The most beautiful beings listen deeply and are powerful with their vulnerabilities. In face, we find that the greatest gift a therapist can give a patient is their vulnerability because when the gift is given it more easily opens the doors to the patients vulnerabilities. This goes equally for personal intimate relationships of the heart.
The goal of Mindless Psychology is to revolutionize the fields of psychology and medicine by helping make the professionals who practice these healing arts more beautiful, which means increase their capacity for empathy. Empathy is clearly in the realm of the heart whereas the mind is into separation and continual thinking. Empathy holds even more value than happiness because it runs in deep rich fields.
Simon Baron-Cohen defines empathy in two parts—as the drive to identify another person’s thoughts and feelings, and the drive to respond appropriately to those thoughts and feelings. It is also, he says, one of the most valuable resources in our world—one which is currently woefully underused. “We all have degrees of empathy… but perhaps we are not using it to its full potential,” he explains. He says erosion of empathy is an important global issue that affects the health of communities, be they small ones like families, or big ones like nations.
Baron-Cohen also sets out an “empathy spectrum” ranging from zero to six degrees of empathy, and an “empathy quotient” test, whose score puts people on various points along that spectrum. Drawing a classic bell curve on a graph, Baron-Cohen says that thankfully the vast majority of humans are in the middle of the bell curve spectrum, with a few particularly attuned and highly empathetic people at the top end. Psychopaths, narcissists, and people with borderline personality disorder sit at the bottom end of the scale—these people have “zero degrees of empathy.”
Zero Degrees of Empathy: A New Theory of Human Cruelty is Baron-Cohen’s third book exposes the lack of empathy that facilitates the objectification of others, dehumanization and cruelty. The more heart we have the more empathy and the less we will treat others as separate objects we cannot feel for. It is our hearts that are motivated to identify with another person’s thoughts and feelings, and it is empathy that drives us to respond appropriately to those thoughts and feelings in others.
Baron-Cohen calls for a kind of re-branding of evil to offer a more scientific explanation for why people kill and torture, or have such great difficulty understanding the feelings of others. His proposal is that evil should be understood as a lack of empathy — a condition he argues can be measured and monitored and is susceptible to education and treatment. And that is exactly what a great part of this course is about; growing our empathy, expanding our hearts and quieting the flow of thoughts so more of our feelings can flow.
Empathy is about two people — two people meeting,
getting to know each other and tuning in
to what the other person is thinking and feeling.
Clearly empathy is the ability to understand and share the thoughts or feelings of another. Psychologists Daniel Goleman and Paul Ekman break down the concept of empathy into the following three categories.
1 – Cognitive empathy is the ability to understand how a person feels and what they might be thinking. Cognitive empathy makes us better communicators, because it helps us relay information in a way that best reaches the other person.
2 – Emotional empathy (also known as affective empathy) is the ability to share the feelings of another person. Some have described it as “your pain in my heart.” This type of empathy helps you build emotional connections with others.
3 – Compassionate empathy (also known as empathic concern) goes beyond simply understanding others and sharing their feelings: it actually moves us to take action, to help however we can.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky said “All the Utopias will come to pass only when we grow wings and all people are converted into angels.” And how do we become angels? Well certainly the first things angels know something about is listening. Angels have big hearts and act like they do.
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“Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature and to found that edifice on its un-avenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth,” asked Dostoyevsky.
When we separate from the pain of one person we separate from the pain of all people, and we separate from our hearts that feels the pain. We cannot separate from our brothers and ignore their suffering and be really happy or at peace with our selves. We cannot build a civilization that lasts that depends on the suffering of other people.
Until you have become really, in actual fact, as a
brother to everyone, brotherhood will not come to pass.
What Dostoyevsky is proposing here is a world shattering, world transforming all consuming love of the whole. Listening Psychology holds the key to developing a race of compassionate empathetic beings that will not let psychopathic men and woman run the world. There is no political or economic system that will bring justice and correct decision making to humanity unless we can learn how to create angels and saints on a regular basis.
Mindless Psychology is calling all of us to go down into our own hearts and get in touch with more feelings thereby increasing our capacity for love and empathy. For the sake of our health, our love life, and for the sake of our race consciousness we need to shift away from the mind and drop deeply into the heart center that cares more.
The heart measures and represents our capacity for love.
That capacity grows automatically as we learn to communicate
and listen from deeper levels of being.
The more we communicate and share the less separate we feel.
The effort to recognize and speak the truth
is the greatest work that any of us can do.
A key element of this work is Communication and Listening Psychology. Most people are not aware how much communication and listening are associated with love. Communication and listening to others with empathy, understanding, and compassion is the path of the heart. Communication is intrinsic to all human activities including the process of education and learning. Nothing shows off the quality of our love and intelligence than our listening.
The truth is that the more we communicate and listen the better we will feel in our hearts. Communication Psychology is at the frontier of human awareness and interpersonal relationship for it recognizes the most powerful tool we have for healing our minds, bodies and spirits. Communication Psychology is really a mixture of psychology and spirituality because our capacity for love grows automatically as we learn to communicate and listen from deeper levels of being.
Wherever you find a poverty of communication you
will find a poverty of love, and wherever you find
a poverty of loveyou will find a poverty of deep listening.
From the point of the pure heart, that is not separate from itself and what it feels, we can see almost all of human life as manifesting different degrees of uncaring, rejection, and denial of feelings. At one end of the spectrum we have the pure heart that cares totally and at the other, the sociopath and psychopaths who have clearly lost all capacity to feel, all capacity for empathy. And the rest of us are somewhere in-between.
In a fast society slow emotions become extinct and this casts a shadow across the landscape of our souls. Sushil Yadav of Delhi, India says that a fast large society cannot feel pain, remorse or empathy and this lack is seen in cruel behaviors, in cruelty towards others, and toward the environment in general. In his work Yadav offers the following equation: Empathy = Sadness + Worry (for the suffering of others).
He says that empathy activates the same parts of the brain (neural circuits) that are activated by sadness and worry. He sees that sadness and worry (for the suffering of others) are emotions of the highest order. But he states that in societies where visual and verbal speeds are accelerated it is much more difficult to experience the remorse and empathy of our heart and beings.
When emotions are too subdued and muted,
they create a coldness of being, dullness a distance,
a lack of caring for what is really important in life.
Dan Goleman states this when he says, “A psychological fault line is common to rapists, child molesters, and many perpetrators of family violence alike: they are incapable of empathy. This inability to feel their victims pain allows then to tell themselves lies that encourage their crime.”