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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Thomas Lewis


Thomas Lewis, M.D. "is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, and a former associate director of the Affective Disorders Program there. Dr. Lewis currently divides his time between writing, private practice, and teaching at the UCSF medical school."

Video Authors@Google: Thomas Lewis

Author Dr. Thomas Lewis discusses "The Neuroscience of Empathy" as part of the Authors@Google series. This event took place December 5, 2007 at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA.

  • 02:00 Overview Outline

    • Evolution

    • The Brain

    • Modeling

    • self image

    • adjusting self and other

  • Etymology of Empathy

    • em - in, Path = suffering

    • into the suffering feeling of others

  • 05:00 History Evolution

    • sharks

    • dinosaurs

    • 09:00 mammals

      • need care

      • need protection

      • need to be feed

      • need to be taught

  • 11:50 Brains

    • reptilian brain - amigdula

    • mammals - new brain layer - limbic system, light of empathy from here

    • neo cortex - smartness, language, logic, technology, imagine

  • 13:50 Study of empathy

    • Modeling

    • People's behavior is contagious

      • yawning

      • smiling

      • tone of voice

      • spider on arm

    • Why is this contagious?

      • being touched and seeing others being touched

      • model it in your own brain

    • 19:00 pain studies and MRIs

      • see pain in others and you feel it

      • anterior cortex lights up

    • 20:00 Clinton says he can feel your pain

      • example or balls

      • examples of needle

      • other peoples adversity

    • 22:30 Brain part that models emotion

      • anterior temporal lobe

      • losing empathy because of brain disease

    • 23:30 First law of empathy

      • Empathy begins with the covert modeling of what other people are doing and experiencing

    • 24:00 Sociopath

      • mri's of brains

      • can't model other people

    • 25:30 Self Projection

      • create space models?

      • imagining - project your point of view in space

      • other points in space

      • somewhat cognitive

    • 31:00 2nd Law of Empathy

      • Empathy proceeds through the imaginative projections of the mind's eye - through space, time, and identity

      • brain problems in this area?

        • Autistic Spectrum

          • deficit in point of view

          • minds eye

        • in ASD listening to human voice don't get point of view

    • 36:15 Adjusting the Balance - Self and others

      • balancing your emotions and others emotions

      • your future or past self

      • suppressing - inhibits self perspective

      • doctors-novice and empathy

        • doctors/experts suppress it

        • inhibits modeling

    • 41:50 3rd law of empathy - empathy finishes with fine-tuning the balance between self and others

      • can't be swamped with empathic input

      • balance

        • Selfish - don't inhibit self

          • Narcissism

          • very emotional - panic attack

          • emotions run away with you

          • cold and hot Narcissism

          • dark and light narcissism - I'm doing it for you

    • 45:30 The map

      • move to music is modeling what it would be like to make the music

    • 47:15 Q and A

      • Male and female models?

        • partially feminized brain

        • woman generally more empathic

      • Blunting empathy with art?

        • art heightens empathy

        • entertainment blunts empathy

      • Male and female empathy differences?

        • there's evidence men generally are less empathic than woman

        • woman - language, relationship, empathy

        • a biological function for nurturing children

      • Male and female brain?

        • more on hard wiring than socializations


Empathy Work

  • Institute of Noetic Sciences Annual Meeting, “The Psychobiology of Empathy.” August 11, 2007

  • Stanford University, Program in Human Biology. Delivered one lecture, “The Neuroscience of Empathy,”
    for Human Biology 121, Ethical Issues in Neuroscience. April 21, 2008

  • “The Neuroscience of Empathy: A Practical Approach.” September 18, 2008. All-day practicum given for Google University.

  • California College of the Arts. “The Neuroscience of Empathy.” December 12, 2008.

  • Stanford University, Program in Human Biology. Delivered one lecture, “The Neuroscience of Empathy,”for Human Biology 121, Ethical Issues in Neuroscience. April 29, 2009.

  • California College of the Arts. “The Neuroscience of Empathy.” September 25, 2009.

  • Course: The Neuroscience of Empathy Fall Semester, 2007. Lectures:

    • The Evolution of Empathy

    • Empathic Modeling in the Brain

    • The Projection of Viewpoint Through Space, Time, and Identity

    • Adjusting the Balance Between Self and Other

    • Empathic Deficit Syndromes 1: Autism

    • Empathic Deficit Syndromes II: Narcissism and Sociopathy

    • The Role of Empathy in Morality and Politics

    • Empathy and Music in the Brain.

  • “Empathy and Depression: The Moral System on Overdrive.” Chapter from Empathy in Mental Illness, Tom F.D. Farrow and Peter W.R. Woodruff, editors. Cambridge University Press.

  • Empathy and Sociopathy: Empathic Defects in the Sociopathic Mind (March 21,2009)