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

Life’s Endings and How We Make Sense out of Them

When something important in your life comes to an end, whether your career or your relationship, the process may be more difficult to cope with than you might realize. Ultimately, it’s your identity, and the sense you make of that ending, which will determine how you emerge from life’s transition points.

Hey, You—Get Out of the Water!

Doctors should pay attention not just to what is wrong with the patient's body, but to what other people are saying about it.

Shortcut to Understanding Others

Speed Dating With Speed Testing

Can't Stand Your Self-Absorbed Parent?

By Susan K Perry Ph.D. on July 30, 2015 in Creating in Flow
Got an aging parent or in-law who's a narcissist? They're arrogant, have a sense of entitlement, are always ready to instill guilt, they insist rules don't apply to them, and they fly into a rage if challenged. There's help for you.

Process and Normative Models

Understanding the decision-making process changes how we should make decisions

Affects, Language, and Cognition

For many months, we have been exploring the three pillars of human development: Affects (Feelings), Language, and Cognition. We have tried to make the case that there is a revolution in our understanding of human development. I have suggested that this revolution has tremendous potential for enhancing development.

What Narcissists REALLY Want, and Can Never Get

Among other things, narcissists typically come across as arrogant, manipulative, entitled, and woefully lacking in empathy. But if these defining features are understood at a deeper level—as powerful psychological defenses to protect them from experiencing a truly frightening vulnerability—a quite different picture of them emerges. . . .

We Succeed by Our Failures

When we reflect on our childhood we tend to recall the tough times -- times when we as kids screwed up, or when our parents failed. It turns out that the dance between love and hate, doing right and doing wrong, and above all making amends is critical for secure attachments. We learn to trust other, indeed, we learn to be moral as part of a normal developmental process.

Living Closer to the Bone (Part 2)

By Michael Jawer on July 27, 2015 in Feeling Too Much
Evolutionary and behavioral science is giving credence to what Darwin observed and intuited 140 years ago. Studies indicate with a fair degree of certainty that animals have intense experiences comparable to human feelings of joy, anger, love, exuberance, delight, compassion, sorrow, and grief.

Understanding Conspicuous Consumption (Via Race)

By Jesse Marczyk on July 27, 2015 in Pop Psych
Highlighting the accuracy of some racial stereotypes, different racial groups tend to spend more of their income on highly-visible luxury goods. Understanding why presents us with an interesting puzzle to solve.

Life in the Mushpot

By Bernard L. De Koven on July 27, 2015 in On Having Fun
Sometimes it's OK when you don't get to play. Sometimes, not so much.

News stories with the power of empathy

Depicting physical pain and discomfort may make for compelling journalism, but it also could undermine audiences' empathetic responses and perpetuate what neuroscientists call the 'empathy gap.' Instead, efforts to capture people's emotional suffering may be more likely to evoke empathy, even though that's much trickier for reporters trained to 'show, don't tell.'

The Neuroscience of Savoring Positive Emotions

Neuroscientists have linked sustained activation of a brain region called the ventral striatum to savoring positive emotions. Ventral striatal activation is in the locus of your control. Researchers believe that regularly practicing loving-kindness meditation and compassion activates this brain region and increases the ability to savor positive emotions.

The Loneliness of Social Media, Part Two

Social media is not always very social. Understanding why not can help us understand what is lacking in our lives.

Feeling Insecure vs. Empathy

How can we learn to live with our insecurities

Trauma Workers At Risk for Compassion Fatigue

Those who experience compassion fatigue are often more caring of their clients, and more vulnerable to the emotional pain of others. There are, however, ways to overcome compassion fatigue.

What Do You Need to Thrive?

In 1954, psychologist Abraham Maslow created the famous “hierarchy of needs.” The role of the self is front and center in Maslow’s model and goes hand in hand with other leading theories in psychology that emphasize the individual. The focus is primarily on the self, not the social. Maslow’s step-by-step model misses the mark...

Confluence

By Bernard L. De Koven on July 20, 2015 in On Having Fun
Confluence - the force that draws us together

In Disability-Land, Friendships Can Turn Toxic

For parents of complex kids, unsolicited criticism can be particularly painful--especially when it comes from people we respect.

4 Ways You Can Think (and Act) Like a Superhero

What are the factors that cause and enable people to help others? How can we ourselves think and act like superheroes?

Living Closer to the Bone (Part 1)

By Michael Jawer on July 18, 2015 in Feeling Too Much
If you’re a pet owner, then you know that these animals have feelings. Other mammals may even be more aware of feelings that human beings are, because they possess a ‘primary’ form of consciousness: they live closer to the bone, so to speak, than we do.

Stuck in Mute: How Do You Cope?

Why do words fail some of us most of the time?

Our digital devices might make us kinder

Henry James once wrote, Three things in human life are important: The first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind. Maybe our digital devices can help us discover all three.

Backing Away From Lovers' Leap

The heartfelt sense that we've met some long lost part of ourselves in that new friend with whom we so readily, easily, and fluidly fell into what seemed like the rare moment of intimacy within which we can share our "darkest" and "deepest" is irrelationship all dressed up to look, once again, like the cure to our disconnected state.

The Benefits of a Trauma-Sensitive Approach to Healing Shame

I have created a compassion cure program for former victims of trauma that includes: self-understanding, self-forgiveness, self-acceptance, self-kindness, and self-encouragement. This article focuses on the first of these five components of self-compassion.

Deals, Divorce, Direction: Off-Label Uses for Psychoanalysis

By Wednesday Martin Ph.D. on July 16, 2015 in Stepmonster
The future of psychoanalysis and talk therapy might look like this....

Understanding a Mutant

By Jay Richards Ph.D. on July 15, 2015 in The Violent Mind
Unpacking the cultural forces that shaped the unforgivable racist violence of Dylann Roof.

Rich Roll’s Extreme Flow

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on July 15, 2015 in Brick by Brick
Rich Roll, an ultra-endurance athlete, shares how we do not need to do "everything in moderation" in order to have balanced life. In fact, for many of us, the balance is in the “extreme.

The Day I Quit Boxing

"Suddenly I stopped and looked up at him and said, "Dad, I don't think I want to box any more."

Suicide: From Darkness to Light

Odds are you or someone you know has been affected directly or indirectly by suicide. If you know someone who lives in the darkness, or if you are personally struggling to find the light, don't give up hope. No matter how dark life may seem there is a light at the end of the tunnel.