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The neurobiology of empathy in narcissistic personality disorder (208)


Empathy is the ability to recognize and understand the state of mind of another person and can therefore be considered as prerequisite for successful social interactions. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPS) is one of the few psychiatric disorders which is not only characterized by dysfunctional interaction patterns, but also a "lack of empathy". Although the image of the NPS is clinically well described, there are currently very few empirical data on its diagnostic criteria, especially the "lack of empathy" (DSM-IV-TR).

By using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), this project aims at differentiating neurofunctional and neuroanatomical correlates of cognitive and emotional empathy in individuals with NPS in comparison to healthy controls and individuals with autism. A newly developed test for empathy (MET, "Multifaceted Empathy Test", Dziobek et al. 2008) will be implemented. Our study is the first on neuroanatomical and neuro-functional correlates of the NPS and specifically the lack of empathy and therefore aims at contributing to a better understanding of the disorder.


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