Roots and Collapse of Empathy

Human nature at its best and at its worst

Stein Bråten | University of Oslo
ISBN 9789027213587 | EUR 99.00 | USD 149.00
ISBN 9789027271730 | EUR 99.00 | USD 149.00
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Spanning from care-giving infants and civilian rescuers risking their life to the collapse of empathy in agents of torture and extinction, this unique book deals with and illustrates the altruistic best and atrocious worst of human nature. It begins with infant roots of empathy, then turns to the neurosocial support of empathic participation, and to the nature and nurture of good and ill. It raises questions about how abuse may invite vicious circles of re-enactment, and as to how ordinary people may come to commit torture and mass murders, such as the Auschwitz doctors and the sole terrorist attacking Norway on July 22, 2011.
[Advances in Consciousness Research, 91] 2013.  xv, 276 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“Pioneering new ways of perceiving and explaining universal impulses of human cooperation and compassion, opposing the idea that we are born egocentric, out of touch with others’ minds and feelings, Stein Bråten offers compelling evidence that infants and young children have the capability of sharing actions and pleasures with a parent or other child, affording sympathetic help in feeding or care of distress. He predicted the discovery of ‘mirror neurons’, the brain mechanism of such shared attention. Now, turning to events of shocking insensitivity that appear to contradict the above kindness, he gives a dark history of mass murder and cruelty by ordinary individuals submitting to the canon ‘Let there be a world free of evil!’. He explains this paradox as partly due to early experience of rejection of the desire to connect with parents and companions. I believe we must follow his lead and try to understand the nature of the emotions that promote the goodness of the commonwealth of human creativity and altruistic rescue, and also the emotional sources of the evil of ideological conflict and acts of inhumane self-assertion and atrocious cruelty.”
Cited by

Cited by 5 other publications

Berardi, M. Kate, Annie M. White, Dana Winters, Kaila Thorn, Mark Brennan & Pat Dolan
2020. Rebuilding communities with empathy. Local Development & Society 1:1  pp. 57 ff. DOI logo
Borgen, Berit
2016. Transformative Existential Experiences and the Mental Growth Stages Illustrated by Case Reports. Archive for the Psychology of Religion 38:1  pp. 89 ff. DOI logo
Borgen, Berit
2018. The Human Mental Transcending Ability as a Coping and Life-Expanding Resource. Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health 20:1  pp. 70 ff. DOI logo
Trevarthen, Colwyn
2019. The Psychobiology of the Human Spirit. In Early Interaction and Developmental Psychopathology,  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
[no author supplied]
2020. References. In Introducing Cognitive Analytic Therapy,  pp. 315 ff. DOI logo

This list is based on CrossRef data as of 13 june 2024. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.


Consciousness Research

Consciousness research



Main BIC Subject

JMH: Social, group or collective psychology

Main BISAC Subject

PSY031000: PSYCHOLOGY / Social Psychology
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2013014329 | Marc record