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Empathy and Compassion
The latest news about empathy and compassion from around the world - CultureOfEmpathy.com
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Brain can be trained in compassion, study shows

Brain can be trained in compassion, study shows | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

A new study by researchers at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that adults can be trained to be more compassionate. The report, published Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, investigates whether training adults in compassion can result in greater altruistic behavior and related changes in neural systems underlying compassion.

 

"Our fundamental question was, 'Can compassion be trained and learned in adults? Can we become more caring if we practice that mindset?'" says Helen Weng, lead author of the study and a graduate student in clinical psychology. "Our evidence points to yes."

 

Culture of Empathy Builder:  Helen Y. Weng

 http://j.mp/17RkrF1

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Marilyne Kubath's curator insight, May 29, 2013 5:46 AM

This is excellent.

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Strengthen Your Selflessness

Strengthen Your Selflessness | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

Can you cultivate compassion? Researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison seem to think so—and with good reason.

Their study, published in Psychological Science, hypothesized that compassion can be taught and boost a person’s well-being, as well as their altruistic behavior, or selflessness.

 

To test this theory, researchers randomly assigned 41 participants to undergo one of two trainings: compassion or reappraisal. Both can promote well-being, but compassion training increases empathy and reappraisal training decreases a person’s distress level.

By Stephanie Castillo

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John Michel's curator insight, June 16, 2013 9:09 PM

Can you cultivate compassion? Researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison seem to think so—and with good reason.

Their study, published in Psychological Science, hypothesized that compassion can be taught and boost a person’s well-being, as well as their altruistic behavior, or selflessness.


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Feeling B*tchy? There's Compassion Training for That.

Feeling B*tchy? There's Compassion Training for That. | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

It's hard to admit this, but sometimes I can be kind of a B. Maybe I had a bad day, maybe I haven't eaten in the last three hours...but in any case, I've been known to snap at my man or give the side-eye to the woman taking forever in the grocery checkout line from time to time. Not. Cool.

But, apparently, harnessing one's chi to be a little bit more patient, compassionate, and more pleasant to be around in general is actually pretty easy, at least according to new research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  In the study, researchers asked participants to practice a Buddhist technique called "compassion meditation,..."

 By Natasha Burton

 

Culture of Empathy Builder:  Helen Y. Weng

 http://j.mp/17RkrF1



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Compassion training

Compassion training | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

There are all sort of things that would make the world better. Raising the minimum age for members of “Boy Bands” by about 15 years could, for instance, only elevate music and the general human experience. Changing the name and focus of the film series “Fast and Furious” to “Slow and Calm” would also be a step in the right direction. A few stern words of caution to whatever fashion troll dreamt up the “onesy” would certainly lift the level of the collective unconscious.

 

Perhaps greater than any of these much needed steps though, is the need for a rise in levels of basic human compassion. If this seems an impossibly lofty goal to you then a new study offers hope because it shows that compassion is really a matter of training your brain.

 

Culture of Empathy Builder:  Helen Y. Weng

 http://j.mp/17RkrF1

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"How would you feel if the mouse did that to you?" - New Yorker Cartoon Poster Print by William Steig at the Condé Nast Collection

"How would you feel if the mouse did that to you?" - New Yorker Cartoon Poster Print  by William Steig at the Condé Nast Collection | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it
"How would you feel if the mouse did that to you?" - New Yorker Cartoon Poster Print by William Steig - at condenaststore.com.
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Empathy and Disgust Do Battle in the Brain: Scientific American

Empathy and Disgust Do Battle in the Brain: Scientific American | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

An injured rat helps us understand the struggle between empathy and disgust

 

Evolutionary theorists believe that many of our behaviors are adaptive in some way. "Empathy probably started out as a mechanism to improve maternal care," saysFrans de Waal, a primatologist at Emory University and author of The Age of Empathy. "Mammalian mothers who were attentive to their young’s needs were more likely to rear successful offspring."

 

These offspring were, in turn, more likely to reproduce, so being able to sense another’s feelings was beneficial because it helped mammals to pass on their genes—the ultimate prize in the game of life. Mammalian males also show empathy, de Waal says, because “the mechanism spread from mother-offspring to other relations, including friends."

