Why it hurts to see others suffer: pain and empathy linked in the brain

Exploring empathy further

This is therefore consistent with the theory that empathy for pain occurs as a result of simulating another person’s feelings within one’s own brain. It also provides further evidence that the feelings of pain and pain empathy occur as a result of similar processes within the brain.

Further, patients who have damage and/or disease in the parts of the brain that fall within this network of pain-processing areas, often experience a reduction in ability to feel empathy for pain. This suggests that the ability to feel pain is necessary in order to experience empathy for pain.

Rebecca S. Dewey

Research Fellow in Neuroimaging, University of Nottingham