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.
Originally posted on Empathy Lessons:
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