 

By Arielle Duhaime-Ross

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Altruism and Empathy

The Helix Center for Interdisciplinary Investigation of the New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute Altruism and Empathy Saturday, June 8th, 2013 Is self...

 

Is selflessness a necessary illusion? Are we condemned to weigh the costs (whether consciously or not) of the welfare of others against the benefits to ourselves ? We develop a "theory of mind" around age three, concurrently building our capacity to recognize emotions experienced by others. In other words, we begin to develop empathy, the sine qua non of compassion, and hence, of altruism. But if altruism is evolutionarily adaptive, as many believe, can it be unadulterated by self-interest? Or might acts of altruism truly reveal "the better angels of our nature"?

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Compassion isn't red or blue

Compassion isn't red or blue | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

When it comes to volunteerism, I never ask people about their politics. In one capacity or another, I’ve connected on causes with Jon Stewart, President Obama and a terrific foundation that is keeping alive the dreams of Bobby Kennedy.

 

Obviously, I don’t see eye-to-eye with these folks on quite a few issues. In fact, I enjoy crushing Jon whenever we mix it up on TV. But if the two of us can combine our very distinct audiences to raise awareness — and money — for something good, well, why wouldn’t Jon and I do that? Helping others in this nation who are struggling isn’t just “the right thing to do.” It’s the patriotic thing to do.

 

We must take politics out of compassion. When you donate blood, nobody asks you whether you’re a liberal or a conservative. Recipients certainly don’t care, do they? They’re just grateful that someone gave so they could get better.


Written by Bill O’Reilly


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John Michel's curator insight, June 16, 2013 9:12 PM

A fair and balanced piece about the value of reaching out to help others.

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Pathological Altruism

Pathological Altruism | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

"Empathy," Oakley notes, "is not a uniformly positive attribute. It is associated with emotional contagion; hindsight bias; motivated reasoning; caring only for those we like or who comprise our in-group (parochial altruism); jumping to conclusions; and inappropriate feelings of guilt in noncooperators who refuse to follow orders to hurt others." It also can produce bad public policy: 


Ostensibly well-meaning governmental policy promoted home ownership, a beneficial goal that stabilizes families and communities. The government-sponsored enterprises Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae allowed less-than-qualified individuals to receive housing loans and encouraged more-qualified borrowers to overextend themselves. Typical risk–reward considerations were marginalized because of implicit government support.


The government used these agencies to promote social goals without acknowledging the risk or cost. When economic conditions faltered, many lost their homes or found themselves with properties worth far less than they originally had paid. Government policy then shifted to the cost of this "altruism" to the public, to pay off the too-big-to-fail banks then holding securitized subprime loans. . . . Altruistic intentions played a critical role in the development and unfolding of the housing bubble in the United States.

 

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How to Foster Empathy for Disabled Kids

How to Foster Empathy for Disabled Kids | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

...As the mother of three children with disabilities, I believe fostering empathy – not sympathy – for them among their peers, teachers, parents and community is invaluable. You don’t have to have a disabled or special needs child to know that all children can benefit from learning to understand and care for others. Here are seven ways to foster empathy:


1) Empathy Versus Sympathy

Empathy is more complex than sympathy, it is the ability to understand others and to put yourself in someone else’s situation. Children can learn empathy at a young age – as early as 2 or 3 years old. Empathy begins with your behavior and actions......
 

By Lisa Lori

Lisa Lori is president of Lisa Lori Communications, 

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Operationalizing Empathy | Reboot

Operationalizing Empathy | Reboot | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

Since joining Reboot, there’s one word in particular I’ve been using more and more: empathy.

 

Empathy allows us to understand and share in someone else’s experiences. The concept plays a prominent role in design methods—where understanding the user experience is critical—but this kind of thinking is less apparent in the international aid and development space.

This might sound surprising. A deep empathy with victims of poverty or disaster should be central to the approach of donor organizations, NGOs, and social enterprises.

 

BY DAVE ALGOSO 

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Compassion Cultivation Training Teacher Certification Program 2014 Program Year

Compassion Cultivation Training Teacher Certification Program 2014 Program Year | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

CCARE’s Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) Teacher Certification Program is a part-time training and certification program for professionals who want to teach CCARE's Compassion Cultivation Training course. Trainees who fulfill all of the program requirements, including a period of supervised teaching, may apply for certification to teach CCT courses in their respective communities.

