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Is an emotional response necessary to illicit empathy?

Rixus

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#1
Earlier today, I had a long and drawn out debate with an INFP on this subject. The ISTJ present, when asked for his opinion, replied, "that's the kind of question you'd get at on a final university exam. You can't just answer that." Although, half an hour of thought later he came to the conclusion that he could not see any reason why emotion was necessary. My argument is that although empathy for others is, by definition, an emotional response, emotion is not actually necessary.

I saw it said recently that INTP's score low in brain activity related to empathy, which would suggest possible psychopathic traits. And yet, there are no increased rates of anti-social personality disorder for INTP types. I've personally said myself when my stoic RL nature is questioned, that it is logical to care. If I see suffering or danger to another, if I have the ability to change the situation, I can do so without the need of emotion. Granted, this is altruism and not necessarily empathy. But does empathy serve any purpose without altruism?

I disagree in the use of torture mostly because it is highly ineffective at either information extraction or rehabilitation. So, there is no logical purpose of cruelty beyond emotional responses. Which is a frequently cited argument against logic over feeling. This covers both negative and positive behaviours that result from empathy. Granted, there are some extreme situations of survival of yourself and those who's safety you are in charge of would require cruelty, such as an apocalypse scenario, but this is not a situation most of us would ever find ourselves in. If anything, this would mean that protecting your charges would be easier as emotions would not cloud your judgement.

Then, we go into a more complex purpose frequently cited. Emotional support. Is it necessary to feel an emotion in order to understand one? This I do not believe to be the case. It is a logical observation of the world to conclude that other people feel strong emotional responses to situations, many of which we may not feel regardless of our level of emotion ourselves. In fact, it's been my observation that the need to feel an emotion before one can empathise with it hampers one's ability to understand those different to ourselves. Therefore, is not a logical understanding of emotional needs a benefit in providing this emotional support without judgement? When I have asked an INFJ why they felt the need to open up about their problems to me (as they have been known to do), they have explained that it is because my lack of emotional response makes them feel as though they were not being judged. I find it much more successful when counselling others to simply say, "go on, it's OK. I'm listening." Rather than attempting to relate personal experiences of similar situations and emotions.

So, what is the need for an emotional response in order to have any practical purpose to empathy?
 

Reluctantly

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#2
I just see emotions as particular ways of feeling. These modes of feeling can motivate or demotivate certain behaviors, which can include certain kinds of empathy. In this way, the repression or absence of emotion is a kind of emotion all the same. So I guess it depends what you mean by emotion.
 

Cognisant

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#3
I may be wrong but my own investigations into AI suggest to me that there's no thought without emotion, as I see it the brain is like recognition engine that's constantly looking for patterns in the input it receives. But there's too many patterns to keep track of, too much information for the brain to adequately process, so certain patterns have to be prioritized over others and this prioritization comes from weighted biases which we experience as emotions.

The weights of these biases change with circumstances, when your body is low on fuel the feeling of hunger increases and it becomes difficult to think about anything other than food or where/when your next meal will be. Once you've eaten other biases take priority, you might notice the air conditioning in the food-court is chilling you or realize that the person with you hasn't eaten for a while and ask them if they're feeling hungry.

It's hard to say whether offering food to the other person is empathy, pragmatic, or if there's even a difference, you feel it's a good idea, every pattern your brain retains it does because it's somehow applicable to your biases even though the relationship may be quite complex. Speaking cynically everything we do for each other we're ultimately doing for ourselves, but on the other hand this implies looking after each other is simply rational and that's a nice thought.
 

Grayman

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#4
@OP

Do you make a distinction between feeling and emotion and how do you relate that to empathy?

I see myself as being able to empathize with peoples feelings even though I am very unemotional. I use empathize in the form of percieving the structure of ones feelings and the results of them.
 
