Asperger's Diary

Life through the lens of Asperger's Syndrome.

What Is Empathy?

Forum tackles the issue of empathy.

What is empathy and how does it impact our daily lives?  Beginning 9/24, and lasting the entire week, The Guggenheim museum will be sponsoring an online forum, “The Greater Good” which will cover this complex and nuanced topic. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Rineke Dijkstra: A Retrospective — the forum will look at empathy from many different perspectives. Perspectives will include:  

  • What is empathy? 
  • How is it represented across the boundaries of species?
  • What is its influence on how we relate to one another? 
  • In what ways does technology impact empathy, in this complex and changing world? .

Contributing to conversation will be:

I will be moderating.  The conversation will occur in three rounds, throughout the week – and will include a live online chat at 3PM (Eastern) on Thursday, September 27 with me and the rest of the panelists.  This interactive forum is designed not only to be a discussion among the panelists, but with the general public.  I hope that my readers here will visit the site and contribute their thoughts on the subject.  It should be a lively discussion!

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 Posts here on Asperger’s Diary regarding empathy:

  • Empathy, Mindblindness and Theory of Mind
    “All this difficulty in understanding the thoughts and reactions of others lead many to say that people with autism or Asperger's lack empathy.   But, is this really true?”
  • Sometimes What Looks Like Empathy, Isn't
    “The unfortunate truth is that sometimes, what masquerades as compassion and empathy is really just judgment, in disguise.”
  • Thinking About The Unthinkable
    “I look at it this way. In any interaction, there is an equilibrium between pain and empathy. Most human beings, autistic people included, do not want to harm others. This concern, however, is often balanced against the amount of pain we experience.”
  • Empathy and Advocacy: Closing the Gap
    “In a world in which so much emphasis is put on the lack of empathy in autistic people, it's interesting to note just how big the empathy gap can be going the other way.”
  • An Encounter With "The Salesman Smile"
    “Could it be that when it comes to decoding emotions and empathy, it's not so much a question of ‘absent’ as it is ‘different?’”
  • Compassion in the Classroom
    “My teacher taught me a very important lesson... that the actions of a single person in a single moment can make or break a child.”
  • Perspectives: Asperger’s and Empathy
    Bev Harp from Asperger’s Square 8 shares a perspective on empathy in Asperger’s.  Is it absent, or expressed differently? 


Lynne Soraya is the nom de plume for a writer with Asperger's Syndrome.


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