Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals. — Neil Gaiman
It’s time to look beyond yourself with Lemonada’s empathy news roundup, brought to you by trying to survive 2019 with your soul intact! First things first: don’t forget to subscribe NOW to our podcasts coming out this fall that will all come from deeply empathetic places: Last Day, As Me and Good Kids.
Men-pathy: empathy, but for bad men
Do you know someone who tends to side with perpetrators of sexual harassment rather than their victims? Are they a man? Because that’s the kind of surprising conclusion of recently published research in the Psychology of Women Quarterly — some men feel empathy for other men who have been accused of sexual misconduct and are thus more likely to victim-blame.
“Men are accused of not being empathic enough—I would say they are as empathic as women, they just might have a different focus,” Renata Bongiorno, who led the research at the University of Exeter.
The good news here is that the research found that when these men were pointedly asked to consider the situation from the victim’s perspective, that they relented. So…that’s…good.
The planet needs you to start thinking about your great-great-grandchildren
In a Washington Post opinion piece about how little humanity is doing to counteract climate change, Stanford University psychology professor Jamil Zaki posits that humans are not wired to empathize with their descendents.
“Empathy is built on self-preservation. We watch out for our children because they carry our genes, for our tribe because it offers sex, safety and sustenance. Spreading our care across space and time runs counter to those ancient instincts. It’s difficult emotional work, and also necessary. We must try to evolve our emotional lives: away from the past and toward a future that needs us desperately. Doing so might help us to finally become the ancestors our descendants deserve.”
Hard stuff to think about, but absolutely necessary if you need some inspiration to eat less beef/use public transportation/give up your single-use plastics habit.
Teach your kid to be an upstander
If your kids aren’t back in school yet, they’ll be there soon, so it’s a good time to check in with them about bullying. Yes, obviously, you can tell them not to BE a bully, but what are you telling them about standing up for other kids who are being bullied? Are they an “upstander”?
“An ‘upstander’ is someone who recognizes when something is wrong and takes action. It’s a person who stands up for others and has the courage and empathy to make a difference.”
This great Huffington Post article offers advice and resources on how to raise a kid who stands up for others. And here’s a list of 35 children’s books that can help teach your kids empathy and kindness.
Compassionate doctors are better at treating chronic pain
In a story that brings together a couple of Lemonada’s interests, research from the University of North Texas Health Science Center found that empathic doctors lead to more satisfied patients. This is particularly important when the patient is suffering from chronic pain:
“Our results show that osteopathic physicians are less likely to prescribe opioids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for their patients with pain,” said Dr. John Licciardone, who conducted the study. “That patients of osteopathic physicians reported lower levels of pain catastrophizing and were more resilient and better able to cope with their pain may explain their lower levels of disability.”
Teaching medical students to show compassion toward their patients and to communicate effectively how to manage pain leads to much better outcomes for those patients. And may be one important way to reduce opioid abuse.
Until next time, keep your hearts open and your kindness flowing. Everything good is riding on it.