by Bill Cloke
So how do we know when we are being empathic? One way is to check it out. Asking for acknowledgement is one way to know what someone is feeling…
How can we define empathy? Heinz Kohut, one of the fathers of modern psychology describes it best when he defines empathy as “vicarious introspection.” Kohut describes empathy as an intellectual process and is distinguished from compassion and sympathy by our ability to determine what the other is about without the aid of emotion. He uses the example of how Hitler understood empathy when he placed sirens on his dive bombers because he knew what it would do to the people on the ground. As his troops came into town the people were so scared they immediately surrendered because he had already won the psychological battle.
It was Kohut who postulated that all psychological difficulties begin with empathic failures.