People with degrees of narcissism may have what Sam Vaknin calls cold empathy. That is, though they do empathize, their empathy tends to be cold, calculated, and cognitive. They are keen observers and analysts of emotions – in themselves and others – but largely incapable of feeling them. They remain detached from emotional life, preferring to hold feelings at arm’s length where they can be safely scrutinized. The sad irony is that many such people were highly emotional and even highly empathic before undergoing the abuses and traumas that caused them to dissociate from their emotive hearts.
In the journal entry below (from July 1, 2012), I question my own lack of feeling:
Thursday night, our former gardener, Koryang, died suddenly. This news was devastating to Amber; she wept and even wailed a bit. Frankly, the news had absolutely no impact on me. Our polar opposite reactions caused me some worry. How could Amber be so attached to someone we couldn’t even converse with [due to the language barrier]? It made no sense to me. And how come I felt nothing – no grief, no remorse, no sadness? Koryang’s passing was basically a non-event to me. I could have just as well heard that a complete stranger died on the other side of the world. Even when Lochiyo Gabriel died, I think I cried a little but mostly for the people he left behind.
Do I not believe in a biblical hell? Do I think God will grant mercy to all? Why wouldn’t He? Would you if you were a perfectly forgiving person? I don’t know, but I’m not worried about Koryang…But why not?
So, I’m wondering why I’m a cold, heartless s.o.b.