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Culture of Empathy Builder: 

Daniel Siegel


Daniel Siegel M.D. and Edwin Rutsch: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Daniel Siegel M.D. is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute. His training is in pediatrics and child, adolescent and adult psychiatry. Dan is the author of many books on parenting, child development, Mindsight, etc. including The Developing Mind, Second Edition: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are and The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being.

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."
Sub Conference: Science






"Building Resilience in Care Providers" Daniel Siegel | HagueTalks






Dr. Dan Siegel - Five Types of Empathy

At our 2017 Research Symposium, Dr. Dan Siegel spoke about five types of empathy that are taught in a Roots of Empathy classroom. Dr. Siegel is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine. He is also the Founding Co-Director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA.

 At our 2017 Research Symposium, Dr. Dan Siegel spoke about five types of empathy that are taught in a Roots of Empathy classroom. Dr. Siegel is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine. He is also the Founding Co-Director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA.





 Explains Mirror Neurons in Depth - YouTube
Dr. Dan Siegel tells us how mirror neurons work and how humans react when mirror neurons are stimulated.

"We are hard-wired to perceive the mind of another being."



Building Knowledge of Students to Build Teacher Empathy Powerpoint  Dec 2, 2015


  • Lack of empathy in the medial field

  • having an empathic doctor lessons a cold by 1 day.

  • Health, compassion, kindness, empathy, mind, mindfulness, mindsight

  • 24:22 Car accident photos

    • imagine what that person feels like?

    • imagine if that was you?

    • brain reaction is subtle. - compassion and integrated reaction.

    • empathy means you differentiate yourself

  • turning off your feelings will make you sick. makes you feel dead,

  • 32:00 When the mind is seen  - the brain functions better.

  • building the circuits of empathy and compassion you are building a more integrated brain. Meaning the differentiated parts are linked together.

  • connectom - how the brain is linked together. empathy creates more connections and you have a better connectom. Leads to more well-being

  • 34:00 Mindfulness, being aware of what is happening when it is happening. ie versus suppression of experience.

  • Regulation depends on integration. mindfulness increases integration.



Dr. Dan Siegel - On The Basis of Empathy






Daniel Siegal - Science Of Mindsight 1/6 - Aug 25, 2010

Daniel Siegal
- Science Of Mindsight 2/6
Daniel Siegal
- Science Of Mindsight 3/6
Daniel Siegal
- Science Of Mindsight 4/6
Daniel Siegal
- Science Of Mindsight 5/6
  (empathy at 7:28)
Daniel Siegal- Science Of Mindsight




Daniel Siegel - Interpersonal Connection

Daniel Siegel, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, UCLA, speaks on "Interpersonal Connection, Self-Awareness and Well-Being: The Art and Science of Integration in the Promotion of Health"





Trauma, Brain & Relationship: Helping Children Heal

"Powerful documentary featuring Bryan Post, Bruce Perry, M.D., Daniel Siegel M.D., Marti Glenn PhD and other renowned experts in the field of childhood trauma, and attachment and bonding. This is a great way to share with friends, colleagues, and caregivers this new understanding of how trauma effects the development of the mind body system, and how it affects children's behaviors and social relationships. This is a popular training video with agencies for training and for group presentations. Copies can be purchased a"



Attuned communication. "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."



Dr. Dan Siegel: Kindness & Compassion: Integration Made Visible




  • Definitions

  • Compassion

  • 7:00 Empathy

    •  put the feelings of another within you.

    • not a positive or negative feeling

    • not about suffering at it's core

    • says nothing about if I am going to help you

    • a sociopath could be empathic.

    • they feel your vulnerability and can hurt you

  • 8:30 - Seeds of Compassion Conference

    • they told scientists not to use the word empathy with Dali Lama. will confuse him.

  • empathy and compassion get interchanged and need to be clarified about distinction

  • Tania Singer Study show and brain study.

    • people trained in empathy activate internal negative states in yourself that cause you to burn out.

    • that when you just feel another persons feelings without an attitude of wanting to help those other people you just burn out.

    • where as if you train a person in compassion according to Singer, then you activate a different set of circuits. The point is they are distinct, and the person doesn't burn out. and they are associated with positive emotions.

  • There is something very different about empathy and compassion.

    • When you train a person to be empathic they are vulnerable to getting burnt out. The whole brain gets over activated and shuts down.

    • Whereas someone trained in compassion, actually doesn't shut down. And they increase positive internal states.

  • In Summary, When you are taught to focus on another persons suffering, and then then how to skillfully,  imagine, plan and get ready to carry out something to help that other person.  You actually avoid burnout.