 

The CCT course is an 8-week educational program that combines traditional contemplative practices with contemporary psychology and scientific research to help participants to learn how to lead a more compassionate life. The course was designed by a team of psychologists, scientists, and contemplative scholars at Stanford University. Click here to read more about CCT.

 

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Dalai Lama Allocates $100,000 to Support Global Network of Compassionate Young Social Innovators

Dalai Lama Allocates $100,000 to Support Global Network of Compassionate Young Social Innovators | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

The Host Committee for the Dalai Lama’s May 19-21 visit to Louisville, Kentucky, has announced the Dalai Lama’s personal instructions to allocate $100,000 of event revenues to Dalai Lama Fellows, a diverse San Francisco-based network of young social innovators drawn from colleges and universities around the world.  The Dalai Lama met with Dalai Lama Fellows program staff and five representative Fellows on Monday, May 20, to hear a progress report on the work that he authorized in 2009 and reaffirmed his enthusiastic commitment and ongoing personal support for the program.  The contribution was announced after final accounting in Louisville.

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How meditation can make the world a better place

How meditation can make the world a better place | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

Helen Weng, like thousands of other Madison residents, is reaching the end of that long crawl toward a Ph.D. Unlike many of the University of Wisconsin’s underpaid grad students, Weng already has had a taste of the limelight that is usually reserved for full-fledged professors.

 

The national journal Psychological Science recently published a study by Weng that suggests adults can learn to be more compassionate.

How so? Through a meditation CD, of course. And by repeating nice phrases like “may you have joy and happiness.”

by  JACK CRAVER


Culture of Empathy Builder:  Helen Y. Weng

 http://j.mp/17RkrF1

 

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New Study Can Help You Feel Compassion

New Study Can Help You Feel Compassion | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it
New research highlights how humans can cultivate compassion.

 

Empathy and compassion, similar to physical strength and academic skills, has proven to not be something you are necessarily born with but can be enhanced through studying, training, and practice. “The fact that alterations in brain function were observed after just a total of seven hours of training is remarkable,” explained the UW-Madison psychology and psychiatry professor Richard J. Davidson, founder and chair of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and senior author of the article.

 

By Jessica Feigner

Culture of Empathy Builder:  Helen Y. Weng

 http://j.mp/17RkrF1

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Can compassion be trained like a muscle? Active-controlled fMRI of compassion meditation.

Can compassion be trained like a muscle? Active-controlled fMRI of compassion meditation. | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

Among the cognitive training literature, meditation interventions are particularly unique in that they often emphasize emotional or affective processing at least as much as classical ‘top-down’ attentional control. From a clinical and societal perspective, the idea that we might be able to “train” our “emotion muscle” is an attractive one. Recently much has been made of the “empathy deficit” in the US, ranging from empirical studies suggesting a relationship between quality-of-care and declining caregiver empathy, to a recent push by President Obama to emphasize the deficit in numerous speeches.

 

While much of the training literature focuses on cognitive abilities like sustained attention and working memory, many investigating meditation training have begun to study the plasticity of affective function, myself included. 

 

Micah Allen is a post-doctoral cognitive neuroscientist working in Aarhus, Denmark.

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Research Shows Why "Learning" Compassion Leads to Altruism

Research Shows Why "Learning" Compassion Leads to Altruism | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it
When people teach themselves compassion, altruistic behavior increases.

 

...For example, new research demonstrates that you can “learn” compassion through specific meditative practices fairly quickly; and, intriguingly, that teaching yourself to become more compassionate directly translates to altruistic behavior. This latest study, conducted at the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, founded by Richard Davidson, the leading researcher in this field, investigated whether you can train adults to become more compassionate; and whether that results in greater altruistic behavior and changes in related brain activity. Well, you can, and it does. 


The lead author of the study, Helen Weng, stated that “Our fundamental question was can we become more caring if we practice that mindset?  Our evidence points to yes.” 

 

by Douglas LaBier, Ph.D.

