The erosion of empathy | Simon Baron Cohen | TEDxHousesofParliament

The erosion of empathy | Simon Baron Cohen | TEDxHousesofParliament

Translator: Johannes Duschner
Reviewer: Denise RQ These two Nazi scientists worked
at the Dachau Concentration Camp during World War II. They were conducting an experiment to see how long a human being
could survive in freezing water. Like good scientists, they took systematic measures
including duration until death. Examples of human cruelty
of this kind raise a big question. How is it possible
to treat a person as a mere object? The traditional explanation
for human cruelty is in terms of evil. I find the concept of evil
unhelpful and unscientific. It implies that the person is possessed
by some supernatural force. Even worse it’s dangerously circular; if the definition of evil
is the absence of good, then all we’re really saying is he did something bad
because he is not good. It hasn’t really taken us
any further forward. In contrast the concept of empathy, I’m going to argue
is scientifically helpful; you can measure it, you can study it. Empathy has two distinct components —
cognitive and affective. Cognitive empathy is the ability to imagine someone else’s
thoughts and feelings; putting yourself into
someone else’s shoes. It’s the recognition part. Affective empathy is the drive to respond
with an appropriate emotion to what someone else
is thinking or feeling. I’m going to argue
that low affective empathy is a necessary factor
to explain human cruelty. Empathy isn’t all or none;
it comes by degrees, and there a individual differences in it. So it gives rise
to the empathy bell curve. Most of us are in the middle
of this spectrum with average amounts of empathy. There are some people
who have above average levels of empathy. But what are the factors that can lead an individual
to have low empathy either temporarily or permanently? What are those social factors?
What are those biological factors? One social factor
is obedience to authority. The experiment by Stanley Milgram
at Yale University showed that people are willing to administer
electric shocks to someone to help them learn, if they’re instructed to do so
by an authority figure. This suggests that simply, following orders may be one factor
that can erode our empathy. A second social factor is ideology. When the terrorists flew the planes
into the World Trade Center on 9/11, We have to assume that they were in the grip
of a strongly-held belief that they were doing the right thing. Of course, we don’t know whether the terrorists
who signed up for that action had low empathy to begin with, but it’s possible that their ideological beliefs
were another factor that could erode
their empathy for their victims. A third social factor
is in-group/out-group relations. In Rwanda, we saw one ethnic group
used propaganda to stereotype the out-group; describing them as subhuman
and as cockroaches. When we dehumanize a group as the enemy, we have the potential to lose our empathy; and we saw the catastrophic genocide that ensued. But none of these social factors
can explain individuals like Ted Bundy. He started his adult career
as a psychology student of the University of Washington where he volunteered
on a telephone helpline and persuaded women to meet him. And over the successive years, he committed rape and murder
of at least 30 women. We can assume that he had
good cognitive empathy because he was able
to deceive his victims, but that he lacked affective empathy
– he just didn’t care – and he lacked it in enduring ways. The evidence that psychopaths
like Ted Bundy lack affective empathy comes from an experiment by James Blair that was conducted in Broadmoor Hospital. He showed psychopaths and a control group three different types of images, threatening images, neutral images,
and images of people in distress. What he found was that the psychopaths only showed reduced physiological response when they saw the images
of people in distress. So this suggests that they lacked
affective empathy. People with autism have difficulties
with cognitive empathy. They struggle to imagine
other people’s thoughts, their motives, their intentions,
and their feelings. But people with autism
don’t tend to hurt other people; instead, they are confused by other people and withdraw socially, preferring
the more predictable world of objects. People with autism
