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Archive for the ‘Empathy’ Category

5000 Synapses in the Width of a Hair

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 by Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

How much change in the brain makes a difference in the mind?

That’s the issue raised by a very interesting comment regarding my previous blog, “The Brain in a Bucket.”

So I’ve taken the liberty of posting the comment here (hoping that’s OK in blog etiquette; still learning as I go), and then responding. Here it is:
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Dr. Hanson is a neuropsychologist in San Rafael, California. His practice includes adults, couples, families, and children, as well as psychological assessments of children and adults related to temperament, school performance, and educational and vocational planning. For more information, please visit his listing on the Therapist Directory

The Brain in a Bucket

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010 by Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

Have you ever seen a real brain?

I remember the first time I saw one, in a neuropsych class: the instructor put on rubber gloves to protect against the formaldehyde preservative, popped the lid off of a lab bucket, and then pulled out a brain.

It didn’t look like much, a nondescript waxy yellowish-white blob rather like a sculpted head of cauliflower. But the whole class went silent. We were looking at the real deal, ground zero for consciousness, headquarters for “me.” The person it came from – or, in a remarkable sense, the person who came from it – was of course dead. Would my brain, too, end up in a lab bucket? That thought gave me a creepy weird feeling completely unlike the feeling of having my heart or hand in a bucket some day – which gets right at the specialness of your brain.
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Dr. Hanson is a neuropsychologist in San Rafael, California. His practice includes adults, couples, families, and children, as well as psychological assessments of children and adults related to temperament, school performance, and educational and vocational planning. For more information, please visit his listing on the Therapist Directory

Empathy, Ethics and Morality

Monday, May 18th, 2009 by Mauri-Lynne Heller

Most of us would agree that balanced concern for self and others constitutes a measure of psychological maturity and health. While other, mostly mammalian, species share our capacity to live cooperatively and care for one another, only human beings are able to reflect upon this attribute consciously, to develop it and direct it purposefully. It is our singular ability to think about our own thoughts and behavior that sets us apart. We can learn to observe ourselves and the ways we impact others unlike any other animal.

By making intimate experiences meaningful, psychoanalytic therapy helps people exercise and develop this faculty. As self-awareness increases, symptoms are understood as imperfect solutions to emotional concerns and begin to lose their power. Behavioral flexibility increases.

Our very human capacity to feel and demonstrate concern for others is not innate. The evolution of concern and its cousin, empathy, represent major developmental achievements in the life and mind of an infant. Like the capacity to think, they do not simply appear spontaneously. Concern and empathy emerge from within the omnipresent parent-baby matrix that I’ve so often discussed.

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Mauri-Lynne Heller is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Psychoanalyst in private practice in Southern California. A graduate of Newport Psychoanalytic Institute and member of Newport Center for Psychoanalytic Studies, she is also an active member of the Writing and Research Task Force. A regular contributor to the online Health and Fitness Pages of the Orange Counter Register, her column "Inside Out" appears twice monthly. She is also a supervisor to clinical interns and a writing/editorial consultant. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory