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Can you teach people to have empathy?

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posted on Jul, 4 2015 @ 03:51 AM
source -> "Can you teach people to have empathy?"

This horse has already been beaten quite severely--why, once could argue that, since the beginning of history itself, one of the biggest issues facing humankind is our apparent inability to empathize with one another & - love one another -

There are many ways to see what it would be like to take some steps in another's shoes. But psychology has long questioned the source of empathy--where does it all begin? Is it natural? Is good natural? --what about evil?

The answer is all of the above.

The ability to empathize has been percieved in children as young as 2 years old--according to several new studies on empathy in childhood. Though I believe it could definitely occur earlier as well--it would come down to the level of sentience in the child imo.

But in people like sociopaths, who lack empathy, is there any hope for them to recover/gain a sense of empathy?

That's what this article is trying to get at. Although I believe the answer is still up for some debate.

Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual ~ argh everyone is fcked up.

posted on Jul, 4 2015 @ 04:18 AM
a reply to: rukia

When i was about 14 my mum said to me "you only see the good in everyone don't you " . I dont remember what i replied but i do know i have never been more proud of something said of me . Empathy , maybe you can teach it but i suspect there has to be a solid foundation .

posted on Jul, 4 2015 @ 05:13 AM

posted on Jul, 4 2015 @ 06:46 AM
I have to say that when I was little, I must have been a psychopath. I could do the nastiest things [to people] and not care. Nothing big but nasty still. I used to think that I can influence anyone and it is so easy.
Then when I got older I sort of 'picked up' that I have to be a certain way. I.e think of others, not be so nasty and I worked on it.
I started suffering from anxiety and OCD from earliest childhood and now I care sometimes far too much [especially for people I love and care for].
I suffer from ruminiscence [is that even a word?], where I care so much I feel so guilty it almost kills me.

Then I think back how I didn't used to be like that, which was less painful and I got everything I wanted.

So in a long winded way I wanted to say that I believe you can teach most people compassion. I even know that some actual psychopaths are living compassionate lives even though they may not 'feel' it, they know what is expected and then it becomes second nature.

posted on Jul, 4 2015 @ 09:42 AM
a reply to: rukia

Let's not be too strictly scientific in this determination and hold out "empathy" as a entity unto itself.

The question of can it be taught, really taught beyond it being merely suggested and the concept then embraced?

Answer: The more into mindful meditation that a person can immerse the selve, the more the all-encompassing field of being includes empathy.

posted on Jul, 4 2015 @ 01:24 PM
I've seen vids of animals helping/saving/caring for other animals... Does that count as empathy? I'd say it's at least partly natural... Then, it can be nurtured and grown... Can it be taught? At least the indicating actions can be... In reality, my initial guess is It's prolly just a byproduct of love. (and/or hate?)

posted on Jul, 4 2015 @ 02:00 PM
Yes, I would say empathy can definitely be taught! I remember at one point as a child being of the mindset that the only reason one would not murder is to avoid going to jail
I soon realised why it was wrong but it certainly wasn't just 'there', it came with experience. Just yesterday I was trying to explain it to my 3 year old when she squashed a bug.

As I muddle my way through life, every experience seems to increase my ability to empathise. I used to scoff at the screaming kid in the supermarket, now, unfortunately, I can sure as hell put myself in that parent's shoes haha! But it's exponential, as you find yourself in more of those situations yourself you learn be less judgemental in all walks of life.

I just wish I'd got here sooner, if only they taught it at school...

posted on Jul, 4 2015 @ 02:44 PM
I'd rather not get tied up in semantics, but sociopaths can feel empathy, however they choose to focus elsewhere. It's been suggested psychopathy can be an attentional deficit issue, where by individuals will simply be incapable of emotionally processing when they are stuck to a goal in mind. The emotional information will not enter they psyche, they will be blinded by their desire to "win". Interestingly enough, this source also stated this desire can be rather weak, while the counter to emotionally process is simply that much weaker to register.

As for can someone be taught? Look at the examples above. The sociopath knows, but just don't care. It's an adaptive strategy. The psychopath simply has funky neurobiology, and perhaps can be treated, but why would either choose this? That may be the issue. If we look at trends in advancements of brain-imaging, and collection of information surrounding this, and related fields of science, we can imagine a time where we could hone in on deficiencies scanned in the wiring, and tailor specific training for said deficiencies/abnormalities. That being said, it would require the individuals will to change, else be forced, but I'm not sure how well a treatment would work by force.

So in theory, it could work, in practice? Best to nip it in the bud. I'd rather weed out the genetic vulnerabilities that increase the chances of developing such conditions. That is, of course, if we can't find extremes stemming from these same genes which may produce things like "genius"... which may actually be the case.

posted on Jul, 4 2015 @ 03:21 PM
a reply to: rukia

There's a hormone called oxytocin that can be synthesised. It's associated with empathy and elevates feelings of attachment to others. Although recent research has been focused on a treatment for autism, it might be effective on people with attachment disorders.

The research is still ongoing and not conclusive.

Maybe in the future people will take a dose of synthetic oxy to oil the wheels of society? Would it be a bad thing? Who knows? It's probably a question for the philosophers.

We take paracetamol for aches and pains. We take vitamins and minerals for healthy bodies. Would a dose of oxy be any different?

posted on Jul, 4 2015 @ 03:42 PM
a reply to: rukia

I just thought I'd clarify something before we go further:

Empathy is not the ability to love another person.

Empathy is the ability to feel what another person feels.

I can tell you that there are people out there who are empathic but are also capable of dark things - this is especially true of some people affected by forms of masochism and/or some other psychopathologies.

Manipulative people are also often capable of empathy - for feeling what the other could feel at any given conditions serves as a major tool for planning their manipulative plots.

edit on 4-7-2015 by swanne because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 4 2015 @ 06:45 PM
Only with pain...

posted on Jul, 6 2015 @ 11:25 AM
a reply to: swanne

This is a very well written response.

A mechanism according to which action representation modulates emotional activity may provide an essential functional architecture for empathy. The superior temporal and inferior frontal cortices are critical areas for action representation and are connected to the limbic system via the insula. Thus, the insula may be a critical relay from action representation to emotion.

Considering biology differs from individual to individual, the amount of empathy a person can possibly have or currently have is exclusively how their neurology is made up.

There are individuals (such as Psychopaths) whose brains simply cannot function in the same manner that a common person's brain functions in reference to the allowance of empathetic social events.

It has been suggested that, even though Psychopaths have an inability, or at least repressed ability to express empathy, that they can learn it to some degree (genuinely learn it, not just act it).

This is likely due to external factors and how a persons neurological makeup can change over the course of their lifetime.

It's also interesting to note that some of these individuals care so little about human life that anything can be witnessed or carried out by them without a speck of empathy or remorse, yet at the same time these same people could have a loving devotion to animal life.

Again, it is all about Neurological Makeup.

It would be interesting to see if a lack of social interaction due to increased technological media has an effect on common people's brains and makes them less "empathetically keen"

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