Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

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Join the International Conference on: How Might We Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion?


Empathic Design
Empathy Circles

  Restorative Empathy Circles
Empathy Tent

Expert Interviews
Obama on Empathy


    Empathy Tests

Building the Empathy Movement!


The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy is a leader of the global empathy movement. Our mission is to build a movement for creating a global worldwide culture of empathy and care. We do this through a variety of means.  First is by community organizing and by collecting, curating and organizing all the material we find on the internet on the topic.  A current  focus is on; bridging social and political divides, hosting an online empathy training course, building an academic empathy training literature wiki, and holding public activist Empathy Tent Pop-ups..  Also learn more about Empathy Circles at

Blog Roll: Join the Quest 
interviews, panel discussions, etc,

We reached the 400+ Empathy Circles, Panels and Interviews milestone!!!  There are over 400 hours of experts from around the world talking about how we might build a culture of empathy.

<Home> < 8 > < 7 > < 6 > < 5 > < 4 > < 3 > < 2 > < 1 >

Empathy Circle Facilitator Training Sign Up

Visit the Empathy Course

Learn to facilitate an Empathy Circle. Join this event if you would like to take part in the training. This is a multi session training, 2.5 hours per session.

We are forming multiple cohorts of
participants. There is limited space in each cohort, and all participants must check with trainers to be accepted into the training. The basics of facilitating an Empathy Circle are fairly easy, however, it is a life long learning to deepen the skills and build a more empathic way of being and culture.

The practice is the most effective gateway practice for learning, practicing and
deepening listening skills and mindset
. More at

> What is an Empathy Circle?
> Why Participate?
> How to Empathy Circle?
> Empathy Circle Facilitator Training

NEW Bimonthly Empathy Summit

We are hosting a series of 1/2 day, (4 hour) Empathy Summits. These are being held bi-monthly to begin with on different empathy related topics. We are developing these summits online and will eventually have an in person Empathy Summit at the
new The Empathy Center in Santa Barbara

Some future topics are:
November 4: Why is Empathy Essential In Conflict Mediation?
January 6: Empathy Book Authors Share the Motivation and Outline of Their Books.
March 2, 2024: What is Empathic Leadership And How Can It Be Developed?


Purposeful Empathy
Creating Meanings and Direction in Your Life

Anita Nowak


Anita Nowak is an empathy expert, author, award-winning educator, international speaker, and certified coach. She holds a doctoral degree from McGill University where she was named Professor of the Year in 2014 and 2019. Anita held a variety of leadership and advisory roles within the private and non-profit sectors and have served as a volunteer for many social purpose organizations over the past 20 years, both locally and internationally.

Anita is the author of Purposeful Empathy: Tapping Our Hidden Superpower for Personal, Organizational, and Social Change.


  Empathic Leadership
In Elite Sports and Everywhere

Peter Sear

Peter Sear is a psychologist, writer, and consultant. He gained his PhD from Loughborough University London, UK, with his thesis Understanding Empathic Leadership in Elite Sport. He also holds a master's degree in Jung and Post-Jungian Studies, a master's degree in Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations, and a BSc in Psychology.  Peter is the Author of Empathic Leadership: Lessons from Elite Sport.


In this dialogue we review Peter's model of Empathic Leadership. The model has Self-Empathy at the core and includes, Empathic Communication, Empathic Accuracy, Developing Empathy, Person-Center Focus, Empathic Climates and Empathic Relationships.


Impathy, Self-Empathy, Self-Compassion

 How do they relate?
Stefanie Neubrand

Stefanie Neubrand is a therapist and a researcher. Her PhD Dissertation at the University of Basel in Switzerland was titled, The missing construct: Impathy -  Conceptualization, operationalization, and clinical considerations. She also co-wrote the paper titled, The missing construct: Impathy.

Impathy is a new psychological construct. In this interview we review Dr. Neubrand's paper on impathy step by step. The paper is about Impathy (Introversive Empathy), understood as the ability to share in and understand one's own feelings, which is considered a critical psychological construct relevant for the recovery and maintenance of mental health.

Four interdependent dimensions of Impathy are postulated.

1. Perceiving, i.e. the ability to perceive one's own bodily and psychological phenomena;
2. Meta-Position, i.e. the ability to adjust the distance from which one can perceive their own experiences and situation;
3. Accepting Attitude, i.e. the ability to perceive one's experience and situation with openness, acceptance and without judgment;
4. Understanding, i.e. the ability to understand one's own experience and the context in which it is embedded.

