Are you empathic?

There are a few types of empathy, wikipedia describes them as:

  • Affective empathy, also called emotional empathy: the capacity to respond with an appropriate emotion to another’s mental states.[45] Our ability to empathize emotionally is based on emotional contagion:[46] being affected by another’s emotional or arousal state.

  • Cognitive empathy: the capacity to understand another’s perspective or mental state. The terms cognitive empathy and theory of mind are often used synonymously, but due to a lack of studies comparing theory of mind with types of empathy, it is unclear whether these are equivalent.
    Although science has not yet agreed upon a precise definition of these constructs, there is consensus about this distinction.

Affective empathy can be subdivided into the following scales:

  • Empathic concern: sympathy and compassion for others in response to their suffering.

  • Personal distress: self-centered feelings of discomfort and anxiety in response to another’s suffering. There is no consensus regarding whether personal distress is a basic form of empathy or instead does not constitute empathy. There may be a developmental aspect to this subdivision. Infants respond to the distress of others by getting distressed themselves; only when they are 2 years old do they start to respond in other-oriented ways, trying to help, comfort and share.

Cognitive empathy can be subdivided into the following scales:

  • Perspective taking: the tendency to spontaneously adopt others’ psychological perspectives.
  • Fantasy: the tendency to identify with fictional characters.

Do you identify with this?

I have a serious issue with empathy, I care too much, to the point of not being able to let go of what’s unhealthy for fear of lacking others’ problems to think about and help. I’m working on this in therapy though, and I’m better. I’m now able to ignore but not when a person is in distress of some kind. Although I know it’s not my responsibility to help.

I searched schizophrenia and empathy and only found articles that said szs lack empathy, especially affective empathy. From the small sample we have here, I say a bit part of us is very empathic, but we’re a small sample none the less.

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Good post. I am working on something that concerns the relation of cognitive empathy the other way around - from neurotypicals to schizophrenics.

I might fit that pattern of lack of affective empathy slightly. Sometimes I might take others’ problems not quite serious enough and this might show in how I express myself. I am inclined to think it is because I might be a bit thick-skinned. But I suppose that only goes to show that affective empathy is quite intimately connected to cognitive empathy.

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Do you know about mirror neurons? I was thinking about this, just now before you posted. I’m thinking that the fact that we szs don’t care so much about neurotypicals’ problems because we have other types of issues to deal with, hence being easier to connect to other szs. The same goes for neurotypicals.

I read that szs have abnormal mirror neuron activity.

Don’t know too much about mirror neurons, but yes it is a fine candidate to ground empathic understanding on a neural basis. As the summary mentions, terms like theory of mind and empathic understanding are sometimes used interchangeably, but the way these are conceived of and conceptualized in different disciplines are rather different. Whereas ToM would require quite some computations/reasoning, empathic understanding is sometimes conceptualized as much more basic and smoothly, and disciplines that prefer such a way of conceptualizing understanding other people do enjoy that discorery of mirror neurons quite a bit. Very interesting that find of abnormal mirror neuron activity in sz.

I am not too sure about your explanation. The unintelligibility of sz to neurotypicals, even those who put effort and time into it, has been quite a big theme in psychiatry and the philosophy of psychiatry. You know that the DSM characterizes delusions as false beliefs. Has your psychiatrist ever made an effort to check wheter they are false? They don’t make sense, that’s how they are diagnosed. That nearly coincides with being cognitve empathically inaccessable.

:smile: There’s absolute certainty all around that I’m not God :slight_smile: But I get what you’re saying, I know that my pdoc is empathic, he can empathise with my issues with a nice and comforting ease. I’m not sure about other pdocs though, my relationship was never that long to any of them, one I’m certain he isn’t, other I think he is, the other one I’m not sure. But the medical field probably isn’t the best place to search for empathy, as it can be mutable through the passing of time and a certain amount of coldheartedness is needed to perform the job, being impartial to feelings for the patient. And mental health patients are too traumatized with the medical field and pharmaceuticals, here generalizing of course. There should be abundant empathy in the medical field though, idealy.

But maybe in the general population and how it relates to stigma, when you start talking to people about symptoms is much more easier to recieve an empathic response, than to say “schizophrenia” or “psychosis” right away.

