What causes a Lack of Empathy? (+9 Brilliant solutions)

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Page last updated: 10/11/2022

In this blogpost, we will be explaining what causes a Lack of Empathy. We will also be checking out the main signs of a Lack of Empathy. Furthermore, we will be mentioning a few tips that you can use to develop empathy.

What causes a Lack of Empathy?

A Lack of Empathy can be caused by different factors, such as,

High levels of stress

If a person is subject to high levels of stress for a long time, this can also lead to a lack of empathy. Therefore, those who are going through burnouts or high stress levels at work may exhibit apathetic signs to the feelings of others.

Mental illnesses like Depression

Certain mental illnesses like depression and anxiety can also lead to a lack of empathy in the person. These mental illnesses not only affect the biochemistry of the person, leading to a lack of empathy, but also cause a great deal of stress, further leading to apathy.

Personality disorders

Personality disorders can also lead to a lack of empathy in the person. Antisocial personality disorders, borderline personality disorders or even narcissistic personality disorders can lead the person to have a lack of empathy towards others.

Neurodevelopmental disorders

Not only mental illnesses, but even neurodevelopmental disorders like autism and other PDD’s can lead to a lack of empathy in the person. These neurodevelopmental disorders affect the growth and development of regions in the brain which affect emotions and relationships.

Parenting styles

The way a person is brought up can also lead them to have a lack of empathy later on. If a person’s parents often shut down their feelings and don’t allow them to express their needs and desires, they may become apathetic later as they are not used to this behavior.

Cultural aspects

A person’s culture can also make them less empathetic later on in life. Certain cultures look down on expressing emotions and also don’t support people supporting others emotionally. Growing up in a culture like this can lead to a lack of empathy.

Traumatic events in life

Certain traumatic events in life can also lead to a lack of empathy in a person. For example, witnessing a cruel accident or experiencing violence first-hand can reduce empathy levels in a person.

Signs of a Lack of Empathy

Some common signs that a person lacks empathy have been described in the following section,

  • They don’t feel pity or sympathy towards others who are not fortunate enough or those who are suffering.
  • They might be often self-obsessed and narcissistic.
  • They might not have many friends and even if they do, these might not be long-term and stable relationships.
  • They certainly don’t feel happy when someone else is doing well or has achieved something great.
  • They often bring the attention of the party or the group to themselves and may not give a chance for others to speak.
  • They often say things that can hurt or offend someone else and may not realize this until somebody points it out. Even in the event of this, they might not agree that they have done something new.

How to develop empathy?

If you are aware that you indeed lack empathy or have been often pinpointed by others that you might need a little help in this department, the following points and tips can help you out. You can learn to develop empathy in the following ways.

  • Learn that empathy is a strength and not a weakness. Many times, you might show a lack of empathy if you have been taught by a parent or someone else that empathy is a weak thing. However, being empathetic is actually a very strong point that you can have.

For example, being empathetic allows you to cultivate strong relationships with other people, which can be great for your professional career as well as your personal life. It can also directly affect your quality of life.

  • Learn about eye contact and body language. Displaying a positive or empathetic body language can make you seem more empathetic, even if you are not so inside, and can also improve the richness of your conversations.

Body language can include making ample eye contact with the other person who is speaking and also leaning towards them so that they are motivated. You can also practice reassuring through safe touches and gestures which can further help the situation.

  • Talk about similar things. Often, those who lack empathy don’t have the ability to ‘read the room’ and may bring up an entirely irrelevant topic when someone is talking about something. Instead, you can try talking about a similar situation to help the conversation.

Lacking empathy can lead a person to say wrong things at the wrong time which can definitely strain relationships and social understandings. The best trick is to simply bring up a similar topic that might have happened to you or to someone else.

  • Think twice before you speak. Another important rule that you need to keep in mind is that you need to think twice before you speak. Think about whether what you are going to say is going to hurt the person more or add to their pain.

In case what you are going to say is not going to help the person in any way and might simply hurt them more, it may be wise to keep mum or say something that is more relevant to the conversation.

  • Learn more about sociology and psychology. If you are really keen on developing empathy and using it in the right way, you can even start learning more about sociology and psychology. In doing so, you will be able to match the emotion to the thought better.

The reason why it is important for everyone to learn more about psychology is that we get a better understanding of what factors can lead to certain emotions or certain behaviors. This can not only improve our knowledge bank but also help us be more empathetic.

  • Listen when someone is talking to you. Those who have lack empathy often hear the complaint that they don’t actually listen, which is in many cases true. Start listening when people are saying something, even if it may sound like utter rubbish or even if it is a lie.
  • Learn better communication skills. You can also improve your own communication skills if you want to develop more empathy. Many studies have shown that in learning new interpersonal skills, a person’s empathetic attitudes also develop for the better.
  • Start volunteering. One more fantastic way to go is to simply start volunteering. When you work with those who are much less fortunate than you in a direct manner, you are exposed to a whole new world. This can teach you many life lessons, including empathy.

Volunteering can also introduce you to new people who might lead lifestyles much different from yours. Speaking to them and seeing their points of view can also help you develop more empathy.

  • Go to therapy. Another way to develop empathy is to go to therapy. In therapy sessions, you can learn more about yourself and what your personal definition of empathy is. You can also mold your portrayal of empathy to get the best out of relationships.

Therapy may not sound like a solution for your lack of empathy, especially since it mostly does not affect you directly. But, having a lack of empathy can strain your relationships which can in turn cause stress. Therefore, a professional perspective can definitely help.

Conclusion

In this blogpost, we have explained what causes a Lack of Empathy. We have also checked out the main signs of a Lack of Empathy. Furthermore, we have mentioned a few tips that you can use to develop empathy.

Citations

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5513638/
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-me-care/
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/361353975_A_Critical_Review_of_Empathy_Research_A_Deficit_in_Evaluating_the_Organic_Emergence_of_Empathy_A_Critical_Review_of_Empathy_Research_A_Deficit_in_Evaluating_the_Organic_Emergence_of_Empathy
https://www.regain.us/advice/general/characteristics-of-people-who-lack-empathy-and-how-to-protect-yourself/
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-empathy-dissolves_b_8369494
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/good-thinking/201406/why-some-people-seem-lack-empathy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathy
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321173