have intact affective empathy because when they hear
that somebody is suffering it upsets them. This leads us to imagine that people with autism
and psychopaths are mirror opposites. The psychopath has good cognitive empathy
– that’s how they can deceive – but they have reduced affective empathy. People with autism
have intact affective empathy, but struggle with cognitive empathy
for neurological reasons. Psychopaths don’t come out of nowhere. Many of them have shown antisocial behavior
and delinquency in their teens. John Bowlby at the Tavistock Clinic
in London studied delinquents and found that many of them had experienced
emotional neglect in early childhood. He argued that the absence
of parental love in early childhood is another factor
that can erode your empathy. But we know that early experience
can’t be the whole story because not everyone
who has a bad childhood loses their empathy. Avshalom Caspi at the Institute
of Psychiatry in London showed that if you’ve experienced
severe maltreatment in childhood that increases your risk of delinquency. But your risk of deliquency
goes up even more if you also a carrier
of one version of the MAO-A gene shown here in red; so genes and environment interact. Another biological factor that is associated with empathy levels
is the hormone testosterone. In the fetus, testosterone
shapes brain development. We’ve measured testosterone in the amniotic fluid
that surrounds the baby in women who are having
amniocentesis during pregnancy. We then wait for the baby to be born,
and we follow up the children. When the children were eight years old, we asked them which word best describes what the person in the photo
is thinking or feeling. Here the correct answer is
he is interested in something. What we found was that the higher
the level of fetal testosterone, the more difficulties the child was having at this test of cognitive empathy. How much empathy we show
is a function of the empathy circuit; a network of regions in the brain. Here we can look at just two of them: in red, for left ventromedial
prefrontal cortex, and in blue, the amygdala. This is Phineas Gage
who suffered damage to his left ventromedial prefrontal cortex after dynamite blasted a metal rod
up behind his eye and through his brain. Before the accident, he was described
as a polite, considerate individual. After the accident,
he was described as rude and no longer able to judge what was socially appropriate
for different situations. He’d lost his cognitive empathy. Jean Decety at the University of Chicago
used brain scanning – functional magnetic resonance imaging – to look at the teenage delinquent brain whilst they were watching films
where somebody experiences pain such as when this piano player’s fingers
got crushed by the lid of the piano falling down on his fingers. What he found was that teenagers
with delinquency didn’t show the typical levels of activity
in the amygdala — part of the empathy circuit in the brain. But let’s not forget
the positive side of empathy. Most of us have enough empathy, and some people
have high levels of empathy. When these two men formed a relationship based on mutual respect and on empathy, it let to the end of apartheid
in South Africa. Empathy is vital for a healthy democracy; it ensures that we listen
to different perspectives, we hear other people’s emotions,
and we also feel them. Indeed without empathy,
democracy would not be possible. I met this two women
in Cambridge this week when they came to visit. On the left is Siham,
and she is a Palestinian woman; her brother was shot
and killed by an Israeli bullet. On the right is Robi;
she is an Israeli woman. Her son was killed
by a Palestinian bullet. These two women
have taken the courageous step of forming a relationship
across the political divide. They haven’t given in
to the emotion of revenge which would simply perpetuate
the cycle of violence. Instead, they’ve used their empathy
to recognize that they both share the same sorrow, the same awful pain
of having lost a loved one. Empathy is our most valuable
natural resource for conflict resolution. We could wait for our political leaders to use empathy
– and that would be refreshing – but actually,
we could all use our empathy. As Siham and Robi told me, “The conflict won’t stop
until we empathize.” Thank you. (Applause)

