How Many Empathies Are There? A Puzzle About Co-Experienced Emotions - Heidi Maibom

How Many Empathies Are There? A Puzzle About Co-Experienced Emotions - Heidi Maibom
Image by Delta Amphule (Adobe Stock)

Anybody familiar with the empathy literature will know that everybody’s busy distinguishing one form of empathy from others. And whereas it would certainly be helpful to agree on what the major distinctions are and what to call them, it remains a fact that many, if not most, empathic episodes are ones in which several different kinds of empathy co-occur. For instance, if exposed to someone who suffers, we typically experience a variety of distressed emotions and a variety of more sympathetic ones seemingly at the same time. But if that is true, the cooccurrence of these emotions presumably make a difference to the overall experience and its consequences. Almost nothing in the literature supposes that this is the case, proceeding as if we can assume that the emotion that is reported to be experienced most strongly at the time is the only one.

In this paper, Heidi examines what it is to experience several empathic emotions at the same time, how to reconcile the co-experiencing of emotions with opposite valences, physiology, and phenomenology. She argues for the importance of considering empathic episodes as a whole. This also has consequences for how we think of emotions more generally.

Date & time

Thu 06 Jun 2024, 2:00pm to 3:30pm


Level 1 Auditorium (1.28), RSSS Building 146 Ellery Cres. Acton 2601, ACT


Heidi Maibom


Michael Barnes


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