Empathy is a relatively new word, only having come about in the 20th century. While most social work classes discuss empathy to some extent, few schools have incorporated the latest research into the curriculum. But Gerdes believes they soon will, because empathy is an important concept for both social workers and the general public.
“When you have an empathy deficit, like Hitler did, you have genocide,” Gerdes says. “When you have appropriate empathy, those things don’t happen because you’ll interfere with them happening. You’ll do everything you can, because it’s at the core of our human interaction that I try to understand you and you try to understand me.”