| Robert: "If there is going to be rational discussion on this, I suggest some terms be defined - empathy, transference, and so forth - nature of, causes, validity issues, and so forth - then can begin further discussion..."|
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Empathy is the experiential recognizing and understanding of the states of mind, including beliefs, desires and particularly emotions of others without injecting your own. This concept is often characterized as the ability to "put oneself into another's shoes", or experiencing for oneself the outlook or emotions of another being within oneself. In this sense it might be described as a sort of emotional resonance. (Also see the related concept theory of mind.)
However, this metaphor is ambiguous concerning whether one imagines actually "being" the other person, with all their beliefs and character traits, or simply being in their situation (such as being the prime minister).
One must be careful not to confuse empathy with either sympathy, emotional contagion or mind reading. Sympathy is the feeling of compassion for another, the wish to see them better or happier, often described as "feeling sorry" for someone. Emotional contagion is when a person (especially a child or a person in a mob) identifies with strong emotions others are showing and becomes subject to the same emotions themselves. Mind reading is a controversial paranormal phenomenon and differs in that empathy is based (so far as we presently know) not upon the paranormal but upon sophisticated processing of what is seen and heard in the usual way.