Hannah sounds like a good therapist, and it seems as if she would also be a good mother to young children. But consider what it must be like to be her. She also does not endorse a guiding principle based on compassion and kindness. Rather, Hannah is compelled by hyperarousal—her drive is unstoppable.
Her experience is the opposite of selfishness but just as extreme. It is no accident that Baron-Cohen chose a woman as his example. In a series of empirical and theoretical articles, psychologists Vicki Helgeson and Heidi Fritz have explored why women are twice as likely as men to experience depression. Strong inclination toward empathy comes with costs. They also are more prone to suffer depression and anxiety.
This leads to what psychologists call empathetic distress. We can contrast this with non-empathetic compassion—a more distanced love and kindness and concern for others. Such compassion is a psychological plus. Putting aside the obvious point that some degree of caring for others is morally right, kindness and altruism are associated with all sorts of positive physical and psychological outcomes, including a boost in both short-term mood and long-term happiness.
If you want to get happy, helping others is an excellent way to do so. But this is mistaken. Imagine that the child of a close friend has drowned. A highly empathetic response would be to feel what your friend feels, to experience, as much as you can, the terrible sorrow and pain. Or consider long-distance charity. It is conceivable, I suppose, that someone who hears about the plight of starving children might actually go through the empathetic exercise of imagining what it is like to starve to death.
Summing up, compassionate helping is good for you and for others. But empathetic distress is destructive of the individual in the long run.
This issue is explored in the Buddhist literature on morality. Consider the life of a bodhisattva, an enlightened person who vows not to pass into Nirvana, choosing instead to stay in the normal cycle of life and death to help the masses. How is a bodhisattva to live? This distinction has some support in the collaborative work of Tania Singer, a psychologist and neuroscientist, and Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk, meditation expert, and former scientist.
In a series of studies using fMRI brain scanning, Ricard was asked to engage in various types of compassion meditation directed toward people who are suffering. He was then asked to put himself in an empathetic state and was scanned while doing so.
Now the appropriate circuits associated with empathetic distress were activated. One sees a similar contrast in ongoing experiments led by Singer and her colleagues in which people are either given empathy training, which focuses on the capacity to experience the suffering of others, or compassion training, in which subjects are trained to respond to suffering with feelings of warmth and care. This brings us to the targets of empathy.
As I write this, an older relative of mine who has cancer is going back and forth to hospitals and rehabilitation centers. He values doctors who take the time to listen to him and develop an understanding of his situation; he benefits from this sort of cognitive empathy. But emotional empathy is more complicated. And he particularly appreciates certain virtues that have little directly to do with empathy, virtues such as competence, honesty, professionalism, and respect.
Leslie Jamison makes a similar point in her new essay collection The Empathy Exams. Jamison was at one time a medical actor—she would fake symptoms for medical students, who would diagnose her as part of their training. She also rated them on their skills. The most important entry on her checklist was number thirty-one: She met with one doctor who was cold and unsympathetic to her concerns, which caused her pain.
But she is grateful to another who kept a reassuring distance and objectivity: I needed to look at him and see the opposite of my fear, not its echo. Or consider friendship and love. Friendship is rooted in symmetry and equality, shared projects, teasing and jokes and gossip, all of which are absent from a therapeutic relationship. Putting aside the extremes, do more empathetic people make better friends and partners? To my knowledge, this has never been studied. Certainly we want our friends to understand us and to care about us.
It would be unnerving if someone I love never flinched in the face of my suffering or lit up at my joy. But this is not because I want them to mirror my feelings; rather, it is because if they love me, they should worry about my misfortunes and be pleased when I do well. From a purely selfish standpoint, I might not want their empathetic resonance, particularly when I am feeling down. I would prefer that they greet my panic with calm and my sadness with good cheer.
Psychopaths are identified in poplar culture as the embodiment of evil. The term describes everyone from predatory CEOs to callous politicians to cannibal-killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer and the fictional Hannibal Lecter.
Being a good person is related to more distanced compassion, along with self-control, and a sense of justice. There is a standard test for psychopathy developed by the psychologist Robert Hare. It is used to make legal decisions about criminal offenders, including whether they should be incarcerated for life, and used as well by experimental psychologists who give the test to undergraduates to explore how their scores relate to, for instance, attitudes toward sexual violence and their style of moral reasoning.
This is what enables them to be such masterful manipulators, con men, and seducers. This might be the popular picture, but the truth is more complicated. For one thing, as philosopher Jesse Prinz points out, psychopaths suffer from dulling of just about all emotional responses, not just empathy. It was observed by Harvey Cleckley in The Mask of Sanity , his book that provided the first clinical description of psychopathy:. Vexation, spite, quick and labile flashes of quasi-affection, peevish resentment, shallow moods of self-pity, puerile attitudes of vanity, and absurd and showy poses of indignation are all within his emotional scale and are freely sounded as the circumstances of life play upon him.
But mature, wholehearted anger, true or consistent indignation, honest, solid grief, sustaining pride, deep joy, and genuine despair are reactions not likely to be found within this scale.