Impathy may elicit a fifth dimension 5:  Impathic Reaction - From impathy to the impathic responding

A Relational Definition and Model of Empathy
Mark Fagiano

Mark Fagiano is a philosophy professor at Washington State University who specializes in American pragmatism and ethics. Mark is the founder of Empathy Vision, which offers empathy-activation solutions through seminars, workshops, and online courses. He is author of Practicing Empathy: Pragmatism and the Value of Relations.  Grounded in the philosophical tradition of American Pragmatism, Mark's approach demonstrates the practical benefits of adopting a broad and pluralistic understanding of empathy as both an idea and a practice.

In this dialogue, we discuss Mark's relational definition of empathy and discuss each chapter of his book in-depth. We also discuss how the Empathy Circle practice   fits into his definition. Chapters Reviewed.

1. Empathy and Pluralism
2. Pathos and the Death of Dualisms

3. Empathic Projections - Feeling Into

4. Empathic Connections - Feeling With
5. Empathic Care - Feeling For
6. Is Empathy Moral?
7. Can Empathy Be Developed?
8. Empathic Democracy as a Way of Life

Mutual Empathy with Men, Woman, Children & Families

Warren Farrell

Warren Farrell is an American educator, activist and author of numerous books on men's and women's issues. He is often considered "the father of the men's movement," but he started out as a vocal feminist and was a board member of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women in the early 1970s.

In this interview, we discuss the importance of mutual empathy with men, woman, children, families and society.

"Empathy is at the core of family stability and love.
I've never had a couple come to me and say,
I want a divorce; my partner understands me."

"Humans have spent (10k+) years learning to fight
and debate with the other side, and almost
no time learning to listen and empathize."

"Teaching the child to treat boundaries seriously teaches the child to respect the rights and needs of others. Thinking of another's needs creates empathy."
 Warren Farrell


Empathy Definitions Models: "Integral" & "Way of Being"

Arthur Clark


Arthur J. Clark is an emeritus Professor and Coordinator of Counseling and Human Development Program at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York.


He is the author of five books and over 50 articles and book chapters in the mental health field.  He is the author of two books on empathy in counseling and Psychotherapy. They are, Empathy and Mental Health: An Integral Model for Developing Therapeutic Skills in Counseling and Psychotherapy and Empathy in Counseling and Psychotherapy: Perspectives and Practices

We discussed Arthur's Integral Model of Empathy in the context of therapy, which consists of three aspects; Interpersonal, Subjective and Objective Empathy. We also talk about Edwin's, Empathy as a Way of Being Model.

  • Subjective Empathy - enables a counselor to momentarily experience what it is like to be a client,

  • Interpersonal Empathy - relates to understanding a client's phenomenological experiencing, and

  • Objective Empathy - uses reputable knowledge sources outside of a client's frame of reference.


The Differences, Similarities and Relationship Between Empathy and Compassion
Paul Gilbert

Paul Gilbert is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Derby and Director of the Mental Health Research Unit, Derbyshire Mental Health Trust. He has authored over 20 books, including, Depression: The Evolution of Powerlessness and The Compassionate Mind: A New Approach to Life's Challenges. He has also written hundreds of articles and papers. He is President and Founder of the Compassionate Mind Foundation.

Paul is working on making compassion a primary personal and cultural value, while Edwin is working on making empathy a primary personal and cultural value. In this dialogue we explore the differences, similarities and relationship between empathy and compassion.



Mindful Empathy

The Mindset of Success for Leaders


Dani Rius is the lead author of Mindful Empathy: The Mindset of Success for Leaders. Dani spent 15+ years in the corporate training industry, many years teaching Business English worldwide, and in the past 5 years was developing in personal resilience and productivity, communication and leadership coaching.  As a child of diplomats she traveled widely.  She developed her empathy to adapt to many different environments. She grew up learning empathy for others, but realized she needed to develop self-empathy. She now develops self-empathy through mindfulness exercises.


"Without empathy, we cannot get into other people's shoes to understand where they are coming from when they say or do things we do not expect. However, how to develop empathy?"