I care and have helped many, I have missed the signs more times than I care to mention. not on purpose and have kicked myself later. Just the way my mind processes things. In the heat of the moment I am unable to process things fast enough while to many things going on around me. Also if to stressed I can fail.
That being said, when I do see others in distress, I try to do so without the “whats in it for Me” attitude. The only thing that makes me sad is there are so many that want nothing to do with you once you have helped them. I don’t get mad it is more like wth? This only really applies to people close to you, not one we cross paths with and help in the moment.

The other issues is empathy, when used for attention. The issue not really being there. We don’t live in a perfect world where we can believe everything a person says. All we can do is hope we did the right thing.


This is very interesting. Happened to me before too, I couldn’t put it in words. Yeah, it doens’t mean lack of empathy, we usually have the mind flowing with thoughts, it’s easier to get distracted and not help not on purpose.

Also think it’s possible to train the mind to help more though.

Another insteresting thing is how sometimes we want to help but do nothing. Like once I choked on a piece of bread and my mom started hitting me on the shoulder, I got really frustrated. She was just trying to help, but just did it wrong :slight_smile:

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The worst I did was on a project, It was a big warehouse clean-up, I had temps working for me. They sent a young fellow(18). He was acting strange. I should mention I had to send one back home as he showed up drunk which threw me off atm.
It was not till the end of the day I got to have a conversation with the young fellow alone. It became clear he had schizophrenia, My heart kinda dropped, I did not see it at first and Me having the same thing should have. I would have handled things differently had I seen it and helped him through the day more.

Yeah, that’s heartbreaking… Anybody can have it though, and not show so much. It’s alright not to recognize, your mind was on the job, not on the illness. Maybe in another setting you would’ve recognized sooner.

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I feel I’m more empathetic now than before the onset of the illness, but still lack a bit of it and commitment to help when faced with someone’s problems.

The first one because things keeps poping into my mind about what the other person might have done to not be in the current situation, or what is they can change in their view that would ameliorate their suffering, which doesn’t help to feel the pain of the other and is just judgemental ■■■■ that I’d rather live without but can’t seem to totally dismiss.

The second because I don’t really have a lot of confidence in my ability to solve problems that are more concrete than abstract, and that envolve dealing with people.

I also tend to sometimes take things on a lighter note, trying to find the funny part of it, which doesn’t really help to take the person’s problems seriously.

Still, I’m much more caring now than I was before the onset, my cynicism has faded immensely.

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That’s also interesting, so you feel you fit the profile of being okay in cognitive empathy but not so much in affective empathy?

this iz due to Grey matter loss in our brains during psychotic episode…
less the number of grey matter less empathy …!!!
try some psychical exercise along with mental exercise…!!!..
this surely going to lead to development of number of grey matter in our brains…
i was literally practicing active meditation but all of the sudden i missed pdoc appointment…
so my med are all finished up…i am now med less been couple of days …may be i will catch-up
my doc 2moro…moral just dont sit ideal do something new in life…more struggle more fresh we look…
thanks…lil off topic…!!! this iz for those who needs advice it is for me too…!!!

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Something like that, I can understand a point of view and reformulate mine to try to fit something new the other person isn’t perceiving in his way of seeing things, just so she can have more space to navigate in her head and not feel constrained in what is disturbing her atm, which ends up being the use of cognitive empathy for affective empathy, but when it comes to just sit down and cry together, because the story you just heard is something completely heartbreaking I stare with a blank face :smile:

My empathy is much better in both field anyways, before my first break I even used to think people were faking emotions, that no one could feel something so intensely (except for sadness maybe).

There is the empathy quotient but that is autism related. Not sure how those with psychosis/schizophrenia do.

Your Empathy Quotient score was 27 out of a possible 80.

Scores of 30 or less indicate a lack of empathy common in people with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.

Higher scores indicate greater levels of empathy.

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Maybe, I was thinking more in terms of the flat affect of negative symptoms.

Did you feel things intensely and thought that others couldn’t match, or you couldn’t relate because you didn’t feel the same way?

I used to volunteer with autistic kids. Once I had a fight with my boyfriend and I was crying. One of the autistic kids, deep autism, couldn’t even talk or relate other than the routinne he had with the teachers, he got up and dried my tears and gave me a smile.

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I got 29 out of 80!

Your Empathy Quotient score was 69 out of a possible 80.
Scores above 30 are generally not indicitive of an Autism Spectrum disorder.

Higher scores indicate greater levels of empathy.

I couldn’t relate, specially with happiness, which used to lead me to feel a kind of disgust for all the theatre (I thought was) going on.