Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

A journey to healing from complex trauma.

Neuroscience – Maybe this explains why empaths, are attracted to Narcissists/Sociopaths.



From this link ^^^

I heard a universal ‘sigh of relief’ go out around the world as women read the title of this article. Don’t you feel better knowing there really IS some science backing the whole issue of having way too much empathy?

When we began writing about women who love psychopaths, anti-socials, sociopaths and narcissists, we already ‘assumed’ that maybe you did have too much empathy (as well as other elevated temperament traits). We just didn’t know how much, or why. When we began the actual testing for the research of the book ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths’, we learned just ‘how much’ empathy you had.

Do I need to tell you? WAY TOO MUCH!

By now you have probably already suspected that your super-high empathy is what got you in trouble in this pathological relationship. But, did you know there is hard science behind what we suspected about what is going on in your relationship with your super-trait of high empathy? It really IS all in your head – and your genes.

In fact, these genes influence the production of various brain chemicals that can influence just ‘how much’ empathy you have. These brain chemicals include those that influence orgasm, and it’s effect on how bonded you feel, while also influencing some aspects of mental health (No, no! That is not a good mix!).

Other brain chemicals influence how much innate and learned fear you have. However, females don’t seem to assess threats well, and the chemicals then increase her social interactions while at the same time she is not assessing fear and threats well (This is not a good thing!!).

One of the final chemical effects delays your reflexes (like not getting out of the relationship), and also impacts your short and long term memory (how you easily store good memories that are very strong, and how you store bad memories which are easily forgotten). And, since it is genetic, it can run in entire families that produce ‘gullible’ and ‘trusting’ individuals who seem to just keep getting hurt.

Of course, the reverse is also true. Genes can influence the absence of various brain chemicals that influence ‘how little’ empathy a person has. We already know in great detail how this affects those with personality disorders. Personality disordered people (especially Cluster B disorders) struggle with not experiencing, or not having any empathy.

Over the past few years, the magazine has been writing about various aspects of personality disorder and the brain. This has included the issue of brain imaging. What we are finding out is how brain structure and chemicals can affect personality, empathy, behavior, and consequently, the behavior in relationships. As advances are made in the field of neurobiology, we are learning more and more of what The Institute has always believed – that there is a lot of biology behind personality development issues such as personality disorders. Genetics and neurobiology are proving that behavior associated with narcissism, borderline, anti-social personality disorders, along with psychopathy has as much to do with brain wiring and chemistry as it does with behavioral intent.

The Institute has long said to survivors that personality disorders are not merely willful behavior, but brain deficits that control how much empathy, compassion, conscience, guilt, insight, and change a person is capable. Autism and personality disorders share a common thread as ’empathy spectrum disorders’ now being studied extensively within the field of neuroscience. But, in some opposite ways, the women also share a common thread of an empathy disorder – hyper-empathy. We are coming to understand that hyper-empathy has much to do with her innate temperament (you come into the world wired with the personality you have), genetic predispositions to high or low empathy, and brain chemistry configurations that contribute to levels of empathy. The old thinking which assumes women with high empathy are merely ‘door mats’ is not scientifically correct when looking at current studies.

Neuroscience, with all its awesome information, has the dynamic power to blow us all out of the murky waters of assuming that our behavior is merely a reflection of our will. As neuroscience graces our minds with new understanding of how our brains work, it brings with it incredible freedom to understand our own traits, and the pathological traits of others.

Author: Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

I am a survivor of complex and multiple trauma and abuse, who at the age of 40, began my healing journey. I am using my journey to recovery and healing, to help others, to help survivors feel less alone, validated, encouraged and to enable others to understand themselves more. Complex trauma, particularly from severe, prolonged childhood abuse, is profoundly life changing. Complex trauma produces complex adults. The journey to recovery is a painful, often lonely, emotional daily challenge and it is my aim to encourage others in their daily battle. ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

13 thoughts on “Neuroscience – Maybe this explains why empaths, are attracted to Narcissists/Sociopaths.

  1. awesome!! I am one with a sigh of relief that you heard! 🙂 awesome final paragraph, by the way.

  2. I sure hope we can learn to understand ourselves even better.

  3. Someone was asking about this on the empaths support forum. I’m going to share the link there. Thanks.

  4. Over empathic? Or could this be the result of somebody who has not experienced good enough parenting/ nurturing or dismissive caregivers, possibly developing in way that makes them try to please and meet others needs (often resulting in low self esteem and self worth) – I question if this is too much empathy? What about trying to please and accommodate others over themselves with the unconscious aim of getting something in return (approval, love? Etc) or to avoid backlash (or both)? Personally I feel the two should not be confused. In true empathy the person can identify boundaries between people. An attuned and empathic person will empathise to try to understand the others world but will maintain their own boundaries to not be affected by that person. And just as a mention- Women do not assess threats well?! Really?

    • I believe it is often a childhood where a child learned greater than average hyper vigilance and hyper awareness of other people, due to abnormal circumstances occurring and is also placed in a carer role, that develops empathy in many cases.

      I know for me, I have great discernment and great empathy, due to my childhood. That is nothing to do with people pleasing, or my low self worth.

      I know not everyone with empathy will have good boundaries, so I disagree completely there. Many empaths, need to learn healthy boundaries, to keep themselves from being overwhelmed, with all they pick up on in others.

      And empathy is being able to put yourself into the shoes of another who is going through something we have never experienced, and being able to see and feel the emotions and life/circumstances that person is in and feel what they feel. I have done this with my abusers – and that is a very deep level of empathy. But, I still have issues with boundaries.

  5. I always see people confusing and combing BPD and NPD. It’s harmful and inaccurate I am a DBT skills trainer and peer life coach. I am an empath who has the traits associated with that inaccurately named disorder and complex ptsd after chronic narcissistic abuse, sexual abuse and neglect as a child. I work with people who have been labeled as borderline and they can be the most compassionate and empathic people. I wish people would quit combining them as if they are the same. They are not at all the same although they can be co-morbid.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. I believe many diagnosed with BDP, actually have Complex PTSD – as I do and many of the world renowned trauma experts – like John Briere, believe this too.

      Yes, there are some people who have BDP and also have narc traits.

      Judith Lewis Herman was one of the first to write about this too – many childhood complex trauma survivors are wrongly diagnosed with BDP.

      I also believe this is why some have all these multiple diagnoses of PTSD, BDP, Bipolar, Fibro etc – when in fact, what they have is Complex PTSD.

      Lilly ❤

  6. Excuse the misspelling. Combining is in the first sentence.

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