All About Empathy

Empathy is the experience of understanding another person's condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling. Empathy is known to increase prosocial (helping) behaviors. While American culture might be socializing people into becoming more individualistic rather than empathic, research has uncovered the existence of "mirror neurons," which react to emotions expressed by others and then reproduce them.

Recent Posts on Empathy

The Runaway Train In Our Heads

By Kaja Perina on September 03, 2015 in Brainstorm
Part of the nature of obsession is that you cannot easily obtain sufficient distance from it: The thoughts, worries, and compulsions feel utterly overwhelming.

Understanding the Internal World of Psychosis

By Ann Olson Psy.D. on September 02, 2015 in Theory and Psychopathology
For the psychotic individual to be understood, empathy regarding his emotional experience might make a significant difference in his psychopathology and his relationship with the world. It is possible to understand his emotion and his fear, his cognition—to an extent—and his obvious alienation. Ways to address this individual in therapy are discussed in this article.

Are You in Love With a Narcissist and Still Hopeful?

By Peg Streep on September 01, 2015 in Tech Support
It's true enough that most of us hang in far longer than we should in toxic relationships, especially with a narcissistic partner. Some of that has to do with hopefulness that our partner and relationship will change. Is that magical thinking? Looking at recent research....

If A Jane Austen Novel Were A Video Game, Would You Play It?

By Susan Greenfield Ph.D. on August 31, 2015 in Mind Change
Video games vs Novels - which is better in teaching empathy?

4 Quick Conversation Tips to Connect with a Date or Lover

It is often hard to know how to talk to a potential romantic partner, date, or sexy stranger. What can you say to help build an emotional connection and get them to pick you? According to speed dating research, there are a few tips that can make even four minutes of conversation enough time to get someone to bond, connect, and click. Read on to find out how...

Dilemmas in Diagnosis: Is it Autism, Anxiety, or Neither?

By Claudia M Gold M.D. on August 30, 2015 in Child in Mind
The process of diagnostic assessment, as guided by DSM defined disorders, may limit our ability to listen to the story and gain a full understanding of a child's experience. However, it is that very understanding that leads to meaningful solutions.

Mass Shootings and Mass Media

By Helen M Farrell M.D. on August 29, 2015 in Frontpage Forensics
It is easy for violent acts to become sensationalized in the age of social media and live streaming. It's important to recognize the negative impact of tantalizing news stories to our brains and use our technological tools to enhance community support.

Between the World and Me: Walk a Mile in Someone’s Shoes

By Ira Hyman Ph.D. on August 27, 2015 in Mental Mishaps
To understand someone else, the advice is to walk a mile in that person’s shoes. Putting on shoes isn’t the way into another person’s existence. I need to get inside that person’s experiences. But how can I walk a mile inside someone else’s skin? I know one way to move inside someone’s experience – and it isn’t by putting on shoes.

Virginia Shooting: When Tragedy Hits Social Media

Posting events on social media is normal. It is how we communicate. Senseless acts of violence, like the Smith Mountain Virginia shooting, are meant to be public. Social media becomes a vehicle for both the defiant statements of someone who feels powerless and the expression of empathy and sorrow for the senseless loss of life.

Meaningless Things We Say in the Aftermath of a Gun Slaying

By Stanton Peele on August 27, 2015 in Addiction in Society
What we must watch and listen to after every gun massacre. But does it do any good? And is it good for us?

On-Air Shooting Raises Specter of "Bullying"

Before we are content to establish Flanagan’s ‘underlying mental instability,’ or situate the tragedy at the intersection of graphic video games and life, we must consider the ways in which our culture is fast paced and unforgiving.

Making Sense of Common Sense

By Alain Samson Ph.D. on August 27, 2015 in Consumed
How understanding the taken-for-granted can enrich behavioral science

Amazon and Toxic Workplaces

By Ray Williams on August 26, 2015 in Wired for Success
A recent expose of Amazon’s work culture in a New York Times report brings into focus the growing problem of toxic work cultures in North America, one that will take a huge toll on long term productivity and employee well being.

More Music, More Empathy

By Robert H. Woody Ph.D. on August 25, 2015 in Live... In Concert
Music is often called a universal language because it seems to speak to the emotions of disparate groups of people. In this light, some believe music has almost magical powers toward helping people find common ground with others seen as unlike themselves. So is music a uniquely powerful tool in building human empathy?

Why Are Optimists Smiling? Are They Blind to Reality?

By Arthur J. Clark Ed.D. on August 25, 2015 in Dawn of Memories
Understanding a Person's Outlook on Life Through Early Recollections

Emotional Generosity

Here's Why We Need More Emotion In Our Relationships

The Black "Whole" of Schizophrenia

This article examines the meaning of the idea that "the whole is more than the sum of its parts" in the context of psychotic delusions. Creation of a complex and/or systematized delusional system may lead one into a black hole and a gravitation toward alienation, suffering and perhaps death. The psychotic individual's receipt of self-reflection can be therapeutic.

"Please empathize with me, Doctor!”

By Allen J Frances M.D. on August 23, 2015 in DSM5 in Distress
The doctor/patient relationship has been the central instrument of healing throughout the history of medicine, but has become a lost art. We have to teach doctors to better understand their patients so that they can become better healing instruments.

Poison Apple: Technology Fads Make Your Kids Dumber

Students have confused the ability to look up a fact with actual knowledge.They can Google the who, what, and when, but can't explain "why."

Is It Love Or Is It Confusion?

Stimulating and exciting features of a relationship can motivate you to ignore the warning signs that it won't meet your needs.

Look to Your Own Life

By Saul Levine M.D. on August 19, 2015 in Our Emotional Footprint
You Don't Need the Kardashians!

Psychopaths Are Immune to Contagious Yawning

Catching a yawn from someone is deeply rooted in empathy, and seen across intelligent, social species. A new study shows that psychopaths, who are lacking in empathy, are far less likely to catch a yawn.

The Meaning of Human Existence: A Review

Edward Wilson's latest book is simultaneously heroic and frustrating.

Humor, Screens & Children

By Jamie Krenn Ph.D. on August 18, 2015 in Screen Time
A sense of humor can lend itself as a protective factor for troubled or uncertain situations one may have through life’s journey. Included in this piece are some ways to think about humor development as applied to current children’s television programming from birth to elementary school years.

What Is Evolutionary Psychology?

The application of evolutionary principles to issues of behavior (AKA evolutionary psychology) is one of the most powerful intellectual movements in the current landscape of modern thought. Here are some of the basic concepts of this exciting field – spelled out in brief.

Oreo Thins Paradox – Why People Pay More For Less

The new Oreo Thins is out. And it is priced at 42% premium compared to regular Oreo cookies. Why are consumers often willing to pay more for less?

The Altruism of the Rich and the Poor

By Jesse Marczyk on August 12, 2015 in Pop Psych
A new paper finds that the rich tend to be more charitable than previously-studied groups. Interestingly enough, the poor are also a rather charitable bunch. How can we explain both of these facts?

How Extreme Weather Gave Me Empathy For Divorcing Folks

Learning how to weather your divorce will help you do much better.

Self-Awareness: How Kids Make Sense of Life Experiences

How do children gain a deeper understanding of how they think, feel, and act so they can improve their learning and develop meaningful relationships? Classroom teachers make a difference.

Living Closer to the Bone (Part 5)

By Michael Jawer on August 11, 2015 in Feeling Too Much
Strange but true occurrences suggest that what family members (including our pets) feel for one another bonds us in unusual ways. Such experiences could only be chalked up to sheer one-in-a-million chance were it not for their conjunction with deep emotion.