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Am I empathic enough?

Neuropsychologist Chris Frith has identified three levels of empathy: Basic Neural Empathy, At the second stage, At the highest level.

Photo: Natalia Deriabina

  1. Basic Neural Empathy is exhibited as "emotional contagion." The person experiences the emotions of others, but is unconsciously aware of it and does not differentiate between their own emotions and others.'

  2. At the second stage of empathic development, the person can recognize others' emotions and realizes that they do not belong to themselves. However, "emotional contagion" still occurs, although to a lesser extent.

  3. At the highest level of empathy development, the person consciously recognizes and understands others' emotions, but does not experience them.

Now let's consider the role of empathy in human life and why it is important.

The role of empathy in human life

According to a widely accepted hypothesis, mirror neurons evolved in living organisms to speed up the adaptation process of newborns. This allowed them to assess the environment and pick up on the attitudes of more experienced relatives.

Empathy plays a crucial role in communication, as it is a key component of emotional intelligence and forms the core of interpersonal communication. Developed empathy is essential for every person who lives in society.

For some people, the level of empathy is especially important due to their profession. For example, it is an essential condition for psychotherapy, as only an empathic understanding can establish a trusting relationship between the therapist and client and ensure the effectiveness of treatment. Other professions that require empathy include teachers, medical workers, police officers, and emergency responders.

However, for other professions that involve some levels of interaction with people, such as sales, service, and management, empathy is just a factor contributing to success. Let us examine people with different levels of empathy:

Low-level of Empathy People with underdeveloped empathy struggle with establishing, maintaining, and developing relationships with others. They have difficulty understanding their own emotions and those of others and cannot connect them with their actions and thoughts. In most cases, these individuals have trouble finding common ground with those around them and may display aloof or aggressive behavior. They tend to be individualistic and may have a predominance of rationality in their thinking.

The average level of Empathy A person with an average level of empathy can control, express and understand their own emotions and try to avoid causing harm to others. However, they may judge others based on the basis of their actions and words, rather than their emotions. Building relationships is not a significant challenge, but the depth of these relationships is often lacking.

A high level of Empathy A person with a high level of empathy can detect even the smallest emotional cues in others. They can understand and find a unique approach to any person. They do not judge others and possess natural altruism and benevolence. Such individuals often become psychologists, doctors, teachers, or choose another helping profession.

It is important to note that, according to neuropsychologist Chris Frith, a high level of empathy does not necessarily mean an absence of "emotional contagion." Therefore, when interpreting the results of an empathy test, be sure to consider this factor.


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