Research indicates that individuals diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder have some of the neurobiological impairments of psychopathy. This makes sense, given that narcissistic personality disorder is suspected to fall along a spectrum that includes psychopathy. One neuroimaging study found those with narcissistic personality disorder to have problems associated with the right anterior insular cortex – a region of the brain suspected to be associated with empathy.
In a 2013 publication, using neuroimaging, researchers from the University of Germany examined the brain patterns of individuals with narcissistic personality disorder. They yielded similar findings to the aforementioned study. The group who met criteria for the condition demonstrated smaller gray matter volume within areas of the brain associated with “emotional empathy” (i.e., anterior insula and the fronto-paralimbic areas).
Neuroscience studies of this nature lend considerable evidence that people with pathological narcissism have limited capacity to interact pro-socially with society. Faulty brain functions are a significant hindrance.