Defining Empathy

Rob Volpe

Rob Volpe is a marketing professional and researcher and provides companies with a heightened empathy toward their customers that enables more effective ways to communicate with them.  He is author of 'Tell Me More About That: Solving the Empathy Crisis One Conversation at a Time'.  Rob draws on his thousands of interviews with everyday people to illustrate the 5 Steps to Empathy -- actions you can use to build a reflexive empathy muscle. In this conversation we solve (or try to) the empathy crisis by taking  a deep dive into the definition of empathy.

 5 Steps to Empathy

Step 1: Dismantle Judgment

Step 2: Ask Good Questions

Step 3: Actively Listen

Step 4: Integrate into Understanding

Step 5: Use Solution Imagination

Defining Empathy

Simon Wharne

 Simon Wharne is a Chartered Counseling Psychologist. Previously he completed a PhD using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach, examining 'Decision Making in Mental Healthcare'. He recently wrote a paper titled, 'Empathy in phenomenological research: Employing Edith Stein's account of empathy as a practical and ethical guide'. In this dialogue we talk about his paper, Edith Stein's  definition and view of empathy and the definition of empathy.

"Stein's account of empathy is built on an understanding of people in community with each other. Empathy in this understanding is a purposeful perceptive ability that we employ as we navigate our way into the future in cooperation with each other. Emotions are not viewed as static states, contained within an individual."


Defining Empathy
Ashok Bhattacharya

 Ashok Bhattacharya is a psychiatrist in private practice and founder of The Empathy Clinic. The clinic is committed to the teaching, practice, and improvement of empathy. Empathy is a starting point for compassion; what we do when we care about each other. Appreciating the experience of another person is a capacity and a skill. Whether we're in a relationship, in the family, with friends, or in the workplace, they all work better and smoother when empathy is being practiced. In this discussion we explored the meaning and definition of empathy.

"Appreciating the experience of another person is a capacity and a skill. Empathy is a psychological-emotional investigatory tool. With education and practice we can sharpen this tool and learn how to use it responsibly, professionally, and personally. Our brains are designed for empathy. "


Empathy Training Cuts Crime
So what are we waiting for?

Neema Trivedi Bateman

  (View Video On Facebook or On Youtube)

Neema Trivedi-Bateman is Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Anglia Ruskin University, and also the Course Leader for two Criminology courses.  Her PhD thesis, is entitled 'The roles of empathy, shame, and guilt in violence decision-making'. Neema's research interests include youth crime, developmental criminology, forensic psychology, violent offenders, and moral decision-making.


"Empathy is crucial for supporting law-abiding behaviours and decisions, and traditional sources of empathy development, such as parents and teachers, are vital for the development of lawful behaviour in children.

 Deficient empathy is a risk to all members of the community and can occur when children have inadequate or absent role models. If deficient empathy can be identified and addressed from infancy, we strongly believe that fewer incidents of harm and wrongdoing will occur in society."

About Therapeutic Empathy, the Empathic Dialectic and Empathy Circles

Shannon McIntyre


Shannon McIntyre is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Clinical Psychology at Antioch University New England. Shannon is broadly interested in adult development from attachment-based and psychoanalytic perspectives, as well as psychotherapy process and outcome. Initially, her research interests were geared toward better understanding how stigmatization impacts identity formation in women.


More recently, however, Shannon  has been focused on the therapist characteristics that facilitate and/or inhibit therapeutic empathy.   She has consequently presented at national conferences and co-authored articles related to the empathic process. As a Research Associate at the Program for Psychotherapy, Dr. McIntyre will continue to conduct research on therapeutic empathy, and on topics related to psychotherapy more generally.


Rogers contended that therapeutic empathy is best described as a multi-dimensional process, which means "being sensitive, moment by moment, to the changing felt meanings which flow in this other person... and sensing meanings of which he or she is scarcely aware."

The Importance of Empathy In
Healthcare and Physician Training

Frans Derksen


Frans Derksen is a Dutch retired Medical Doctor and has a PhD in Empathy in Patient and Physician communication. In this discussion, Frans shares his research on the importance and effectiveness of empathy in healthcare. His conclusion is that specific education about the theory, evidence of empathy and training of specific empathic skills, should be explicitly taught to medial students and residence.  Edwin talks about the effectiveness and application of Empathy Circles as a foundational empathy building practice.


 More explicit attention needs to be paid to empathy in physician training by embedding theoretical education, explicit attention to skill training and assessment of empathic behavior by patients and supervisors.

