Try to imagine going to a drama-free family gathering. There are no divisive discussions about politics, family issues, or Aunt Jenny’s dysfunctional kids. No snide comments, complaining, or heavy negativity. Everyone helps out, so that not one person gets stuck doing all the work. No one brags, attacks anyone, or competes with another. It is a light-hearted, balanced interaction that is focused on enjoying the moment, the food, and the company. In short, a shelter from the outside world.
Imagine being unable to say, "I am hungry," "I am in pain," "thank you," or "I love you,” -- losing your ability to communicate, being trapped inside your body, surrounded by people yet utterly alone. For 13 long years, that was Martin Pistorius’s reality. After contracting a brain infection at the age of twelve, Pistorius lost his ability to control his movements and to speak, and eventually he failed every test for mental awareness. He had become a ghost. But then a strange thing started to ha
Listening to those around you. Even if you don’t like them very much. We have come to live in a culture where it’s taboo or unacceptable to simply check in with people emotionally and offer some empathy and understanding. I’m not saying this would magically fix all gun violence.
I’m just saying that all of these things — the lack of gun laws, the lack of health care, the inability to have basic conversations with friends and neighbors about what’s going on with them, these are all extensions of a callous and self-absorbed culture that lacks any real empathy.
You're not at your best when you're stressed. In fact, your brain has evolved over millennia to release cortisol in stressful situations, inhibiting rational, logical thinking but potentially helping you survive, say, being attacked by a lion. Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin thinks there's a way to avoid making critical mistakes in stressful situations, when your thinking becomes clouded -- the pre-mortem. "We all are going to fail now and then," he says. "The idea is to think ahead to what those
Yet there is a different interpretation of young people’s levels of empathy, one that takes into account their far greater tolerance today for lifestyles and values not their own.
Larry D. Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills, who specializes in the effects of technology, worked on a recent study in the journal Computers in Human Behavior that measured the impact of spending time online on real-world empathy.
Dr. Rosen’s team found that being on the Internet “does not displace face-to-face time nor reduce real-world empathy” and that “virtual empathy was positively correlated with real-world empathy.”
Empathy, their study suggests, can be dispensed and felt virtually, though in-person empathy — a hug, for instance, as opposed to a Facebook “like” — has six times the impact on feelings of social support.
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