Have you ever wondered what a situation looks like from another participant’s perspective? Perhaps you have found yourself asking yourself what another person is going through and trying to understand how they’re feeling in that moment. This is Cognitive Empathy, or our ability to identify and understand other people’s emotions.

How do you react when you see another human being in pain? How about when children or animals are suffering? Most of us would feel sadness. We call that empathy, the ability to put yourself in their place and feel their pain. But there is more than just one type of empathy and one is cognitive empathy.

3 Types of empathy

Emotional empathy

Compassionate empathy

Cognitive empathy

All empathy is an ability to put oneself in another person’s shoes. Empathy is the capacity to imagine what another person is feeling.

1* Emotional empathy

is seeing this perspective from an emotional point of view. So we feel the grief and sorrow of others. We suffer the same physical symptoms, mirroring their emotions, having the same feelings as them.

2* Compassionate empathy

Compassionate empathy takes emotional empathy one step further. It adds an element of action with the emotion. Along with the capacity of feeling the same emotions is an urge to do something.

For example, your friend comes to you feeling depressed, knowing that you have previously suffered from depression. An emotional empath would know exactly what their friend was going through and feel their feelings. A compassionate one would take their friend to see a doctor.


3* Cognitive empathy

Finally, cognitive empathy is the ability to see another person’s perspective but in a more logical and analytical way. Some people describe cognitive empathy as a bit of an oxymoron.

This is because cognitive empaths are able to take the emotion out of a situation, something we don’t associate with empathy. People with a highly developed sense of cognitive empathy can understand what a person is going through without emotional connotations.

So, to clarify:

Emotional empathy: is connecting with someone’s emotions.
Cognitive empathy: is understanding the emotions of someone.
Compassionate empathy: is acting to help someone.

Why do some people lose empathy when depressed?

it’s a coping mechanism to shut off all emotions. If you don’t feel emotions then you can’t feel worse than normally would.

Also, lack of energy which doesn’t let you spend effort on empathizing with others.

However, depression has caused you to become very apathetic about everything and that’s the biggest factor for not feeling empathy. You just don’t care what happens in the world anymore. All the tragedies that occur don’t mean anything.

Shutting off emotions just makes it easier because when you’re feeling extremely down, the difference doesn’t hurt or affect you as much.

Still, the apathy could be a result of being too emotionally exhausted to imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Why do Narcissists Lack Empathy

Narcissists dont lack empathy in the way we typically believe they lack compassion, remorse, and regret.

We tend to confuse emotions like compassion with empathy, but as mentioned above, a person can understand what another person feels, thinks, and experiences without feeling the human emotions that go along with it.

Thats exactly why the narcissists lack of empathy concept is a farce and a dangerous one at that.

It tends to let them off the hook for very hurtful behavior. The narcissists lack of empathy idea implies that their abusive behavior is completely unintentional.

In reality, its extremely manipulative and extremely intentional.

Why do narcissist lack empathy

Way a narcissist use cognitive empathy

Using Cognitive Empathy to Get What They Want

As you can see, the narcissists lack of empathy is a myth because they need to use cognitive empathy to get what they want from those around them.

The interrogator wants to get information, the salesperson wants to sell a car, and the lawyer wants to win their case. In all of these situations, they need cognitive empathy to get into the subjects head. They need to understand the subjects feelings and thoughts which they can then manipulate into producing an outcome thats most beneficial to them.

Thats why youve likely found yourself bouncing back and forth many times wondering do they love me or hate me? Its a lot easier to believe this is not intentional and that the narcissist is not in control of their emotions and actions but these actions are calculated.


Like the interrogator, narcissists interpret emotions like love, openness, kindness, and generosity as weaknesses. And if you give an inch, theyll take a mile, back up, and drive the same mile over and over until youre pulling your hair out.

What makes people lose empathy?

1* Lack of reciprocation.

The other person/everyone else is apathetic to your own problems, perhaps to everyone else’s problems.

2* Being used/manipulated/taken advantage of.

Sadly there are a lot of people who will see a sensitive soul and try to milk it dry. Narcissists are particularly fond of this because empaths will bring them constant supply until they catch on.

3* Perpetual victmhood/wallowing in self pity/refusing to take responsibility for one’s life

example energy vampire. I think this is less severe than the above but it’s still an extremely common reason. Reactionary anti-victim counter-culture has been on the rise in the individualist world for the past half decade. Likely because…

The person regards themselves as a ‘special snowflake’ who, because of their suffering, is allowed to treat others like shit, or sit on their ass and do nothing to help mitigate the rest of the world’s suffering. In a roundabout way this covers all 3 of the above points, particularly for abusers who often rationalise their abusive/controlling behaviour with appeals to pity and victimhood.

Signs you have a highly developed cognitive empathy

1* You are not afraid of confrontation

Being opinionated usually means you also don’t back down from an argument or debate. Again, you don’t let emotion side-track you. You stick to facts to beef up your side of things.

And you don’t really get angry. Instead, you try and use logic to persuade and change someone’s mind.

2* You are a good mediator

Do you find that others naturally come to you to solve a dispute or argument? Having a highly developed sense of cognitive empathy allows you to see both sides of the argument.

You don’t get emotionally attached to the people involved. Instead, you see beyond the emotion of the situation, are able to evaluate the facts, and arrive at a fair decision for each party.

3* You are a people watcher

Is one of your favourite pastimes people-watching? Do you like to sit with a coffee and just watch the world go by? Those with highly attuned cognitive empathy tend to like to observe and watch people.

You may even wonder or predict the sort of lives these passers-by have. But you don’t get emotionally attached to the people you are observing. You are quite clinical in your observations. Almost as if you are conducting an experiment.

What makes people lose empathy

4* You are calm under pressure

Captain ‘Sully’ Sullenberger is the airline pilot that landed his stricken plane in the Hudson River after a bird strike took out both his engines. I would imagine he has a highly developed sense of cognitive empathy.

In a situation of intense pressure, he reacted in a methodical and rational manner. He analysed the problem and worked through every possible scenario. He did not let the overwhelming emotional pressure of saving his passengers cloud his thinking.


5* You are opinionated

Cognitive simply means thinking. Therefore, it stands to reason that if you can see another person’s perspective in a logical way, you are going to form opinions about the world.

As someone who is able to push aside the emotion and drama of a situation, you can focus on the facts.

For instance, one person may worry about the increasing influx of refugees into their country. However, you would instead research why there is an increase in refugees in the first place. You would ask why people are fleeing, who is responsible for them fleeing, what can be done to help them, how will it impact on local resources.

Thanks for reading, please share to educate others and don’t forget to like and comment your opinion in the comment section. See you next time and have a great day