Empathic Listening as Foundational

Empathy Building Practice

Grin Lord



Grin Lord is a board certified, licensed clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy for children, adolescents, parents and families. Grin is co-Founder of Empathy Rocks, and is an AI researcher. We discuss the foundational importance of empathic listening for nurturing a more empathic way of being and world.


"I learned that reflections were incredibly powerful conversational tools. Good Motivational Interviewing  therapists are supposed to provide a minimum ratio of two reflections to every question, but ideally four or more per question.

I loved reflections. I thought reflections were so great, that I designed years of therapy training and eventually an entire company around teaching people to provide them."

Grin Lord

Empathizing with Racism
Daryl Davis


Daryl Davis is an African American musician, author, actor, bandleader and a race relations expert. He is  well known for his work on dialoguing with, and befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan and other extremist groups. Through dialogue, empathy and understanding he has convinced Klansmen to leave and denounce the KKK.

In this dialogue we talked about the role of empathy in Daryl 's work. Daryl describes his process of how to effectively listen to, understand and dialogue with people. It is about not demeaning or attacking people, but about seeing their common humanity. Once you are willing to listen to others, they are more willing to listen to you and engage in constructive dialogue.   We also talked about organizing and holding Empathy Circles between different opposing groups.


'You're not going to beat the meanness out of a mean dog. You start beating a mean dog, it's gonna become more mean. You start beating racists, they're gonna
 become more racist."


"People learn racism through dialogue. Somebody tells them about it. So if you can learn it through dialogue,
you can also unlearn it through dialogue."
- Daryl Davis


Empathizing with Racism
Ryan Lo'Ree

(View Video On Facebook or On Youtube)


Ryan Lo'Ree, was once a right-wing extremist with the Rollingwood Skins, a Michigan-based offshoot of the largest Nazi movement in the United States. While in the organization, he moved up the ranks quickly to become Vice President. In his role, he was responsible for mainstreaming hate groups on social media. He went through a process of transformation and healing centered around trauma associated with sexual, physical and mental abuse he endured from male family members.  He now works with Light Upon Light as Interventionist and Program specialist, contributing to the organization's work on combating polarization, structural injustice, racism, hate, and violent extremism.

"To classify another human being as less than,
is the moment you lose your empathy
and the argument."


We discussed how to bring people out of extremism with empathy. Empathy does not mean you agree or disagree, or sympathize with someone. It means listening deeply and understanding. It means seeing the common humanity of each other, and that builds connection and healing. The act of empathy is transformational.

The Role of Empathy in Democracy
Michael Morrell

View Video On Facebook or On Youtube

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.


Michael 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 Empathy and Democracy: Feeling, Thinking, and Deliberation


Signing of the U.S.Constitution - Junius Brutus Stearns (Wikipedia)


"Today's democracies are still struggling to fulfill
 democracy's 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
decision-making. "

Bridging Racial Divides with Radical Empathy
Terri Givens

View Video On Facebook or On Youtube

Terri Givens is the CEO and Founder of Brighter Higher Ed. She is also a political scientist with more than 30 years of success in higher education, politics, international affairs, and non-profits. Terri is author of, Radical Empathy: Finding a Path to Bridging Racial Divides.

"We live in a time when practicing  empathy, taking action, and creating change and building trust are more important than ever."


"Radical Empathy is the core idea that runs through this book. It requires moving beyond walking in someone else's shoes to taking action that will not only help that person but will also improve our society.


Practicing radical empathy can provide real change in peoples lives, and I empathize the word practicing - I focus on the fact that having empathy is different from practicing empathy."

Empathy is Vital for the Creative Process to Thrive

 Helen Demetriou


Helen Demetriou obtained her PhD in developmental psychology from the Institute of Psychiatry, University of London in 1998, where she also worked at the Centre for Social, Genetic and Developmental Research.  Since then, she has worked at the Faculty of Education of the University of Cambridge as Research and Teaching Associate. Helen is the author of, Empathy, Emotion and Education. She has performed many studies about empathy, creativity and education, including the recent study, Empathy is the mother of invention: emotion and cognition for creativity in the classroom.


"we argue that a very important aspect that influences invention and creativity is the empathy factor... Such exploration and immersion through perceptual openness, role-taking and flexible ego-control characteristic of empathy correlate and lead to creativity and thence to constructive evaluative reflection:
explore, create, evaluate.

Empathy and open-mindedness in the real world: all these form the vital ingredients for the creative process to thrive and for encouraging the designers of tomorrow.