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#5
I saw it said recently that INTP's score low in brain activity related to empathy, which would suggest possible psychopathic traits.
Psychopathy is the result of a smaller connection between the frontal lobes and the amygdala and also lower activiity in the prefrontal cortex. So their self-model is very weak. The self-model allows you to be aware that other people have emotions and that they have social relationships. Because psychopaths have a weak self-model they will not realize that certain things they do are inappropriate. They will manipulate people without realizing people do not like to be manipulated. If they can get away with it then they do not think it is wrong.

So, what is the need for an emotional response in order to have any practical purpose to empathy?
You do not need to be happy, angry, sad, nor afraid to empathize with people. There is a difference between empathizing with a person's situation and their emotional state. A detached person can perfectly empathize with people because they can imagine what it is like for that person. They can imagine being that person. When I was crying my aunt tried to hug me but I pushed her away because she did not care why I was crying. She had no empathy but just had a triggered emotional reaction to my emotions.

One thing that makes me sad is that no one understands me. No amount of emotional demonstration will make me feel better, in fact it will make me feel allot worse because it means the person really does not understand me. I read a book about child development where a mother would randomly hug and kiss her 2-year-old and the child formed a confused attachment to the mother. The mother had an inappropriate understanding of the child's needs so the child was confused all the time.

Empathy only works if you understand the other person. Emotional displays in my experience mean the person lacks empathy. Emotional displays are mostly the reaction a person has not genuine understanding. If a person feels an emotion it needs to be connected to genuine understanding for it to be appropriate for the situation. Randomness is just stupid and self-absorbed.
 

Rixus

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#6
@Reluctantly - Feelings can be motivators. But my point is that can logic not be a motivator without the need for emotion? It's a motivator people often rely upon, but is it necessary?

@Cogs - Is a need for something an emotion? Hunger is a physical feeling and I don't classify it as an emotion. IF I'm hungry it is because my body needs sustenance. Everyone needs sustenance, so is giving food to someone who is starving and unable to feed themselves truly an act of compassion or a logical response to a situation? The ability to provide this food is not going to cause me great harm, so I have no reason not to do so. I don't understand why one would require emotion in order to distinguish and between different stimuli to focus upon. I think your point about this brings us into the possibility of AI and replication of emotional behaviour. Is emotion necessary for self awareness? Will a true AI find different motivators in logic alone, without the need for emotion? Why should a conscious AI have the same motivators as us, since it would be fundamentally different to us and not subject to our own biological needs or limitations.

@Grayman - Yes, I believe there is a distinction. I find the idea to have to feel an emotion in order to relate it highly limiting, since it would be insanity to believe any of us have experienced every situation or emotional state. Why can a logical understanding not suffice?

@Animekitty - That's exactly the sort of limitation I refer to. All 3 of my children are different and respond to situations differently, and I'm certain none of them have same cognitive functions as I do. So I can better relate to them and deal with why they are distressed by finding out the reason and for their responses. I don't need to imagine being another person, especially as I would react differently to them. I believe understanding this is the true key to a logical form of empathy. If you understand that each person responds differently to stimuli, it becomes easier to understand their reactions and needs. Which colour cup is used for a drink is an unimportant detail to me, but to my 5 year old this detail seems very important. As simple a detail as this is, should it be dismissed or is giving her the colour of cup she desires a far easier and better alternative? Some would call it pandering to the child, but is the importance of the colour of curtains for to many adults when decorating any different?
 

Cognisant

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#8
Is a need for something an emotion?
I think what people refer to as "emotions" are when their inherent biases conflict with their more abstract goals, like being short tempered when you're hungry. The biases of anger and hunger are behavioral motivators/directors, they don't elicit the same behaviors but that doesn't mean that they don't function by the same principle. Rather the difference between the behaviors elicited is due to the different purposes of the biases themselves; consider that we don't make decisions but rather recognize the best course of action.

Edit: I'm too tired to reply properly, will come back to this.
 

