EMPATHY DEFICIT DISORDER
Dr. Jacqueline Ann Acho, Eva Vasiliades Basilion
Acho & Basilion (2018)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (07/19)
Webster’s dictionary defines empathy as “the action of understanding, being aware of, sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience” of someone else. In “Empathy Deficit Disorder: Healing from Our Mix-ups About Work, Home, and Sex,” authors Acho and Basilion relate that empathy by individuals in society are going by the wayside due to many factors which include but are not limited to the social network, quality versus quantity at work and home, poor leadership and lack of concern for others if it doesn’t serve our purpose.
Empathy is different from sympathy. Sympathy reflects understanding of another person’s situation – but viewed through your lens. Empathy is what you feel only when you can step outside of yourself and enter the internal world of the other person. There — but without abandoning or losing your perspective — you can experience the other’s emotions, conflicts, or aspirations from within the vantage point of that person’s.
The authors offer a wealth of thought-provoking information about the impact of Empathy Deficit Disorder and provide compelling suggestions for what to do about it. However, although the book appears to be designed for mainstream reading, written for anyone interested in improving their life in any of the three “mix-up” areas, it sometimes becomes tediously academic and burdened by statistics.
As a Psychologist, I am always hesitant to add another label to individuals who are often seeking a reason for their behavior, which in turn allows them to use this label to excuse their behavior. The bottom line is that we, as individuals, have become more selfish. Empathy is what holds societies together, and if we choose to ignore it, we as a society will continue to self-destruct.
I found the chapter on The Corporate Psychopath to be interesting. I’m not sure I would use that term, maybe self-centered or a bully might define those that take credit for what others have done or only have their goals in mind. Large corporations too, often make decisions as if lives don’t matter now or in the future. We see this in giving themselves large bonuses or raises while paying those who do the work minimal wage. As a result, workers are checking out emotionally, if not physically. While providing “empathy” training is good, it lasts for a short time, just like when many of us had sexual harassment training.
Overall, “Empathy Deficit Disorder” by Dr. Jacqueline Ann Acho and Eva Vasiliades Basilion is an interesting read that provides well-researched information. The authors provide excellent examples, past research and possible solutions as to what can be done. I recommend this read for all who are interested in discovering how we got this way and how we, as individuals, can make changes.