Friday, July 6, 2012

I feel you

This Scientific American article discusses the link between mirror neurons, which allow us to vicarious experience particular sensations like feeling pain while watching someone hit their finger with a hammer, and empathy -- the ability to vicariously experience someone's emotional state.

First the sensory part:


When a friend hits her thumb with a hammer, you don't have to put much effort into imagining how this feels. You know it immediately. You will probably tense up, your "Ouch!" may arise even quicker than your friend's, and chances are that you will feel a little pain yourself. Of course, you will then thoughtfully offer consolation and bandages, but your initial reaction seems just about automatic. Why?

Neuroscience now offers you an answer: A recent line of research has demonstrated that seeing other people being touched activates primary sensory areas of your brain, much like experiencing the same touch yourself would do. What these findings suggest is beautiful in its simplicity—that you literally "feel with" others.


The comparison with the emotions part:

Despite the lack of a universally agreed-upon definition of empathy, the mechanisms of sharing and understanding another’s experience have always been of scientific and public interest—and particularly so since the introduction of “mirror neurons.” This important discovery was made two decades ago by  Giacomo Rizzolatti and his co-workers at the University of Parma, who were studying motor neuron properties in macaque monkeys. To compensate for the tedious electrophysiological recordings required, the monkey was occasionally given food rewards. During these incidental actions something unexpected happened: When the monkey, remaining perfectly still, saw the food being grasped by an experimenter in a specific way, some of its motor neurons discharged. Remarkably, these neurons normally fired when the monkey itself grasped the food in this way. It was as if the monkey’s brain was directly mirroring the actions it observed. This “neural resonance,” which was later also demonstrated in humans, suggested the existence of a special type of "mirror" neurons that help us understand other people’s actions.

The interesting part is that they seem to be related in that people who self report high empathy also show stronger mirror neuron activity:

Michael Schaefer and his colleagues also scanned their participants’ brains while they were watching movie clips of touches applied to human hands. Consistent with earlier results, participants’ primary somatosensory cortex (the brain’s representation of the body surface) responded vicariously to the observation of touch. However, participants also completed the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI), a paper-and-pencil test measuring four specific dimensions of our ability to empathize with others. And guess what? The higher participants scored on the “Perspective taking” subscale of the IRI, the stronger their primary somatosensory cortex reacted to observed touch. These data suggest that the brain’s mirroring responses are in fact associated with personal empathic ability. How much you empathize with other people seems to reflect how strongly your brain—your primary somatosensory cortex—“feels with” them when you see them being touched.

It's interesting how little we understand the concept of empathy, including what role our physical sensations have in the process (and perhaps in feeling our own emotions?).  The whole thing sort of reminds me of studying music and honing my skill of audiation, which is the process of imagining (or basically hearing) pitches in one's head.  You can try it too -- sing a song to yourself without making a sound and you are audiating.  What I noticed about myself is that there is a physical connection with my audiating.  Specifically, when I audiate, my vocal chords, throat, and some muscles in my mouth and face adjust as if I were about to sing or hum the pitch I'm imagining.  When I think of a high pitch, my eyebrows and soft palate go up.  For a low note, my throat expands.

I know that I do other small physical manipulations like this to affect my mental state, for instance purposefully yawning to make myself more tired or making my face slack like I am already asleep to fall asleep more quickly.  I also do this with emotions, like smiling to be happy.  Sometimes I try them in response to a curiosity of other people's emotions.  But just like how I can't seem to imagine a pitch without being able to sing it (e.g. if it is out of my singing range), I can't seem to imagine an emotion without having experienced it once myself.  Do all forms of empathy have this limitation?   

131 comments:

  1. fsdjahfsd first

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is your friendly malignant narcissist.

      I think the article misses out on some very common human reactions to watching others experience things.

      E.g. until very recently, I couldn't really imagine what others felt. E.g. if I saw someone's (white-colored) hand getting smashed, my thought would be, "is it a white guy's hands getting smashed, or a Jew's?"

      Because if it was a white guy's hands getting smashed, I'd be bothered. If it was a Jew's, I'd be happy. Without that information, I didn't know how to interpret the event (bad vs good).

      That concern would so preoccupy me, I wouldn't be able to focus on the empathy-sensation stuff.

      I suspect this illustrates a general truth: when you are focused on judging reality (good/bad), you can't focus as much on experiencing (what is).

