The Case for Empathy

Elizabeth Segal: Sensing and appreciating but not ourselves feeling another person’s emotions is a tough balancing act. It requires the ability to relate to the other, but without getting caught up in another person’s feelings or experiences. It is not easy to process strong feelings in an even manner. We share another person’s emotions but need to be sure not to get overwhelmed or swept away. These are all learned skills that take time and guidance to fully develop. These skills help us to understand interpersonal empathy, or the experiences between individuals. Empathy can also be used to understand social situations and even political events. This is social empathy, using perspective-taking abilities to understand different groups and cultures. Social empathy adds a larger dimension to applying empathy. It requires that people understand in some basic way historical events and their consequences for others. It means trying to understand people we might not personally know, and experiences we have not had.

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