An Understanding of Empathy Term Paper by scribbler

An Understanding of Empathy
A review of the literature on the concept of empathy.
# 152996 | 947 words | 3 sources | APA | 2013 | US
Published on May 01, 2013 in Psychology (General)

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The paper briefly reviews the literature on the concept of empathy through the filter of the working poor and as it applies to oppression, and highlights the primary idea that it is truly difficult to empathize with another individual. The paper explains that although individuals may feel like they understand where another person is coming from, no one can truly empathize with another person or believe that they have had a similar enough experience, because each person's life is truly unique. The paper notes, however, that near empathy can be developed by learning and experiencing similar life events, as well as learning about the political, social and economic barriers that affect the individual.

The Different Understandings of Empathy
Thoughts on the Readings

From the Paper:

"Segal (2007) explores the concept of empathy through the filter of the working poor, and the seeming dichotomy of the American tenet that poverty can be overcome by an individual's work ethics. If this is true, how can there be working poor? Segal surmises that this confusion comes from the general public's inability to relate to the working poor. This leads to a lack of understanding on the topic, and therefore, reduced instances of empathy. This lack of empathy, Segal continues, is facilitated by lack of personal experience with welfare, which results in different perceptions regarding how it affects those who need it.
"Different experiences and conflicting beliefs both reduce an individual's ability to empathize. In addition, in the instance of the working poor and the subject of welfare, conflicting sentiments, primarily about the amount of government responsibility should be applied to an individual's life, also negatively affects empathy. Segal (2007) further explains the difference between compassion and empathy, by using the example of Barbara Bush's comments after touring Hurricane Katrina relief centers. The former First Lady made a statement that the hurricane was positively affecting the victims, because so many had been underprivileged before the hurricane. Although Mrs. Bush had compassion for the victims, she didn't empathize with the fact that these were people who had just lost all of their worldly possessions."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Allan, J., Pease, B., & Briskman, L. (2003). Critical social work: an introduction to theories and practices. St. Leonards, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin.
  • Segal, E. (Jul-Sep 2007). Social empathy: A tool to address the contradiction of working but still poor. Families in Society. 88(3). p. 333-337.
  • Shera, W. (2003). Reconceptualizing empathy for anti-oppressive, culturally competent practice. Emerging perspectives on anti-oppressive practice (pp. 247-264). Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press.

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APA Format

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MLA Format

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