The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy is the home of the global
empathy movement. Our
mission is to build a
for creating a global worldwide culture of empathy and compassion. We do
this through a variety of means. First is by community organizing.
We bring people together and hold in-person and online meetings and
Circles. Next is by collecting,
curating and organizing all the material we find on the internet on the
topics. Researching through the arts and sciences. We are putting
together a series of documentaries to educate the public and much, much
Our current project is to develop our
Conference on, How Might We Build a Culture of Empathy and
Compassion? Contact us if you'd like to be involved in
organizing this event. Let's help fill the empathy deficit by making
people more aware of the fundamental importance of empathy and
compassion in our lives. This is a collaborative project and we invite
you to take part. Send an email if you'd like to get involved with the
group or with creating this video, etc.
Empathy Cafe Magazine
Searching the internet for the latest articles. Curated and
organized into informative and attractive news pages. Subscribe
for daily updates.
Join the Quest Latest
interviews, panel discussions, etc,
We reached the
milestone for our conference on how to build a culture
of empathy and compassion!!! There are over 300 hours of
empathy and compassion experts from around the world talking about
how we can build a movement to transform the world culture with
empathy. This is only the beginning
How might we empathically redesign our community to better support our
deepest dreams, values, needs and aspirations? Let us come together to
reignite the embers of personal and community empathy!
We will learn how to listen and respond so that each person feels loved,
heard, seen, and appreciated. When we work together we can co-create
harmonious loving relationships and communities.
"The March on Washington teaches us that we are not trapped by the
mistakes of history; that we are masters of our fate. But it also teaches
us that the promise of this nation will only be kept when we work
together. We’ll have to
reignite the embers of empathy and fellow feeling, the coalition of
conscience that found expression in this place 50 years ago."Barack
"We’ll have to reignite the embers
of empathy and fellow feeling"
Roman Krznaric is
a cultural thinker and writer on the art of living. He is a founding
faculty member of The School of Life in London, which offers instruction
and inspiration on the important questions of everyday life, and advises organisations including Oxfam and the United Nations on using empathy and
conversation to create social change. He has been named by The Observer as
one of Britain’s leading lifestyle philosophers.
Roman is author of
Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution.
I believe that empathy – the imaginative act of
stepping into another person’s shoes and
viewing the world from their perspective –
is a radical tool for social change and
should be a guiding light
for the art of living.
From the book
description; "Through encounters with actors, activists, groundbreaking
designers, undercover journalists, nurses, bankers and neuroscientists,
Krznaric defines a new breed of adventurer. He sets out the six
life-enhancing habits of highly empathetic people, whose skills enable
them to connect with others in extraordinary ways. Empathy has the power
to transform relationships, from the personal to the political. Krznaric
contends that, as we move on from an age of introspection, empathy will be
key to fundamental social change - making this book a manifesto for
Mark Ingwer is a business psychologist and the founding
partner of Insight Consulting Group, a global marketing and strategy
consultancy specializing in consumer and business insights. He has over 25 years experience applying his unique blend of
psychology, marketing, and business acumen to helping companies optimize
their brand and marketing strategy based on an in-depth understanding of
practice empathy in its
and thus falls short of truly
connecting with customers.
Mark is author of Empathetic Marketing:
How to Satisfy the 6 Core Emotional Needs of Your Customers. He
"A business that invests in empathy devotes itself to understanding the
emotional needs and motivations of its customers, and aligns itself to
meet them. Companies have increasingly embraced the role of emotion in
selling products and services, but often merely pay lip service to its
importance without understanding how to harness it."
Annika Wachter and Roberto Gallego are founders of
Tasting Travels, a project
that seeks to promote bicycle travel as a model to cultivate empathy. They
have ridden their bicycles from Europe to Australia and beyond.
They say, "We are a multicultural couple that decided in
2011 to explore a thin line around the world by bicycle. Our main goal is
to promote bike travel as a model to cultivate empathy.... We are moved by
the strong belief that bike travel is an excellent way to cultivate
empathy in our world, not only towards human beings but to other living
... bike travel is an excellent way
to cultivate empathy in our world,
not only towards human beings but
to other living species...
Dominic Barter plays with dialogue and
partnership, focusing primarily in the fields of education, justice,
culture and social change. In the mid-90s he collaborated in the
development of Restorative Circles,
a community-based and -owned practice for dynamic engagement with conflict
that grew from conversations with residents in gang-controlled shantytown
favelas in Rio de Janeiro.
He adapted the practice for the
Brazilian Ministry of Justice's award-winning national projects in
Restorative Justice and supports its application in a further 25
countries. In recent years he has supervised the mediation program for the
Police Pacification Units in Rio, served as invited professor at the
Standing Group for Consensual Methods of Conflict Resolution, at the High
Court of Rio, with a focus on school mediation and bullying, and focused
on the development of restorative community. Currently Dominic directs the
Dialogue Restoration project for the State Education Department of Rio de
Janeiro and partners with the Centre for the Study of Public Security and
Citizenship at Candido Mendes University.
something really unique about empathy,
that it clears the things that are blocking action,
and that it
connects both inside and
to other people in a way that
As a long time student and colleague of Dr. Marshall
Rosenberg Dominic serves on the Board of Directors for the Center for
Nonviolent Communication, shares Nonviolent Communication throughout
Brazil and internationally, and supports its learning in project-based,
community contexts. He has been active in the street movements and
occupations in Rio in recent years. He’s the very happy dad of an amazing
14 year old. You can find out more
about Restorative Circles at
Antonio (Tony) Fernando is a medical doctor and
Senior Lecturer at the School of Medicine in the University of
Auckland located in
Auckland, New Zealand. His research interests include diagnosis
and treatment of insomnia and other sleep disorders. He is currently
working on a PhD on compassion in healthcare.
suggested that the scientific study
of compassion in medicine may be enhanced
when conducted within a transactional framework...
