What I love most about Dr. Singer, however, is that it would have been the easiest thing to disappear down the hole of academic research on these topics, but instead she chose a very different path.
She took an interest in the neural, psychological and philosophical differences between Empathy and Compassion, with an eye to using her biological insights into both to help people craft programs and environments that are more nurturing of compassion as our default response to each other’s misery.
As Dr. Singer put it …
“Empathy is quite generally the ability
to share feelings with others:…”
As Dr. Singer put it in an interview with Psychologie Heute,
“Empathy is quite generally the ability to share feelings with others: when you, for example, are hurt, or worried, or afraid, and I am standing there, then I as an empathetic human experience negative feelings as well. Such affective resonance is practically universal: pretty much everybody does it…
Compassion, on the other hand, is a reaction to another’s suffering from an entirely different world. We can verify this through brain physiology: when somebody is in pain, a compassionate reaction does not replicate the painful state itself, but rather produces feelings of concern and warmth as well as a motivation to help the sufferer.”