The Enduring Presence of Heinz Kohut: Empathy and Its Vicissitudes

ArticleinJournal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 59(2):289-312 · April 2011with24 Reads
DOI: 10.1177/0003065111406269 · Source: PubMed
This paper expands upon and further develops the centrality of empathy in psychoanalysis as offered by Heinz Kohut. Using clinical examples, it differentiates sustained empathy as the distinctive component of psychoanalysis, and it demonstrates some of the difficulties in determining the boundaries of empathy in the practice of psychoanalysis. A further distinction is from mind reading, a purely cognitive exercise, as is intuition (Carruthers 2009). To pursue a psychoanalytic perception of empathy one must confront its limitations and go beyond the somewhat simplistic claim of its unquestioned therapeutic effect. Empathy is more than a cognitive act, and as sustained over time it can be difficult to achieve, can be misunderstood, and can at times have no therapeutic effect.
    • "ning all our themes was the need for greater levels of systemic empathy that could enable services to meet the needs of vulnerable and marginalized populations. Empathy is defined as the natural capacity to share, appreciate, and respond to the affective states of others and has long been considered to have unique therapeutic value (Goldberg 2011). Goldberg (2011) described two types of empathy: one that underpins instaneous and short-lived interactions (e.g., helping someone in immediate need) and another that is implicated in sustained interactions (i.e., the lengthy immersion of one person in another's psychosocial state). The former may guide short consultations within the health system, wher"
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective: To increase Aboriginal participation in mainstream health services, it is necessary to understand the factors that influence health service usage. This knowledge can contribute to the development of culturally appropriate health services that respect Aboriginal ways of being. Design: We used a community-based participatory approach to examine the reasons for underutilization of health services by Aboriginal Australians. Results: Based on three focus groups and 18 interviews with Aboriginal health professionals, leaders, and community members in rural, regional, and urban settings, we identified five factors that influenced usage, including (1) negative historical experiences, (2) cultural incompetence, (3) inappropriate communication, (4) a collective approach to health, and (5) a more holistic approach to health. Conclusion: Given that these factors have shaped negative Aboriginal responses to health interventions, they are likely to be principles by which more appropriate solutions are generated. Although intuitively sensible and well known, these principles remain poorly understood by non-Aboriginal health systems and even less well implemented. We have conceptualized these principles as the foundation of an empathic health system. Without empathy, health systems in Australia, and internationally, will continue to face the challenge of building effective services to improve the state of health for all minority populations.
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  • Article · Dec 2011
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the present study we examined psychometric properties of the Serbian translation of the Empathy Quotient scale (S-EQ). The translated version of the EQ was applied on a sample of 694 high-school students. A sub-sample consisting of 375 high-school students also completed the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI), another widely used empathy measure. The following statistical analyses were applied: internal consistency analysis, explanatory (EFA) and confirmatory (CFA) factor analyses, and factor congruence analysis. Correlation with IRI and gender differences were calculated to demonstrate validity of the instrument. Results show that the Serbian 40-item version of EQ has lower reliability (Cronbach's alpha = .782) than the original. The originally proposed one factor structure of the instrument was not confirmed. The short version with 28 items showed better reliablity (alpha= .807). The three-factor solution (cognitive empathy, emotional reactivity, and social skills) showed good cross-sample stability (Tucker congruence coefficient over .8) but the results of CFA confirmed the solution proposed in the reviewed literature only partially. The mean scores are similar to those obtained in the other studies, and, as expected, women have significantly higher scores than men. Correlations with all subscales of IRI are statistically significant for the first two subscales of EQ, but not for the "social skills." We concluded that the Serbian version of the "Empathy Quotient" is a useful research tool which can contribute to cross-cultural studies of empathy, although its psychometric characteristics are not as good as those obtained in the original study. We also suggest that a 28-item should be used preferably to the original 40-item version.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2012
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