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Cersei is more sympathetic then Robert


Alyn Oakenfist
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  • 3 months later...
On 1/2/2021 at 8:06 PM, sweetsunray said:

There's cognitive empathy and affectionate empathy. Psychopaths and narcissists are capable of the first: they "know" intellectually that it will hurt, anger or pain someone else if they do a certain thing. The last is the sensation of feeling the pain, anger and hurt another person would have. Psychopaths and narcissists do not have the latter (or barely a glimmer with the latter). Linguistically we refer to it as "feeling sympathy". Because they have the first, they can be sadistic: by knowing they will hurt someone, they get enjoyment out of it. The second will bar us from inflicting pain, because the emotional response is too strong. When people say that neither disorder have empathy, they mean the latter. In contrast, someone with autism will lack the first type of empathy, but has the second one. They have difficulty foreseeing they will hurt someone with their behaviour or actions, but can feel it acutely once shown the consequences.

When it comes to empathy, people also often make the mistake that because psychopaths and narcissists can feel very sorry for themselves, they must be able to have affectionate empathy. But alas, that is the sole person they can "empathize" with - themselves. Except, we cannot count that as "empathy", because the point of empathy is that you can feel sympathy for another, not just yourself. This is exemplified in Cersei by her solely having sympathy for Jaime as long as he looks like her. Her empathic range goes no further than herself and someone she identifies as an extension of herself. This is the range of empathy a narcissist can have.

And there is also a misconception that empathy itself is absolute - you have it or you don't. But once you have empathy it can actually exist along a spectrum. The range depends on how much they can empathize with a stranger - those they identify as being like them (Jaime, Joffrey in Cersei's case until Jaime looks no longer her image), close family, wider family, friends, neighbors, complete strangers they only know by name. When Arya puts people on her list for raping a woman she hears off only through a story told, her empathy spectrum is the broadest available. That is the range of affectionate spectrum of someone we refer to as an "empath". Most people have affectionate empathy towards people they know.

To complicate matters empathic people, including empaths, are able to override their feeling response intellectually. We can switch-it-off momentarily. It's what most of us do, when we walk passed someone asking for coin. Even when people feel for them, they will rationalize why they cannot give that person an alm - no change, can't give to everyone, etc. And it's what Arya learns to do in Braavos for example.

With Cersei, I'm more inclined to see her as a malignant narcissist than a psychopath. Even disordered psychopaths are more calculated and cool-headed behind their mask than Cersei is (Roose Bolton is an example). Cersei's coolness is the mask, but inside she's nothing like it. How differs a malignant narcissist from a narcissist? Add sadism to the narcissism, and of this we have ample examples with Cersei.

As for the arguments on how to deal with the checklist of psychopathy of Robert Hare: Hare did not make the list to be seen as "absolute" yes/no. It's a scale that totals to 40, with a cutoff at 30. Someone who manages to acquire 30 is regarded a psychopath. That doesn't mean a 25 or even 15 is not a harmful human being. 30 represents the 1% of population range on the attributed. 50% of the population though score between 0-4 on the test. Machiavellists and narcissists would score highly though, but beneath 30. If you know that the average of the prison population on the Hare scale test is 25, you get an inkling on 1) how many convicts are in the psychopathy range in comparison to the general population 2) don't get personally involved, because if you are a 0-4 you're going to be hurt.

Anyway, empathy is a complex concept and complex to measure. It's not enough to say "that character shows no sympathy". You must ask yourself whether they could have sympathy, but chose not to have it (sign of empathic person, switching it off momentarily). Likewise it's not enough to say, "they feel sick at the sight of a mangled corpse, so must have sympathy". Emotions are a higher level process than a physical sensation only. Without processing of the sensation it cannot be called an emotion and therefore is not regarded affectionate empathy. Instead of just feeling /being sick, we end up saying, "I am disgusted". In other words, there's a linguistic filter component to the concept of emotions, to differentiate our bodily sensations and responses between pure reactive physical reaction and a more complex reaction. This is a learned/experience process.

Apply that to Cersei. We know she sympathizes with herself. Rather than choosing to not have affectionate empathy for people, she chooses to mimic empathy when it suits her. She may have bodily responses to seeing the worst results to another person, showing she has the wiring to spark the sensation that could result into affectionate empathy, but she does not do the processing.

 

Love your analysis! 

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I don't know that she is more sympathetic.  There are rare occasions when one can feel sympathy for her (her recalling her love for Rhaegar, the Walk of Shame, her abuse at Robert's hands) but they are outweighed by the horrible things she does.

But, I certainly don't find Robert sympathetic in any way.  He was a horrible man.

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20 minutes ago, SeanF said:

I don't know that she is more sympathetic.  There are rare occasions when one can feel sympathy for her (her recalling her love for Rhaegar, the Walk of Shame, her abuse at Robert's hands) but they are outweighed by the horrible things she does.

But, I certainly don't find Robert sympathetic in any way.  He was a horrible man.

