Both Narcissism and Autism are on a Spectrum. Narcissism is a personality disorder that ranges from mild to severe. And on the Autism Spectrum, “Asperger’s” is a high functioning form of Autism. Instead of listing Narcissism and autism on separate Spectrums, should they possibly be classified on the same Spectrum? There is some merit to coming to that conclusion, especially if you’re looking at it through the lens of my Empathy Scale.I am not alone in seeing the similarities and overlaps between Asperger’s and Narcissism. Dr. Khalid A. Mansoura proposes in an article in the Pan Arab Journal of Psychiatry that narcissistic personality may merit classification as an autistic spectrum disorder.
In her Narcissism or Asperger’s article on Psychology Today, Dr. Susan Heitler concludes, “The bottom line from my perspective is that there is often overlap between these two syndromes.”
Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen suggests that “Aspies” are narcissistic by the very definition of autism, which means they have Zero Degrees of Empathy, or what I call EmD-0 or Empathy Dysfunction-0. (Read more about Empathy Dysfunction in my new book “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS.”)
What does differ is the motivation behind the behavior. The “Aspie’s” narcissism is not for the purpose of harming you, as is the case for a true dyed in the wool Narcissist. Sure, it feels the same either way, but it’s motivated differently.
Your loved one on the Spectrum may never acquire empathy, but they can learn to be polite and gracious and follow social rules. It’s not easy to change ingrained narcissistic behavior, but it is possible with “Aspies.”
If you’ve wasted too much of your precious life trying to accommodate an ASD narcissist, whether it’s a family member, coworker or neighbor, it’s time to seek professional support in rebuilding the life you’re meant to live. I offer online therapy so we can “meet” when it works best for your busy schedule.