The power of words

After the Brexit vote, those of us who wanted the European project to continue are sometimes struggling to do empathy with those who voted to leave. We have to try. Empathy is not about agreeing. Empathy is about trying to understand other people in the context of their lives. Empathic understanding matters because it helps … Continue reading

Seeing Israeli action in Gaza through the idea of dyspathy

First reactions: Impossibly complex, impossibly painful to watch from a distance, impossible to comment usefully. Attempting to ‘make sense’ with tools from EDiCT: Dyspathy is anything that blocks empathy. In conflict transformation, we need to understand the roots and processes of dyspathy. We can re-enable empathy by dismantling dyspathy. This morning, a tweet from Robert … Continue reading

There’s more than one way to see this!

A BBC News item yesterday really disturbed me, not so much by its content, worrying as that is, but by its labelling of the people involved and its restricted framing of the issue. In short, the item told listeners that people who travel to Syria become suspect and when they come back are “a risk”, … Continue reading

Walls that separate

My research found three key ways in which we stop empathy with others: lumping – “They’re all the same.”  Seeing people only as a group and not as complex individuals. distancing – “They are too far away to bother with.” Positioning people as ‘far away’, metaphorically, from ourselves. blocking – “It’s just not possible to … Continue reading

Leadership to protect our empathy

Researching empathy showed how vulnerable it is. There are so many opportunities and excuses for blocking empathy, for turning away from ‘the other’ that I gave it a name. Dyspathy is anything that stops empathy, and it comes in many forms:  too much concern with self; the pull of group thinking; moral certainties about the … Continue reading

Woolwich, 2013

Does my empathy research have anything to say about the men who slaughtered another man with their bare hands in broad daylight on a London street? Empathy is about trying to understand how other people feel and think. The act of violence in Woolwich is to be condemned, utterly. The task then is to move … Continue reading

a pertinent pinch of salt?

Whenever I present my work on empathy and try to describe what neuroscience is telling us about the brain circuits involved, I feel slightly uneasy. Surely – the back of my mind asks, even as I speak – it can’t be this simple? Today I came across a review of a new book in the Guardian … Continue reading

London empathy conference

I am happy to let you know about this event: Empathy and Compassion in Society Conference Friends House, NW1, 23-24 November 2012A visionary international event with 30+ remarkable world scientists on empathy and compassion and change makers in the fields of policy, management, education, health and social care. Friday 23rd November is a dynamic afternoon open … Continue reading

Olympic emotions

“It was so emotional!”  That was the mother of one of the seven young athletes who lit the Olympic cauldron on Friday. “It was really emotional.”  This was what people kept saying when they talked about the torch being carried around the country. “It’s quite emotional.”  That was a frequent response to the Olympics opening … Continue reading

Empathy with the elderly

A special suit lets medical students feel what it’s like to be 75+