"We have suggested
that the scientific study of compassion in medicine may be enhanced when
conducted within a transactional framework in which compassion is viewed
as stemming from the dynamic interactions between physician, patient,
clinical, and institution/environment factors. The Transactional Model of
Physician Compassion offers a framework within which to identify and
organize the barriers and facilitators of physician compassion and thus
better inform future interventions aimed at enhancing physician
In this panel discussion,
Kristin Neff, Christopher Germer
and Edwin Rutsch discuss the question,
What is the Relationship Between
Self-Empathy, Empathy, Self-Compassion & Compassion? There is
a great deal of confusion about the
meanings and definitions of self-empathy, empathy, self-compassion
& compassion. We might be talking about the same experience,
but are using different words, or are talking about different
experiences and are using the same word, etc.
There is a great deal of confusion about the
definitions of self-empathy, empathy, self-compassion
& compassion. We might be talking about the same
experience, but are using different words.
for instance, say there is compassion fatigue. Recently some in the
compassion community have been saying it's really empathy fatigue.
Kristin feels personal distress may be a more
accurate term. Edwin feels there is no such
thing as compassion or empathy fatigue, it is really more
accurately described as empathy and compassion deficit fatigue.
Join us for a wide ranging dialog about this and more with leaders
in the field of empathy and compassion.
Michael E. Morrell is Associate Professor, University of
Connecticut. His main research interests examine the connections between
empathy and democracy, the effects of direct democratic participation on
citizens, and the role of political efficacy in democracy, public opinion,
and political behavior. He is also continuing to explore his theory of the
role of empathy in democracy as it relates to topics ranging from
President Barack Obama to agonistic democracy. Michael is author of
Democracy: Feeling, Thinking, and Deliberation. He writes:
"Today's democracies are still struggling to fulfill
promise of equal consideration, and the claim I will defend
is that they can do so most fully by giving
empathy a central role in democratic
Kelly Bryson, MA, MFT is the author of the best selling
book, Don't Be Nice, Be Real –
Balancing Passion for Self with Compassion for Others. He is a licensed
therapist in private practice, lecturer, workshop facilitator, and
consultant. He has been an authorized trainer for the International Center
for Nonviolent Communication for over 20 years, and has trained thousands
in the US, Europe, and the Middle East. Kelly is also a humorist,
guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He in now working on building new
authentic empathy communities & cultures.
writes, "When I empathize with someone, I become a strong and gentle wind,
filling the sailboat of the other’s inner exploration. As the Wind, I
have no control over the steering of the boat. That is left up to the
captain of the ship, the person I am being present to. I do not try to
direct, only connect with where the other is in this very present moment.
I bring in no ideas of thoughts about the past or the future. I bring in
no thoughts of my own. I have no preference for where we go on this
journey – only that it come from the captain’s heart and choice. The
purpose of my presence is connection, never correction. I am a steady,
present trade wind, not an impatient and gusty gale."
When I empathize with
I become a strong and gentle wind,
filling the sailboat of the other’s
"Empathy brings in nothing from the
past. When I am empathizing I am not remembering when I was having a
similar experience. In one sense I am not even there. The only thing
present is your experience, feelings and stories. I am being with the felt
sense of them. Relating to another experience is about you. Empathizing is
about them. Some people get so caught up in the fear of wondering whether
they are empathizing correctly that very little empathy or attention is
left to be with the other. It is not really about doing empathy or giving
empathy - it is being empathy." Sub Conference:
Compassionate Communication (NVC) and
Building Empathic Community
Josh Stearns is a journalist, organizer and community
strategist. He is
Public Media Campaign Director for Free Press, a national,
non-partisan, non-profit organization working to reform the media through
education, organizing and advocacy. In this dialog we talk about the role
of empathy, listening and community in journalism.
Josh wrote the article,
The Need for Listening and Empathy in Journalism.
He writes, "What is the role of empathy in journalism?... the
question of empathy has two facets: empathy in the newsroom, and the
empathy our stories foster in our readers. What connects these two
elements is the act of listening...
What is the role of empathy in
Better reflecting and responding
to our communities has to
start with better listening...
Better reflecting and responding to our communities has to start with
better listening. While journalism is rooted in interviews, there’s not
enough discussion about the need to listen to our communities. And by
listening, I don’t mean simply talking to sources or listening for story
leads; I mean listening for the sake of understanding and building truly
reciprocal relationships with readers."
Sarah Lloyd-Hughes is a
popular speaker on confidence and inspiration, an award winning social
entrepreneur, founder of
Ginger Training & Coaching
and author of “How
to Be Brilliant at Public Speaking: Any Audience. Any Situation.”
In her speaking and courses, Sarah teaches that to become a more
influential communicator doesn’t involve pretending to be someone you’re
not – instead you must understand and unleash the six qualities of an
inspiring speaker that already live inside you.
Sarah wrote an article
Inspire through Empathy
about the role of empathy in public speaking andGetting
to know your audience (part 2).
writes, "One of the biggest problems speakers face is focusing too
much on themselves and not enough on their audience. Developing an
empathetic approach to public speaking will help your speaking in more
ways than one…
Developing an empathetic approach to
public speaking will help your speaking
in more ways than one...
Empathy is one of the six qualities of an inspiring speaker, that I
write about it my book “How
to be Brilliant at Public Speaking”. So many presenters fail to
realize how important empathy truly is, focusing on their ever growing
list of information they wish to impart.
think more about what they want to say versus what the audience wants to
hear. Ever hear a speaker begin with, “Hello. My name is (fill in the
blank) and I’m here to speak to you today about… blah blah blah yadda
yadda”? That’s the very LAST thing that will get your audience engaged.
Why not try empathy instead?"
Sandy Hope is a counsellor working with adults and young
people in UK. Sandy works from a Carl Rogers Person-Centred perspective
and holds workshops on Domestic Violence and Abuse, Difference and
Privilege, as well as, Anger Awareness. Sandy wrote the article
Empathy – a revolutionary actand says, "If we want a radical feminist revolution that
overturns our current ways of thinking and responding to the world, I
believe, and I’m not alone, that this begins (and ends) with empathy.
