Empathy erosion: The unbearable lightness of killing

“Empathy erosion” is used to explain how people are capable of causing extreme hurt to one another.

He defines empathy as a double-minded focus of attention, with cognitive and emotional components, and lack of empathy as a state of focus on the self only. The cognitive component regards the recognition what another person is going through, and the emotional component reflects the ability to respond with an appropriate emotion.

Empathy erosion can be transient and reversible or permanent (as in the case of some personality disorders, for instance) and it can arise through various factors such as corrosive emotions, beliefs (for example that one ethnic group is superior to another), tendency to conform. Baron-Cohen postulates that in the condition of empathy erosion, the empathy circuit in the brain functions abnormally.