Sat, Sep 25

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Is sympathy Is better than empathy?

Is sympathy Is better than empathy? Yes! Neuroscience explains why.

People generally understand that empathy means the ability to feel what another person is feeling. Empathic people can deliberately feel the emotional pain of others more intensely. But if one feels another’s pain too intensely it can be debilitating. This can limit our emotional resources.

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Time & Location

Sep 25, 2021, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM EDT

Is sympathy Is better than empathy?

About the Event

People generally understand that empathy means the ability to feel what another person is feeling. Empathic people can deliberately feel the emotional pain of others more intensely. But if one feels another’s pain too intensely it can ​​be debilitating. This can limit our emotional resources and helpflness.

In 2016, Neuroscientists Dr. Singer and Klimecki led a study (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25247366/ ) that compared these two emotional states. Their research revealed fascinating differences in how the brain reacts to the two types of emotions. Two groups we trained separately in empathy or sympathy skills.

First, in the empathy trained group, activation of the insula (linked to emotion and self-awareness) and the anterior cingulate cortex (linked to emotion and consciousness) which are also involved in experiencing pain which were observed. In the sympathetic group, they saw the activation of the ventral striatum and medial orbitofrontal cortex (connected to learning and reward in decision-making and the reward system in general).

As a result, of the training, the two groups had very different emotional experiences. Their attitude toward taking behavioral action was surprisingly contrasted. The empathy-trained group found ‘feeling’ empathy to be upsetting. The sympathetic trained group, on the other hand, created positivity in their own brains and the brains of their group members. This group felt kindness and compassion and were more eager to help others than those in the empathy group.

Dr. Singer and Klimecki continue to explain that self-distinction was not as clearly observed in the first group. This is the ability to distinguish between their own emotions, and those of others. The lack of sympathy reduced compassion and increased emotional contagion. In so doing this caused neurological distress, which limits the brain’s ability to trigger action that helps others.

Having sympathy (or ‘compassion’ as the Buddhists call it), is a cognitive understanding of how another person is feeling. And it is argued that sympathy is better for our own well-being and also for those in need. One doesn’t get overwhelmed in how others feel we rather have cognitive resources to be helpful. Buddhism teaches the practice of karuna, which is the idea of sharing in others suffering, or having sincere compassion, sympathy or concern. Sympathy is when we essentially feel for another person and do not get lost in feeling their emotional pain.

Is sympathy Is better than Empathy? Singer and Klimecki seem to think so. But this only true if sympathy is directly of neuropsychological states compassion. Read this Harvard article to learn more:  What the Dalai Lama Taught Daniel Goleman About Emotional Intelligence and let me know your thoughts.  https://hbr.org/2015/05/what-the-dalai-lama-taught-daniel-goleman-about-emotional-intelligence