If we want a radical feminist revolution
that overturns our
current ways of thinking and responding to the world,
I believe, (and I’m not alone), that this begins
(and ends) with empathy...
The style of thinking that characterises patriarchy/kyriarchy is
individualistic, self-orientated, and based on competition, control and
domination. It comes from a false belief that these are the natural
drivers of human nature, a belief that is unfortunately
I started my Facebook page,Lesbians
and Feminists Against Transphobia my
purpose was to build empathy between feminist, lesbian and trans*
communities. Although this was intended to be a reciprocal process, and
the empathy needs to be two-way, I was motivated by the institutional
transphobia I had encountered within lesbian and feminist circles towards
trans* people, a phenomenon entirely based in lack of empathy. This
mattered to me because I witnessed the social exclusion of trans* people
as having a profoundly detrimental effect on their psychological wellbeing"
Gay Leah Barfield was a Fellow of Center for Studies of the
Person for nearly 30 years where she created one
of the first Women's Centers in San Diego, as well as the 22 year long
series of "Living Now" Summer Institutes. With
Rogers she co-directed the Carl Rogers Institute for Peace, applying
person-centered principles to real and potential international crisis
situations, for which Dr. Rogers was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in
Empathy is a special way of coming to know another
and ourself, a kind of attuning and understanding.
When empathy is extended, it satisfies our
needs and wish for intimacy, it rescues us
from our feelings of aloneness.
Semi-retired, she continues to see private clients, mentor and train
MA graduate student therapists at the University of Hawaii in Hilo, as well
as write and publish about her experiences over the past 40 years as a
"gatherer," social activist, and stubborn idealist. Her immediate concern
for increasing civil discourse, based on Rogerian principles, particularly
as applied to the political dialogue process, is paramount among her
Gay and I talked about her work with Carl Rogers, her
insights into the nature of empathy and what she sees as the many benefits of empathy. Sub Conferences:
Denise Dellarosa Cummins is a retired Adjunct Professor of
Psychology and Philosophy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her
research interests include the evolution and development of higher
cognition in artificial and biological systems.
She writes, "To most of us, the idea that empathy is a good thing is a no
brainer. The more we empathize with the plight of others, the more ethical
and moral we behave towards them. Yet a number of psychologists and
philosophers reject this view....
To most of us, the idea that empathy is a good thing
is a no brainer.
Yet a number of psychologists
and philosophers reject this view....
believe empathy leads to bad moral judgments and bad social policy... The
desire to censure empathy stems from the belief that empathy and other
emotions necessarily lead to anarchy and retributive justice, while reason
necessarily leads to order and good judgment. Yet sufficient evidence from
the annals of human history plainly shows that reason, untempered by
empathy, is just as likely to lead to tyranny and genocide as it is to
lead to good judgment. When compassion and reason are decoupled, judgment
is not improved. Instead, the door is opened to inhumane practices." Sub Conferences:
Jesse Prinz is Distinguished Professor at City University of
New York, Graduate Center. He says "I work primarily in the philosophy of
psychology, broadly construed. I am interested in how the mind works. I
think philosophical accounts of the mental can be fruitfully informed by
findings from psychology, the neurosciences, anthropology, and related
fields. My theoretical convictions are unabashedly empiricist. I hope to
resuscitate core claims of British Empiricism against the backdrop of
contemporary philosophy of mind and cognitive science."
"empathy is prone to biases that
In this engaging interview-dialog, Edwin Rutsch empathizes
with Jesse about the problems he sees with empathy and replies to some of
the criticisms. Jesses says, "empathy is prone to biases that render
it potentially harmful. Another construct—concern—fares somewhat better,
but it is also of limited use. I argue that, instead of empathy, moral
judgments involve emotions such as anger, disgust, guilt, and admiration.
These, not empathy, provide the sentimental foundation for morality."
Paul Bloom is a Professor of Psychology and
Cognitive Science at Yale University. His research explores how
children and adults understand the physical and social world,
with special focus on language, morality, religion, fiction, and
We’re often at our best when we’re smart
enough not to rely on it.
Paul's article in the May edition of
the New Yorker Magazine, titled
Baby in the Well, The
Case Against Empathy" expresses
some of his concerns about the current enthusiasm for empathy.
We are developing some empathic dialog to listen to and
empathically hear and respond to these concerns.
Gretchen Jennings is a longtime museum professional, having
worked as an educator, administrator, and exhibition project director in a
variety of museums - art, history, and science. She is currently editor of
journal of the National Association for Museum Exhibition.
advocating for and
writing about the The Empathetic Museum.She is also leading a discussion among museum professionals about
the role of empathy.
In our dialog Gretchen talks
about her vision for the Empathetic Museum and what that entails.
She writes, "I was thinking about institutional body
language when the word empathy first occurred to me in connection with
museums some time ago. Empathy, the experience of feeling with and not
just for another, requires a strong core, a sense of self that can dare to
be open to the experience of others. I think of the truly empathetic
person as one whose inner and outer expressions of compassion are
consonant with each other.
I was thinking about institutional body language
when the word empathyfirst occurred to me
in connection with museums some time ago.
Institutions have an inner core, an identity; and they can
also manifest a kind of body language – messages that come through loud
and clear even when the mission statement, website, and marketing
materials say something different. An institution that is not at its core
truly visitor-centered, dedicated to inclusion, and committed to its
community cannot, in my view, attract and retain the new and diverse
audiences it may say it wants. "
As part of The Empathetic Museum interview series, Edwin
interviews museum professionals about how they use and foster empathy in
VP Education, Levine Museum of New South
Mitroff Silvers is a web strategy and implementation consultant and
workshop facilitator with experience launching digital products in museums,
nonprofits, and educational organizations. A theme in her current work is
how mission-driven organizations can integrate principles of human-centered
design into their practice.
One of the core principles of design thinking is
on human values at every stage of the process...
And empathy for the people for whom you’re designing is
fundamental to this process...
She writes, "One of the core principles of design thinking
is its focus on human values at every stage of the process. And empathy for
the people for whom you’re designing is fundamental to this process...