98 thoughts to “The erosion of empathy | Simon Baron Cohen | TEDxHousesofParliament”

  1. Has anyone tested our political leaders [ cameeron, obama, etc] for cognative or affective empathy, i would be astonished if they dont have a very low degree of either.

  2. I was expecting more from this speech. He explained why some have empathy (in scientific terms) and why empathy is good (using just rhetoric arguments), but is there anything that could be done to change the biology of brain and hormones of those who lack (affective) empathy, therefore are dangerous to those around them?

  3. I'm very grateful to Simon Baron Cohen for his eloquent highly informative talk on a subject of great importance to us all. For a mere 12 minute talk this was a very focussed and easy to digest exposition.

  4. Yes, there's several ways, Simon's work is effectively a map and offers no solutions but an in-depth assessment of what need to be done, a company granted by SENS foundation has found ways to recover what Simon revealed to be the empathy circuit by inducing developmental plasticity and neurogenesis.

    Autism/Sociopathy is curable by these means, but unfortunately are currently tedious, expensive and not refined for mass treatment, read Simon's book The Science of Evil, it's very informative.

  5. Norman, I think you mean they would lack affective empathy and have good cognitive empathy (which means they can deceive).

  6. TEDx TALKS: c'mon guys. I really like you, but seriously – the sound? I have it on maximum and I barely hear it :/

  7. Your right, He gave no real life situations to explain anything, Just other peoples tripe experiments, { Asking hardened criminals poisoned to society to weep because they were shown a kid crying who for all they know just dropped their ice cream } And he completely missed out the difference between sympathy and empathy, As to the drug idea, There are anti psychotic drugs etc,, But a drug administered to make you care and think of others ? Very unlikely, If at all possible

  8. Empathy is a total FANTASY, a complete lie!, there is ONLY sympathy. No one actually resonates with another person's pain, but they can assign similarities with what they themselves MAY have felt.

  9. I disagree with what you are saying based on my own life experiences. One example is being through a job loss. When you hear of another person going through a job loss you can feel bad for them ( sympathetic ). When you hear of another person going through a job loss you can truly understand where they are at and put yourself in their shoes because you've been there. You can understand that the issues go much deeper than missing a paycheck.

  10. In the TV show Community, when the entire study group did a psychology test to see whether they were psychopathic, the only one who didn't get the psychopath result was the only one with Asperger Syndrome, Abed. This is cool because according to Baron Cohen's empathy theory, people with autism are the mirror opposites of psychopaths. Just a random interesting observation. The show did its research.

  11. To Mister Simon Baron-Cohen, my opinion is .. most of the people in our socie-
    ty have a lack of empathy, and NOT [ a high level of empathy ] at all!! Because,
    if most of the people in our society had really a high level of empathy, they had
    lived the fruitarian/vegan lifestyle. Our civilization is far from civilized!! It's sick!!

  12. Do you grow your own veg or do you buy it in a shop? If you buy it in a shop, do you source the produce (find out where, and how, and by whom it is grown/gathered)? Vegans always talk about how cruel it is to eat meat, and they might have a point, but most I've encountered overlook the conditions the immigrant workers who gather their food work and live in. Not exactly a great showing of empathy either.

  13. I would imagine it would be lower given the nature of politicians. However, as a measure among the politicians themselves, I would imagine people like Obama vs. Romney, Romney would likely show lower levels empathy, given the nature of most businessmen.

  14. Yes,because all morality rests on what people eat. /s
    If anything,given the hierarchical nature of human development,I would say care of animals would be higher on the list.This is reached at different times by different people, but humans weren't able to have math before they were able to survive. We can't even get people to care about the poor in America-Once we do, we'll gradually move to respect for animals. Culture and art, like animal rights is a component of societal development.

  15. The example of the Israeli and Palestinian peace campaigners is a false one. All of the factors that work against empathy are fully employed by the oppressors when one group of people seek to oppress another group of people. Most Israelis have much more work to do to recover their empathy than the Palestinians because for them it is not a question of individual psychology, collectively they have deliberately adjusted their moral values to meet their material and territorial goals.

  16. I was expecting this to be "there's no empathy any more. society is going to hell in hand basket" speech. I'm glad it's not.

  17. there's got to be a better example than 9/11. stopped watching at 3:31. BIG SUBJECT, including the acceptance that terrorists flew planes into the WTC's.

  18. He's an ass… He wrote a book that states those with autism and Asperger's lack empathy. That's bullshit. They're not psychopaths… They are people who have difficulty RECOGNIZING others' emotions and displaying their own. They definitely have them. Very sad to see a fellow medical professional lump such splendid people in with murderers.

  19. Seems there is not always a correlate between what he calls empathy (whatever he thinks is good) and the economy of practician. World view dominates whatever the disposition being practiced, whether for good or for evil. In this model empathy, Hitler was wonderful in his circle of believers, full of empathy for the master race. There must be an idea to embrace that is good, or it's all about useless passion.  

  20. It's funny he mentioned Autistics. I am mildly ASD.

    His opening on Evil is a clear strawman & a poke against religion. I suspect he ignores why wars are fought in the first place. 