Yellow

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#9
I think you need to utilize emotional appeals in order to illicit an empathic response from emotional people. Either that, or trigger them morally. Less empathic people, I think, can be activated without emotional appeal. But with us, the empathic response will always have a theoretical element.

To expand, I've noticed that naturally empathetic people get overwhelmed by too much exposure to strong emotions. Specifically because their empathic responses are somewhat involuntary. So, they're less likely to view emotionally muted people as objects of empathy (unless they're understimulated).


Also, pretend I did my rant on ubiquitous misinformation regarding psychopathy/sociopathy/APD.
 

Rixus

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#10
I think what's at the heart of this is that highly emotional people appear to fear unemotional people and view logic as a somewhat cold hearted concept. I've been told how people fear when I don't appear to react to emotional stimuli the way they expect. Simple moral dilemmas like the trolley scenario illustrate this. Sacrificing one person's life to save five would seem like a logical course of action, but the scenario fails to offer the option of self sacrifice, and only suggests that you are fairly confident that throwing the overweight man off the bridge would stop the cart - in reality no sane person would imagine that throwing a person in front of a moving train would stop it, and plus the poor overweight man in the scenario would likely resist attempts to sacrifice him and the endeavour would fail.

Another example used during the course of the debate I had on Friday was the distribution of food during a famine. Would logic simply decide to cut food rations to the elderly as they are unproductive, or would you decide based on those physically healthy enough to survive on reduced rations for longer? But in this, we have the mode of logic being used.

@Yellow - The idea of emotional people without empathy is, if I understand it correctly, one of the bases of APD. Acting on impulses and aggression with no empathy leading to extreme uncaring cruelty. If greed or aggression are not present, what is the need for cruelty? And yes, I too have noticed that highly emotional individuals with excessive empathy become overwhelmed into inaction. Another's pain can upset them to the point where they are not able to help the individual in pain. And I don't see any point in having an emphatic emotional response without an act of compassion or altruism.

An example I like to use for this was a life-at-risk scenario I was once in. I was around a waterfall together with 3 others. All 4 of us present were perfectly capable of swimming under said waterfall as we occasionally did so recreationally, though I'm now fairly certain I was the only dominant t-type among them. On this occasion, a young girl walking nearby slipped and fell in. In moments I was already pulling the young girl to safety. I would thing that anyone in the same situation, who perceived little danger to themselves, would do exactly the same. Why then, did no one else act?

Likewise, why do these emotional people seem to me to be so ineffective at understanding the emotions of others? For example, a member of my office once claimed that he was feeling very depressed and was finding functioning difficult. Others scornfully asked, "he's got nothing to be depressed about. He's got a good job, a house and girlfriend. What more does he wants?" Rather than simply admitting that they don't know a person's personal life, their history and the things they don't like to talk about publicly and helping the person. Assuming they know enough and dismissing that person's state of mind seemed to me to lack empathy, but it takes only logic to understand that you can't know all the details. So yes, a theoretical approach to a persons emotional state can, to my mind, lead to a better understanding and more empathetic response.
 

Mxx

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#11
I know the observation I'm about to make isn't entirely on topic, but it is related. I am far more likely to feel empathy for someone who suffers in silence, and feel little to no concern for those who play victim. In fact, I often feel disdain for those who play victim.
 
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#12
Relationships are truly an organic experience. I mean that to understand someone you need to truly be attentive to their communication. Most of which is not verbal but physical. If you can't be attentive you'll never really understand them because nobody is 100% verbal about their feelings.

It's something I gave up on myself. Incidentally I found I never needed it.
 

QuickTwist

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#13
Everyone is always feeling emotions on some level.

Also, there is a ton of overlap between physiological sensations and emotions. They are a two way correlation coefficient with each other. You can control your emotions through controlling your physiology and your emotions are something that can control your physiology.

Psychopaths can be very good at knowing what is the "correct" social rule for the occasion or event. A lot of the time you can't even tell if someone is a psychopath or not because they are so good at understanding social rules. And a lot of psychopaths are not even malicious. Psychopathy is a mental illness just like any other mental illness and they don't deserve to be represented in a negative light.