If We Demanded Empathy from Our
Politicians & Leaders!

 Arthur P. Ciaramicoli



"If we were committed to developing empathy in our schools and if we demanded empathy from our politicians and from leaders within the corporate world and beyond, then our society would experience the shift from exclusion and fear of differences to a deep appreciation for diversity and also diverse ideas."

"I recently spoke with Edwin Rutsch, founding director of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy. He has been working for over 12 years to create a more empathic society. He has interviewed over 200 empathy experts and posted the interviews on his website CultureOfEmpathy.Com. Edwin created a simple and accessible method of learning, practicing and deepening mutual empathy in small groups called Empathy Circles.


He uses this method to lessons political, social, family and personal divides. He says he finds Empathy Circles to be the most effective first step or gateway practice for enhancing empathy skills."   - Arthur P.Ciaramicoli, The Transformation of Belief: Empathy Circles and Group Practices 

Facing the COVID-19 Pandemic with Empathy at
Work and Home

Empathy Activists Circle #8: View Video On Facebook or On YouTube

An Empathy Circle with empathy activists, experts, book authors, etc. exploring different aspects of how to build a more empathic world.

Maria Ross
Author: The Empathy Edge: Harnessing the Value of Compassion as an Engine for Success  
Being empathetic at work means seeing the situation from another's perspective, and using that vantage point to shape your leadership style, workplace culture, and branding strategy.

Minter Dial
Author: Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence.
Heartificial Empathy looks at why and how brands should learn to flex their empathic muscle, as well as how to encode empathy in AI.

Kim Smiley
Founder: The Empathy Effect
The goal of The Empathy Effect is to inspire loving kindness in public and private life, at home, at school, at work and in the world. What are you waiting for? Join the Empathy Revolution.

Edwin Rutsch
Director: Center for Building a Culture of Empathy
The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy is a leader of the global empathy movement. Our mission is to build a movement for creating a global worldwide culture of empathy and care.


The Varied Dynamics of Empathy in Politics
 Claire Yorke


Claire Yorke is a Henry A. Kissinger Postdoctoral Fellow at International Security Studies and the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University. Her research explores the role and limitations of empathy and emotions in international affairs and diplomacy.  Claire wrote an article/paper titled, The Significance and Limitations of Empathy in Strategic Communications.



"This article examines the varied dynamics of empathy through the lens of American politics at domestic and international levels. It argues that empathy is a multifaceted and complex concept with transformative power, but also with practical and political limitations, which deserves far greater attention from strategic communications practitioners."


Understanding Empathy and Compassion
Tania Singer

Tania Singer is a social neuroscientist and psychologist at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, Germany. Her research aims to increase our understanding of the foundations of human social behavior. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, she and her team investigate the neuronal, hormonal, and developmental foundations of human social cognition, social and moral emotions such as empathy and compassion. In this dialogue we discussed the nature of empathy and her studies on  different empathy and compassion training types and their benefits.


Study Conclusion:
"Contemplative dyads elicited engagement similar to classical contemplative practices and increased perceived social connectedness. Contemplative dyads represent a new type of intervention targeting social connectedness and intersubjective capacities deficient in participants who experience loneliness and in many psychopathologies."


 In other words, there are a lot of benefits in people empathically listening to each other.  One of the benefits is that it reduces social anxiety about being judged and they feel more connected. This feeling of lower stress and greater connection lasts over time as well.

Sub Conferences: Science

Empathy Activists Circle #7
How Might We Design Empathy Trainings?

View Video On Facebook or On YouTube

An Empathy Circle with empathy activists, experts, book authors, etc. exploring different aspects of empathy. 


"Empathy Circles are the most effective gateway and foundational empathy building practice."
Edwin Rutsch
Director: Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

"It's time to harness the power of empathy by creating shared terminology, vision, and values across disciplines and sectors. As leaders of cross-industry dialogue and innovation, we are positioned to develop the standards and best practices of the empathy-building movement."
Elif Gokcigdem
Author: Fostering Empathy Through Museums

"History tells us that empathy comprises a complex, artful but also effortful practice that enrolls feelings, intellect, and imagination."
Author: Empathy: A History

"Rosa brings deep content expertise in working with engaged empathy to evoke collaborative sense-making, group flow, and energetic alignment within highly diverse groups."
Rosa Zubizarreta
Author: From Conflict to Creative Collaboration: A User's Guide to Dynamic Facilitation

Activating Social Empathy in Schools
12 week empathy program for secondary schools

Patrick Dolan

Patrick Dolan is a professor and director of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at  the National University of Ireland Galway. Pat is co-developing and testing the Activating Social Empathy program. Social Empathy Education aims to develop and mainstream Social Empathy Education program in schools and in teacher education.

