Building Healthy Realtionships: Empathy

Last Sunday, the NY Times reported on a study by Dr. Sara Konrath.  She found that empathy was markedly reduced in college students compared to twenty years ago, but in particular since 2000.  Of considerable interest to me were her definitions of four aspects of “interpersonal sensitivity”:

1.  “Empathic concern , or sympathy over the misfortunes of others”;

2.  “perspective taking, an intellectual capacity to imagine other people’s points of view”;

3.  “fantasy or people’s tendency to identify imaginatively with fictional characters in books or movies”;

4.  “and personal distress, which refers to the anguish one feels during others’ misfortunes.”

I plan to distribute these definitions to some of my clients in individual psychotherapy and couple counseling.  Then, we can use the definitions to help in building healthy relationships.

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