Lack Of Empathy: 12 Signs That Give It Away

Lack of empathy

Empathy is a basic skill that allows us to successfully relate to other members of our species and society, allowing for a healthy coexistence in which the rights, freedoms and needs of each of its components are respected.

Thanks to it we can relate at a deep level and value and feel valued by others. But the truth is that not everyone is equally empathetic, and there are even people who completely lack this ability. Not having it can lead to paths that are difficult to understand for most and cause great disability, and in some people it can even trigger aggression or violence. How could we recognize someone who lacks it? In this article we are going to talk about different signs that reveal someone with a lack of empathy

What is empathy?

We call empathy the ability to put ourselves in another’s shoes, understanding the feelings and thoughts that others may be having and how situations or even our own actions affect them. It is about seeing things not in an objective and cold way, but about seeing them as the other experiences them: the implications for the person, their subjectivity, their context and their circumstances, as well as their idiosyncrasies and personality.

Empathy is a basic element of deep interpersonal relationships, as well as interpersonal and emotional intelligence by allowing us both adequate and adaptive contact with others and the management of our own emotions and the recognition of those of the rest of the people in our environment. Its lack can have repercussions on the life of the person who lacks it and also on their environment, generating instability, loneliness and even problems adapting to society or following social norms.

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There can be many causes that can generate a lack of empathy: from the deprivation of affection throughout childhood to the experience of physical, psychological and/or sexual abuse, also passing through various neurological, neurodevelopmental or psychological conditions and problems. It’s important to put attention on each person has their own abilities and empathy may be more or less developed in each of us, but the total absence of this capacity is difficult and usually occurs in different disorders.

An example of this is the set of autism spectrum disorders. Another, the narcissistic personality or the borderline personality. Finally, and also being the latter in which the lack of empathy can go hand in hand with the exercise of violence, disobedience of rules and laws and even crimes, this is the case of people with antisocial disorder or the case of psychopathy and sociopathy.

Signs that reveal a lack of empathy

Below we indicate some signs that reflect the presence of a difficulty or absence of empathy, regardless of the reason for its appearance. It must be taken into account that the lack of empathy can occur at a cognitive level (that is, not knowing how the other may feel), at an emotional level (although we know how the other may feel, it does not have any emotional impact) or both. senses. Likewise, in addition to all this, we must take into account that the lack of empathy can be associated with different characteristics. based on other facets of personality and cognition not all the items that follow are applicable to all subjects with a lack of empathy.

1. Immersion in oneself

A characteristic that people with a lack of empathy often have in common, especially those who have autistic characteristics, is the feeling that they are focused on their inner world and that they are not fully aware of the people around them.

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2. Comprehension problems

Not being able to put yourself in the shoes of others means that for many people with empathy problems it can be difficult to understand the actions and words of others, as well as the reaction to their own actions. This can generate suffering in the subject himself or be somewhat indifferent, depending on whether there is a desire for a relationship (as for example in people with Asperger’s) or it is indifferent.

3. Distorted theory of mind

Theory of mind is the ability we have to realize that other people have their own minds, motivations and desires, and that these may be different from ours. The existence of a lack of empathy may lead to or be related to some problem in this capacity, with a certain inability to separate one’s own point of view from that of others.

4. Egocentrism

Something common in all people with a lack of empathy is egocentrism: they see everything from their point of view, this being the only valid one and not considering the validity of others There can also be selfishness: the only or most important thing is what one wants, the defense of one’s rights and the achievement of one’s goals.

5. Narcissism

Although it is not essential, it is common for those who lack empathy to develop a certain degree of narcissism, considering themselves superior or more valuable than the rest and putting your needs above other people’s rights This aspect is strongly linked to the previous point.

6. Lack of tact and contextual inappropriateness

In contact with others, someone who does not have empathy will be characterized by communication that does not take into account or is indifferent to how others may react. Thus, they can leave aside pragmatic aspects of language and send very harsh messages without any tact towards their senders. This sign may not be evident in the case of manipulation attempts, if the person has great intelligence and is able to know on a cognitive level how things affect others.

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7. Impatience

Another common characteristic of non-empathetic people is impatience with others: they cannot understand or do not value the needs of others and they find it irritating to have to repeat themselves or spend time doing things with others integrating them.

8. Stereotypes and prejudices continue

The fact of not having the capacity for empathy makes it common for these people to use stereotypes and prejudices to guide themselves, acting at a cognitive level and using labels in order to guide their behavior and thinking. They are also unable to see how they affect the behavior of others.

9. Superficial, destructive or avoided relationships

Something common to most people with a lack of empathy is the fact that, by not being able to identify and value the emotions and thoughts of others as something valuable or interesting and not being able to put themselves in their place, they generally maintain shallow and superficial. It is possible that this type of relationship is simply cordial or that there is seductive behavior to self-satisfy their needs, or that they are directly avoided because they are incomprehensible.

10. Utilitarian behaviors

A person with a great lack of empathy will tend to use other people as a resource to achieve their goals. Not being able to put yourself in the other’s place causes you to devalue and objectify the other, using them either directly or indirectly to meet personal objectives regardless of their feelings.

11. Aggression and violence

Although not all people who do not have empathy develop violent attitudes (for example, people with autism have problems with empathy and are not usually violent), the truth is that not having empathy makes it easier resort to aggressive or even violent problem-solving styles as there is no awareness of what this implies for the other or the suffering they can cause.

12. Lack of regrets

Doing something that hurts others usually generates some remorse in most people. However, in those who lack empathy, remorse is non-existent or much less than usual, although they can apologize if they have the knowledge that others have suffered or if it suits their purposes.