The program is structured around 4 key learning principles:

1. UNDERSTANDING EMPATHY: Students learn what empathy is and why it is important.


2. PRACTICING EMPATHY: Students practice and strengthen their empathy skills.


3. OVERCOMING THE BARRIERS: Students discuss the barriers to empathy and identify ways they can overcome these obstacles.


4. PUTTING EMPATHY INTO ACTION: Students take part in a social action project of their own choosing.

Building Cultures of Empathy at Work and Beyond
Maria Ross

Maria Ross is the founder of Red Slice, a consultancy that advises entrepreneurs, startups, and fast-growth businesses on how to build an irresistible brand story and authentically connect with customers. She is a keynote speaker who regularly speaks to audiences on marketing and building an engaging brand story that drives growth and impact. Maria understands the power of empathy at both a brand and personal level. She is author of The Empathy Edge: Harnessing the Value of Compassion as an Engine for Success.


Ford Madox Brown, Work, Wikipedia

"When you encourage empathy among your workforce and parlay that mindset outward to customers, your company will thrive. Why? Because empathetic businesses better understand their customers and can anticipate their wants and needs - delivering solutions to the market that customers crave."


Empathy for Evoking Collaborative Flow
Rosa Zubizarreta

Rosa Zubizarreta works with leaders and groups to catalyze creativity and collaboration. She specializes in developing organizational capacity for strategic conversations to facilitate group learning, shared systemic perspectives, and effective action.

Rosa brings deep content expertise in working with engaged empathy to evoke collaborative sense-making, group flow, and energetic alignment within highly diverse groups. Author of "From Conflict to Creative Collaboration: A User's Guide to Dynamic Facilitation," she teaches this work internationally.  In the last few years, she has been exploring the use of Empathy Circles with some of her organizational clients, with facilitator learning groups, and in communication workshops.



Rosa says, "I'm totally excited to see that Edwin Rutsch, the creator of Empathy Circles, has been bringing his work into the arena of healing political divides. My experience is that this simple-yet-powerful form is actually quite revolutionary, in the
best sense of the word..."

Empathy and Awakening from the Meaning Crisis
John Vervaeke

John Vervaeke, is an award-winning lecturer at the University of Toronto in the departments of psychology, cognitive science and Buddhist psychology.  His work is in integrating science and spirituality to solve the meaning crisis.  He hosts an extensive Youtube video lecture series entitled, Awakening from the Meaning Crisis and has taken part in numerous public dialogues to explore the topic.

John writes, "The Meaning Crisis is at the root of modern crises of mental health, the response to environmental collapse, and the political system. We are drowning in bullshit--literally "meaninglessness". We feel disconnected from ourselves, each other, the world, and a viable future."



In this dialogue, Edwin Rutsch and John discuss how empathy relates to John's work to solve the meaning crisis. We begin by trying to get a clear mutual understanding on what we mean by empathy.


Different Faces of Empathy
feelings of similarity disrupt recognition

Jacob Israelashvili

 Jacob Israelashvili did his PhD in Social Psychology at Tel Aviv University.  His research examines the empathic processes that antecedent understanding and caring for others. Jacob recently coauthored a study and paper entitled: Different faces of empathy: Feelings of similarity disrupt recognition of negative emotions.  In this interview we talk about that study.

Some Highlights of the Study.

  • Recognition of emotions becomes less accurate when having had similar negative experiences.

  • Personal distress evoked by a negative story inhibits recognition of the storyteller's emotions.

  • Being instructed to take another's perspective does not help to recognize emotions better.

Sub Conferences: Science

Does Empathy have Dark Sides or is it all Light?
 New Part 2 Posted - Part 1 and Part 2

Fritz Breithaupt

Fritz Breithaupt is Provost Professor at Indiana University Bloomington. He founded and directs the Experimental Humanities Laboratory at IU. He is author of the book, The Dark Sides of Empathy.

