“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying, "Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner." I don't try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.” (Carl Rogers)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Lack of empathy and free documentaries online

With my abiding interest in empathy as part of the person-centred approach, I watched a fascinating documentary on psychopathy - human beings who lack empathy - called I, Psychopath. I also learnt about 'Narcissistic personality disorder', which can be an overlapping condition (part of the sinisterly named Dark Triad), with a similar lack of empathy. However, it is worth remembering, as chilling as some of this seems - that this is not a life-choice that people just make, they are not deliberately 'bad' or 'evil' - this is something they are born with (or without, depending on how you look at it) - and the film clearly shows this, with the person with psychopathy having a brain scan and clearly showing no brain activity under emotional stimulation.  Clearly, there are implications for managing the condition in society, for all of our benefit - psychopaths are thought to be responsible for half of all reported crimes and to make up between 15% and 20% of the prison population - however, equally clearly an educational theory that depends significantly on shared empathy is not going to be very effective with people who lack that quality - and I also wonder what the wider person-centred therapeutic community make of persons who do not experience reciprocal emotions, how does that work in the therapy room..? I shall keep my eyes open for that one in my research.

In the meantime, I shall soon be watching another free documentary which looks at the most recent research into the brains and behaviour of psychopaths and assesses the prospects for the treatment or containment of this group of people (some estimates are that 1% of all populations have psychopathy): Psychopath.

I would also like to share some links I have to free documentaries online - an amazing resource to really learn about aspects of the world and our human condition that you won't get on the tellie!

Free Documentary Sites:

I'll add more if I find more.

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