Empathy, Psychotherapy, Medicine

Following (Heinz) Kohut, empathy has been widely construed as an aspect, or at least a precondition, of talking therapy. For self psychologists and others who draw on Kohut’s insights, the ability to sympathize with the patient has given way to a higher-order ability to feel what the patient is feeling, to “feel with” the patient from the inside out.

 

And this process of empathic immersion, in turn, permits the therapist to “observe” the patient’s psychological interior and to comprehend the patient’s “complex mental states.” For Kohut, the core of psychoanalysis, indeed of depth-psychology in general, was employment of this “empathic mode of observation,”

 

by Paul E. Stepansky