Research Paper on Empathy Essay

The purpose of this essay is to define empathy and discuss its use on how it is used on a daily basis and what makes people feel empathy for others. Empathy is being able to feel and understand what another person is going through or what they have experienced. Typically, it would be a happiness, sadness or anger that would immediately affect how we feel, we would generally feel the same emotion as the person we are in contact with, where as sympathy we would be in agreement on the emotion, really just respecting one another.

Empathy is used as a noun, the dictionary meaning for empathy is the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. The second dictionary meaning of empathy is, the imaginative ascribing to an object, as a natural object or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself.

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Empathy is became apart of the English language in 1909 by E.

B. Titchener, while try to translate the German word Einfühlungsvermögen. Later near the end of the 19th century it was changed to empathie and is now being used as that in Germany. The German meaning of empathy is, physical affection, passion, partiality and also passion” or “suffering. The word was founded by Hermann Lotze and Robert Vischer to be added to the German language as Einfühlung which means (feeling into) while later Edward B. Titchener translated to the English term Empathy. Empathy, in the 1900-05, was also used from the Greek word empátheia which in turns means affection.

Empathy is used in so many forms and has so many definitions and starts off being imaginative. Imagining how the other person feels, putting yourself in the other person shoes and being able to feel what the person is going to through. Empathy involves being able to understand the emotional state how people feel, empathy would be described as a bodily feeling. Bodily feelings include body language, facial expression, and tone of voice. Being able to relate to one of the following and immediately responding to it is what empathy is. Automatically knowing what the other person is thinking and in turn making you feel the way the other person feels.

Scientifically, some scientist believe that empathy is linked to observing another person’s emotional state activates parts of the neuronal network involved in processing that same state in oneself. Certain objects are known to automatically activate neural representations, and activation automatically to prime or generate the associated autonomic and somatic responses, unless inhibited. This very example that scientist have worked on trying to prove, is compared to common coding theory between perception and action. Meaning empathy is determined by whatever activity is going on around the person and how the brain perceives it. This theory also means that some people may have beliefs that are different from one’s own, and is thought to involve the cognitive component of empathy. Empathy has been linked to be genetically inherited in our DNA its labeled as traditional science and used as alternative healing practioners.

Empathy has been linked to being associated with mental disorders like, Psychopathy, Narcissistic personality disorder, Sadistic personality disorder, Anger and Distress. These kinds of disorders have been known to scientist to cause rapid activity of neurotransmitters that deal with emotion and personality. Like psychopathy, some are able to pick up on others theory of mind mimic others emotionally and convince others their feeling a certain way when they really are not. In some cases psychopaths may be able to sense what others are feeling but may not be able to put themselves in their position. This shows that empathy in the brain waves of psychopaths are dysfunctional. Another mental disorder would be Narcissist one feeling them own self and unable to feel for others.

So with this being said they would lack empathy to protect and make them self feel secure for the sake of their own vulnerability. Now Sadistic disorder this is most likely shown in 16 to 18 year old boys with aggressive problems. This is a conduct disorder where the boys showed too much aggression. Performing violent behaviors and taking pleasure out of other peoples pain. Showing no sign of empathy for the victims of these violent crimes at all. Emotion like anger is another form linking to empathy. When people get angry over a certain situation somebody else that is close to them would immediately feel what their feeling also.

Anger has a affect on certain people directly and indirectly its known to triggers states of empathetic angers. Empathy and anger linked together has been investigated as negative arousal. That was only if empathetic behavior triggered a response to anger. Distress is also another form of empathy, feeling pain for somebody else which in turn can immediately turn into empathetic anger for somebody else. This would include feelings such as guilt and injustice, etc. Some scientist say this can be seen as pro social and moral behavior.

These are some example statements to define what empathy means. Jean Decety: “A sense of similarity in feelings experienced by the self and the other, without confusion between the two individuals.” Frans de Waal: “The capacity to (a) be affected by and share the emotional state of another, (b) assess the reasons for the other’s state, and (c) identify with the other, adopting his or her perspective. This definition extends beyond what exists in many animals, but the term “empathy” … applies even if only criterion (a) is met.” Alvin Goldman: “The ability to put oneself into the mental shoes of another person to understand her emotions and feelings.”

Heinz Kohut: “Empathy is the capacity to think and feel oneself into the inner life of another person.” Wynn Schwartz: “We recognize others as empathic when we feel that they have accurately acted on or somehow acknowledged in stated or unstated fashion our values or motivations, our knowledge, and our skills or competence, but especially as they appear to recognize the significance of our actions in a manner that we can tolerate their being recognized.” In conclusion, empathy is a strong emotion exerted from an emotional level to feel, think and understand what somebody else is feeling at the time of any emotion they may be experiencing.


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