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Empathopenia - Coming Soon to a Relationship Near You

Does this sound like anyone you know?

Being “out of touch” with other people’s feelings
and touchy (i.e. irritable) when they are out of touch with yours
is a recipe for a difficult if not a disastrous relationship.

Like anger, empathy is in the eye and ear and gut of the beholder.  Empathy makes the heart grow fonder and at the very least will make you less ticked off at someone, because neurologically, you can’t be truly empathic and angry at the same moment.  That is because empathy is a sensory function and anger is a motor function.  Of course if you’d prefer to remain angry, then empathy may not be for you and you may fall into Empathopenia Malicious Type or Empathopenia Partially Malicious Type.

 

Empathopenia – noun – the state of diminished empathy.

Empathopenia – Malicious Type – as exhibited by Psychopathic Personalities in which empathy is absent except for knowing how to getting where people are coming from and use it against them.  Such people often appear to take delight in controlling, scaring and even terrorizing others.  Interestingly these people do not rage as much as they cunningly plot another person's destruction.  In this case there appears to be delight taken in the actual harming of others, also referred to as being sadistic. This can be experienced by others as chilling .

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Empathopenia – Partially Malicious Type – as exhibited by Narcissistic Personalities where there is an ability to be empathic regarding another person’s feelings, but there doesn’t appear to be a desire to do so unless it adds to the narcissist's own aggrandizement or self-serving, self-centered and self-absorbed needs.  This can also apply to the narcissistic sides of people with other personality disorders such as histrionic and borderline personalities when others do not conform to their emotional and psychological needs. When someone thwarts them, all of these people are capable of exhibiting an unrelenting and penetrating anger sometimes referred to as narcissistic rage. This can be experienced by others as frightening.

Empathopenia – Non Malicious Type – as exhibited by people with Axis I psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism and some autistic spectrum disorders.  Such people are not insensitive to other’s feelings, they are just not sensitive to others. That is because they are figuratively and literally psychologically preoccupied by their psychiatric condition and don't have the wherewithal to emotionally attune to others. That they often frustrate others bewilders them because they have no intent to do so.  This can be experienced by others as frustrating and exasperating.

Empathopenic – noun – a person that has diminished empathy. ex. “By showing so little empathy for others, he was showing the world that he was an empathopenic.”

Empathopenic – adj – the description of a person who has diminished empathy. ex. “By showing so little empathy for others, he proved to be an empathopenic person.”

* Empathopenic people often have trouble following the Golden Rule

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Mark Goulston, MD, is the author of the new bestselling book Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.

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