    This is why I'm sick of Moral-Relativism which originates from those who are atheistic/agnostic, who in my opinion are more inclined to be ideological psychopaths than anyone else in the universe. (there has never been an atheistic revolution that resulted in anything but tyranny)

    They redefine everything in order to control the world around them while ignoring what's inside that makes them different…& it isn't the primal brain, but what makes the brain exist, grow, & work in the first place.

    Deterministic arguments are short-sighted & deny the soul & thus end up being exactly what causes others to do evil in the first place.

    If someone wants the cold truth about how "good & evil" are defined, then they must accept The Miracle that distinguishes Life from non-life & Creators from Destroyers. 

    Here is my definition of good & evil. It is not based on a book. I still hope to offend Atheists. 

    Creators are Good. Destroyers are Evil. 
    If you want to live, you think, feel & act as a creator-individual
    If you want to die, you fail to think, feel & act as a creator individual, which makes you more likely to destroy yourself & others in the process of coping with the fate (due to our weakness) that we all have. Meaninglessness & Mortality.

    First-Life intended First-Creation TO SURVIVE, THRIVE, & CREATE in accordance with the Principle Laws of the Universe without the help of or hurt to anyone else..

    Simply, the pattern must continue. If you cannot find meaning in The Pattern of Creation by experiencing & acknowledging the wondrous miracle of consciousness, judgment, & the power to create…then you will die & stay dead.

    I could go into greater detail, but it's your responsibility to understand what it means to create without destroying & give value to such a concept.

    This isn't just the living, preservation & creation of life, but efficiency with  resources which requires a perfect understanding of First-Life & The Universe.

    You do not treat people as if they are in passing or as objects that are used then destroyed & tossed aside.


    It is really that simple. Evil is stands for nothing that anyone else wants to associate with because we instinctively (spiritually) know that it's pathetic lies & meaninglessness that lead us unto a hellish death.

  21. I got stuck within two minutes, when Simon Baron-Cohen says that traditionally, humans have explained away cruel behaviour to being possessed by a supernatural force, after which we'd say the human is bad.  Logically, it would be the supernatural being possessing the human that is bad, not the human… it is not circular after all.   : /

  22. What he said about the word 'EVIL' is very much how I've felt about the word over my life. It's a very close-minded, dismissal of intollerable acts that only creates more distance from understanding them and denies, rather desperately, the dormant abilty to do 'evil' acts that resides in all of us – that wait to be ignited under the right/wrong set of circumstances. 'Evil' is a box with which we place our collective shame into. It also seems useful in creating a 'world in opposites' form of morality, that forms the conviction to commit these horrors in the first place, under the guise of dogmatic ideologies. 

  23. the psychopath understands others through cognitive empathy, which means he's able to know how others will act, which makes him not scared of not conforming, thus he does not need "effective empathy" for survival. Whereas the autistic person can't understand how others will act, he lacks cognitive empathy, which makes the actions of others scary and thus he's scared into conforming because its necessary for his survival.

  24. Cohen's eg: Narciz freezing gypsiz > K-G_B stryking towerz > Palestinianz hugging Israeliz.
    Other eg: Palestinianz freezing Israeliz > Iraq stryking Powell > Gipsyz freeing Germanz
    Asymmetric empathy, Mr Baron, can it be that a man of your status be oblivious to the power relationships involved?

    GENUINE empathy will solve all conflicts.

    Perhaps you need to revise your affective empathy. Tell us more about POWER-psychopaths.

    Otherwise your point on testosterone levels seems more neutral.

  25. The problem with Baron Cohen is that he doesn't make it clear enough that autistics (often but not always) lack only cognitive empathy. Psychopaths and autistics are opposites – as he says part way through but there are a lot of stupid people (some of whom have made comments) and this needs to be spelled out from them right at the beginning because they don't have the required IQ level to understand the slight waffling style of Baron Cohen. I'm autistic and so are my children. I could cry at this ignorance; not for me but for all the innocent, caring, sensitive autistics whose characters are being denigrated.

  26. Why are people taking what he says to mean that those with Autism lack empathy the same as psycopaths? Positing that they lack remorsefulness or are highly manipulative. He's not!