Empathy isn't necessary for a AI. I don't think emotions are necessary for AI, but they are prolly necessary for consciousness. The definition here is whether the AI is capable of observing its environment and learning.

Personally I don't "feel sad" just because my friend feels sad. I understand their dilemma logically and its really not that difficult to use reason know if someone is going through some shitty experience. I generally empathise with people by letting them talk about their problem and just kinda say "that sucks", but really, I am a lot more apt to try and fix their problem than give emotional support. I also try and find out if they are just looking for attention or not. If they are, I have a few ways I respond, but I usually keep it short. In the case where they just want attention, I usually just give a few supporting lines and then disconnect myself from them, gently ofc.

On a personal note:

It was my friend's bachelor party today. It kinda sucked, but there was one moment that was really really awkward that embarrassed me.

One of the guys who was at the bachelor party was handicapped physically. Not only that, but he really wasn't all that bright either. While my friend and one of the guys from the bachelor party were playing co-op COD MWII on his PS3, I was supposed to play poker with this other guy who had some needs. I was going over the order and ranking of hands and trying to be as thorough as possible so he could understand it, but he just wasn't getting it. I was playing on his account trying to win some chips for him while I was trying to explain the rules of the game of Texas Hold 'em. Eventually, he started asking me questions about me and I told him I had a mental illness and he said something along the lines of "yeah, we are special, that is just how we are". I felt a deep sense of embarrassment because of this comment because clearly I was a lot brighter than this guy and he had a lot more problems than me and he was putting me in the same boat as himself. I could have said something like "We are nothing alike" or something similar, but I actually just agreed with him because I didn't want to hurt his feelings because no one needs that kind of shit. I had empathy for him and I also felt incredibly distant from him at the same time. It was really weird.
 

Hadoblado

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#14
I think bringing psychopathy up is kinda astute.

Psychopaths have abnormal amygdala activity. This typically results in lack of empathy, external blame attribution, insensitivity to aversive conditioning, and impulsivity. Basically, they prioritise the short term over the long term, and this means taking risks and burning bridges.

Counter-intuitively, the psychopath who has the rational parts of his brain intact, and the emotional parts dysfunctional, is less able to make rational decisions over time. They're able to optimise for immediate outcomes in a way that normal people sometimes admire, but it's almost always at the cost of the long term.

So when you talk about taking the emotion out of empathy, I would point to psychopaths and say that that's what actual emotionally impaired empathy looks like, and that's not what you have.

@QT
Yeah psychopaths are people too. But reciprocity is important. People have a tendency to dismiss the needs of those who wouldn't reciprocate. If a psychopath has no regard for my well-being, I'm not going to go out of my way to protect hers.
 

gps

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#15
" Is an emotional response necessary to illicit empathy?"

Illicit (sic) elicit.

Huh? If the initial/before emotional response does not qualify as empathy how many intervening emotional states can manifest before one suspects that whatever is passing for `empathy' can't possible qualify or manifest as empathy?
What's this before-then-after portrayal?

For me Empathy qualitatively -- as per qualia -- entails/requires/manifests_as emotion.
And not so much a pulsitile, fleeting `response' as phase-lock loop.

Empathy may mutate into mere sympathy which doesn't require or entail the personal resonance with the others emotional/spiritual dynamic ... for me anyway.

Are we all so jaded that we accept people acting-as-if-empathetic as-if ... what?
When a person merely acting `kind' or `friendly' or `sympathetic' pursuant to a confidence scam do we ignore the scamming and allow the mere act to pass for `the real thing'?

If empathy is `elicited' then what's the nature of the emotion in effect BEFORE this hypothetical elicited empathy?

For me `empathy' entails resonance with the emotional/spiritual dynamics of another;.
It arises more like sympathetic vibration ... like a tuning fork placed next to a tight string, drum head, or the resonating membrane in a kazoo.