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Your Dog May Be Smarter Than You Think - CBS Miami Video

Your Dog May Be Smarter Than You Think - CBS Miami Video | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

Can a dog empathize with human emotion? According to researchers, they are one of the few species that can express empathy, and thanks to Dr. Brian Hare it’s possible to discover more of what’s hiding behind your dog’s puppy eyes.

 

Dr. Brian Hare, author of The Genius of Dogsand director of the Duke University Canine Cognition Center is the brains behind “Dognition,” a website which features a series of online tests that can help you gauge your pooch’s intelligence.

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There's hope: Compassion can be learned

There's hope: Compassion can be learned | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

With some relatively simple training, people can learn to be more compassionate, and such training increases people’s willingness to redistribute funds altruistically, according to an intriguing new study from University of Wisconsin researchers.

 

Compassion training also appears to elicit changes in the brain associated with an enhanced sense of personal well-being.

 

Sounds like the Dalai Lama got it right on both counts when he wrote: “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

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Rubio: "The essence of our immigration policy is compassion"

Rubio: "The essence of our immigration policy is compassion" | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it
At the essence of our immigration policy is compassion, is the idea that...we believe that people from all walks of life can succeed if given the opportunity," said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., at the 2013 Faith and Freedom Conference, saying that if we give immigrants the chance to succeed in America, "They will change their lives, they will change our country, and they will change the world.
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The Science of Compassion at Parliament of the World's Religions

The Science of Compassion at Parliament of the World's Religions | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

Why, in a country that consumes 25% of the world’s resources (the U.S.), is there an epidemic of loneliness, depression, and anxiety? Why do so many in the West who have all of their basic needs met still feel impoverished? While some politicians might answer, “It’s the economy, stupid,” based on scientific evidence, a better answer is, “It’s the lack compassion, stupid.”

  

I recently attended the Templeton Prize ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and have been reflecting on the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in conversation with Arianna Huffington:

 “If we say, oh, the practice of compassion is something holy, nobody will listen. If we say, warm-heartedness really reduces your blood pressure, your anxiety, your stress and improves your health, then people pay attention.”


By Dr. Jim Doty

 

Culture of Empathy Builder Page:   James R. Doty M.D.

http://j.mp/NOvSRg

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Courses: Empathy, Altruism, & Aggression (PSYC-358)

Courses: Empathy, Altruism, & Aggression (PSYC-358) | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

Empathy, Altruism, & Aggression (PSYC-358)

 

Are humans innately selfish or empathic? What do we mean when we say empathy? Do selfish or empathic behaviors succeed best in the long term? What is a psychopath? In this seminar, we will explore these questions and others related to cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects of empathy in interpersonal interactions. We will begin with an exploration of the multiple ways that empathy can be defined and conceptualized, with a focus on the differences among empathy, empathic accuracy, and perspective-taking. As the course continues, we will examine the neural substrates that underlie empathic abilities, how the capacity for empathy develops during childhood; the relationship between empathy and both altruistic and aggressive behaviors, and psychopathologies associated with impaired empathic capacities. The course will be taught as a seminar, and all students are expected to participate. Readings will be drawn from recent and classic academic literature. To meet course requirements, students will write three papers and will help to lead one class session. (Spring)Abigail Marsh
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Empathic to a Fault? - Therapists Seana McGee and Maurice Taylor explain the dark side of compassion.

Empathic to a Fault? - Therapists Seana McGee and Maurice Taylor explain the dark side of compassion. | Empathy and Compassion | Scoop.it

Empathic distress can also take the form of physical symptoms and a desire to flee. In one case, a man, Francis, couldn’t get through the first day of a weekend men’s retreat before he regretted being there. Another participant had shared a story about his abusive girlfriend, and it had upset Francis so much that he started experiencing stomach cramps.

Healthy Compassion


The difference between empathic distress and healthy compassion is our ability to keep our own nervous system steady. The Dalai Lama is reputed to exemplify healthy compassion. When he was told of a horrific death, onlookers reported seeing shock, then sadness flash quickly across his face, after which he seemed to move seamlessly into a place of equanimity. People with healthy compassion can respond to a crisis with the full range of appropriate human emotions without shutting down or becoming emotionally triggered.

 

Therapists Seana McGee and Maurice Taylor explain the dark side of compassion.By: Seana McGee & Maurice Taylor

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