Empathy in a Broader Context: Development, Mechanisms, Remediation

Simon Surguladze, Dessa Bergen-Cico

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

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Abstract

Empathy has long been a subject of interest of social sciences, starting with the concept of Einfühlung (“in-feeling” or “feeling into”) as the human capacity to feel the emotions that the artist or writer had worked to represent. Later on, Theodor Lipps transformed Einfühlung from a concept of aesthetics into a central category of the philosophy of the social and human sciences and postulated that Einfühlung meant the “experience of another human” underpinned by “inner imitation” or instinctive kinaesthetic sensations in the observer as felt by the observed target. The word empathy was introduced to English-speaking world by E.B. Titchener who translated Einfühlung by using Greek em- (“in'”) and pathos, (“feeling”, “suffering”, or “pity”). This heralded the beginning of new, psychological research into the phenomenon, followed by operationalising the concepts of empathy thus firmly rooting it in the fields of sociology and psychology. Empathy is considered as a multifaceted construct encompassing (1) affective empathy, i.e., affective sharing, (2) empathic concern: motivation to caring for another's welfare, and (3) perspective taking or cognitive empathy, the ability to consciously put oneself into the mind of another and understand what that person is thinking or feeling. Through the recent advances in neuroscience, researchers have begun to identify possible biological mechanisms of empathy that human beings may share with higher mammals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages3
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Volume11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 12 2020

Keywords

  • Empathy
  • Neuroscience
  • emotional empathy
  • Cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)

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