There have been several recent discussions about empathy in museum
practice, ranging from Regan Forrest’s writings about empathy in the
context of interpretation on the Interactivate blog to Gretchen Jenning’s
write-up about The Empathetic Museum at AAM to Suse Cairns’s post on the
Museum Geek blog, On the paradoxes of empathy.
I’m thrilled that empathy seems to be an emerging meme among my museum
peers. The current discussions touch on the application of empathy at all
levels of museums, from institutional policy to interpretive practices. One
aspect of empathy that I think is missing in these discussions is how it is
used and applied in the context of the design thinking process."
Sim Van der Ryn has been a teacher, writer, researcher, and
practitioner of design for forty years. A leading authority on ecologically
sustainable architecture and design, he is Emeritus Professor of
Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught
Sim is author of numerous books including his most recent,
Design for an
Empathic World: Reconnecting People, Nature, and Self. "He
advocates for “empathic design”, in which a designer not only works in
concert with nature, but with an understanding of and empathy for the end
user and for ones self. It is not just one of these connections, but all
three that are necessary to design for a future that is more humane,
equitable, and resilient."
In Design for an Empathic World, Sim Van Der Ryn weaves
the architecture of empathy for
nature into a vibrant, compassionate whole...
"In Design for an Empathic World, Sim Van Der Ryn
weaves the architecture of empathy for self, others and nature into a
vibrant, compassionate whole. Brimming with gratitude, Van Der Ryn tells
stories from his life as an architect, teacher and thought leader. His
lesson, that only with empathy can we repair the fabric of humans and
nature." Jonathan F.P. Rose Sub Conference: Human-CenteredDesign
is the Founder, President and the inspiration behind
Roots of Empathy
&Seeds of Empathy.She
is recognized internationally as an award-winning social
entrepreneur, educator, author, child advocate and parenting
expert who has created programs informed by the power of
I tell them we need empathy in the
to prevent social decay...
is author of
Roots of Empathy: Changing the World, Child by Child. She says, "When I talk to city
officials, I speak of the fact that there is fluoride in
our water supply to prevent tooth decay. I tell them we need
empathy in the water supply to prevent social decay."
Kathryn Pavlovich is Associate Professor at the University of Waikato,
New Zealand. She has a special interest in conscious capitalism,
enterprise, self-leadership, ethics and spirituality.
Keiko Krahnke is Associate Professor at the University of Northern
Colorado. She has research interest in empathy, systems thinking, ethics,
In this interview, editors Kathryn Pavlovich and Keiko Krahnke give
a broad overview of the book and the individual chapters.
Charlie Chaplin - Modern Times
This book challenges the existing paradigm of capitalism
by providing scientific evidence and empirical data that
empathy is the most important organizing mechanism..
through Empathy. "This book challenges the existing paradigm of
capitalism by providing scientific evidence and empirical data that empathy
is the most important organizing mechanism.... Empathy dissolves the boundaries between self and
others, and feelings of altruism towards others are activated. This
process results in more compassionate and caring contexts, as well
as helping others in times of suffering. This book provides evidence
from neuroscience and quantum physics that it is empathy that connects
humanity, and that this awareness can create a more just society.
By developing empathy, youth learn to attend to emotional cues,
listen, become sensitive to others, understand another's
perspective, and read the needs
developing empathy, youth learn to attend to emotional cues, listen,
become sensitive to others, understand another's perspective, and read
the needs of others, which allows them to work and live with others in
community and act with compassion toward others' needs."
Conferences: Workplace and Science
Transcendent Empathy: The Ability to See the Larger System
Keiko Krahnke is Associate Professor of Management;
Business Communications at University of Northern Colorado in the Montfort
College of Business. Areas of research interests include
spirituality and business, systems thinking, Appreciative Inquiry, and
Michael Senge is an American scientist and director of the Center for
Organizational Learning at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
We propose the notion of "transcendent empathy"
ability to see these larger systems in time
to move beyond mere
"We suggest that empathy is something broader than knowing
or feeling another's psychological or emotional state. The fundamental
concept of empathy is to care about another as if you were in the shoes of
the other. Our purpose here is to expand this caring to the larger living
systems of which we are part. We propose the notion of "transcendent
empathy" as the ability to see these larger systems in time and space, to
move beyond mere intellectual understanding to embrace "system sensing" as
a doorway to other awareness of what exists now and to future
Conferences: Workplace and Science
Jo Kennedy is a Focusing practitioner and trainer. After a
25 year meditation practice she was deeply moved when she discovered
Jo writes, "What I had been yearning for had been there all
along; what the meditation teachers had been talking about was suddenly
accessible. I was offered the missing link.
Focusing is a profound
form of deep listening, it has enriched my life,
shown me how to build strength in my cancer recovery and given me access
to an ongoing source of creativity and healing.
Learning to listen into this deep, more bodily knowing has given me the
gift of myself."
Jan van Hemessen (wikimedia)
Focusing is a profound form of deep listening,
enriched my life...
and given me access to an
ongoing source of
creativity and healing...
In this hour, Jo demonstrates the Focusing process
with me. I was the "focuser" and followed my felt sense and Jo was
the "listener". Just coming out of a conflict with my girl
friend, I was
feeling quite stressed and full of anxiety. Jo guided me thought the
process and after about 45 minutes, I felt quite relaxed and spacious.
As I described my felt sense and what was arising in me in real-time, Jo
would use empathic listening to reflect what she was hearing. Once the
session was done, we
then talked about the process and the nature of empathy and Focusing.
Patrick Quattlebaum is Managing Director of
Adaptive Path, an experience
strategy and design company. Patrick is also an
in demand consultant who helps organizations envision, architect, and
manifest new product and service experiences. He’s a passionate strategist, designer, humanist, storyteller, facilitator, and teacher.
Patrick wrote an article 'Service
Design Soft Skill Builder: Empathy' about
using and practicing empathy in the Human-Centered Design process.
We talk a lot about
other people's empathy.
But what about your own?
What about mine?