      Recently things have gotten very odd for me, as I'm judging less, and more able to empathize with all sorts of people. E.g. I heard about a consultant trying to get a friend to do something illegal. From his side, it was clear to me - the consultant just wants the organization to get the easy money (by breaking the law). Sure - he's greedy and immoral - but he's also creative and cunning. In any case, his basic urge is like that of anyone looking out for the organization. It is hard to fault him.

      Delete
    2. I'm trying to be less judgmntal too! My friend likes to be called nigger by white women but only in bed, not necessarily on the street (like his racist Jew gf who won't call him a lazy nigger in bed, ONLY on the street the fuckn nerve of that cunt)

      He asked me if I didn't want him to go out with her. I couldn't imagine an adult asking another adult what to do with their lives, how they would benefit from MY judgment -?!

      I have/ -had? disdain for all parties, but really, I thought who am I to judge?

      Delete
    3. Leave the Jews out of it

      Delete
    4. Oh but leave the niggers in, please

      Delete
    5. It's up to you take care of that one, ok

      Delete
    6. I have no idea what you're talking about.

      Delete
    7. I dislike how you cant reply to replies

      Delete
  2. Monica, you never answered one of my questions. You were interrupted.
    Do you think your mother's tit would even slightly itch if you died? In other words, would she care at all?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have imagined just that. -I think she might temporarily miss an extension of herself, or the memory of having a plaything. But until/unless I confront her, I won't have a true sense. Thank you for caring to ask!

      Delete
    2. Monica, don't be a little bitch and go postal on her. Confront her completely and watch her reactions. If they are superficial or victim playing through any of it she won't miss you even a little bit.

      Delete
  3. http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Plutchik-wheel.svg


    just found this- not sure how I feel about it yet-

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I just clicked on this from that page.

      How do you feel about this?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apathy

      Delete
  4. what's up with extremity? he treats eden with lots of respect but treats monica like scum? could anyone explain?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Extremity is Monica's alterego. They oppose one another.

      Delete
    2. Extremity is an Eden sock puppet, you idiot.

      Delete
    3. I don't have sock puppets. Quit lying to yourself.

      Delete
    4. Edens sock puppets
      Hank
      Snake
      Ze-Ze
      Muppet
      Puppet
      Frank

      Delete
    5. haha... just can't help yourself can you? It doesn't matter what you say. You can't erase who I am by telling lies. Does it really bother you so much that Extremity said what he did last night?

      I guess he wins then. :)

      Delete
    6. Edens sock puppets
      Extremity

      Delete
    7. ALteregos often take care of what people feel about themselves in real life. Eden can't stand herself, but Extremity wants to fuck her all day.

      Delete
    8. Eden is a hot one.

      Delete
    9. CEO SociopathworldJuly 6, 2012 at 9:46 AM

      Eden has multiple personality disorder due to the childhoodd abuse she suffered. She has the evil ones, the good-natured ones, the fuckin idiots..they all come out of the woodwork here so she can keep it together for her kids.

      Just leave her be. Feel free to ignore her.

      Delete
    10. I have a giant dildo up my ass right now, so it's hard to be jealous of Eden's strange sexual relationships atm.

      Delete
    11. No, Eden has stayed true to form as who she is. But
      I do question Monicaliar's other personalities. I guess you did answer the question.

      Delete
    12. who answered what question?

      Delete
    13. Really, CEO Sociopathworld? Are you serious?

      Delete
    14. CEO SociopathworldJuly 6, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      Are you questioning my innate intelligence?

      Delete
    15. No, Sir. Just surprised.

      Delete
  5. Isn't empathy simply making an effort to put yourself in another's head and doing a good enough job of it? Like when you say "wow, that sounds tough, I feel for you bro." ? IOW, you do your best to feel the notes of the other?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am asking 5:03 and 3:41, and I expect, nay, require an answer specifically from them.

      Delete
    2. Time to sprEAeaEAeaEAd the bullshit.

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  6. All *New* Series
    High brow Themes for the Denizens of SW

    Theme for ME

    ReplyDelete
  7. what's up with extremity? he treats eden with lots of respect but treats monica like scum? could anyone explain?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why would you even have to ask that?

      Delete
    2. How would someone know you were not one of Edens many sock puppets? She has admitted using sock puppets.

      Delete
    3. I have a question: Are Eden's puppets friends of hers and "real people" as opposed to Monica's "sock
      puppets" made up from her mind? That is how it appears.

      Delete
    4. eden accused monica of having all these sock puppets. But he who smelt it, dealt it.

      Delete
    5. We don't need accusations from Eden to see all of Monica's alias. You didn't answer the question?

      Delete
    6. Themes, you are sexy.

      Delete
    7. CEO SociopathworldJuly 6, 2012 at 9:58 AM

      Strike 2 anon 9;56

      Delete
    8. Have you noticed how Monica deflects away from the
      the questions?

      Delete
    9. Just drop the sock puppet shit. CEO said something serious.

      Delete
    10. Deflecting, again

      Delete
    11. Shut up, Bitch.

      Delete
    12. Shut the fuck up, Monica

      Delete
    13. I am not Monica What is it that every person is Monica? Chill

      Delete
    14. Do you prefer, asswipe?

      Delete
    15. I prefer you to put a sock in it.

      Delete
    16. Shut the fuck up, Monicaliar

      Delete
    17. Do you have an ounce of respect for anything besides your behind?

      Delete
    18. Monica
      But your the 9:49 working the dildo, right? Pathetic

      Delete
    19. I have been many different sock puppets and I am proud of it. Once I argued with myself. I won.

      Delete
    20. Ukan
      Monica can not say the same.......

      Delete
    21. Ukan B The WinnerJuly 6, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      I win when I argue with my socks or with anyone else. I will stay up all day and all night to win a fight with some dumb fuck.

      Delete
  8. Haha! I love where I live. There is this crazy ass women screaming at no one as loud as she can, and her insults are along the lines of :" WHAT THA' FUCK YOU LOOKIN' AT WITH YOUR RUBBER BAND MAN! YOU DON'T KNOW ME!!!!"

    Once I was taking the metro with a friend in a major city relatively close to where I see this woman, and she was on the same train, screaming obscenities at the people there. A different women in the same area was standing in front of the building I work at, cursing at the clients trying to walk in. She then dominated a whole sitting area and took the bottle she was drinking from, spread her legs open (she wears a long faded black skirt), and pissed in it. When she was done she placed the bottle in the cigarette bin. Her piss looked like simply apple juice.

    Too much entertainment, seriously. You gotta love insane bums.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What does that have to do with anything?

      Delete
  9. Do all forms of empathy have this limitation?

    I think by the standard definition of the word 'empathy' you need to have experienced a similar emotion or feeling in order to actually relate to how another person experiences that same emotion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. do borderlines have emotions as supply?
      is your empathy limited by the need for supply?
      have you ever met a sociopath irl?
      is it true that borderlines can have a good romantic relationship with aspies?

      Delete
    2. I don't know what you mean by "as supply". Like do we have only enough empathy to get emotional reciprocity? like emotional currency?

      Yes, I've met a sociopath irl. He's a bit high on the narcissistic side but you'll have that.

      I have never been in a relationship with an aspie so I have no clue, but I highly doubt it.

      Delete
  10. reminds me of that song "depeche mode i feel you "

    ReplyDelete
  11. You beings don't seem very nice at all. It makes me wonder if you're even human at all or some sort of alien hybrids?

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am the Fomentiles, if you didn't know. Eden said she was done with me, but after harassing me for months, I wanted to pay her back. I could never stand up when someone hurt me. I had to take it and be the good one. I was damned if I would let her abuse me and then tell me when it was over. I wanted to make her pay, for all the times I could never make anyone pay. Now, I feel so much pain for everything---my part in it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. we don't feel sorry for you anymore monica. we have seen the truth of what you are and it is not pretty.

      Delete
    2. Monica

      Were you arrogant, flippant, condescending and cruel
      to other people, also; to those that didn't warrant
      this behavior?

      Delete
    3. NO I never bully. As a kid, a few times, I was mean to a kid, but I can't bully. I can't hurt people, unprovoked.

      Delete
    4. I wanted to pay her back. I could never stand up when someone hurt me

      Have you ever raised your hand to your mother, Monica? I've talked about my violence towards my mother.

      Delete
    5. In fact, it takes me forever to strike back, when I should do it, right away.

      Delete
    6. Never raised my hand to my mother. I do think my depression( and it is a lot) is rage toward my mother, but she is ill, like Eden. How can I hurt a person who can't help it?

      Delete
    7. How can I hurt a person who can't help it?

