Will narcissists ever feel the pain they inflicted to others?

You’re in shambles, distraught over the treatment you’ve received from a narcissist. You’ve never felt this type of hurt before, and you don’t even know where to begin picking up the pieces of your life.

If this sounds familiar, you’ve probably been a victim of narcissistic abuse. And, if you’re like most victims, you want to know if the narcissist knows just how badly they’ve hurt you. 

You hang on to a shred of hope, convinced that deep down, the narcissist knows what they’ve done wrong and will make an effort to repair what they’ve broken. 

I encourage you not to hang on to false hope, as it will only make things worse. Below, we’ll dive into why the narcissist likely doesn’t feel the pain they inflict. 

Does the narcissist know the pain they’ve caused?

You probably don’t have time to beat around the bush, so let’s get straight to the point. The narcissist likely doesn’t know the extent of the pain they’ve caused.

If they do know, they truthfully don’t care about how much damage they’ve caused you. Their egos protect them from ever acknowledging the reality of what they’ve done. 

Below are the top reasons they won’t feel your pain.

Lack of empathy 

Perhaps the number one reason narcissists won’t feel the pain they inflict is that they struggle with empathy.

Empathy is a weak muscle in narcissistic people, and they often aren’t willing to train it. So, you can expect them to struggle to identify with your feelings.

The narcissist is only interested in their own needs and desires, so they aren’t taking time to think about how their actions affect you. This protects them from feeling your pain. 

Inability to take accountability 

Narcissists are known to struggle to take accountability for their actions. Underneath their superior, charismatic surface, they’re actually quite unsure of themselves. 

In order to maintain their fragile egos, narcissists must convince themselves they’re infallible. Admitting to hurting someone would mean admitting that they aren’t perfect, which would cause a total ego collapse.

To avoid this collapse, the narcissist refuses to take accountability. They cannot possibly consider the fact that they might have caused you pain.

Instead, they will deflect blame onto you, minimize the seriousness of the damage they’ve caused, or otherwise justify their behavior. This, again, prevents them from recognizing the pain they’ve caused. 

Gaslighting tendencies 

Narcissists are also expert gaslighters. Rather than recognizing that they’ve caused you pain, they’ll gaslight to talk you out of being hurt in the first place.

Gaslighting occurs when the narcissist convinces you that you’re imagining things or that you’ve lost your mind. For instance, if you mention that they hurt you, they’ll claim it never happened.

Or, they might tell you that you’re just being too sensitive, and you shouldn’t be upset at all. Either way, they’ll make you question your reality, all the while avoiding the pain they’ve caused you. 

Self-centered tendencies

Along with the narcissist’s lack of empathy comes self-centered tendencies. Narcissists don’t have time to consider the experiences or feelings of others, because they are so wrapped up in their own interests.

So, they likely won’t ever feel the pain they’ve inflicted. The truth is that they’ve inflicted this pain while getting what they want. 

As long as the narcissist is getting their needs met, they won’t stop to consider how they’ve affected you. 

Extreme grandiosity 

Narcissists have an extreme sense of grandiosity, meaning they believe they’re superior to others. Since they feel you’re beneath them, they won’t take time to consider the pain they’ve caused you.

In their minds, they are above you, so they don’t even pay your pain any mind. Taking time to consider the pain they’ve caused you would mean you’re equal to them, and they simply cannot view you in this way. 

Strong sense of entitlement

In addition to their other qualities, narcissists have a strong sense of entitlement. They believe they have a right to treat you however they want, as long as they’re getting what they need from you.

If the narcissist causes you pain in the process of extracting whatever they can from you, they won’t particularly care. They will just view your pain as a necessary step toward them having their needs met. 

On the off chance the narcissist does recognize the pain they’ve caused, they’ll justify it. After all, they’re just doing what they must to meet their needs. 

Tendency to project 

Narcissists are experts at projection, meaning they attribute their bad qualities to others. This prevents them from acknowledging the pain they’ve inflicted.

The narcissist may have some recognition, at least on a preconscious level, that they’re causing you pain.  However, it’s too terrifying for them to feel what they’ve inflicted on you.

So, they’ll project their shortcomings onto you. They might accuse you of being incredibly hurtful or self-centered, which makes them feel better. 

Ultimately, this prevents them from truly feeling the pain they’ve caused you. 

Difficulty with shame

Narcissists tend to be incredibly shame-avoidant because feeling any sense of shame would threaten the feelings of superiority and grandiosity they maintain to protect their egos. 

Truly reflecting upon the pain they cause others would result in extreme feelings of shame for the narcissist. Over time, they’ve built up strong defense mechanisms that prevent them from feeling shame.

These defense mechanisms protect their vulnerable egos and prevent them from being triggered by feelings of inferiority. 

Since they maintain these defense mechanisms as a form of self-preservation, it’s highly unlikely they’ll ever feel the pain they’ve inflicted on others. 

The Bottom Line

Based upon the traits that come along with narcissism, it’s unlikely the narcissist will ever recognize the pain they’ve caused you. 

Narcissists tend to be self-centered and lacking in empathy, which means they cannot truly understand the pain they cause. They cannot genuinely recognize their impact on others or show remorse for their behavior. 

If you’re waiting around for the narcissist to feel the pain they’ve caused, you’ll probably end up disappointed. They might recognize that their behavior causes distress for others, but they cannot grasp the seriousness of the harm they inflict. 

The personality traits that come with narcissism simply aren’t conducive to recognizing the pain a narcissist causes others. 

Based on their own wounds, the narcissist will go to great lengths to avoid taking accountability for their wrongdoings. They probably wouldn’t even be able to feel your pain if they wanted to, because their defense mechanisms are so strong.

You cannot control how the narcissist feels, but you can control whether you choose to engage with someone who continues to cause you immense pain with no remorse. 

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