In this dialog we discussed
his article and explored ways to increase and practice our personal
empathy skills. Patrick writes, "We, the design community, talk (and
write and speak) a lot about empathy. We lament the empathy deficit in
our companies and clients and cry "something must be done about
this." We tout personas, empathy maps, experience maps, and other
methods as empathy deficit reducers that lead to better experiences (and
profits). Some, at the extremes, position human-centered designers
as Platonic figures releasing stakeholders from the shadows of opinion
and faceless analytics into the reality of human emotions, needs, and
desires. We talk a lot about other people's empathy. But what about your own?
What about mine? "
Indi Young is a user experience consultant, author, founding
partner at Adaptive Path.
"My book about empathy and generating better services and products for the
people you support via mental model diagrams is gaining more and more
attention. I'm happy to teach a workshop for your organization or help your
team through the method...
Empathy is your tool for understanding
how people think and feel...
Empathy is your tool for understanding how people think and feel.
Schooling your thoughts to think and feel the way someone else does is a
powerful way to do a lot of things, including design and guiding the
direction of your work."
Sub Conference: Human-Centered-Design
Olga Klimecki did her PhD with
Tania Singer at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and at the
Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany. She is interested in understanding the neural
mechanisms that shape our social emotions in adaptive ways. In several longitudinal studies,
how far training social emotions, like compassion and empathy, changes
affective experience, prosocial behaviour, and neural function (as measured
Olga started as a postdoctoral researcher at the Swiss
Center for Affective Sciences in Geneva,
Switzerland. The goal of the current project is to investigate the
elicitation, expression and regulation of anger.
In our dialog we discussed different definitions of
empathy, sympathy, compassion, personal distress,
compassion fatigue and empathy fatigue.
In our dialog we discussed different definitions of empathy, sympathy,
compassion, personal distress, compassion fatigue and empathy fatigue.
People use these various terms differently and interchangeably. This causes
a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding. We also explored
dealing with personal distress
and developing personal resilience
by using mindfulness practices, empathic listening and empathy circles. Sub Conferences:
Eva Scherer, professional body worker and the
owner of several Sports & Therapeutic massage clinics in Auckland. In
2000 with like-minded professionals, Eva established
Trust, a registered charity.
Our programmes teach Peace and Empathy
in the purest way... Most people would react with
surprise or disbelief at the concept of
empathy being taught in schools...
The aim of this organization is to introduce massage
into the mainstream education system as a low-cost prevention for child
abuse and family violence. Since then, her award winning Children
Massaging Children programme has benefited children in New Zealand as
well as overseas.
"Our programmes teach Peace and Empathy in the purest
way... Most people would react with surprise or
disbelief at the concept of empathy being taught in schools; however, this
idea is more than mere wishful thinking. The idea of teaching children
empathy has been the subject of extensive research in New Zealand and also
the focus of at least two Master's degree theses in Poland."
Christian Keysers is professor and group leader of the Social Brain Lab at
the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands. The lab
explores the biological nature and neuroscience of empathy.
Christian is author of 'The Empathic Brain: How the Discovery of Mirror
Neurons Changes our Understanding of Human Nature'.
A brain imaging study in the Netherlands shows individuals
with psychopathy have reduced empathy while
witnessing the pains of others.
discusses his teams new findings. "A brain imaging study in the Netherlands shows individuals with
psychopathy have reduced empathy while witnessing the pains of others.
When asked to empathize, however, they can activate their empathy."
ScienceDaily . Sub Conferences:
I've been developing an Empathy Circle process that is based on the empathic
listening work of Carl Rogers. I've held hundreds of these small group empathic
conversations that are the best process I've found for nurturing and practicing
These are small group empathic conversations
are the best process I've found for
nurturing and practicing empathy,
even with a narcissist psychopath.
been wondering how this process would work with Narcissists and
I lined up an Empathy Circle with
Sam Vaknin, who is diagnosed as a narcissist
with psychopathic tendencies.
Psychopathy & Narcissism
Marsh is a
professor at Georgetown University. Her
area of expertise includes social and affective neuroscience,
particularly understanding emotions such as empathy and how they
relate to aggression, altruism, violence and psychopathy. Her
research is aimed at understanding aspects of human social
interactions, emotional functioning, and empathy using cognitive
neuroscience methods, with a particular focus on emotion and
The course addresses such questions
Are humans innately selfish or empathic?
What do we mean when we say empathy?
Her research also includes studies with
adolescents and adults that incorporate neuroimaging, cognitive
and behavioral testing, and pharmacology techniques.
Abigail also teaches a course titled "Empathy,
Altruism, & Aggression." The course addresses such
questions as; 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? "
Sub Conference: Science and
people without a
conscience, who prey on those
with high levels of empathy
"Sociopathy affects an estimated 1-4% of the
population, but not all sociopaths are cold-blooded murderers. They're
best described as people without a conscience, who prey on those with
high levels of empathy, but themselves lack any concern for others'
feelings and show no remorse for their actions. Drawing on real life
cases, The Empathy Trap explores this taboo subject and looks at how
people can protect themselves against these arch-manipulators." Sub Conference:
Danielle Ofri, MD is an essayist, editor, and practicing
internist in New York City. She is an attending physician at Bellevue
Hospital, and Associate Professor of Medicine at New York University
School of Medicine.
It’s no wonder that the third year of
figures prominently in studies that document
of empathy and moral reasoning
in medical trainees...
She writes, "It’s no wonder that the third year of medical
school figures prominently in studies that document decline of empathy
and moral reasoning in medical trainees... the erosion of empathy, for
example, may have long-reaching consequences. Patients of doctors who
score lower on tests that measure empathy appear to have worse clinical
outcomes. Diabetic patients, for instance, have worse control of their
blood sugar and cholesterol. Cancer patients seem to experience more
depression. Medication compliance diminishes. Even the common cold can
David Howe is currently an Emeritus Professor in the School
of Social Work and Psychology at the University of East Anglia. After an early career as a child
care officer and social worker, in 1976 David Howe began his present
career as a university researcher and teacher. His research and writing interests
span social work theory, adoption, emotional intelligence, attachment
theory, and child abuse and neglect.