    They are psychological foils in the human consciousness. No one lacks empathy, in fact, everyone uses it. There just happens to be demonstrated subtypes based on the distribution of empathy as it is studied scientifically, not moralistically, and the subsequent behaviors and ways it manifests. High cognitive empathy correlates positively with manipulative behaviors, because one is not confused about the emotional states another possesses. Lacking affective empathy with high cognitive empathy is what he is stating creates a 'psychopath', likewise, high affective empathy with low cognitive empathy creates the autistic orientation.

    A great allegory in human mythos would be from Judeo-Christian tradition: Cain and Abel to represent these psychological subsets of empathy. Self-actualized autistics and psychopaths are in effect each other's keepers, because one subtype informs another.

    However, as outliers in a bell curve distribution, one could infer entirely different survival mechanisms that they employ to work within a society that isn't composed primarily of individuals as science shows us.

    People who are highly AFFECTED by witnessing and observing suffering are more apt to DO something to ameliorate that suffering – to the extent that seeing suffering (human or otherwise) causes themselves to suffer, depending on how much affective empathy that they have. I don't know many autistic people who enjoy horror films.

    All he is saying is that they are psychological foils on a spectrum of human psychology. The spectrum being empathy, that's it. As an autistic person, I can readily distinguish a sociopath from a neurotypical one overtime, sometimes instantly, because of past experiences that I've survived and patterns that are witnessed, but have often been manipulated emotionally despite being able to see a wolf in sheep's clothing – no one believes me.

    People who lie more in the middle of both affective/cognitive empathy are able to employ both at similar capacities. That's the context of what he's suggesting/proving/illustrating in this talk, based on the studies – not that autistic people are violent.

    There are two kinds of violence: affected and predatory. Affected people are prone to acts of revenge for example, or vengeance, in lieu of predatory behaviors, responding to environmental circumstance. There is a marked lack of pre-meditation in violent acts committed by autistic individuals.

    Autistics are not predatory! They are in fact a key element in discovering predatory behavior.

  27. great great talk, didn't know there were two kinds of empathy and good to know it! maybe at the end in the benefits of empathy part, use arguments that can convince people lacking empathy (in addition to "solving conflicts). Because I'm not sure they care about conflicts stopping. My question is : how to convice these people that it's good for them to balance their lack of empathy with à work on how they behave. also, can empathy be learnt if it can be unlearnt ? and how?

  28. I am a Nihilist. I do not view Morality as having any weight or natural occurrence in the universe.

    However, despite my lack of belief in the concepts of Good and Evil, I am still a feminist, a socialist, and I anything but apathetic to the plight of others. I enjoy seeing others laugh and enjoy themselves. As social progress is made, I am pleased.

    Not because feminism, socialism, Bernie Sanders, or justice are "Good" things, but rather because I have an empathetic connection with my fellow humans and desire to see as many people as possible as satisfied as possible.

    Nihilism and Apathy do not always mix.

  29. I'm currently listening to: "Social" by Matthew Lieberman. He says that people with autism often have hypersensitivity to their environment and the people in it. They may seem detached outwardly, but are feeling overwhelmed internally and go back to being in isolation, because being amongst unpredictable and overwhelming people feels terrifying to them.

  30. Good vs Evil: God vs Satan. God's trump card, Jesus. People are influenced by their environment and spiritual factors to behave as they do, and then, of their own free will, act. Without an acceptance of God's will, can and will eventually be unempathetic.

  31. i am from india and this are of the bullshit. this man just talking like he is the boss but also my crackhead friend can saying these things. he is real sycopath he maybe kill animals for funs

  32. Evil doesn't imply someone's possessed, this is just his own interpretation on the idea. Why people cannot understand the concept "I did something evil, but I'm not an evil person", is beyond me. Just like if a serial rapist does a good thing, say lend his sister money for her bills, it then doesn't mean he's now a good person……he's still a serial rapist!!! Who you ARE, in this sense, is based on the CULMINATION of your acts in life, not just one deed. Please stop making this phony assumption. You owe it to yourself, as this is an incredibly crippling mentality to carry around with in life.

  33. Actually I disagree with the idea of evil being a supernatural force.

    I see good and evil and being 'beneficial' or 'harmful' to survival of others. Evil behavior therefore, is that which causes harm to others.

