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?

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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Heinz Kohut


Heinz Kohut


 Clinical psychologist - Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis
Main person to Introduce empathy in psychoanalysis. He considered empathy as a form of internal scientific inquiry.







“the empathic understanding of the experience of other human beings is as basic an endowment of man as his vision, hearing, touch, taste and smell”
— Heinz Kohut

"Empathy is the capacity to think and feel oneself into the inner life of another person."
Heinz Kohut

Kohut, Heinz; Goldberg, Arnold, and Stepansky, Paul E. How does analysis cure?. University of Chicago Press.

" can no more survive psychologically in a psychological milieu that does not respond empathetically to him, than he can survive physically in an atmosphere that contains no oxygen."
Heinz Kohut





"Empathy is not just a useful way by which we have access to the inner life of man - the idea itself of an inner life of man, and thus of psychology of complex mental states, is unthinkable without our ability to know via vicarious introspection - my definition of empathy... what the inner life of man is, what we ourselves and what others think and feel"  
(Kohut, 1977, p.306)


Self Psychology -Empathy (Wikipedia)

"Kohut maintained that parents' failures to empathize with their children and the responses of their children to these failures were 'at the root of almost all psychopathology.'[5] For Kohut, the loss of the other and the other's self-object ("selfobject") function (see below) leaves the individual apathetic, lethargic, empty of the feeling of life, without vitality, in short, depressed."


Heinz Kohut - Reflections on Empathy
"Kohut's final speech, "Reflections on Empathy", was given at the 1981 Self Psychology conference in Berkeley, California. He was aware he was dying, and at the conclusion of his speech he announced his final farewell. This is a Lifespan Learning Institute video."


"Another reason to go back to empathy I have a responsibility about the abuse of this concept.'

Other's claim that empathy cures, I don't believe that at all.

Introspection and empathy as an informer of appropriate action.

Empathy can be used for kindness or hostility.

Analysis cures and empathy plays a role."



Self Psychology: A National Conference on the Work of Heinz Kohut
This is the fourth conference to be held on self psychology. Based on ideas in Heinz Kohut’s work on the development, disturbance, and restoration of the self are the focus of the program.
Presenters: Heinz Kohut, Arnold Goldberg, Charles Stroizer, Michael Basch, Paul Topin, Paul Ornstien, Morton Shane, Ernest Wolf



 Kohut, Heinz; Goldberg, Arnold, and Stepansky, Paul E. How does analysis cure?. University of Chicago Press.       Has a section on Empathy.