Empathy is profoundly important for understanding
people's feelings and behaviour. It is not only
an essential skill in conducting successful
personal and working relationships, it also
helps us understand what makes
people moral and societies decent.
date, David has written 17 books, many of them regarded as best-sellers.
He is author of Empathy: What it is and why it matters. "Empathy is key to good relationships. In its absence, behavior becomes
puzzling, even dangerous. David Howe's fascinating new book examines what
empathy is, why we have it and how it develops. He explores the important
part empathy plays in child development and therapeutic work as well as
its significance for how society organizes itself."
Sub Conference: Science
Director of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy, hosts a
discussion with two of the primary leaders in the movement to transform
medical culture from detachment to a culture of empathy.
I’ve investigated what happens to patients when
their doctors show a lack of empathy...
only recently have studies proven just
how harmful detachment and how
beneficial empathy is for healing.
M.D., Ph.D is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard
Medical School and Director of the Empathy and Relational Science
Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is Chief Technology
which offers scientifically based empathy training
proven to optimize interpersonal engagement.'
Michael Slote is Professor of Ethics. He has
taught at Columbia University, Trinity College, Dublin, and
the University of Maryland, where he was department chair for
many years. He has written many articles in philosophy of
mind, ethics, and political philosophy.
He is also author of many books
The Ethics of Care and Empathy. This book makes use of the
recent psychology literature on empathy to develop a version
of care ethics that applies to both personal and political
I shall, for example, be
making use of the recent
literature of psychology to argue that
is the primary mechanism of
benevolence, compassion, etc...
In this dialog we went through Michael's book
and discussed it chapter by chapter. Michael says,
"Care ethicists often speak about empathy and its role in
caring attitudes and relationships, but they haven't stressed
empathy to anything like the extent that I shall be doing
here. I shall, for example, be making use of the recent
literature of psychology to argue that empathy is the primary
mechanism of caring, benevolence, compassion, etc... I
argue further, that caring motivation is based in and
sustained by our human capacity for empathy with others."
"Empathy plays a fundamental role in our social
lives. It allows us to share emotions, experiences, needs, and
goals. Not surprisingly, there is much empirical evidence
suggesting a strong link between between mirror neurons (or some
general forms of neuronal mirroring) and empathy."
culture of empathy can be increased by: becoming aware about our biological capacity
for empathy through
In this interview,
Marco Iacoboni challenges the traditional Western understanding of
human nature as selfish and struggling for surviving and suggests
that neurologically and evolutionally we are predispositioned to
create empathic connections. A culture of empathy can be increased
becoming aware about our biological capacity for empathy through
having intention to increase culture empathy,
creating more empathic living environment
decreasing the focus on differences and labeling
increasing the focus on us (similarities)
increasing empathic behavior of governments, leaders and
In this second interview, Marco Iacoboni, Lidewij
Niezink and Edwin Rutsch discuss Definitions,
Measurements & Metrics of empathy. Marco says, "I
think what's interesting to me most is to define metrics of
empathy. How can I measure this thing? Why it matters? If we
want to design interventions to improve empathy we need to agree
upon ways of quantifying it. People do get bogged down in debates
on definitions and don't even get to the point of trying to
discuss metrics of empathic behavior. This slows down progress, I
Sylvia Morelli is a Postdoctoral Fellow at
Neuroscience Lab at Stanford University. In her
current research, she examines the neural and behavioral basis
of empathy and perspective-taking, as well as the neural
responses associated with feeling understood by others.
We held a
wide ranging discussion about the nature of empathy, and her
work on researching it. In a recent study and paper,
Sylvia explored the neural and behavioral consequences of
research has demonstrated that feeling understood by
enhances social closeness and intimacy,
as well as subjective well-being
Sylvia says, when we are understood, or empathized with, the
pleasure centers of the brain light up. In other words, being
empathized with feels good. "Behavioral
research has demonstrated that feeling understood by others
enhances social closeness and intimacy, as well as subjective
well-being. In contrast, feeling misunderstood can be harmful to
social relationships, leading to loneliness and isolation.
However, it is still unclear why and how felt understanding
exerts such a powerful impact on both interpersonal and
Sub Conference: Science:
Through empathic encounters, immersive connections
can ultimately diminish feelings of aloneness
while strengthening the persons core...
I believe one of your major tasks in moving
through the creative process is finding a way
to be more empathic with your own experience.
Also, Anne is coauthor (text) with Marian
Brickner (photography) of
Empathy Magic: Insides Out.
A new book that is a fun and whimsical way to introduce young children to
EMPATHY. Stunning photographs of bonobo apes illustrate what empathy is,
and how empathy helps build good relationships with family and friends.
Cute, fun, and engaging. A wonderful tool to help facilitate social skills
development, as well as to prevent later problems such as bullying, school
violence, and depression. Geared towards children aged 3-7.
Sub Conference: Home & Family and
stopped by your tent, and I just wanted to say thank you.
The Empathy Tent was incredible to experience.
And I will use the tools you taught me
for the rest of my life.
" I was a student at
the California Student Sustainability Coalition this weekend and I
stopped by your tent, and I just wanted to say thank you. The
Empathy tent was incredible to experience. And I will use the
tools you taught me for the rest of my life."
We'll have dialogue, music, art, empathic listening,
empathy circles, dancing, Frisbee, soccer,
good company, yoga, meditation,
singing, and more.
pictures of our first day at Sproul Plaza.
Please join us today, Tuesday April 23rd, for
our Space on Sproul event, from 10 AM to 4 PM. Look for the big
white empathy canopy and a group of people having a great time.
We'll have dialogue, music, art, empathic listening, empathy
circles, dancing, frisbee, soccer, good company, yoga, meditation,
singing, and more. Feel free to stop by at any time, and bring a
musical instrument, or an activity, or just bring yourself.