Fritz argues that some of the dark sides of empathy include; self-loss, side taking, identifying with the helper, sadistic empathy and vampiristic empathy. Edwin argues that empathy is light and the so-called dark sides are not empathy, but blocks to empathy.

Fritz says (and Edwin agrees) that a benefit of empathy is;


 "Empathy intensifies our experiences and widens the scope of our perceptions. We feel more than we could with-out it, and it enables us to participate more fully in the lives of others, even fictional characters."


 "Empathy is, of course, a critical factor in healthy long-term relationships, too, making it easier for us to understand our family members or romantic partners and anticipate their emotional needs and reactions. Love without empathy would be a sad thing for most people."

Sub Conferences: Science


More Empathy is the Solution to Compassion Fatigue

(View On YouTube or On Facebook)

Lou Agosta & Edwin Rutsch discuss Lou's recent article. 'Compassion Fatigue: A radical proposal for overcoming it.' We  talk about the confusion, inaccuracies, myths and misunderstandings about the concepts and experiences of:

* Empathy,
* Compassion,
* Compassion Fatigue,
* Empathic Distress,
* Empathy Fatigue,
* Culture of Empathy.

The good news is that empathy serves as an antidote to burnout or "compassion fatigue." Note the language here. Unregulated empathy results in "compassion fatigue." However, empathy lessons repeatedly distinguish empathy from compassion.

Most providers of empathy find that with a modest amount of training, they can adjust their empathic receptivity up or down to maintain their own emotional equilibrium. In the face of a series of sequential samples of suffering, the empathic person is able to maintain his emotional equilibrium thanks to a properly adjusted empathic receptivity. No one is saying that the other's suffering or pain should be minimized in any way or invalidated. One is saying that, with practice, regulating empathy becomes a best practice.

Empathy Circle
What are any concerns, anxieties, worries or fears you are dealing with in your life?

Peter Limberg, John Vervaeke, Jason Snyder, Edwin Rutsch
(View On Youtube or On Facebook)



  • Peter Limberg - Empathy Circles 'a good conversational modality for memetic mediators to have in their toolkit.'

  • John Vervaeke - Psychology and Cognitive Science Professor | Integrating science and spirituality to solve the meaning crisis

  • Jason Snyder - I found the Empathy Circle format to be a very useful 'enabling constraint' encouraging a dynamic interplay between co-presence, theory, and embodied/intuitive processing. Thanks guys!

  • Edwin Rutsch - Director Center for Building a Culture of Empathy


Peter Limberg Interviews Edwin Rutsch
the Empathy Circle Process

Peter Limberg of the Intellectual Explorers Podcast and Edwin Rutsch discuss the nature of Edwin's Empathy Circle process.  We discuss the origin of the practice, examples, the how to, upcoming events and more.
(View On Facebook or On Youtube)

Regenerative Cultures and Cultures of Empathy
Daniel Christian Wahl

Daniel Christian Wahl is author of Designing Regenerative Cultures. In his book, Daniel explores ways of relating to the many converging crises and opportunities faced by humanity at a local, regional and global scale. He invites us to step back from our tendency to want quick-fix solutions.

In this dialogue, we talk about the relationship between designing Regenerative Cultures and Cultures of Empathy. We see how they are closely interrelated.  Instead of othering and separating from each other, we need to come together with mutual empathy, presence, connection and care to heal the planet and co-design Regenerative and Empathic Cultures.


Daniel writes, "Spreading the story of why we care about life and the health of the whole and sharing the narrative of interbeing is culturally creative meta-design. By sharing the new and ancient story of interbeing we facilitate the emergence of diverse regenerative cultures scale-linked by empathy and cooperation."


Effective Empathic Listening
Douglas E. Noll

Doug Noll has been in professional practice for over 40 years. For the past 20 years, he has dedicated himself to understanding the emotional and biological origins of human conflict. With this knowledge, he has developed a set of empathic listening skills that "work the first time, every time". He is author of, De-Escalate: How to Calm an Angry Person in 90 Seconds or Less Paperback.


Doug says: "Empathic leadership development is essential for teachers, educators, administrators, and school board members. Without the ability to connect with students and parents quickly and effectively, conflict escalates. Empathic leadership is a skill comprised of three elements:

  • The ability to ignore the words, focus on emotions, and reflect those emotions back

  • The ability to problem-solve specific issues once calm is restored

  • The ability to create a learning environment that is emotionally safe

This skills must be learned, practiced and honed to be mastered. Research shows that learning empathic leadership skills will not come from a one-off workshop."

