Instrumental Empathy: The Basis of Psychological Manipulation - Exploring your mind - Deepstash
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Instrumental Empathy

This type of empathy is a trait that’s often characteristic of narcissistic or psychopathic people.

These people are able to identify and read the emotions of others better than you realize. Once they know how the people around them are feeling, they take advantage of this connection to manipulate them and fulfill their own objectives. They manage to do all of this without feeling even a shred of remorse.


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Mirror Neurons

Mirror Neurons

A study published in the scientific journal Brain , by doctors Harma Meffert and Valeria Gazzola, brought to light the “mirror system”. This is the ability to tune into the emotions of others using "mirror neurons". These neurons are present even in people who are considered “psychopaths” and who are convicted criminals.

However, this empathy is usually brief, deliberately timed, and has a specific purpose. In reality, it’s not empathy at all.


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I understand your pain, but I don't care

Some people (and even primates) can understand the emotions of those around them and want to help them. On the other hand, others can identify those emotions, but choose not to do anything in response.

Those types of people who are using instrumental empathy are aware of other’s emotions and use them for their own benefit. While they do act, their only intention is to manipulate others and cause them harm. They manage this without having a guilty conscience or feeling any remorse.


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Characteristics Of Instrumental Empathy

People who use instrumental empathy are often extremely charming . Their goal is to convince the people around them that they really care for them.

Some key characteristics are:

  • They demonstrate cognitive empathy. In other words, they watch someone’s behavior, expressions, and tone of voice to understand how they’re feeling.
  • People with psychopathic tendencies feel the emotions of others. However, they’re able to switch their empathy off and on.


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