  • So take home from the Singer study, is we should change the terminology, that there is no such thing as the common phrase as compassion fatigue. It is actually empathic fatigue.

  • That is why distinguishing these two is very important.

  • When I was in medical school, there was no training in any of this stuff.


  • 15:00 He dropped out of med school because of it's lack of humanity, it didn't deal with the subjective experience of people.

  • He thought mindsite was missing from med school. Peoples subjective experience.

  • 18:30 - theory of mind - people have a sense that other another person has a mind

  • to have compassion you have to see that people have a subjective experience.

    • suffering is subjective

  • Empathy you need allow other peoples feelings to come into you.

  • Kindness - doing something to support someone else without expecting something in return.

    • honoring and supporting each others vulnerability - people support each other.

  • empathic or sympathetic  joy - get excited for other peoples joy. is not part of compassion

  • 30:00 Mind Sight  =

    •  insight into self,

    • empathy, insight into someone else.

    • integration

    • compassion

    • empathic joy

  • Mind Sight means 3 things - an encompassing term

    •  insight into self (not part of compassion, empathy or kindness)

    • insight into the inner life of someone else - empathy or empathic joy.

    • Kindness - going with the vulnerability definition

    • Integration -

  • Mind Sight is a teachable skill

  • Triangle of human experience

  • Combine all fields of science into one.

    • embodied brain - mind -  relationships

    • Relationship is sharing of energy

    • mind is what the brain does.

    • subjective experience

    • mind is not the brain

  • 38:00 - 30 second empathic experience will make you get over your cold faster

  • [this shows that empathy, in and of itself, has positive supportive effects for well being.}

    • Our relationships are everything

    • studies on compassion make your body healthier

    • [he switches suddenly from empathy to compassion here.]

  • How can you have two things at the same time.

  • the system is not limited to the brain and skin boundary.

  • Energy and information flow. can't be limited to the skull or even skin.

  • 43:30 - we have emergent properties and self organization

    • energy flow in you and between you (relational).


  • 46:30 - this brings up the issue of empathy, compassion, kindness

    • brings up 'presence'

    • presence is what is needed for empathy, compassion, kindness

    • presence is a portal to integration

    • presence repairs ?? telomere - chromosomes

    • mental presence is healthy and  good for you

    • when you have suffering and stress, age faster

    • presence has lots of good effects

  • Attunement

    • Internal attunement - into self  - this is what mindfulness it.

    • intrapersonal  attunement -

      • turn attention to the internal world of the other.

      •  this is what secure attachment is about.

  • 50:30 - Resonance - allow the inner flow of the other to resonate with yourself.

    • metaphor of the strings of the guitar to vibrate with with the other. you don't become the other, you are changed because of the other

    • [maintaining a wide and broad attunement with the other, the environment, and the inner flow.]

  •  the difference between compassion and empathy
    [this is where the confusion starts coming in in terms of role taking]

    •  Study: see a car accident

      • 1. what would it feel like if it was you in the accident?

        • you are becoming the person

        • huge over identification

        • brain activation shuts down.

        • brain regions that are activated

      • 2. what would it feel like for the other person in the accident?

        • you are being yourself and wondering what that that person feels like

        • brain engages the compassion circuitry

        • brain regions that are activated

      • very different experiences

      • 52:00 - empathy is over identification - brain regions that are activated

      • SEE the Singer paper for 2012

  • Resonance reminds us we don't want to become the other.

    • allow yourself to be you.

    • society doesn't teach this.

      • we over identify

      • or we shut people off completely

    • we can teach the skill of integration

  • Trust

    • does an exercise with people to feel different energies

    • says no, no, no

    • says yes, yes, yes

    • self touch

  • 59:30 - All suffering relates to the threat state

    • fear, rage, shame, etc, come from state of threat

    • we are often in threat state

    • when we are in  threat state we do more in and out group

    • more kind to in group and more hostile to out-group

    • [problem of competition]

  • We are an extended self

    • 'yes' state turns on the social engagement system

    • receptive state your muscles get more relaxed and open

    • presence emerges

    • mindfulness turns on social engagement

    • [dance and other exercises would do the same]


  • Integration: Self organization optimizes the movement of a system by linking differentiated parts of the system

    • Integration creates harmony

    • like when a choir sings in harmony

    • systems that do not link differentiated parts goes into

      • chaos

      • rigidity

      • [note: fight, flight, freeze, dominance, ]

    • this explains every symptom of every psychiatric disorder

    • every disorder shows an impaired integration of the brain

      • schizophrenia, manic depressive, autism, neglected or abuse

    • compassion, empathy, kindness, are forms of integration.

