, I lost out on opportunity to learn from family – the first 20 years of a person’s life are the most important to learn about ‘life skills’ and I missed all of that).

          I understand all about ‘personal space’ and I have seen some people with Aspergers do it. I do not. Unless, it is someone I am in an intimate relationship with, even then, they may need their ‘personal space’ from time to time.

          I understand what you say about the ‘repetitive’ and ‘obsessions’ that people with Aspergers may have. I think I need to point out, there is a marked difference between males and females on this aspect. For me, personally, it depends on where, who with, what I am doing. I am aware of myself in this aspect and can move my attention from one thing to another quickly.

          I have seen Aspergers in males and in some instances, it can be more ‘pronounced’ especially when they are around a female they are ‘attracted’ to. There is something that I call ‘the male aspie dance’ where the foot-shuffling (instinctual and more often than not, unaware response) – the males tend to do this and I have not noticed this characteristic in females. The male does it when they are either nervous or excited. Even if I meet a person for the first time, I can see some Aspergers behaviours and again, I do not point it out to that person (again, that person may not be aware of their Aspergers), that is something that I have learned over the years, which is a plus, on my part.

          Aspergers is more difficult to be noticed in females, simply because of the ‘hormonal’ differences compared to males.

          When it comes to communication – even after ‘learning’ how to communicate with others, someone with Aspergers can still struggle with that, even with self-confidence in themselves.
          I agree with what you say on the difference between a Narcissist and Aspergers in relation to ‘malicious intent’. I questioned myself on this in relation to my empath characteristics. It’s information on KTN blog, or by asking HG, or commentors like you – where I am forced to stop and think about it.

          That is very interesting “I also came across an interesting article about a brain study of Psychopaths (which some Narcissists are), in which the part of the brain responsible for emotional empathy became active when they were asked to imagine how an injured person felt”. Thank you for sharing this. I knew about the Psychopath / Narcissist part – but the information about the emotional empathy – that was interesting. HG has explained that he has cognitive empathy (which is a real bonus in understanding other’s emotions).

          Yes, I believe there is comorbidity as you describe it. It’s not necessarily a ‘complication’ as long as it is recognised within the individual who has it – and recognised by people who actually know the characteristics / traits of such ‘comobidity’ within individuals. If an individual is not aware of this within themselves, they need guidance by the right people with the right level of understanding of the human psyche.

          Thank you for your kind words and thank you for sharing quite a bit about your son, it has been interesting reading. I hope what I have typed back makes sense and I apologise that there is a lot.

          Thank you, HG, for your time in moderating this, I really appreciate it 🙂

          1. A Victor says:

            Asp Emp, thank you for this reply, it is always good to understand more about things people we interact with are dealing with. I did not know you have hearing loss, do you use sign language? This conversation has been very informative, thanks to you both.

          2. Asp Emp says:

            Thank you for saying so AV, I am glad it helped you 🙂
            Oh, I assumed that you knew! Deaf since birth but can lip-read very well and speak quite clearly compared to majority of deaf people. Yup, can used sign language – was a shock to see it on my first day at school……. laughing….. so I learned pretty quick and it’s really useful to have knowledge of, if your mouth is busy…. (laughing)

          3. A Victor says:

            Haha, “…if your mouth is busy”!! Funny! Yes, that is true, but the recipient needs to be able to read it also, and I don’t know many who can.

          4. Asp Emp says:

            Oh, AV, how naive of you – not all “languages” need to be vocal, besides the recipient may be busy too (laughing) 😉

          5. Z - zwartbolleke says:

            Thank you for sharing AspEmp, I did not knew both of those things about you. I will keep in mind from now on that you are deaf, sometimes I would say a thing that hurts without knowing it hurts, because we take it for granted everybody can hear.

          6. Asp Emp says:

            Ah, bless you. No, you have no need to apologise or withhold from saying anything. That is what this blog is for – to share experiences and hear others, etc. A lot of people take other people for granted – it happens, that is human nature……. but, hey, I ‘speak loudly’ on here…… (laughing). It’s really nice of you take into consideration though, thank you 🙂

          7. A Victor says:

            Hahaha, Asp Emp, thank you for the observation of my naivete! Of course, you are correct!!

          8. Asp Emp says:


  4. Asp Emp says:

    …… a prayer for the victim…….

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