How empathy can be used for exploitation and cruelty
Trigger Warning! You may find the content of this Episode confronting to hear, so listener discretion advised.
Empathy is a survival skill. Having awareness of the feelings of others can be really helpful for keeping oneself alive. However, there is mostly a focus on prosocial empathy where I am aware of your feelings and respond to them in a sympathetic manner. Antisocial empathy is a different kettle of fish altogether.
If I am to deliberately exploit you then it stands to reason that I must be able to track to some degree the way you are thinking and feeling. The more empathy I have the greater my compassion can be or on the flip side my cruelty.
I have always tended to assume the best in others and that has made me highly vulnerable at times to being exploited both personally and professionally. Dr David Schnarch explains antisocial empathy and some of what is now being discovered in the latest research in his amazing book Brain Talk. This episode is inspired by his work.
Correction in Episode: Robert Titchener - American Psychologist coined the word Empathy in 1909.
When we can see the reality of an experience, even if it is hard to face, we can truly heal!