Empathy is a basic skill that allows us to communicate successfully with other members of our species and our society, allowing a healthy coexistence and respecting the rights, freedoms and needs of each of its components.
Through it, we can relate to a deep level and value and feel valued by others. But the truth is, not everyone is this empathetic, and there are even some who don’t quite have this ability. Not having it can lead to behaviors that are incomprehensible to the majority and to a great handicap, and even in some people trigger aggression or violence How could we recognize someone who does not? In this article we will talk about different signs that betray someone with a lack of empathy.
What is empathy?
We call empathy the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes, to understand the feelings and thoughts that others may have and how they are affected by situations or even by our own actions. It is about seeing things not objectively and coldly, but seeing them as others experience them: the implications for the person, their subjectivity, their context and their circumstances must be taken into account, as well as their idiosyncrasy and their personality. .
Empathy is a basic element of deep interpersonal relationships, As well as interpersonal and emotional intelligence by allowing us both appropriate and adaptive contact with others and the management of our own emotions and the recognition of those of others around us. Its absence can have repercussions on the life of the person who does not have it and also on their environment, generating instability, loneliness and even problems adapting to society or following social norms.
There are many causes that can generate a lack of empathy: from deprivation of affection throughout childhood to the experience of physical, mental and / or sexual abuse, as well as various neurological cases and problems, to ‘ neurological or psychological development ”. It is important to note that each person has their own abilities and empathy may be more or less developed in each of us, but the complete absence of this ability 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 it is also the latter in which the lack of empathy can go hand in hand with the exercise of violence, disobedience to rules and laws and even crimes, this is the case of people with the disorder. antisocial or the case of psychopathy and sociopathy.
Signs that betray a lack of empathy
Here are some signs that reflect the presence of difficulty or lack of empathy, regardless of the reason for its occurrence. It should be noted that the lack of empathy can arise on a cognitive level (i.e. not knowing what the other may be feeling), on an emotional level (although one does know how the other may be feeling). feeling this has no emotional impact) or both ways. Also, in addition to all this, it should be borne in mind that lack of empathy can be associated with different characteristics. according to other facets of personality and cognitionNot all of the following are applicable to all subjects with a lack of empathy.
1. Immersion in oneself
One characteristic that people with low empathy generally have in common, especially those with 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. .
2. Problems of understanding
Not being able to put themselves in other people’s shoes makes it difficult for many people with empathy issues to understand the actions and words of others, as well as the reaction to their own actions. It can cause pain in the subject himself. or be somewhat indifferent, depending on whether there is a desire for a relationship (as in people with Asperger’s) or whether it is indifferent.
3. Theory of the distorted 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 can lead to or be related to a problem as such, there is some inability to separate one’s own perspective from what others may have.
Self-centeredness is common to all people who lack empathy: they see everything from their point of view, being the only valid one and not raising the validity of the others. There can also be selfishness: the only or the most important is what you want, defending your rights and achieving your goals.
Although not essential, it is common for those who lack empathy to develop some degree of narcissism, considering it superior or more valuable than others and make their needs a little above the rights of others. This aspect is strongly linked to the previous point.
6. Lack of tact and inadequate context
In contact with others, someone who does not have empathy will be characterized by a communication that does not take into account or to which it is indifferent to know how others may react. Thus, they can put aside the pragmatic aspects of the language and send extremely harsh messages without any tact towards their senders. This sign may not be evident in attempted manipulation cases if the person has high intelligence and is able to cognitively know how things are affecting others.
Another common characteristic of non-empathetic people is impatience with others: they cannot understand or assess the needs of others and find it irritating to have to repeat or invest time doing things with others, Integrating-.
8. Stereotypes and prejudices follow
The lack of capacity for empathy makes it common for these people to use stereotypes and prejudices to guide themselves, acting cognitively and using labels to guide their behavior and thinking. They are also not able to see how these affect the behavior of others.
9. Superficial, destructive or avoided relationships
One thing common to most people who lack empathy is the fact that by not being able to identify and assess the other person’s emotions and thoughts as something valuable or interesting and not being able to relate in their place, generally keep superficial and superficial. relationships. It is possible that this type of relationship is just cordial or that there is seductive behavior to self-satisfy their needs, or that they are directly avoided to be incomprehensible.
10. Utility behaviors
A person with a great lack of empathy tended to use other people as a resource to achieve their ends. Not being able to put yourself in the other’s shoes leads to the devaluation and reification of the other, using them directly or indirectly to achieve personal goals regardless of their feelings.
11. Aggression and violence
While not all people who don’t have empathy develop violent attitudes (for example, people with autism have issues with empathy and are usually not violent), the truth is that not having empathy makes it easier. using aggressive or even violent problem-solving styles in the absence of awareness of what this implies for the other or of the suffering they can cause.
12. Lack of remorse
Doing something that hurts others usually causes remorse in most people. However, in those who lack empathy for remorse, they are non-existent or much less than usual, although they can apologize if they have the knowledge that others have suffered or if it suits them. their purposes.