    • [being heard by others assists with the self and other integration process]

    • [the problem with mindfulness is that it doesn't integrate with others. The integration model is the guru sitting with the students pouring their 'wisdom' into them.. it's actual a form of dominance]

  • secure attachment integration - harmony

    • creates mental coherence

  • 1:08 - chaos and rigidity in your life means something is not integrated.

    • not taking care of the environment is not integrating with nature

    • healing the planet means integrating with nature

  • 9 areas or types of integration - Wheel of Awareness

    • any meaningful social change needs to start with reflection

      • monitoring your internal energy flow and in-between


      • meditation - mindfulness meditation

      • Consciousness: the knowing and the known

    • 1:18 - 8. relational sense: this is where compassion, kindness comes from

    • 9. attention on the knowing of awareness

      • feeling of love, openness

  • 1:26 - the deep nature of the self is the whole system

    • We are all nodes of the system.

    • in modern life we have confused the node with the self instead of the system with the self.

    • We need to help give the mental skill to drop into the deeper awareness

      • [tribal dances, rituals]

    • The reason compassion and kindness, empathic joy have all these benefits. improve

      •  telomeric level

      •  epigenetics

      • immune system

      • vegal tone

    • the benefits give access to the truth of our interconnected nature.

    • we are built interconnected but families, schools, societies start convincing us that we are separate

    • Compassion and altruism studies show its good for your and comes naturally

  • MWe

    • meaning comes from serving the world

    • hold both me and we

    • integrated identity have integrated awareness

    • compassion and kindness are natural for the mind as breathing is to body,

  • 1:33:30 - Empathic burnout an impairment in differentiation. Pure empathy defined that way leads to integration. Integration made visible is empathic joy, compassion and kindness.


  • 1:34 - Q and A

    • How do we integrate ISIS?

      • come from a place of the integration

      • be responsible for the whole

      • [have the intention for a culture of empathy]

      • [can use empathy building processes]

    • Plane of possibility?

      • the core - seeing the common humanity

    • How does centering change outcomes?

      • emotion is a shift in integration

      • negative emotion is a downshift in integration

      • positive emotion is up tick


    [Singer study: If you are working on integration, you would be integrating the different views and understanding of empathy and compassion. The Singer study and compassion community are not integrating all the voices about empathy.]





Benefits of empathy


38:00 - 30 second empathic experience will make you get over your cold faster

[this shows that empathy, in and of itself, has positive supportive effects for well being.}



Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation (Apr 2009)
This interactive talk will examine two major questions: What is the mind? and How can we create a healthy mind? We'll examine the interactions among the mind, the brain, and human relationships and explore ways to create a healthy mind, an integrated brain, and mindful, empathic relationships.




TEDxBlue - Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. - 10/18/09

Daniel is a child psychiatrist, educator, and author of Mindsight, The Mindful Brain,
Parenting from the Inside Out, and The Developing Mind. He is the Founding Editor of
the Norton Professional Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology, co-director of the UCLA
Mindful Awareness Research Center, and executive director of the Mindsight Institute.

Dan Siegel - "Being" Versus "Doing" With Your Child 


Dr. Dan Siegel - On The Basis of Empathy - Mirror Neurons


Google Personal Growth Series
Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation
presented by Dr. Dan Siegel
April 22, 2009
As part of the Google Personal Growth Series, Google University recently invited Dan Siegel to address two crucial questions: What is the mind? and How can we create a healthy mind? In his talk, Dr. Siegel examines and explores ways to create a healthy mind, an integrated brain, and mindful, empathic relationships





Daniel Siegel: What Is Mindsight?

Daniel Siegel explains the idea of "mindsight" and how it can promote mental health.

  • How to see your mind and shape it in a different way

  • Definition of the mind

  • The capacity to see the mind and shape it towards health

  • Some people say defining the mind is indefinable

  • Definition: An embodied and relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information

    • embodied in the body.

    • relational - happens in relationship

    • process  - not a noun but a a moving flow

    • regulates energy and information

  • good to have a definition and model

  • some people want the mystery of the mind - i.e. no definition

  • Mindsight is the ability to see and shape the internal world


Daniel Siegel discusses Mindsight with the Dalai Lama Center



Stanford MedX Live! Feb 13, 2014 - Compassion, connection and engagement



Health@Google: Dr. Daniel Siegel, Taking Time In




Mindfulness and Neural Integration: Daniel Siegel, MD at TEDxStudioCityED

  • How schools can combine with technology for self regulation

  • the hand model of the brain

  • Cover 3 topics

    • the brain

    • the mind

    • relationships

  • what is regulation

  • what is the self?

