The ontological definition of empathy as “being in the presence of another human being without anything else added” – anything else such as judgment, evaluation, memory, desire, hostility, and the many factors that make us unavailable to be in relationship. Though Gillian Isaacs Russell uses the word “empathy” in a specific psychological sense, I would argue that her work on “presence” is consistent with and contributes to an enlarged sense of empathic relatedness that builds community.
Professor Turkle, Sherry, launches a Jeremiad – remember the Prophet Jeremiah? – against buzzing, beeping, interrupting devices, which give us acquired attention deficit, and carries her concerns in the direction of online therapy. If empathy is being copresent with another person, where is the empathy online? Find out in the engaging conversation between Lou and Arnon about Sherry’s penetrating and incisive work!
It’s gettin’ crowded under the bus. We confront the paradox of “embracing” our socially distanced neighbor. There is something about humans that makes us want to breathe on one another. Empathy? There is nothing that says an empathy trend has to be positive – but don’t try and hold your breath. Expanding neighborliness is the ultimate empathy trend.
Psychotherapy invokes a virtual reality all of its own – even without cyber space. This is especially the case with dynamic psychotherapy that activates forms of transference in which one relates to the therapist “as if” in conversation with a past or future person or reality, the latter not physical present. Indeed, with the exception of being careful not to step in front of a bus while crossing the street on the way to therapy, we are usually over-confident that we know the reality of how our relationships work or what people mean by their communications. This is less the case with certain forms of narrowly focused behavioral therapies, which are nevertheless still more ambiguous than is commonly recognized. Never was it truer that meaning – and emotions such as fear – are generated in the mind of the beholder.