Interpersonal Neurobiology: What is Empathy?

There’s something about the prefix ‘em’ that inspires interdependence, synergy, and mutuality. In fact, certain members in the family of words containing it–words like embody, embed, empower and our focal word empathy–certainly evoke the cosmic phenomena of cohesion, energy transfer, and information exchange.

Initially, I had defined the word empathy as “the ability to relate to another human being, drawing from a pool of collective memories and experiences” however my immersion in the intellectual discourse afforded by Daniel Siegel’s Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology (2012) and Barbara Rogoff’s The Cultural Nature of Human Development (2003) inspired an immediate revision to something far more comprehensive in its ontological latitude.

Paul Kiritsis