      I hurt my mother, but didn't realize until now that she couldn't help it. It seems to me that the kind of rage you and I feel towards our mothers will come out with other people too. I've been violent towards other people as well as my mother.

      Delete
    8. I have horrible depression. I don't take anything as I am afraid I will lose the little mental health I have, but I am in a lot of pain, all the time.

      Delete
    9. I turn it inward, not outward.

      Delete
    10. You are such a good person, Monica. How can anyone want to be mean to you? I'm so sorry to hear that you suffer depression. :(

      Delete
    11. How can I hurt a person who can't help it?

      The other day you explained gaslighting to me. You said it's an unconscious thing. The person doesn't know they're doing it, they can't help it. Right?

      Delete
    12. Well, yes, it is a kind of reaction formation. Reaction formation would be a person who hates gays so badly that he could even beat them up, but inside he has homosexual impulses. So, yes, it is unconscious, basically.

      Delete
    13. So you acknowledge she can't help it. So sometimes you do want to hurt someone who can't help it? For this reason:

      I wanted to make her pay, for all the times I could never make anyone pay.

      Delete
    14. YES, I tried to get back at Eden with the Fomentiles. She deserved it and much worse for everything she did to me, but I see that she really could not help it, as she has issues, shall we say.

      At any rate, I have homicidal rages to people in my real life, now--2 people. The depression is turned inward as I am scared to death of my anger and I think it makes me a bad person, too.

      My anger is killing me, Ell.

      Delete
    15. I have to go out. I will be back, later.

      Delete
    16. I am scared to death of my anger and I think it makes me a bad person, too.

      I think you have cause for concern about the effects of your anger. I don't understand why you think it makes you a bad person. My mother didn't abuse me as much as yours did to you. I've smacked the shit out of her more than once. She deserved it. Even if she couldn't help it.

      Delete
    17. Thanks Ell. I have to deal with this anger, somehow x

      Delete
    18. do you read the forum posts, monica ? elicit thinks you're just like her mum. why are you answering her questions ? ? ?

      Delete
    19. You've called me a predator, Monica. Would you call me an abuser too?

      @ anon
      We are all like, or the products of, our mothers. You remind me of BoD, wanting to stir up drama.

      Delete
    20. Ell
      You are my friend <3

      Delete
    21. Is anyone else reminded of a heroin addict every time Monica types anything?

      Delete
    22. Is this the great Kany perspicacity? LMAO

      Delete
  13. http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lys753SDis1r65rllo1_1280.jpg


    Monica is this you? ( It's a tumblr series of pictures of rape victims holding up what their rapists said to them.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know people are gonna fuck with me.

      Delete
    2. I haven't been around much I don't know the story here, but dealing with rape isn't actually fun or funny. Grow up and leave her alone.

      Delete
    3. 50 percent of participants are said to enjoy rape.

      Delete
    4. 85% of statistics are made up.

      Delete
    5. You didn't get the joke, you dumb cunt.

      Delete
  14. So how does it feel to pretend to be 6 people on one blog? you know who you are. And so do i

    ReplyDelete
  15. The Watcher
    Let us know as this reality show is so unreal.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow so I just visited the forum and read some of the ridiculous shit people talk about... and for a minute, kind of wished I was all signed in and up for that medium because WOW are people sub-intelligent.

    I miss coming here everyday and venting my angry side. I've been so lovey and supportive lately I feel like I'm losing my edge. ::sigh::

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could never lose your edge, Haven. I do miss your angry side though. Mmmm.... ;)

      Delete
    2. I slipped something into your mail slot. :P

      Delete
    3. Mine, baby boy? I don't see one.

      Delete
  17. Did you change it again?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No babe. It's the same, but I didn't get your mail. Resend it?

      Delete
    2. Got it, and sent one back. Make sure you let me know you got it, cutie pie. :)

      Delete
    3. You are so mysterious, baby. Why do you do that to me?

      Delete
  18. M.E.
    I'm going to suck your cock for 2 seconds over some of the shit you've been posting in the blog section, and Twitter lately. I love surprises.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Y u no suck longer?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because I'm just that good at sucking cock! :D

      Delete
    2. the best head in america?

      Delete
    3. What? How hard can it be to give good head?
      But I bet men are far better at sucking cock than women.

