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. This is a valid concern. The emotional force of anger can protect us and those we are close to from exploitation and predation.
Someone who could never get angry would be the perfect victim. Anger can also be a prod to moral behavior more generally; many great moral heroes—Martin Luther King, Jr.
And I would make sure to add plenty of intelligence, concern for others, and self-control. I would want to ensure that anger is modified, shaped, and directed by rational deliberation.
It would occasionally spur action, but it would be subservient to the capacities for rationality and compassion. If we were all constituted in this way, if we could all put anger in its place, ours would be a kinder and better world. You might have noticed the absence of paywalls at Boston Review. We are committed to staying free for all our readers.
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What if we use the history of slavery as a Canonization has prevented a reckoning with the Preparation for democratic citizenship demands The university is not an engine of social Amna Akbar , Jeanne Theoharis. Make a tax-deductible donation today. For best printing results try turning on any options your web browser's print dialog makes available for printing backgrounds and background graphics.
A Political and Literary Forum. Menu Search Donate Shop Join. Weekly Newsletter Poetry Matters: Weekly Poetry Newsletter Boston Events: Boston Review-sponsored events in the Boston area Reading List: Effective altruists rely more on reason than emotion. Compassion that involves feeling for rather than with comes at a cost. Empathy is a problem when our cognitive response fails.
The cognitive and affective components of empathy cannot be separated. Empathy works to correct errors in judging actions. Rational decision making can have disastrous consequences. The ability to accept suffering is invaluable. The success or failure of emotional states is context-dependent.
When someone effectively says 'I care for you', it also says 'I can do that, I can care for myself. Empathy displayed can be surprising and confusing. When not expected, it can initially cause suspicion, but when sustained it is difficult not to appreciate the concern. Empathy thus quickly leads to trust. Consider what would happens if you had no idea what the other person felt about your communications to them.
You might say something, they hated it, and you continued as if they understood and agreed. Not much persuasion happening there! And as a consequence, you can change what you are saying and doing to get them to feel what you want them to feel. So how do you do it? How do you find out what other people are feeling? All you have to go on are what they say, how they say it and what they do, which can also be described as 'words, music and dance'.
If you want to move someone, detecting their emotional state is the first step. If you can feel that state then that detection is even more accurate. When you can sense their emotion, you can then use this to move them in the direction you want them to take. The trick in spotting feelings is to pay close attention to changes in the other person in response to external events.
If you say 'How are you? The better you are at spotting small changes, the greater your potential ability at empathizing. Watch for small changes on the face. Watch for lower-body movements when the upper-body is under conscious control. Listen for tension in the voice and emphasis on specific words.
Listen for emotional words. To avoid getting swamped by their emotions learn to dip in and out of the association that makes you feel what they do. Go in, test the temperature and then get out to a place where you can think more rationally.
Unless you are really sure, it can be a good idea to reflect back to the other person what you are sensing of their feelings, to check that you have got it right. After all, the only person who can confirm empathy is the person whose emotions are being sensed. Reflecting back itself has an effect, typically leading the other person to appreciate that you really care about them and hence increasing their trust in you.
Empathy is far more effective when it is offered, as opposed to when people ask for empathy in which case a negotiation exchange dynamic is set up. By the way, The usual caveat applies here - taking advantage of someone who is upset breaks many social rules and negative manipulation is likely to lead to betrayal effects. Objectifying , Sob Story. Please help and share: Home Top Menu Quick Links. It's not sympathy Empathy and sympathy are very close and are sometimes used as synonyms.
It's definitely not psychopathy A defining element of a psychopath is that they do not and probably cannot empathize with other people.
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.
Empathy is generally defined as the identification with, and understanding of another person’s situation, feelings and motives. If you want to order a custom written essay, research paper, thesis, term paper, dissertation – contact us and we will provide you with professional academic writing help. The Empathy is one of the most popular assignments among students' documents. If you are stuck with writing or missing ideas, scroll down and find inspiration in the best samples. Empathy is quite a rare and popular topic for writing an essay, but it certainly is in our database.
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 .