As a young man, Arthur J. Clark heard Carl Rogers speak and was inspired to devote his life’s work to applying empathy in education, counseling, and talk therapy.
The title statement echoes Freud’s celebrated slogan “Where id was, ego shall be!” Neither of these statements is an “either or” proposition. Freud did not propose to replace the id with the ego. It is not even clear what that could possibly mean. The idea is to expand the influence, control, and power of the second term over the first one. The ego expands its power; likewise, with empathy.
In time of war, the power of empathy consists in putting yourself in the shoes of the enemy, thinking like the enemy, and thereby anticipating and thwarting the enemy’s moves.
As Tolstoy famously noted, all happy families are alike. What Tolstoy did not note was that many happy families are also unhappy ones. Figure that one out! Sherry’s answer to Tolstoy is her memoir about the successes and breakdowns of empathy in her family of origin and her subsequent life.
People who are able to name their emotions and feeling experience expanded power in getting what they want and need from other people. They also get expanded power in contributing to building meaningful connections and community. community. Try substituting the word “empathy,” for “connection.” It works.
A new year and a new virus variant? Being cynical and resigned is easy, and the empathy training is to drive out cynicism and resignation – then empathy naturally comes forth. If given half a chance. People want to be empathic. The prediction is that with a rigorous and critical empathy (and getting a very high percent of the population vaccinated), we are equal to the challenge.
A significant aspect of the interest in relating empathy and the reading of fiction is to make the world a better place. Read some quality fiction; expand one’s empathy; and take action to improve the world. Wouldn’t it be nice?
Follow the money – by all means – but don’t follow it off a cliff. Take a walk in the shoes of the other person in order to sell them another pair!?
Testing a person’s decisions and preferences using probabilities, bets, and lotteries is an engaging exercise, and nothing is wrong in doing so. However, unless one also adds empathy to the mixture of economics and logic one misses something essential—the person!
The four phases of empathy – receptivity, understanding, interpretation, and responsiveness- are exemplified in literature in rebroadcast of this Grand Rounds talk from Rush Medical in Oct 2016…