  • likes to have shared definitions

  • Mr. Rodgers

    • Teach the 3 R

      • reflection

        • kids can mention their feelings

        • when you feel you feelings you can understand others

        • schools can teach this

      • relationships

        • kindness and compassion toward self

        • number 1 factor in longevity, happiness, is relationships

        • wisdom is based on positive relationships

        • give to others give to others

        • stimulate learning

      • resilience

  • 6:00 Hand model of the brain

    • how it works

    • brain means the whole body

    • the head brain

    • Parts of the brain.

      • reptilian

      • brainstem

      • limbic



 Mar 8, 2011 - The Neurological Basis of Behavior, the Mind, the Brain and Human Relationships
At the Garrison Institute's 2011 Climate, Mind and Behavior Symposium, Dr. Dan Siegel of the Mindsight Institute discusses the neurological basis of behavior, the mind, the brain and human relationships. Dr. Siegel puts forth a method of expanding the sense of identity so as to include other people, species and the planet and proposes the concept of "we maps." He recommends using the notion of health as a means of linking individual, community and planetary wellbeing.


  • Overview - works in an integrative way - interpersonal neurobiology

  • All science come together

    • arts, science, contemplation



Dan Siegel: The Brain and the Developing Mind - Chautauqua Institution

Dan Siegel: The Brain and the Developing Mind from Chautauqua Institution on



 Mar 3, 2011 - Dr. Dan Siegel by PsychAlive 

  • On Disorganized Attachment in the Making

    • most people are doing the best they can

    • when you bring that positive regard, then even a parent that is abusive to a child can be understood with empathy and compassion.

    • Many parents have themselves experienced trauma.

      • implicit memory - priming the brain to act

      • unresolved trauma

      • story of father trying to have his daughter brush her teach

      • can be reactive

      • mirror neuron system - picks up the anger of the child - triggers anger in the father - the fathers own anger

      • cascade of emotion, may hit daughter

      • low road

        • prefrontal functioning gets shut off

        • underlying emotions rise up.


  • On Disorganized Attachment

    • father comes at you very angry

    • I see your intention

    • mirror neurons feel you and the intentions

      • possible reactions - fight, flight or freeze [empathy]

    • Attachment - parent is supposed to protect me provide safety, security

      • Childs mirror neuron system soaks in the intention to harm

    • the child fragments - protection vrs. harm = disassociation of the continuity of the self

  • On Ambivalent Attachment

    • mother sees hunger in child

    • mother is terrified and nervous and doubting her  ability

    • mirror neurons of child pick that up, (should be called sponge neurons)

    • child soaks in the internal state (nervousness) of parent

    • child feels anxious and it gets connected to hunger

  • On Avoidant Attachment

    • parent doesn't mirror back - there's no-one to know. there's a deep sense of emptiness

    • the children grow to see just one aspect of the world, the physical touchable measurable world

    • plains of reality

      • physical

      • the mental side, feelings,

    • the care givers didn't see that mental-emotional world inside of them, so they haven't developed it.

  • On Optimal Attachment

    • positive intentions - love - care - children pick that up

    • repairing ruptures is the most essential thing in parenting

    • we don't' always reach the intention but it's important that it's there. (a culture of empathy)

    • mirror neurons tell the child it's possible to be full of love.

  • On The Basis of Empathy

    • Mirror neurons works with different parts of the brain

    • more than just imitate behavior

    • they simulate internal states - [intentions, motivations, etc]

    • this is the basis of empathy - this is how you feel another's feelings, and even going beyond the resonance - you understand what's going on inside of the other persons mental world.

    • see someone lift a cup to drink.  you feel the full state of the other, their thirst, you actually feel their thirst.

    • a circuit:

      • mirror neurons -> 

      • superior parietal cortex  ->

      • mirror neurons  -> 

      • driving down through the insula  ->

      • sub cortical limbic bodily states  ->

      • back up into the insula  ->

      • middle prefrontal area ->

      • introseption ---

    • You develop mind sight, where you see inside of subjective experience

  • Explains Mirror Neurons in Depth

    • mirror neurons - how it works

      • 1. see a random action - mirror neurons don't fire

      • 2. repetitions - lifting hand - mirror neurons don't fire

      • 3. pick up the glass - and you can feel the intention - of wanting to drink

    • follow sequence of the action - can feel it - know the intention

    • a map of the other person

    • that's how we have the human capacity to imitate behavior

  • Mirror Neurons: 'The Discovery'

    • this discovery has changed how we understand each other

    • understand the being of another

    • they bridge between seeing and acting

    • mirror neurons allow us to see and then enact

    • one neuron bridges perception and motor action

  • "The Low Road"

    • prefrontal area regulates the firing of the limbic area and brainstem

      • stomach churning, heart pounding,

    • going along with inner integration  -  the high road

    • something triggers you - an action connected to a past memory-imagination

    • hair trigger - this is an act of attack

    • Flip your lid, the inhibition action is lost

    • Respond with cold action, or emotions out of control, evolutionary self defense

    • a lot of things can make you go down the low road.

