Psychologist, worked at UCSF.
'He has been considered one of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the
Author or many books.
Studies emotion and facial expressions
Says there's 3 types of empathy:
- compassionate empathy.
retired professor of Psychology from
University of California San Francisco
has small business, develops training for
You've done a lot of work on the theme of
compassion is a more recent interest
my main work was on emotion and expression,
there are some universals in emotions
it unifies mankind and cuts across species
we can see, hear emotions while
thoughts, attitudes, values, are quiet
emotional signals are universal too
that unifies our species
Since I got to know the Dali Lama 11 years
ago I became interested in compassion
it differs from emotions
this got me interested in empathy
which is a bit of a minefield
I don't consider myself an expert on empathy
I never studied empathy per se.
I have to think about it to write about
There are two kinds of empathy
I appreciate how others are feeling,
but I don't feel it.
can and do feel in my body what others are
empathy is broader than compassion -
compassion is with suffering
if I feel your joy, you're not suffering but
that's an empathetic response
if I feel your anger, and I join you in your
anger, is it empathetic
Compassion is a subset of both the Cognitive
and Affective parts of empathy
focused on trying to deal with the suffering
of another person
Compassion is a much more narrower slice
from the world of empathy
4:40 I've seen compassion as
empathy applied to pain?
there's more suffering than pain
pain is a very literal physical pain
the human body is equipped with an amazing
variety of physical pain, nerve endings
there's also mental suffering
compassion encompasses both
if I know your upset, feeling anxiety, loss
of hope, I can feel compassion
when I say they are mental, I mean they
don't involve physical pain
of course everything is mental - it's in the
brain in by mind
the Dali Lama disagrees, he believes when
the brain is dead the mind is still alive and continues
6:50 Does the Dali Lama have the same
definition of empathy and compassion?
I know he has the same definition of
we have not yet talked about definition of
Resonance - refers to having the actual
I can resonate in two ways
having the same feeling
having a different feeling
if you're angry I can say,
I'm so sorry your angry - a resonate
response, not the same feeling
it's another term for empathy, if we leave
out sympathetic concern to act, to relieve
compassion includes the wanting to relieve
resonating with your suffering and the
there's no necessary connection between the
we can feel the emotion and not act on it
can feel compassionate and not act on it
does the action require the affective
Dali Lama believes that it does, at least in
the early stages
he believes the act become involuntary
you can not but act,
I'm interested in preventative compassion
forsee future suffering and action to reduce
there's no or little affective feeling
there's a motivation - wish to do good
for example - trying to avoid disaster like
earth quake prevention
Motivations for getting into medicine,
wanting to do good
13:00 Do you have a personal metaphor for
empathy? looking through someone's eyes
is it me that is still looking - through
or has myself merged with yourself.
does empathy extend to all human experience?
or is it limited to emotions or effect?
empathy related to understanding in general?
empathy is focused more around emotional
experience, maybe moods as well
16:00 Based on mirror neurons?
I have some doubts about that.
that the feelings are exact and identical
perfect mirror replica
an approximation? is an open question
each of us experiences the same emotions,
hardwired in our brain
they play on different hardware
the same emotion experienced by two people,
may be experienced differently
the likelihood that 2 people ever have
identical emotional experiences is low
it's not relevant to the issue of compassion
sympathy is a step in addition to empathy
know how you feel, but feel some concern
it's appropriate or inappropriate
usually we think of sympathy as appropriate
19:00 Sympathy and sorrow?
being sympathetic with your anger
sympathetic with any emotion
understanding why the emotion is occurring
and it's appropriateness
21:20 A metaphor of empathy?
as a scientist I don't deal much with the
world of metaphor.
I avoided them, metaphor doesn't provide
25:00 Over the course of your life how
did empathy become important to you?
I didn't think much about empathy until the
last few years.
only forced on me because of the Dali Lama's
interest in compassion
I say forced because I would rather not deal
with all the confusing literature on empathy
the scientific literature on compassion is
smaller and more convergent
literature on empathy is all over the place
I'm fairly sure there's no signal that's
unique for compassion as there is for fear, sadness, etc
I'm interested in compassionate action and
behavior, physiology and origin. not just expression
27:30 I heard a definition of empathy as
being when the blocks to action are removed?
that's a congruence of action
everyone can have their own definition, I
wouldn't define it that way.
I can feel as you feel without acting.
28:40 Are you familiar with the work of
I was undergraduate at U Chicago where he
I know about Rogerian therapy
30:00 That tradition was build on by
Marshall Rosenberg and nonviolent communications, they do empathic
you can use it in a variety of ways.
I use it in criminal interrogation, teach it
to law enforcement
for a different purpose for people to talk
if you can get people to talk more, it's the
talking process that's helpful
we used to think that a sympathetic listener
was a critical ingredient
In fact the listener doesn't seem to be the
issue, I'm skeptical about that.
the importance of the nature of the
listener, some qualities
As I understand it the quality of being heard/empathy releases Oxytocin?
is a stress reliever.
I'm not so interested in that
My experience of dancing and empathy.
'Hearing' the person physically.
important to identify the situations that
feel good and want to repeat
some things feel good that we don't want to
some things like looking out the window at
the sail boats
35:00 How can we build a culture of
the survival of the planet as we know it
depends on global compassion
we need to feel concern to reduce
suffering of all people
world is far from that
can we get there in time?
if everyone felt like they do for
their family or offspring
and had an impulsive wish to help
we have to first care about others
is empathy the role for achieving that?
I don't have the answers, I just have the
it's the number one problem
I'm talking with the Dali Lama about it
he feels there are Buddhist practices that
I feel even if he's right it's a lost cause
because it will take to long
he says one 'person at a time', I feel
we don't have enough time for that.
We have to find other means and I don't know
what they are
there may not be any, not every problem has
If we had a more global compassion these
problems wouldn't be happening
we have to care about other people
the capacity is build into us.
the seed, we have it for an infant but not
the rest of the world
how can we extend that
I put the question out there wherever I get
I'm not sure what research I would do on
it takes more thinking on what is the path?
I haven't seen the path. I don't think it
will come from
Buddhist meditation in a short enough time
40:30 Barack Obama ran on the theme of
empathy? mentioned Empathy Deficit.
see what being president has done to him
I'll bet it has not been good for his
has enormous constraints
41:15 Any wrap up thoughts?
I said my primary moral concerns, and I
believe that science would lead to better lives for all people.
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.