Maureen O'Hara is
Professor in the Psychology Department at National University,
La Jolla, CA and President Emerita of Saybrook Graduate School,
San Francisco. Working
with American psychologist Carl R. Rogers, she helped develop
the Person-Centered Approach to psychotherapy and large group
More recently her writings have examined the
relationship between the "big picture" changes underway and
internal psychological adaptation. Combining her background as
psychotherapist, organizational consultant and futurist, Maureen
is a frequent keynote speaker nationally and internationally on
the evolution of new ways of being in a changing world.
She was a contributor to the book, '
Reconsidered: New Directions in Psychotherapy'
Our observations show that group or relational empathy
may be even more important than individual empathy
in the formation of conscious communities.
She writes, "In Rogers' original work a key
component of the core facilitative conditions for individual
growth is empathy. Empathy has since been shown to be the gold
standard for effective facilitation in any growth-focused
relationship. Empathy is commonly regarded as an
individual-to-individual phenomenon in which one person senses
the unspoken or inchoate thoughts or feelings of another. Our
observations show that group or relational empathy may be even
more important than individual empathy in the formation of
conscious communities." Sub
Zahavi is a Professor in the Department of Media, Cognition, and
Communication at the University of Copenhagen, where he
specializes in the social dimension of self-experience; the
nature of empathy and its relevance for social cognition; the
relation between phenomenology and naturalism; selfhood and
unity of consciousness with particular focus on no-self
doctrines. Dan is the director of the
Danish National Research
Foundation’s Center for Subjectivity Research.
Eisler is a social scientist, attorney, and author whose work on
cultural transformation has inspired both scholars and social
activists. Her research has impacted many fields, including
history, economics, psychology, sociology, and education. She
has been a leader in the movement for peace, sustainability, and
economic equity, and her
work in human rights has expanded
the focus of international organizations to include the rights
of women and children.
Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics,Riane
says; "When children are taught the
“normality” of domination and submission - and society doesn't
offer alternatives - they often learn to go into denial and
inhibit their capacity for empathy and consciousness,. They then
build family, educational, religious, economic, and political
institutions based on the these principles when they grow up.
And so the cycle repeats itself generation after generation."
"Ridged top-down rankings, whether family or state, are
artificial barriers to trust, empathy, and caring."
Youngson is an anesthesiologist in New Zealand. He is an
International leader in the compassionate healthcare movement
HEARTS in HEALTHCARE
an inspirational community of health professionals, students,
patient advocates, health leaders, and many others who are
champions for compassionate care.
my passion is to
restore the heart of healthcare
and to make caring and compassion the
daily lived experience and practice
of all in healthcare.
Robin is author of
TIME TO CARE: How to love
your patients and your job. He says, "my passion is to
restore the heart of healthcare and to make caring and
compassion the daily lived experience and practice of all in
healthcare. Health professionals need compassion and caring in
the workplace as much as patients - the rates of burnout,
emotional exhaustion and hopelessness are far too high."
Sub Conference: Health Care
Sara Konrath is
Assistant Research Professor at the Research Center for
Group Dynamics at the
University of Michigan. Sara
is the Principal Investigator of the Interdisciplinary
Program on Empathy and Altruism Research (iPEAR) which is a research
lab with a primary focus on the costs and benefits of empathy and related
traits (e.g. emotional intelligence, narcissism) and behaviors (e.g.
"Imaginatively taking on another person's thoughts and identifying
with their emotions are two habits at the core of empathy. In fact,
empathy is not a fixed trait like having brown eyes or long fingers.
Empathy is instead a delicate cocktail blending assorted elements of
inborn aptitude, social conditioning, personal history, and practice and
The ability to empathize is like a muscle
growth, atrophy, disability, and even regeneration
People have different innate capacities
for building certain
muscles, just as we have
different incentives for
being empathetic and
honing our skills to empathize.
The ability to empathize is like a muscle capable of
growth, atrophy, disability, and even regeneration (think Scrooge). People
have different innate capacities for building certain muscles, just as we
have different incentives for being empathetic and experiences in honing
our skills to empathize. For some people, empathy comes easily and
naturally; for others, concerted effort is required to stretch our
imaginations beyond ourselves."
Jodi Halpern is Associate Professor of Bioethics and Medical
Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley, in the Joint Medical
Program and the School of Public Health. As a psychiatrist with a
background in philosophy, she investigates how emotions and the imagination
shape healthcare decisions of clinicians and patients.
I’ve investigated what happens to patients when
their doctors show a lack of empathy.
"As a psychiatrist as well as a faculty member in bioethics at UC Berkeley
for almost two decades, I’ve investigated what happens to patients when
their doctors show a lack of empathy. Doctors were trained to believe that
emotional detachment from patients is personally and professionally
necessary, but experience shows that patients don’t trust doctors who are
aloof or superficially friendly. Yet, only recently have studies proven
just how harmful detachment and how beneficial empathy is for healing...."
Sub Conference: Health Care
Recent evidence shows that adopting an analytic
frame of mind suppresses brain areas involved in empathy, and
emotionally engaging with others suppresses brain areas involved
in analytic thought. This presents a challenge for contexts that
require both forms of thought.
challenges involved in fostering a
empathy and analysis in professional life
teachers and doctors all have professional roles in which optimal
performance depends both on a capacity for clear analytic thought,
and on their ability to emotionally resonate with others. This
panel brings together three experts in the neuroscience of empathy
and how to train it. They discuss the challenges involved in
fostering a balance between empathy and analysis in professional
life, and suggest solutions. Sub Conference:
Mindful self-compassion is the foundation of emotional healing - being
aware in the present moment when we're struggling with feelings of
inadequacy, despair, confusion, and other forms of stress (mindfulness)
and responding with kindness and understanding (self-compassion).
Mindful self-compassion is the foundation of emotional healing
- being aware in the present moment when we're struggling
with feelings of inadequacy, despair, confusion,
and other forms of stress
To build a culture of empathy and compassion, Chris says we
need to have a societal discussion about what values are really important
to us. They did this in Bhutan where they have the "gross national
happiness" index. Also, that we need to develop extensive empathy
and compassion trainings. He said, the average American watches TV for 4
hours a day. What if we used that time learning about empathy and
compassion? What a different world it would be. Sub Conference:
a form of psychotherapy that
emphasizes the development of self-compassion in
people who are prone to feelings of
shame and self-criticism.