      Delete
    4. I'll tell you a little something about how funny I think it is, that so many repressed people come here.
      Not just sexually repressed either. But let's start there. Why are there so many sexually repressed individuals coming here?

      It seems rather grotesque.

      Delete
    5. Grotesque? How so?

      Delete
    6. Meh... who knows. I was just talking out of my ass. Trying to stir up conversation while I waited for my friends to get off work. I hate to wait.

      Delete
  20. Perhaps I'm just trying to fit the pegs into the holes I want them, but here's how I see empathy and it's relation to sociopathy. First, I believe I may very well be a sociopath; it explains a lot (A LOT!). So, I feel empathy. I don't feel sympathy. I know how you feel when you are hurt, I know how you feel when your happy, I know how you feel when your sad. I know what these things are; emotions. I just don't care what you are feeling. It is of no concern to me. It doesn't effect me; your feelings. I feel nothing about how you feel. As a matter of fact, because I know what you're feeling and have no emotional response to it, I have the upper hand. I can now play with you, get you to feel whatever I may want you to feel. Sociopaths do have emotions, they know them all and can recall them at will like a professional actor. What a sociopath may truly become emotional about however, depends on that individual and what they might be into.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh. One thing I have noticed is that a sociopath who lets their emotions control them is a very dangerous thing (to include myself). High-functiong individuals have learned that's the real game; control your emotions so you can control every situation. Those who haven't figured this out are prone to extreme acts during the emotional storm as it rages.

      Delete
  21. You're finally addressing one of the topics I questioned you about... As I have already mentioned here, I'm a socio and ballerina. I need mirror neurons for work, so I wonder if my case is more of a built-up sociopathy more than a born-with hardware thing. What do you guys think? I told me that I wondered how it worked in his case, since he's also a musician... you need mirror neurons to perform... any other socio musicians around?

    ReplyDelete
  22. You're not a socio the gungy, you're just smart and you can't or won't love. That happens.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, that would imply I had a choice to love. Also, I assure you I am not that smart. Lastly, you may be very correct in your assumption that I am not a sociopath. It doesn't concern me either way. What has intrigued me is to accidentally come across all of this information that seemed very familiar to me. Anyways, I do know what I do and don't feel and how well or poorly I can form attachments to different things. I do think it more than a little abrupt and slightly off to suggest I won't or can't love. Interesting.

      Delete
    2. I don´t mean you have the choice not to... but for whatever reason it's not happening or has not happened. What I mean is that you don´t need to be a socio for this "So, I feel empathy. I don't feel sympathy. I know how you feel when you are hurt, I know how you feel when your happy, I know how you feel when your sad. I know what these things are; emotions. I just don't care what you are feeling". That's the NATURAL way, really caring is more rare than not caring. People don´t care. Empathy is a function of nature to allow social interaction, not a magic trick of communion experiences. This blog also made me think, hey, that's me. I believe I have experienced moments of true empathy (I guess), for example, crying while telling a mum of a sick 5 year old student of mine that I really liked him. The tears came in the "wrong" time (while talking to his mum, not while taking care of him, watching him, etc). You can not "grasp" empathy. If I had not cried at that moment of weakness, it would have been really hard for me to tell whether I cared for the child or not. Human mind is complicated, label are allright but you guys try to give yourselves a break. I don´t know if you are a socio or not, I just wanted to hint that there is more to empathy that feeling you care about people on a regular basis. If you are not retarded and you are insightfult chances are you will feel that no, you don´t give a shit.

      Delete
    3. Which is why I opened with maybe just me trying to put pegs into the wholes I want them. Maybe I'm not understanding what empathy really is. I took it as understanding anothers emotional state, where as sympathy would be the ability to feel the other's emotional state. See, I understand other peoples emotions and what they're felling, I just can't feel it with them. Let's say you lost your wife and two kids in a horrible car accident. I KNOW what you are feeling. You maybe my best friend, but I'm not going to be able to sympathize and "feel for" you. I just don't; i only feel for me. i do get your point now though, and I'm not so sure I'm a sociopath either (I do have some familiy that might think I'm on to something), but I do know who I am and I am now trying to come to terms with just who that is.

      Delete

Comments on posts over 14 days are SPAM filtered and may not show up right away or at all.

Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 40,000 Movies

.

Comments are unmoderated. Blog owner is not responsible for third party content. By leaving comments on the blog, commenters give license to the blog owner to reprint attributed comments in any form.