January 6th 2021 was a difficult day for many of us here in the United States of America (insurrection).
As a woman of color, I’ve taken some time for myself to try to process what I witnessed. And yes, it is disheartening to see such large numbers of people who hate people who look like me. And as for all people of color – we process this on a continuous basis. We are used to doing this. So, ultimately, I will be fine.⠀
But as a neuropsychologist, I’d like to offer some answers to you.
What is the cause of the behavior that we witnessed here in the States? ⠀
For some the cause is pathological narcissism
I’ve heard people say: “Those people are not intelligent.”
I disagree. Perhaps a few lack intellect above Average, however, I do not believe we can chalk it up to intelligence.⠀
Because that would be completely untrue.
I test patients everyday (e.g., give the IQ test, etc) and some of the individuals I test happen to have narcissistic personality disorder.⠀
Intellect is not their issue. Intellectually they run the gamut just like the rest of us. ⠀
Some are incredibly talented, accomplished, brilliant, and educated.⠀
However, emotionally they are EXTREMELY deficient and some are extremely dysregulated (e.g., aggressive). ⠀⠀
The Empathy System is Key
If a person is without a fully functioning empathy system … the default system is one of hate. There can be no love in the absence of empathy.
To truly understand others in society
- Empathy is required.
- Morality is required.
- Compassion is required.
Those prosocial emotions are managed by specific neuropathways in the brain and are dysfunctional in pathological narcissists.
This is the reason they tend to view social situations in a similar manner – through a lens of hate and victimhood.
Narcissists are left to process social situations at a disadvantage (without compassion, morality, and empathy). Due to their arrogance, they believe they are correct in their beliefs, although in reality their beliefs are hate-based and not rooted in reality.
People with empathy:
- Do not intentionally hurt others.
- Do not violate the rights of others.
- Do not believe in hate-based conspiracy theories.
- Can see the complexity of a social situation.
Dr. Rhonda Freeman