What is empathy?
The word "empathy" is of Greek origin, it comes from the word "empatheia", which means empathy. In modern psychology, empathy refers to the ability of a person at an unconscious level to understand the feelings and thoughts of the interlocutor, to empathize with him, to be able to see the situation from the perspective of another person, to perceive his emotional state.
For the first time, the definition of what empathy was introduced by the American psychologist Edward Titchner, by this concept, he designated internal activity based on an intuitive understanding of the emotional state of another person.
If we decompose this definition into components, then we can distinguish the following properties characteristic of a person with a high level of empathy:
- Intuitive knowledge of the feelings, thoughts, inner state of another person,
- Empathy and experience of similar emotions with the interlocutor's emotions,
- The ability to take someone else's point of view, try on the role of another person, actively search for a way out of a difficult situation from the position of another person,
- Emotional response is focused on the feelings of another person,
- In addition, empaths demonstrate the ability to perceive not only the feelings and thoughts of other people and empathize with them, but also a high degree of empathy for cinema and literary heroes. As a rule, the degree of empathy increases with the acquisition of life experience.
When empathy manifests
Diagnosis of empathy is possible already in early childhood. Some babies become sobbed when they hear the cry of an outside child on the street, actively responding to the emotional state of the mother and other household members. For example, it is capricious for no reason, if someone in a family is in a depressed state, and he may experience secondary signs of empathy, for example, rapid heartbeat, etc.
Whether such a feeling as empathy in psychology is unequivocal is not innate or acquired. However, according to the results of observation, empaths often grow up in families where a warm atmosphere reigns and where parents pay enough attention to how their own emotional state affects those around them, including their own children.
In psychology, there are many tests to determine the level of empathy that a particular person has.
- An increased level of empathy is characterized by a painfully pronounced feeling of empathy. A person simply loses the ability to separate his own problems and feelings from feelings and problems of people close to him to one degree or another. Psychologists call such empathy affective. Quite often empaths of the affective type possess excessive emotional vulnerability, impressionability, suffer from an unreasonable sense of guilt.
- High level of empathy. In this case, people are usually very sensitive to the needs and problems of others, they treat the others with genuine interest, easily find a common language with almost everyone, are delicate, try not to hurt anyone or offend, and at the same time easily tolerate criticism. The concept of empathy, in its positive sense, is determined by the peculiarities of people of this level.
- A normal level of empathy is typical for most people. As a rule, he is able to understand the thoughts and feelings of most people, but empathy is demonstrated only in relation to their loved ones.Own emotional manifestations are usually controlled, trying to “not reveal” to unfamiliar or unauthorized people.
- A low level of empathy is characterized by the fact that a person has difficulty in any contact with others. Anti-empath does not understand people, is not able to accept the position of another or look at the problem from another point of view. The actions of other people, based on emotions, often seem to him completely meaningless and not rational. Empathy is very low.
Empathy is not the result of intellectual effort. This phenomenon lies more in the field of intuition. Some psychologists believe that empathy is a congenital property, and weakens or increases only depending on a person’s personal life experience. But at the same time, there are special trainings that help learn how to more accurately perceive the state of another person and tune in to one emotional wave.
The process of self-knowledge plays an important role in the development of empathy, when a person learns to understand himself, control his own thoughts and feelings, and the thoughts and feelings of other people become clearer to him.
Psychologists also recommend copying other people's facial expressions, gestures, voice.It is believed that in this way you get into the role, for a moment you become the person you want to understand. After all, almost all the great drama actors have a high level of empathy.
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