It is unclear, then, whether an empathy deficit is at the core of psychopathy, or whether it is just one facet of a more general problem. In an extensive review of the literature, psychologist Jennifer Skeem and her colleagues note that these items are weak predictors of violence and criminality. The reason why the psychopath test has any predictive power at all is that it assesses past bad behavior—juvenile delinquency, criminal versatility, parasitic lifestyle, and so on—as well as factors such as lack of inhibition and poor impulse control.
To put it another way, you can remove the empathy question from the scale, and it would be about as good at picking out psychopaths. What about aggressive behavior more generally? Are more aggressive people less empathetic? Even I, a skeptic, would imagine there is some substantive relationship between empathy and aggression, since presumably someone with a great deal of empathy would find it unpleasant to cause pain in others.
But a recent review summarizing data from all available studies of the relationship between empathy and aggression reaches a different conclusion. Finally, one decisive test of the low-empathy-makes-bad-people theory would be to study a group of people who lack empathy but also lack the other traits associated with psychopathy.
Such individuals do exist. Baron-Cohen notes that people with Asperger syndrome and autism typically have low cognitive empathy—they struggle to understand the minds of others—and have low emotional empathy as well. As with psychopaths, there is some controversy about whether they are incapable of empathy or choose not to deploy it. Despite their empathy deficit, such people show no propensity for exploitation and violence. Indeed, they often have strong moral codes and are more likely to be victims of cruelty than perpetrators.
Am I saying that empathy is irrelevant or a corrosive influence on how we treat those around us? This would be too strong a conclusion. There are many studies that look at individual differences in empathy levels and correlate these levels with real-world behavior, such as willingness to help someone in need.
Many of these studies are poorly done. Furthermore, people who help others more may assume that they are empathetic, since people often make judgments about themselves by drawing conclusions from their own behavior. Nonetheless, there is some evidence that being more empathetic influences how likely one is to help in certain circumstances.
The relationship is often weak, and not all studies find it. But we know that a high level of empathy does not make one a good person and that a low level does not make one a bad person. Being a good person likely is more related to distanced feelings of compassion and kindness, along with intelligence, self-control, and a sense of justice.
So how much empathy do we really want in ourselves, our children, our friends, and our society? If you want to answer that question, it helps to think about a quite different emotional response—anger. Empathy and anger share a lot. Both emerge in early childhood and exist in every human culture. Both are present in other primates such as chimpanzees. Unlike emotions such as fear and disgust, which are often elicited by experiences and inanimate beings, empathy and anger are mainly geared toward other people.
And they are both moral. The identification that comes with empathy can motivate kind behavior toward others; anger is often a response to perceived unfairness, cruelty, and other immoral acts.
Buddhist texts are even more skeptical about anger than they are about empathy. They see it as destructive of the individual and the world at large. Introduction; Rapport Rapport is about the ability to relate to others and develop a trusting and understanding relationship. The word emotion includes a wide range of observable behaviors, expressed feelings, and changes in the body state.
Emotional communication, then, refers to the act of communicating your feelings. Discuss the proposal that pure selfless altruism does not exist.
Provide your summary of how to listen empathetically. Summary of how to listen empathetically First of all, in order to listen empathetically to someone else you have to know yourself, be very caring, open minded and have the ability to put yourself in their shoes.
She brings attention to her readers on how to understand that an animal can experience the same emotions as humans do. Walker compares her emotions to a…. Different authors have varying definitions of empathy and have described its nature and applications to different fields such as nursing, medicine, research and education.
Empathy is an important characteristic that should be reflected in medical practice for the benefit of both the patient and the medical professional. The difficulty lies on the elusive nature of…. Empathy is a human ability to share the sorrow and happiness of another person. It also means the ability to share the emotional worries of other person and feel everything that other human feels. Empathy may be expressed in different ways, depending on the very situation. There are cases when it is required to give proper advice or help to solve the complex issue.
All these are characteristics helping to understand what empathy is. Every person has ever faced the need to feel or express empathy, and this ability is familiar to everyone. Members of colleges and universities from time to time receive tasks to prepare empathy essay. This topic belongs to a category of the most widespread. Scholarly supervisors tend to demand the discussion of serious topics that are thought to provoke and requires expression of a clear position of an author.
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Free empathy papers, essays, and research papers. Social Empathy - Social media has changed the way people communicate with each other and in turn, has affected our ability to empathize in both negative and positive ways.
Essay on Empathy. by Nguyen Minh Hien. People are very busy these days to care about their careers and hobbies. There is no time left to be aware of other’s trouble, to be sensitive to other’s unhappy feelings, and to actually help others to solve their problems.
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The purpose of this essay is to define empathy and discuss its use on how it is used on a daily basis and what makes people feel empathy for others. Jan 06, · Free Essays on Empathy. Search. empathy Diamond Baker Paper 2 Word Count: Empathy When thinking about qualities in parenting, the first thing to come to mind is “love”. While thinking of love, you have many things that go into it. This is why empathy .