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Empathy Meaning

Empathy is the ability to understand or feel the feelings of others who are in pain or unhappy. It enables you to feel things from others' points of view or by imagining yourself in their place and feeling their feelings.

When an individual feels empathy for another person, he has the same intensity, situations, or mental conditions as the other person has with whom he communicates. Although it is often applied to situations in which one is in pain or suffering, one can feel empathy by recognizing the emotions. The person who feels empathy aims to connect with others people on the inner emotional level possible. Connecting at this level can benefit mental health and maintain a healthy relationship between the two parties.

History of Empathy

The word empathy is the Greek phrase that means "passion from feelings or physical affection." It comes from the roots en, which means "in, at," and pathos which means "passion" or "suffering." The term was modified in the 1850s to translate to the German word Einfühlung ("feeling into") by Hermann Lotze and Robert Visher. Then in 1909, Edward B. Titchener changes Einfühlung into an English word as "empathy." Philosopher Martin Buber added a deeper texture to the concept of empathy by describing the concept of empathy as "I and Thou," with I and This as a form of irreverent disrespect.

Types of Empathy

  1. Affective empathy: Affective empathy is also known as emotional empathy. It requires the ability to understand other people's feelings or emotions and respond appropriately. For example, it can make a person feel concerned for the comfort and health of another person or can lead to feelings of personal distress.
  2. Somatic empathy: Somatic empathy is a physical response that acknowledges what a person is going through. It is based on mirror neuron responses in the somatic nervous system.
  3. Cognitive empathy: Cognitive empathy is the ability to know another person's mental state or perspective in response to a situation. It deals with what psychologists refer to as social cognition, perspective-taking, theory of mind, and what other people are thinking.

Advantages of Empathy

There are a few advantages of empathy:

  • Empathy allows people to make social connections with others by getting what people are imagining and feeling. People can respond adequately in social situations. It is essential for physical and mental health.
  • It helps a person to empathize with others to manage their feelings. In emotional regulation, it is most important because it allows a person to control their emotions and pressure without being overwhelming.
  • Empathy encourages healing behavior. It helps to capture the behavior when a person feels empathy for other people, and even other people are more likely to help a person when they feel empathy.

Obstructions to empathy

Blaming Victim: When a person has gone through a dreadful experience, people make the fault of criticizing the victim for their conditions. The victims are usually questioned that why they did not do anything to stop the crime.

Cognitive prejudices: People look at the world around them which is sometimes determined by several cognitive biases. For instance, people usually think that a person's failure is due to his or her shortcomings.

Dehumanization: Many people think that people who are different from them don't feel and behave the same way as they feel. This is also a barrier to empathy.

Signs of empathy

  • People usually speak about solutions for the problems of others.
  • A person helps others who are in pain.
  • A person likes to know that how the other person is feeling.
  • A person is a good listener and listens traditionally to what others say.
  • Advise the other people who have the needs.
  • A person feels compassions and cares deeply for others.
  • It becomes challenging to put limitations in your relationships with others.

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