Most people think that empathy is compassion; and, heavens knows, the world needs more compassion. But empathy and compassion are distinct.
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?
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 ›