resistance to empathy

10 Top Empathy Trends and Predictions for 2017

This work aims to be educational in a brain-storming way about the role of empathy in the community and the market for empathy services. Hanna Holborn Gray has said that “education should not be intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make them think.” I hereby also add: The intention of education is to expand one’s empathy. Amazingly enough that is not as comfortable as many people might imagine, which brings up to the first trend – resistance to empathy.

Empathy on Bastille Day

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?

Resistance to Empathy in the Organization

Ours is the age of compliance. There are so many “shoulds” – so many rules – that doing one’s job is a challenge. Resistance to empathy is subtle, and it deploys institutional mechanisms, usually unwittingly, to disrupt empathy. The psychosocial dimension complicates resistance to empathy on the part of “behavioral health” professionals.