    We can break it down to:

    Evil is egocentric narcissism minus affective empathy. In other words, good vs evil are just words used to explain a complex set of behaviours and effects thereof.

  34. most white people in america lack empathy toward other races and poorer nations, yet they love fucking dogs and cats. Yet they hunt animals for sport. What is this madness?

  35. What I really liked about his book is that he differentiated between antisocial personalities and those like me, with autism spectrum disorder.

  36. It has been my experience that people with psychopathic tendencies seem to be attracted to people with Aspergers and I didn't realize until fairly recently that my attraction to psychopaths is because they can pretend to understand me the way Aspies do. I think part of the reason Aspies don't seem empathetic is that almost everything is processed through our logic filter. I may feel very moved by something but I rarely know the socially appropriate way to show that. I am a very touchy-feely Aspie, but with our current social stigma about physical contact and as many times as I've been told my behavior wasn't appropriate for one reason or another, I am very worried about appearances so have no idea what to do when faced with an emotional situation. We don't get to just act on our instincts, we have to try to imagine what the majority would want us to do in order to avoid being ridiculed, mocked, or even physically attacked and honestly it is much harder than figuring out the behavior of other animals because most humans lie a lot.

    It is almost like three different species: "normal" people in the middle of the curve, excellent actors with no feeling for others on the left, and those with genuine concern for others to the point of social paralysis on the right. There are some people with little empathy of either type who can't even pretend to care about their own children let alone strangers. It's surprising that people don't pick up on it easily but they aren't as dangerous as the psychopaths. Those with little empathy whatsoever are about as dangerous as all of the others in the middle who will go along with the group or authority figure in most situations.

  37. Seems like sadists lack affective empathy way below the zero level to become an outright pleasure.

  38. "The psychopaths only showed reduced physiological response when they saw people in distress." But if they had no affective empathy, shouldn't that response be equal to the neutral case, not lower?

  39. Here's an example from an aspie perspective
    If you cry – I'll cry
    If you are angry – I'll become angry
    If you give me affection – I feel affection toward you

    If you tell me your story hoping to evoke an emotional reaction I may not be able to do so
    If I can't read the emotion coming from you (you may be suppressing it or hiding it) then I can feel a bit blank and not know what to do or say because I have to try and 'guess' how you feel – which would, I assume, involve theory of mind

    My brain would have to grapple with things like 'how might I feel if that was me in that story he's just told?'
    'How would I want to be treated if I were them?' And of course all of this happens too slowly in my brain – so what you perceive is a person who is saying and doing nothing in response to what you just said!

  40. simon what a beautiful presentation. Loved the table showing clearly that autistics have an abundance of that awesome affective empathy that the world needs so much!!

  41. Empathy is like humor, it can include and exclude. Empathy is not a virtue, but a way of targeting compassion. That's why a lack of cognitive empathy (i.e. Autism) can lead to universal compassion. Ironically, the presence of empathy is necessary for selectively withholding compassion.

  42. The same drive required to lead a democracy will suppress cognitive empathy. Maybe why humans are so good at state on state violence.

  43. Baron-Cohen is just factually wrong in citing the study of a photo of a man's eyes and four guesses as to the man's emotions: feeling sorry, bored, interested, joking. Film editor Lev Kuleshov already proved the folly of such tests. A test like this also fails in ruling out the possibility of everyday performativities like irony, sarcasm, impersonation, etc in which we affect expressions intentionally contrary to our meaning. The only correct answer is: not enough information. The real lack of affective empathy comes in not seeing the obviousness of the test's flaws.