Cersei's 'love' for Rhaegar was no different than Robert's 'love' for Lyanna (a perfect idealization created based solely on their phyisical appearances). If Rhaegar and Cersei had married, trust and believe the moment Cersei's perfect idealization of Rhaegar was shattered, she would've started to hate/resent him and wanting to rid herself of him. As for the WoS, I think pity's the closest to sympathy we're supposed to feel (at least in my case); this is a woman who has done and caused terrible things, directly or indirectly, not to mention she completely brought it upon herself with her foolish, arrogant actions. The closest to sympathy I've ever felt for Cersei was towards the end of the WoS, when she trips and falls to the ground and she begins 'crawling on all fours like a dog' while the 'good' people of King's Landing laugh, point, cheer and jeer. As for Robert's abuse, cases can be made for both of them abusing each other. They were just as bad and toxic.

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On 1/13/2021 at 9:13 PM, Lilac & Gooseberries said:

Cersei started to abuse her newborn brother when she was 7 years old,

Maybe.  Or maybe that was just the Viper pricking Tyrion with his poison spear.

On 1/13/2021 at 9:13 PM, Lilac & Gooseberries said:

killed her best friend at 10,

That's more like it.

 

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  • 6 months later...

Cersei more sympathetic than Robert ? Hahahaha, good one! 

But let's be serious again, Cersei is certainely one of the worst persons in ASOIAF, having been an awful person ever since her childhood with her abuse of Tyrion and her murdering her best friend at a young age, and being an incredibly toxic, lying, abusive, petty, hypocrital and cruel person.

Even Robert's worse actions against her are tame compared to her having threatened to murder Mya Stone if Robert ever brought her to court so he could raise her, her ordering the murders of every bastard of Robert in King's Landing, her having people being tortured or used as lab rats by Qyburn, her abuse of Tommen, etc...

And that's not counting that Cersei does everything she hates and blames Robert for during AFFC (drinking, eating, becoming fatter, having sex with many others) and is very misogynistic herself, being furious at being used as a political tool, not respected and suffering abuse but being perfectly fine with other women suffering these.

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she is more sympathetic than Robert in their marriage. but nothing else.

if I had to compare them , I'd say they are both equally horrible people and that's only because Robert's raping gets a huge negative score.... let us see:

  • his womanizing and Cersei's cheating on both him and Jaimie are equal
  • Cersei is worse in her arrogance and pettiness and Robert is blind when it comes to dragonspawns
  • funnily enough they both think of themselves as victims and they actually believe it!! :

-Robert thinks he was a victim when Lyanna -the love of his life who he didn't know much and he even cheated on when he was looking for her- was taken away from him and he had to go to war and had to become king and had to marry Cersei and his life got destroyed .... at least Robert's case is somewhat debatable!

-Cersei blames Margery for having to torture Blue Bard!! and she blames maggi for her murdering Melara!!

  • they are equally horrible in the way they treat people though in different ways. Cersei thinks she is better than everyone and Robert just doesn't care about most people.
  • they are both incompetent drunken economy destroyer idiotic rulers
  • and Robert's abuse and rape could be aligned with Cersei's treatment of the people she casually sent to Qyburn , her schemes for poor Margery and the men she just didn't like ( the Summer Islander guy for example) , abusing little Tyrion , seducing her teenage cousin -who is not much older than her own son by the way- and thinking of how he is disgusting and should have died instead of Tywin after she sees him recovering after battle!! and her murder of Melara.

 

 

what a close run

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Cersei and Robert are a pretty bad match of horrid people. I don’t know, but I would give Cersei an edge for planning to kill Robert and that it succeeded! Both would kill children. Both would be better with someone else, but not a lot. Roberts alcoholism, apathy and war experiences won’t help him. Cersei was sadistic early on and her narcissism isn’t curable.

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On 5/3/2021 at 10:29 PM, Mister Smikes said:

Maybe.  Or maybe that was just the Viper pricking Tyrion with his poison spear.

Cersei herself remembers having abused Tyrion on other occasions in AFFC:

"King Baelor imprisoned his own sisters, whose only crime was being beautiful. The first time Cersei heard that tale, she gone to Tyrion's nursery and pinched the little monster till he cried."

Edited by Odej
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On 12/26/2020 at 5:18 PM, Alyn Oakenfist said:

So until AFFC my opinion of Robert was that he seemed a decent enough fellow for Westeros slowly poisoned by bitterness but with a good side still remaining. After AFFC thought, I firmly put him at the bottom of my character list, over Aerys, Roose, Ramsay and Walder, thought not by much. Being bitter about his lot in life and being unhappy with his wife is one thing. Raping her is quite another. I mean shit, I get Cersei wanting to cuckhold him, heck she was justified in doing it to him. So am I the only one that after AFFC is more sympathetic to Cersei then Robert?

LE Just to remind everyone, in AFFC we learn that dear Robert is a rapist

Robert is more sympathetic than Cercei , You can the situation you can change the man . Cercei is Cercei .

The basic flaw with POV's is the person is an unreliable narrator . Cercei sees herself as a victim , a victim of Tywin ,Robert , and Tyrion .

In AFFC Cercei accused Robert of rape , but in another book Jaime was nervous that Robert would claim his rights as a husband .  There is one thing that we know of that in AGOT he struck Cercei . 1 she had a bruised face  , she said he did it ,and Robert  confirmed it.

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