Lack of empathy in patients with narcissistic personality disorder
Ritter, K., Dziobek, I., Preissler, S., Vater, A., Rüter, A., Lammers, C. H., Heekeren, H. R., Roepke, S. – 2010
The study's objective was to empirically assess cognitive and emotional empathy in patients with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). To date, "lack of empathy" is a core feature of NPD solely based on clinical observation. The study's method was that forty-seven patients with NPD, 53 healthy controls, and 27 clinical controls with borderline personality disorder (BPD) were included in the study. Emotional and cognitive empathy were assessed with traditional questionnaire measures, the newly developed Multifaceted Empathy Test (MET), and the Movie for the Assessment of Social Cognition (MASC). The study's results were that individuals with NPD displayed significant impairments in emotional empathy on the MET. Furthermore, relative to BPD patients and healthy controls, NPD patients did not show deficits in cognitive empathy on the MET or MASC. Crucially, this empathic profile of NPD is not captured by the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV for Axis II Disorders (SCID-II). The study's conclusions were that while NPD involves deficits in emotional empathy, cognitive empathy seems grossly unaffected.