  44. Cruelty committed by group three social factors
    1. Following orders from an authority figures
    2. Ideological beliefs
    3. In group Out Group relations

    Interesting points:
    -affective empathy vs cognitive empathy and autism
    -Neglect plus MAOA gene
    -Testosterone shapes fetal brain development : longitudinal studies from fetal to 8 year olds the higher the fetal testosterone level in vitro the lower the cognitive empathy (which is low in those with Autism)

  45. Simon Baron Cohen is god's gift to students. After seven decades living Autistic I am just now able to understand empathy. When in high school we had two social groupings greasers (bikers) and soches (super social people). I was autistic and lived in the solitary outdoor group (super anti-socials). The soches were definitely the more cruel and they learned their cruel craft using their smiling faces and "appropriate" fit in emotions, the greasers were more direct physical bullies. I knew them all well ~~> whole social scene was like a hot stove me walking far far around. I believe my then and now responses is simply to protect/guard my high level native affective hard won empathy.

  46. First off not all autistic people lack cognitive empathy, but why should anyone have to guess how you feel from body language?

  47. From my own experiences, it is the individual who has empathy who is the rare and abnormal human. I like how this TED talk considers abusiveness to not be normal human behavior. Newsflash, abusiveness is normal human behavior. Go to any classroom and you will see the future leaders of this world gladly abusing their classmates to determine the social hierarchy. It doesn't stop with childhood. Adults are usually the same turds they were as children, but with a light dusting of the image of civility.

    How can you erode something that only exists as a fantasy inside the "morally superior" individual's mind? This TED talk sounds like wishful thinking.

  48. Completely wrong! I work in the field for many years. The person diagnosed with ASD doesn't lack cognitive empathy! Rather if we peal back the most basic surface we will almost invariably find amygdala fear based responses, e.g., over active sensory challenges or hypo, underactive sensory processing challenges, which then results in a withdrawing or ALL or Nothing responses, endocrine wise (HPA axis) increased cortisol reduced oxytocin, etc. Now, when that individual becomes more "comfortable to engage in back and forth reciprocal social-emotional engagement" (i.e., not overwhelmed) then what appeared to be prior "significant deficits in cognitive empathy" no longer exists or is significantly continuously moderately by that individual to feel comfortable and embodied rather than withdrawn, over-reactive or disassociated from social-emotional engagement. This is mirrored to large degrees with complex PTSD.

  49. dude is arguing that one is responsible. a psychological, or sociopathalilogical person does know the rules. we can't put them all to death. we have to find different ways.

  50. I argue that the child inherited the pathology, and there was a sense of parental love, because the parent also had that pathology. Not because of what the parent did or didn’t do.

  51. Autist, I think my empathy is moral instead of affective except in some rare situations. But I haven't been shown a lot of empathy either be it with my family or people in therapy. Let's not talk about strangers.

  52. Another Aspie chiming in here disagreeing that we can't have proper cognitive empathy, because I have it in spades and as others here have pointed out, it can get so intense it's overwhelming. But there's more in this presentation that bugs me, especially regarding separating empathy into two distinct types that are then charted into neat little categories. Let's look at what that means at face value:

    High cognitive, high affective: I see someone crying on the subway. I feel their pain. I walk over and ask, "Are you okay? Do you need help?"

    High cognitive, low affective: I see someone crying on the subway. I feel their pain. I leave. (Maybe I feel horrible for leaving, but I still leave.)

    Low cognitive, low affective: I see someone crying on the subway. I don't feel their pain. I leave. (And I don't feel bad about it at all.)

    Low cognitive, high affective: I see someone crying on the subway. I don't feel their pain. I walk over and ask, "Are you okay? Do you need help?"

    I find that last category a bit jarring. It feels like a logic error. What kind of leap does it take, to offer help to someone without first feeling a sense of shared pain? It reads more like a nice-societal impulse, a "doing the right thing" moment, but does that really count as empathy? I guess if these categories really exist, the last combination is the one I least understand, and I want to disbelieve it exists at all. I want to say that mimicking an empathy-like interaction isn't empathy; in the above example it's a good deed, yes, but not empathy.

    And I think that's where the categories fall apart, and draws attention to how the rest may be fundamentally flawed as well. I feel like the first two categories belong together, in that the second example could be a person who has had negative life experiences regarding helping others, or being offered help from others. So yeah, breaking something as complex as empathy into two categories with high/low variants just doesn't work, in my utterly biased opinion.

  53. -So THAT's why I want to brutally exterminate all psychopaths, while performing cruel-but-effective experiments on them… Cool.
    Knowledge can be so healing.

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