Listening to Pain: On the Bright Side: We are Wired for Empathy | Psychology Today

Is there a spectrum of empathy wiring in human beings, from people with high degrees (Mother Theresa) to those where it may be missing altogether (Hitler)? Is part of the tendency to look away from pain self-protective – if seeing pain puts us into a painful state, then looking away (or pretending it doesn’t exist) might be a way of relieving it?


The discovery of mirror neurons generates as many questions as it provides answers. But the fact is those neurons are likely present in all of us. So if we acknowledge that, along with the fact that our restless minds tend to race ahead, perhaps we can make a conscious effort to pull back the reins, force ourselves to return to the suffering at hand, and thereby re-inforce our instinctual, empathetic responses.


by David Biro, M.D., Ph.D.