Barriers to Giving empathy Essay
Barriers to Giving empathy
Although empathy is a powerful tool for communicating effectively, it is not used by all the clinicians. An informal survey about the use of empathy indicated that some people have concerns about the use of empathy. The key concerns that are noted are: ? There is not enough time for empathy based conversations ? It is not relevant and too busy focussing on the acute medical problem ? Giving empathy is emotionally exhausting ? It will open the Pandora’s box ? Have not had enough training on empathetic communication?
Concerned that if all the empathy is used at work, there will not be anything left for the family. Despite these concerns, empathy has been found to increase the efficiency of information gathering. Unlike sympathy, empathy does not require emotional effort on the part of the clinician and hence is not emotionally exhaustive. The time required for empathy based conversation is low, but helps in enhancing the relationship and also builds rapport with the patient.
It is also found that when the opportunities of empathy are missed, the number of visits and the frequency increases. This increases the frustration on the part of the patient as well as the physician. In such cases empathy can help in faster and cost-effective way of diagnosing and implementing adequate treatment. (Hardee, 2003) Bullying and Empathy The traditional stereotype of bullies describes the children who bully as not academically bright, anxious, insecure and likely to use violence to resolve conflicts as this is the only mechanism available with them (Olweus, 1993).
In addition, more deficiencies have been identified in their ability for information processing related to social aspects as well as social problem-solving. Sutton, Smith and Swettenham pointed out that some of the bullies at least are socially competent and do not possess the deficiencies that traditional stereotype describes. Also some of them were found to have superior skills. They were found to have good levels of social intelligence and even were able to interpret and understand the mental states of others. However they are found to use their skills for their personal advantages.
It was found that it is not social skills or deficiencies in understanding social information that bullies lack but the fact that they are low in their empathic skills. Their ability to appreciate the emotional consequences of their behaviours on other people’s emotions and feelings and understand it from their point of view. Researchers such as Bjorkqvist and Randall observed that the bullies are characterised by a kind of cognition who fail to understand other’s feelings. They also observed that if a victim displays distress, this contributes to the reinforcement of bully’s behaviour.
According to Sutton et al who studied about bully behaviour, it was observed that bullies are skilled manipulators who understand other’s emotions, but they do not share them nor act to provide comfort to the victims. Endersen and Olweus studied the relationship between empathic responsiveness of children and bullying behaviour. The researchers found that there is a negative weak relation between empathy and bullying with a Pearson correlation coefficient of -0. 15. A much larger negative correlation was found between empathy and positive attitudes of bullying with coefficient of -0. 4.
Researchers Warden and Mackinnon compared empathic responsiveness of peer-nominated bullies, victims and prosocial children. This research found that prosocial children were much more empathic when compared to the bullies. It was also found that the victim group did not differ significantly when compared to other children when measured on empathy levels. (Gini, G et al, 2006) Dautenhahn et al (2003) looked into the relationship between empathy and bullying behaviour. It assumes that unlike the stereotype definition of bullies, they have well developed social intelligence and are good mind readers.
This is explained by the fact that they an easily understand and predict the consequences of their actions. This makes them leaders who control other children. Sutten et al (199) indicates that although the bullies are not budding psychopaths, they have been reported to having a higher level of psychoticism than victims and controls. It also suggests that unlike the traditional stereotype, victims are poor mind readers. They are found to have deficits in the theory of mind that prevents them from successfully predicting and dealing with a bully’s manipulations.
Dautenhahn et al suggests that bullies process both automatic as well as controlled empathy. This deviates from the theory that bullies are good mind readers and socially intelligent for manipulating others. This means that the bullies have psychopath like tendencies. However studies have indicated that there is no evidence to link childhood bullies automatically developing into psychopaths later in life. Hence this suggestion of automatic and controlled empathy tries to explain this behaviour. It has to be noted here that the controlled empathy is different from people with autism as well as psychopaths.
Thus a bully might be able to perfectly recognise and understand the suffering of his bully victim. The emotion processing of the bully could provide him or her interpretation, in this case the pain suffered by the victim. Through the controlled empathy, automatic empathic responses may be triggered in the memory of the bully which for example reminds the bully of an instance that he or she would have felt during pain. However the cognitive, goal-directed processes of the controlled empathy would work towards non-empathy.
Figure 5: Relationship between empathy and bullying behaviour (Dautenhahn, et al, 2003) The goal-oriented processes play an important role for all people in empathy. However the difference is that, in bullies, the tendency to display the controlled empathy is more pronounced according the research. The research suggests that although the bullies possess the capacity of empathy, bullying behaviour is caused by an overemphasis of goal-oriented processes. The goals that people pursue in controlled empathy can shape emotional, automatic responses either towards empathy or non-empathy.
According to this theory, the bullies have unimpaired empathic skills in terms of the processes that trigger automatic empathy. Hence the bullies are able to express empathy in other contexts, for example, outside schools. This goal-oriented empathising may be a response of the individual when children are involved in strong competition for resources such as competition for attention, affection of parents, caregivers, competition with siblings or peers of competition for elementary resources such as food in extreme situations.
These contexts according to the research can facilitate bullying behaviour. This infers that changing of the family of the other environmental conditions would influence the behaviour of the bullies. Research by Pellegrini and Bartini (2001) provide evidence that bullying may be related to critical life experiences and personal goals such as negotiation of dominance when moving to a new school and new peer relationships.
Further researches indicated that bullying and aggression initially increased with the transition to a new school and then declined ones the peer hierarchies had been re-defined. It has also been found that children who are very aggressive to their siblings are likely to have problems with the peers outside the family and that the personal characteristics of the bullies appear to be more stable across social situations . Bowers et al (1992, 1994) found that bullies had more negative relationships with their siblings who they viewed as more powerful than themselves.
This finding is significant as this leads to the explanation that an educational or cultural environment that focuses on problem-solving and goal-oriented behaviour will facilitate the occurrences of bullies as it supports their tendency toward goal oriented empathic understanding. This means that an environment that raises awareness of bullying and the plight of victims should help bullies to refine their bullying behaviour by enhancing their understanding of how bad they can make the victim feel and show them strategies and counter strategies that they might use in further instances of bullying.
Subject: Warden and Mackinnon,
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 5 June 2017
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