    • most vulnerable to go down the low road are those with Disorganized Attachment as children

    • unresolved trauma and grief

    • low road can be passed on to your children

  • On Disorganized Attachment

    • parents have passed it on

    • parents are terrified-anxious themselves

    • abusing - emotional, physical, sexual

    • child feeling fear - wants to got to parent for comfort but the parent is the source of the fear.

    • there is no solution, fragment and disassociate

    • regulation of emotion is compromise

    • can't understand other people - problems with intimacy

    • constant vigilance for safety

    • 3 routes

      • 1. hopeless - freeze

      • 2. in danger - run

      • 3. fight - reactivity - whole system is put on alert

      • [what about 4. empathize - go to the fear, - need to have a empathy support community]

      • If cortical control is lost, then others takes over - our basic evolution

  • On Emotional Balance

    • view of attachment, when parents have a presence in their own skin. Call it mindfulness, mind sight, see their own minds and the minds of others.

    • not reacting to behaviors but seeing the mind beneath the behavior - mind sight

    • studies show - security of attachment allows children to regulate their bodies, attune to others, balance their emotions.

  • On The Idealization of Parents

    • Children Idealization of Parents

    • bust through the idealization and see the truth

    • Idealization of childhood, is constrained

  • On Recreating Our Past In the Present

    • brain and mind -

    • window for transformation

    • a plain of reality - open possibility

    • above and below the plain

    • patterns inhibit change

    • from openness  energy can rise

    • come into this state and you can see new ways of being

    • can learn from book, relationships or phycotherophy

    • could get more connected to their body.

    • they get an acknowledgement of their internal state

    • they are experiencing a new mental side of things which brings along synaptic firings

    • a charge is there, to feel an authentic experience. it is a profoundly integrative state.

    • brings a sense of truth to it.  for example with

      •  a therapist and a client

      • a person doing meditation

      • reading a book that speaks to you

      • [an empathy circle]

    • attuning to yourself and resonate

    • two people will be transformed because of the resonance

    • truth and a sense of trust emerges

    • they have changed

  • Explains 'Top Down' Constraints

    • see a flower - can experience it or have top down feel

    • bottom up experiences get constrained by top down influences

      • in relationships

      • in a busy life

    • how to awaken yourself to bottom up?

      • learn how to dissolve the top down constraints

      • 1. mindfulness practice

        • breath - in and out

        • have awareness of topic down

        • become aware of it.

      •  apply this awareness of top down to romance

Aug 22, 2012  @RSA: The Emerging Mind: How relationships and the embodied brain shape who we are


  • Many questions about the mind

  • Lack of definition of the mind has paralyzed us

    • psychotherapy

    • education

    • academic

    • philosophy - we should never define the mind

    • etc, etc

  • We need a definition - he brought together a group to define it

  • With a definition you can change how the brain functions.

    • Can disband the myths around the mind

    • Can empower people

  • 8:00 The embodied brain

    • all the systems of the body relate to the brain

    • billions of neurons

    • neurons - trillions of connections

  •  11:25 - group working on the definition of the mind

    • example of intention:

      •  lifting the the hand randomly

      •  lifting the the hand to drink

    • mirror neurons

      • actions with a predictable sequence

      • a map of the intention - the inner system of the other

      • this connection is profoundly social

      • what you do affects the other

  • 15:00 working definition of the mind

    • the mind can be defined as; an embodied and relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information.

    • the mind is not only in your skin but is relational

    • mind is a verb

    • complex systems

    • self organization emerge from the interactions of the elements of the system

    • how does it move energy flow

  • 18:30 help you developing a stronger mind,

    • help you monitor and stabilize

    • see others i.e. empathy

    • create sharper detail - depth, clarity,

    • we can train the mind

  • 20:30 - the mindsight view

    • good working systems have a sense of harmony

    • individual, group, society, etc

    • health comes from integration

    • self organization - metaphor a choir singing in harmony - feel energized and rich

    • when distinct individuals find their voice and link

    • Approach for training

      • reflective practices

      • Mindful practices

      • attention training

      • Mindsight - 9 domains of integration

  • any process that promotes integration promotes health

    • mental presence is a massively integrative state

    • integrative fibers in the brain