Is it really possible to spot a narcissist under fog of war? I.e., apart from the lenses of high conflict, is there any other major difference between an empath and a covert narcissist?
To the layman, ego is described as good or bad. The good ego is the empath who, through his own ideals, cares about others, and wants others to care too, even if that means isolating the "covert narcissists" for health reasons. The bad ego is the covert narcissist who pretends to care, but has no visible ideals other than winning by hurting others, and does not receive feedback.
I believed all this until I read High Conflict by Amanda Ripley. From the publisher:
When we are baffled by the insanity of the “other side”—in our politics, at work, or at home—it’s because we aren’t seeing how the conflict itself has taken over.
That’s what “high conflict” does. It’s the invisible hand of our time. And it’s different from the useful friction of healthy conflict. That’s good conflict, and it’s a necessary force that pushes us to be better people.
High conflict, by contrast, is what happens when discord distills into a good-versus-evil kind of feud, the kind with an us and a them. In this state, the normal rules of engagement no longer apply. The brain behaves differently. We feel increasingly certain of our own superiority and, at the same time, more and more mystified by the other side.
Now I reread the preceding paragraph and see no difference apart from the lenses of high conflict: one side has ideals and the other doesn't. One side listens and the other doesn't. But over time, I and the subjects in AR's book have found that solving the high conflict gets us to listen to the other side and see their ideals (curing the pathology without bothering to agree on the specific ideals underlying high conflict). High conflict seems to explain common psychological disagreements, for example each side sees their own rage as empathic but the other side's rage as narcissistic. Same pathology, different lens.
So, I am starting to wonder: apart from high conflict, is there really any major difference between an empath and a covert narcissist, and, if so, how common is that difference?