In humans and other primates the ability to decipher the meaning of nonverbal social cues such as facial expressions, physical gestures, and tone of voice is present very early in life and remains stable across the adult life span. Nonverbal social cues form the basis of an…
Empathy is defined by the author as the individual ability to be able to feel other’s pain or distress, cognitively take another’s perspective and be able to see self in other’s situation as well as the ability to mirror another’s physical gesture all in the aim of being in harmony with the other person in a social context. Simultaneously, the lack of the ability to decipher non-verbal cues is a feature associated with several developmental disorders and is also an essential characteristic of psychopathy. This paper aims to examine and analyze the relationship between empathy and psychopathy.
An empathic response is an emotional reaction in an observer to the affective state of another individual. Some have conceptualized empathy as a unitary process (Preston & de Waal, 2002) and have viewed empathy as a “super-ordinate category that includes all sub-classes of phenomena that share the same mechanism. This includes emotional contagion, sympathy, cognitive empathy, helping behavior, etc.” (p. 4). Blair (2005) argues that the term “empathy” encompasses different dissociable neurocognitive processes. He identifies three main divisions: cognitive, motor, and emotional empathy. The term affective empathy can be described as the ability to perceive accurately and understand emotionally how another person is feeling. According to Blair (2005) accurate perception of another’s feelings is sufficient to satisfy the definition of emotional empathy; however, accurate perception is a cognitive ability and one would need to also have a visceral experience of another’s emotion to label it as an affective experience. From the critical perspective, the construct of empathy is essential to understand the psychopathic personality disorder. The neurcognitive model of affect processing describes neural networks within the brain that are particularly concerned with deciphering the affective meaning of perceptual and auditory ...
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