A few days ago, Diane Rehm interviewed Daniel Goleman, prompted by the release of his new book, Focus: The Hidden Driver Of Excellence.
Ms. Rehm perked up when Mr. Goleman mentioned empathy. Here is what he said:
Well, empathy requires three things because there are three kinds of empathy, and actually each one of them draws on a different brain system. One kind of empathy is cognitive empathy, which means I understand how you think about things, how you perceive. You need that for a real dialogue, for true conversation. The other kind of empathy is emotional empathy, feeling with the person. And a third kind of empathy is empathic concern. When someone is in need, when someone is suffering, you feel for them. You want to help them. And I think that real health, particularly mental health is having all three.
And later in the hour, Mr. Goleman made this comment to a caller.We have a mechanism in the brain which will close down empathy so you can think clearly.