If you think you don’t feel empathy, there is still hope.
Empathy is one of the essential human emotions. When Philip K. Dick wanted to distinguish between humans and clones in his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? He chose empathy as their differentiator, and even created his own Turing test: the Voight-Kampff Empathy Test. Dick believed that empathy was the quality that defined us as human beings and made us different from machines, which were threatened to dominate the world.
The moral-emotional supremacy of empathy is that all seems to connect with the service capacity, to live according to a higher purpose and sacrifice ourselves for others. Religion abounds in the exaltation of empathy, and this emotion has an aura. Since the bodhisattva path, postponing his meeting with the complete divinity until all beings awake-despite the bodhisattva has already attained enlightenment, his deep empathy ordered to attend the release of all beings. Even to the almost pantheistic brotherhood of St. Francis of Assisi, for whom the birds were sisters, like the water and the sun and all of nature, and who said: “Remember that when you leave Earth, you cannot take anything of what you have received -only you’ve given. “Feel the pain of the other creates a feeling of pity and trace a bridge of communion, it is the most intimate bond.
It is therefore not surprising that our culture exalted empathy and now investigate how this emotion is also generated from a neurobiological perspective. There is some reductionist trend that holds that empathy is a brain function or a set of neural connections that one can have or don’t have, whose absence is precisely what defines some people as psychopaths or narcissists. However, new research by a team of scientists suggests instead that empathy is a decision, and even people pathologically qualified as without empathy can feel this emotion under the duress of his will.
Several of the studies that advance in this more flexible direction of empathy are collected in the NY Times. The researchers show that when people “found that empathy was a skill that could be learned, unlike a fixed characteristic of personality”, they managed to feel empathy for different racial groups, so that “empathy for people different from us can expand, changing our beliefs about empathy.”
The authors found that people with high-level positions showed lower levels of empathy. But they read this not as a lower capacity for empathy, but as less motivation to feel it, to have less incentive to interact with others, which could be changed simply if they changed their vision based on cost-benefit and decide empathize.
Another researcher found that people with psychopathic disorders manage to empathize when they believe that others are part of their group. This suggests that if a psychopath managed to extend the range of individuals that is identified or included in a community that could somehow cancel your disorder. Extend that community to all beings on the planet would heal the psychopathology of humanity, somehow, that is not without idealism.
The authors conclude that “the arguments against empathy fall on an outdated vision of this emotion as a wayward beast who must submit to the sobriety of reason … in our view, empathy is as limited as we choose it to be.”
That’s great news. If you feel you’re becoming an android and you do not feel empathy for the world, just tell yourself to feel it deeply; He decides to be empathetic. Empathy is within you.