Paul says, "After years of exploring the processes
underpinning shame and its role in a variety of psychopathologies, my
current research is exploring the neurophysiology and therapeutic
effectiveness of compassion focused therapy."
publisher describes Compassion-focused therapy (CFT) as "a
form of psychotherapy that emphasizes the development of self-compassion
in people who are prone to feelings of shame and self-criticism. Created
by Paul Gilbert and his colleagues, this therapy is rooted in Mahayana
Buddhist psychology, which considers compassion and mindfulness to be
central to healing the mind. CFT develops four skills: compassionate
attention, compassionate thinking, compassionate behavior, and
This therapy has been proven effective for the treatment of eating
disorders, depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, and
can even benefit those who do not suffer from these disorders as it
improves emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and nonjudgment."
In this interview, Paul and Edwin have a wide ranging
discussion about shame, depression, empathy and compassion, as well as,
how to foster compassion in society. Sub Conference:
When kids are able to watch an interaction that's empathic,
empathy isn't just being taught;
it's being demonstrated,
Dan shared his understanding about the importance of empathy and how it
works in the brain thought mirror neurons. "When kids are able to watch
an interaction that's empathic, empathy isn't just being taught; it's
being demonstrated," Talking about the importance of empathic
attunement, Dan says, "When we attune with others we allow our own
internal state to shift, to come to resonate with the inner world of
another. This resonance is at the heart of the important sense of
“feeling felt” that emerges in close relationships. Children need
attunement to feel secure and to develop well, and throughout our lives
we need attunement to feel close and connected."
Arianna Huffington is president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post
Media Group. She is the author of numerous books including,
Fearless...in Love, Work, and Life.
Here is an interview I
did with Arianna via email.
For the empathy movement, a critical mass is
the empathy habit is cultivated by
enough people that it can begin
to spread spontaneously.
How can we build a culture of empathy?
"To a physicist a
critical mass is the amount of radioactive material that must be present
for a nuclear reaction to become self-sustaining. For the empathy
movement, a critical mass is when the empathy habit is cultivated by
enough people that it can begin to spread spontaneously. I think of it
as an outbreak of a positive infection. And everyone has the potential
to be a carrier. So one thing we can do is to spread it as widely as
I think the opposite of empathy is the projection of our own fears onto
others. We've seen this over and over again throughout American history.
In times of economic upheaval, when huge numbers of people are losing
their jobs, losing their homes, and feeling powerless to do anything
about it, it has always been the case that people look for scapegoats.
Empathy is the antidote to that."
Paul J. Zak is Professor of Economics
and Department Chair, as well as the founding Director of the Center for
Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University. He is author
of: The Moral Molecule: The
source of love and prosperity, which explores the relationship
between Oxytocin, empathy, compassion, trust, etc
The change in
predicted their feelings of empathy.
it's empathy that makes us connect to other people.
It's empathy that makes us help other people.
It's empathy that makes us moral
"The Moral Molecule is a first-hand account
of the discovery of a molecule that makes us moral. It reveals that
compassion [and empathy] is part of our human nature, why loneliness can
kill you, and why your neighbor may be a psychopath." Sub Conference:
Because mirror neurons re-create for us the distress
we see on the
screen. We have empathy for the
fictional characters - we know how
they feel -
because we literally experience the
We've launched a new project to set up an Empathy
some of the occupy encampments in order to support
building a culture of empathy and compassion
resolution, empathy circles,
empathic listening, mediation, dialog,
restorative justice, trainings, etc.
Mirror neurons “mirror” the behavior and emotions
people surrounding us in such a way
that the others become part of us.
He is one of the
few scientists that have directly studied mirror neurons. His work
on the neural basis of empathy has led to publications in the most
prominent scientific journals. Sub
Empathy is like a universal solvent. Any problem immersed in empathy becomes soluble.
Empathy cannot by definition oppress anyone.
We talk with
Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology
and Director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge
University. In his new book;
Zero Degrees of Empathy: a New Theory of Human Cruelty (UK),
The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty (US)
he calls for a redefinition of Evil as a lack of empathy. Sub
Kristin Neff, author of
Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity
Behind, talks with Edwin about the nature of empathy,
self-empathy self-compassion and compassion.
Compassion is a huge value of mine. Now I like
to use the
open-heartedness, because compassion tends
to be specificto the context
"Compassion is a huge value of mine. Now I
like to use the term open-heartedness, because compassion tends to be
specific to the context of suffering. Of course we want to have open
hearts in the face of suffering, but also want to have open hearts in
the face of joy and when we are at our bests and have great successes
and achievements. Just keep our hearts open no matter what happens,
positive, negative or even neutral. Open mind and open heart, just
trying to stay open." Sub Conference:
The survival of the planet as we know it depends
If I was president,
thank god I'm not, I would start a
Manhattan Project on global empathy.
If I was president, thank god I'm
not, I would start a Manhattan Project on global empathy. It has the
urgency of the Manhattan Project. It needs the bringing together of
the best minds in the world to focus on this issue, because there is
an urgency too it. I think Al Gore was right, that time is running
out. We can't wait 20 or 40 years to figure out what to do with this
problem." Sub Conference:
How can we build a culture of
empathy? I think it is important in society, especially at the moment.
Now that we have come out of this period where greed was so good. I
think it is important to emphasize that there are alternative ways
of looking at society. A society where solidarity is important and
caring about others is important.
How can we build a culture of
empathy? I think it is important in society, especially at the
moment. Now that we have come out of this period where greed was
A cultural and educational change that emphasizes empathy more.
The other things, that I'm not an
expert on, is education and culture of course. A cultural and
educational change that emphasizes empathy more. I would also warn
that empathy is not invariably positive. People think that empathy
is automatically a positive characteristic. Empathy can be used for
bad purposes also. Sub Conference: