- Buy this product and stream 90 days of Amazon Music Unlimited for free. E-mail after purchase. Conditions apply. Learn more
Zero Degrees of Empathy Paperback – 7 Jun 2012
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Special offers and product promotions
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
About the Author
Simon Baron-Cohen is Professor at Cambridge University in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. He is also the Director of the Autism Research Centre there. He has carried out research into social neuroscience over a 20 year career. His popular science book entitled The Essential Difference (Penguin 2003) has been translated in over a dozen languages, and has been widely reviewed.
Customers who bought this item also bought
Read reviews that mention
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
He sets off by explaining “evil” and human cruelty which is pretty grim reading. Various scenarios are described and in particular experiments performed by medical staff in World War II concentration camps.
He demonstrates that there is a bell-shaped curve for empathy and we all have greater or less amounts of it but there is a normal distribution. Men generally have slightly less than women. He describes the empathy mechanism down to neuronal detail and the different parts of the brain that appear stimulated when empathy is seen in experiments. There are a series of areas in different parts of the brain but a very important area is the amygdala. The dorsal medial pre-frontal cortex deals with identifying other’s thoughts and the ventral pre-frontal cortex our own thoughts and feelings.
Reduced empathy or “empathy erosion” is when we cease to treat a person as a person and start treating them like an object.
Without empathy we risk the breakdown of relationships and then become capable of hurting others and cause conflict.
The case is made for zero degrees of empathy when negative can take the form of a variety of personality disorders such as Type B (borderline personalities), Type P (psychopathic personalities) and Type N (narcissistic personalities). He goes on to describe how the features of these demonstrate poor empathy. The description of the types certainly brings about recollection of various patients, especially Type B (could be described as I hate you / don’t leave me).
He also describes how empathy can be eroded and this can be temporary (eg tired, drunk) or permanently reduced as in the personality disorders.
However there are individuals who have low levels of empathy but this positive in that they appear not to have the ability to interact and understand people’s emotions but nevertheless show caring attitudes. These groups come under the autistic spectrum. He goes on to describe how such people can be very valuable to society.
Also considered is whether there are hereditary aspects. Some evidence that prenatal testosterone and masculization of the brain in utero may lead to stronger systemization and weaker empathy.
There are very useful appendices on how to spot zero degrees of empathy (negative) and also the Empathy Quotient questionnaire which you can do yourself. There is also a child one.
The EQ scores normal for adult men: around 42 and women 47 (average range 33-52).
0 – 32 is low. Most with Aspergers or high functioning autism score about 20.
Psychopathic Personalities: Bowlby’s concept of parent giving the child an internal pot of gold.
Michael Rutter – ability to bounce back and resilience are shown with people who show affection and intimacy.
Gray – Behavioural Inhibition System (filtering system). Psychopaths have less anxiety about the consequences of their actions. They have problems thinking about consequences.
Excessive stress can damage the hippocampus and cause over-activity in the amygala.
James Blaire – Violence Inhibition Mechanism – Normally if people cry out you stop what you are doing. Psychopaths do not.
Zero – Negative Empathy Type N (narcissistic) believe themselves to be entitled, self-centred but not aggressive. Believes themselves to be superior. If the person is no use to them they get rid of them.
• Exact mind – processes information in a way that can lead to talent.
• Brain – super-moral
• Affective empathy may be in tact so can care for people.
Empathy is essential in any conflict: work, home etc. It is free and cannot oppress anyone.
There is an extensive list of references and detailed expansion of the psychological experiments in the appendix so that you could look up the original papers.
A most fascinating book with insights into people with autism, personality disorders (I have a clearer view of borderline personality now) and my own levels of empathy. A definite must read for any healthcare professional who has contact with these groups of patients. It is also a definite must if you have ever wondered why you do not have as intense emotions towards others as you think you might.
Simon Baron-Cohen writes at length about those in our society who have 'Zero Degrees of Empathy' - those that cannot put themselves in the shoes of others, who do not understand why people's feelings are hurt by others' actions. He considers those who suffer from this trait and attempts to explain why. There's a lot of neurology-speak and it's difficult at times to keep up but he makes a difficult topic palatable for the everyday guy.
It's worth a read - especially if you're connected to this area of work (counselling, psychotherapy etc).
Also by this author: The Essential Difference (understanding the difference between the male and female brain).