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(Breithaupt 2019)

The Dark Sides of Empathy
Fritz Breithaupt
Many consider empathy to be the basis of moral action. However, the ability to empathize with others is also a prerequisite for deliberate acts of humiliation and cruelty. In The Dark Sides of Empathy, Fritz Breithaupt contends that people often commit atrocities not out of a failure of empathy but rather as a direct consequence of over-identification and a desire to increase empathy. Even well-meaning compassion can have many unintended consequences, such as intensifying conflicts or exploiting others.

Does Empathy Have A Dark Side?
April 12, 2019
" according to author Fritz Breithaupt. "Sometimes we commit atrocities not out of a failure of empathy but rather as a direct consequence of successful, even overly successful, empathy," he writes in his forthcoming book The Dark Sides of Empathy. Breithaupt, who directs the Experimental Humanities Lab at Indiana University, argues that empathy is a morally ambiguous capacity, one that can lead us astray if we don't understand its many sides."

  1. "our ability to identify with others' feelings can also fuel polarization, spark violence and motivate dysfunctional behavior in relationships, like helicopter parenting."
  2. "Empathy might be a little bit more selfish"
  3. "vampiristic empathy."  "people want to manipulate the people they empathize with so that they can, through them, experience the world in such a way that they really enjoy it."
  4. "empathy can actually make us more polarized instead of bringing us together"  "empathy is exactly that thing that leads to the extremes, that polarizes people "
  5. "[Empathizers] may overextend themselves."
  6. medical doctors suffer from "empathy burnout"

A Response
  • Empathy is seen from the narrow individualistic point of view.

There’s No Dark Side to Empathy, Just People with Dark Sides
Elizabeth A. Segal,
Do not confuse empathy with reading others to take advantage or gain from them.'
"Books with provocative titles such as The Dark Sides of Empathy and Against Empathy demand that we ask ourselves if empathy is good and worth our time.1 I am up for the discussion, as I believe deeper analysis of empathy can only help us to better understand it"