Conference: Lawyers for Empathy


God and Satan in Mediation
Restorative Empathy Circle

God and Satan take part in this Restorative Empathy Circle Mediation to work out their differences. For millennium God and Satan have been in conflict with each other. Edwin Rutsch invites them to take part in a Restorative Empathy Circle to use mutual empathic listening to talk out their differences. The opening issue they talk about is that Satan left heaven.

An Empathy Circle is a structured dialogue process based on mutual active listening. The process increases constructive dialogue and mutual understanding by ensuring that each person feels fully heard to their satisfaction. It can be used for conflict mediation.


Transforming Law as a Healing Profession
Pauline H. Tesler

 Pauline Tesler is a a pioneer in interdisciplinary collaborative legal practice. She is founding director of the Integrative Law Institute, author of Collaborative Law: Achieving Effective Resolution Without Litigation.  Her workshops and writings catalyzed an international movement called "Collaborative Law" that is changing the face of family law in 28 nations.  In this dialogue we talk about the role of empathy in transforming law into a healing and collaborative profession.

"We believe that law can be a healing profession, and that lawyers can be peacemakers. At the Integrative Law Institute, our mission is to bring insights and tools to lawyers so that they have what they need to return the practice of law to this original purpose: helping people reach resolution that heals the conflict."

Conference: Lawyers for Empathy

The War on Empathy
John Wood

John Wood Jr. is a national leader for Better Angels, a former nominee for congress, former Vice-Chairman of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County, and author of the upcoming book Transcending Politics: Perspectives for a Divided Nation.


He is Director of Media Development and spokesman at Better Angels. Better Angels is a national, grassroots, nonprofit organization dedicated to project of creating greater understanding and collaboration in our civic culture between Democratic and Republican voters. I am responsible for the development of original written, video and audio content for Better Angels website and social channels, crafting public messaging, and public speaking.


John wrote an article called The War on Empathy. In this dialogue we discuss the article.

"There is something subversive in empathy that makes it threatening to certain social status-quos. Most political coalitions are based, to some degree, on the dehumanization of their opponents.

Some find empathy to be antithetical to the pursuit of justice. To others, empathy is the virtue of the morally irresolute. In a time when some politicians relentlessly insult their opponents on Twitter while others encourage their supporters to harass opponents in public places, empathy may not always strike everyone as a self-evident good. It is good to understand why empathy seems to frustrate, disappoint, or even offend its critics, precisely because it is a virtue worth defending."

Does Empathy have Dark Sides or is it all Light?

Fritz Breithaupt

Fritz Breithaupt is Provost Professor at Indiana University Bloomington. He founded and directs the Experimental Humanities Laboratory at IU. He is author of the book, The Dark Sides of Empathy.

Fritz argues that some of the dark sides of empathy include; self-loss, side taking, identifying with the helper, sadistic empathy and vampiristic empathy. Edwin argues that empathy is light and the so-called dark sides are not empathy, but blocks to empathy.

Fritz says (and Edwin agrees) that a benefit of empathy is;


 "Empathy intensifies our experiences and widens the scope of our perceptions. We feel more than we could with-out it, and it enables us to participate more fully in the lives of others, even fictional characters."


 "Empathy is, of course, a critical factor in healthy long-term relationships, too, making it easier for us to understand our family members or romantic partners and anticipate their emotional needs and reactions. Love without empathy would be a sad thing for most people."

Sub Conferences: Science


Building Social and Cultural Empathy
Elizabeth  Segal


Elizabeth A. Segal is a social policy analyst with a background in professional social work. She currently holds the position of Professor in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University. Dr. Segal's current research is on social empathy, the application of empathic insights into creating better social welfare policies and programs. She has begun work on creating a compendium of methods to teach social empathy and an instrument to measure people's inclination towards social empathy.

Elizabeth is author of many books, including;
   * Social Empathy: The Art of Understanding Others
   * Assessing Empathy.
   * An Introduction to the Profession of Social Work.


Our ability to understand others and help others understand us is essential to our individual and collective well-being. Yet there are many barriers that keep us from walking in the shoes of others: fear, skepticism, and power structures that separate us from those outside our narrow groups.


 To progress in a multicultural world and ensure our common good, we need to overcome these obstacles. Our best hope can be found
 in the skill of empathy.

Sub Conferences: Science

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