Born for Love: Book/Blog on Empathy
February 15, 2010 10:29 AM   Subscribe

Born for Love: Book/Blog on Empathy
This is the place where self-promo is OK, right? My latest book, Born for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential--and Endangered, co written with leading child psychiatrist Bruce Perry, MD, PhD, (we also co-wrote The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog) will be coming out in April. We've started a new blog on Psychology Today's website to discuss empathy, why it is so important in everything from psychological depression to the Great Recession and how the brain's reliance on social contact to cope with stress makes empathetic child-rearing critical.

We'd love ideas for topics of interest and any thoughts Mefiite's have about getting our book baby out there in this scary new world! We're on twitter @bornforlove -- we'd love any creative thoughts you have about generating additional interest in the book and the subject that you'd like to share. All help greatly appreciated!
posted by Maias (13 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Moms love to ask questions about their kids. Bullies are a popular subject. An advice column for parents might work out well for you.
posted by misha at 3:29 PM on February 15, 2010

Thanks Misha... bullying is definitely a topic we will write about and framing it for parents is a good idea.
posted by Maias at 6:33 PM on February 15, 2010

I'm elated to have discovered your blog / book and will be following closely. I've only recently discovered "empathy" used as a human characteristic, rather than a temporary emotion.

Some topics I'm curious about:

Can empathy be encouraged or trained?

I surmise from experience that people who have traveled exhibit more empathy. Is my conclusion accurate? Are there any other correlations?

Are there particular strategies for fairly appealing to empathy (and is that different than ad misericordiam)?

The relation between the English word empathy and other languages (med-kansia in Swedish, etc), and the effect of the English connotations on human interactions. On this topic I'm mostly curious to learn a deeper, perhaps more scientific explanation than Milan Kundera's.

Empathy in communal or individualistic cultures.

Empathy and it's relation to human success / competition / sports (a question inspired by the Olympics and NBC's fairly nationalistic coverage).

Yep, I've got a lot of questions!
posted by Galen at 12:06 AM on February 16, 2010

It's out in April, but no cover art or synopsis on Amazon? I'd thing these would be the first place to start.

I'd also make sure you got a few copies into people's interested hands, and hope for a review or a rating or two.

Send Galen a copy and ask him to consider posting a review.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:09 AM on February 16, 2010

Thanks Galen, wow! Lots of those are covered in the book, but it's such a huge topic that we had to be somewhat superficial on some of them.

And yeah, the publisher is late with the artwork for Amazon, but we're working on it-- they're sending out galleys now.
posted by Maias at 7:36 AM on February 16, 2010

I often wish that I had learned the empathy and listening skills that I gained as a result of clinical training earlier. Could you include suggestions on ways to incorporate basic therapeutic skills into your daily interactions with others? Saying things like, "tell me more about that," "how do you feel about that?," or "it sounds like you're feeling ____" can all make people feel heard and respected.
posted by emilyd22222 at 11:40 AM on February 16, 2010

That's an interesting idea too, Emily-- I'll try to post on that as well. It's kind of amazing how much of a difference simply paying attention makes.
posted by Maias at 6:37 PM on February 16, 2010

Despite not really knowing a lot about the book, I voted for it because it jives with some personal observations from the past few years, about how really empathy seems to be on the outs. With the 4chan culture on one side and the Republican Party on the other, it seems like viewing things from the other guys' perspective is now perceived as something only losers do, and I hate that. (Although to be strictly honest, 4chan can be surprisingly empathetic some times, when news of some injustice strikes its collective noggin like a cosmic ray ionizing a heavy water atom.)
posted by JHarris at 11:27 AM on February 18, 2010

Are there any games, for children or otherwise, that teach empathy? Is empathy-building a side effect of other activities (corporate team-building activities, having a pet, raising children)?

Is it possible to really have empathy without experiencing personal suffering?

What's the right degree of empathy? In what circumstances is empathy detrimental?
posted by amtho at 1:41 PM on February 18, 2010

Thanks JHarris. Amtho, those are indeed some of the key questions we explore in the book and the blog.

The relationship beween empathy and suffering is fascinating and it's something we're definitely going to do more on: you need *love* more than suffering to experience empathy and be empathetic. In fact, some of the least empathetic people are amongst those who have suffered the most. There are many people who are empathetic, then suffer, then become more empathetic-- and this is also why among the people who have suffered a lot, there are those who are the most empathetic of all.

But if you've never had nurture and you suffer, you tend to become callous, not kind. This is why bullying bullies doesn't stop them bullying, it just switches them off to other victims.

And yes, too much of the "personal distress related to the suffering of others" aspect of empathy tends to produce avoidance rather than helping behavior-- so that's one situation where too much empathy is not good.
posted by Maias at 8:31 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Amazon has cover art now for the curious.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:58 AM on February 22, 2010

Yes, not your world's most exciting cover, but hopefully does the trick.
posted by Maias at 7:27 PM on February 22, 2010

Fyi, book is now available!!!
posted by Maias at 2:34 PM on April 9, 2010

« Older Kit Williams' Masquerade: The Full Story...   |   Group blog on coal and climate... Newer »

You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.