the word itself in English “empathy” was not invented until a Cornell University psychologist, Edward Bradford Titchner, was translating (1895) one of the innovators who are credited with founding psychology as a science, namely, Wilhelm Wundt – and Titchener invented the word “empathy” to translate the German “Einfühlung”.
When one experiences the lack of empathy as a boundary issue or even a boundary violation, including a dignity violation, then the response is narcissistic rage in an attempt to get back one’s own and re-establish the boundary. I suggest this is a primitive, primary process response that is rarely well thought out or even all that adaptive – except perhaps in a context of self-defense against an immediate danger – but it is a common response. This does not jive with the average everyday understanding of empathy but it is the heart of the matter: wherever there is empathy – can narcissistic rage be far behind?
Surveys show that most people think that empathy is compassion. The world certainly needs more compassion, but it is not synonymous with empathy. Empathy tells you what the other person is experiencing as a vicarious experience, and not an identification; compassion (and ethics) tells you what to do about it. Empathy is oxygen for the soul. If one is feeling short of breath at the end of the school year or business cycle, it is possible that they are in need of expanded empathy.
Empathy Triple Play: 3 books on empathy: hear about the book that got me thrown out of the local institute for psychoanalysis
Empathy is oxygen for the soul. Short of breath? Maybe one needs expanded empathy. Get some – along with a light snack – at this event.
Four dimensions of empathy exist – each one has a way of misfiring, breaking down or going astray. The advantage of this definition of empathy is that it shows one where things go “off the rails”. If one knows where and how… Read More ›
Edwin Rutsch, Founder and Director of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy (www.CultureOfEmpathy.com), does an on camera interview with Lou Agosta, discussing issues and variables on the critical path to building a culture of empathy. No one said… Read More ›