Beam is a would-be “bad girl,” who has written a very good book. In a world of constrained, limited empathy, the empathic person is a non-conformist. Beam is one of those, too, and succeeds in sustaining a nuanced skepticism about the alternating hype and over-valuation of empathy over against those who summarily dismiss it. Most ambivalently, she calls out the corporate infatuation with empathy. I paraphrase the corporate approach: Take a walk in the other person’s shoes in order to sell them another pair.
Empathy breaks down into emotional contagion. Empathy breaks down in conformity and the closing off of possibilities for flourishing. Empathy breaks down in projection. Empathy breaks down in devaluing and cynical language, in which our humanity literally gets lost in translation. These are not the only ways that empathy fails, but they are the Big Four. How to overcome them?
This book contains some thirty (30) empathy lessons for life. A key empathy lesson that explicitly addresses empathy training: remove the resistance to empathy—obstacles such as cynicism, shame, guilt, aggression, narcissism, devaluing language, and so on—and empathy spontaneously shows up, comes… Read More ›
Putting ourselves in the situation of people who lived years ago in a different historical place and time is a challenge to our empathy. It requires historical empathy. How do we get “our heads around” a world that was fundamentally… Read More ›
Most people think that empathy is compassion; and, heavens knows, the world needs more compassion. But empathy and compassion are distinct.
Empathy is oxygen for the soul. So if you are feeling short of breath due to life stresses, perhaps one needs expanded empathy. Get some here. This is what you need to know to register. Further details on the course content… Read More ›
In addition to mastering the unknown through its depiction, the “pay off” is to confront images of the fragmentation of the self, annihilation of the self, and loss of control of the self’s boundaries. That is perhaps why audiences are strangely attracted to horror films. They give a specific form to our most primitive fears, binding these deep fears to a specific something that can be objectified and can be overcome by the cinematic equivalent of the “cavalry to the rescue” or even by counter magic. It should be noted that people run from the theatre if they believe their lives are really in danger; but the views stay in their seats, having actually paid money to be frightened vicariously by the experience of watching a horror film.