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(Fagiano 2019)


Relational Empathy
Mark Fagiano
University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, 
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ABSTRACT

This work explains the practical benefits of a new and pluralistic notion of empathy that I call relational empathy. Rather than defining empathy as a thing or an activity, as most scholars have done, I define empathy as a set of three conceptually distinct though experientially overlapping relations: the relations of feeling into, feeling with, and feeling for. 

I then turn to historical discourses about empathy from the late 1700s to the present to demonstrate how different conceptualizations and definitions of empathy during this time span are descriptions of one, two or all three of these relations. I then explain how relational empathy has the potential both to dissolve mere verbal disputes about what empathy is and to shift our attention away from narrowly conceived theories about the ‘nature’ of empathy and toward more practical concerns. 

Finally, I explain how my theory of relational empathy can help to resolve a number of problems throughout the healthcare system.




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