I’ve been developing an Empathy Circle process that is based on the empathic listening work of Carl Rogers. I’ve held hundreds of these small group empathic conversations that are the best process I’ve found for nurturing and practicing empathy. I’ve been wondering how this process would work with Narcissists and Psychopaths. I lined up an Empathy Circle with Sam Vaknin, who is diagnosed as a narcissist with psychopathic tendencies.
Sam has written books and articles on psychopathy and has become a ‘go to guy’ for the media when they want to talk with a narcissist or psychopath. There was even a documentary done on Sam called ‘I Psychopath’. You can view the documentary online on Youtube. At the end of the documentary, the director who travels with Sam to different pathology research centers in Europe, is an emotional wreak from his interactions with Sam.
Sam and I held a 1.5 hour empathy circle using the empathic listening process. I found the process actually worked very well. Sam was skeptical when we started, but at the end came to new realizations about the power of empathic listening. Sam is used to conversation as a competition, where he has to find the chinks in the other persons armor to break through to manipulate them. However, in this conversation everything he said was empathized with by me and vice a versa. ….