If a time delay arising from `thinking about it' produces a response I'd be suspect that the response is laden with cognition and thus not `real' or `pure' empathy.
This time-to-think delayed `empathy' seems an inverse of the philosophical notion of `emotion laden cognition'
 
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#16
Upstanding the emotional state can help in understanding the motivational imperative. Experts go by intuition in understanding people. This a developed social intelligence. The ability to predict emotions and motivations allows you to direct to some extent the lives of people. It takes practice because at first, our mental models of people are reactive so we have no clue how others direct themselves or simply are reactive like us. Predictive capabilities can involve helping or thwarting others. Empathy is generally seen as selfless acts, the need to help others. This can be true but in the development of mature empathy, we can predict emotions and motivations with incredible accuracy. Movies and novels generally help build empathy and socializing with people away from your house, away from your computer. ;)

Empathy is understanding people.
 

gps

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#17
Empathy is generally seen as selfless acts, the need to help others.
Perhaps for the same shit-for-brains which `think positive'; I'm not addressing this at you; I'm responding to your use of `generally'.
I can empathize with an individual experiencing blind rage as well as someone experiencing warm fuzzies towards a puppy, kitten, or cute child.

For me REAL empathy extends over the FULL range of ALL human emotion.
I'm not saying that MY range of emotion extends over this full range with any faithful degree of coverage, but I can experience empathy over the vilified `negative', socially-unacceptable emotions as well as the polarized, would-be`positive' ones.

As for `selfless acts' ... what does muscoloskelital action have to do with empathy?
Though empathy MAY (e)motivate one to act one may be operationally deprived, hampered, or handcuffed ... or may simply opt to NOT act in response to experiencing empathy.
For example, I suspect that limerence has a strong empathic phase-lock-loop component to it; what if one co-experiences empathic limerence with an `inappropriate' person?
Does one ACT as per empathy?
Or might one opt to let the feeling wash over oneself without acting ... allowing one to fall out of the phase-locked loop?
 

Polaris

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#18
^This is the difficult part of being human; while an act of violence against someone or even oneself can result in blind hatred or anger towards the perpetrator, that same act may trigger a need to understand the motivations behind the act, which is why children, before being able to comprehend that the minds of others are not the same as their own, naturally point the blame at themselves. As one grows older and perhaps more aware of differences in perception, one may, in the same way as a child, seek to find explanations that lie beyond the realm of the perpetrator’s mind. This kind of exploration may ultimately lead one to understand that he actions of others can always be explained by some deeper, and more complex progression of events in that person’s life.

One may then have understanding/empathy for the person, while not necessarily condoning their actions. I think it becomes a lot more difficult to be judgemental of people in general. This is always context-dependent, of course. One may still feel great ambivalence and probably cognitive dissonance as a result of wanting to understand. The human mind is conflicted in so many ways, and I think it is equally damaging to neglect one’s own emotions as it will just perpetuate the cycle of suffering. Emotional invalidation can produce the most horrendous results in people.

As a side note, the law can be a potential great tool for executing justice, but it really depends on the interpretation of the law. The problem with the justice system does not necessarily lie in the written law as much as in the punitive repercussions, and how these can be interpreted as targeted toward the person rather than their actions. However, as resources are limited, even the most well-intentioned of systems become subject to error and abuse....as we all may be aware of, being more or less reluctantly caught in systems whether being aware of it or not. We simply do not have the resources to prevent abuse or error without introducing some sort of totalitarian big-brother watch...or we may very well be on the way.

And I guess, now that we’ve gone down that rabbit hole...what would happen in a violence-free, crime free, near- perfect society?
 

gps

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#19
As a side note, I think this is where the law can be a potential great tool for executing justice, but ...
You were on a pretty good roll there until you interjected this side note.
The `law' or `justice system' of the family of origin can forever taint a child's expectations of justice and whether or not he or she CAN even attempt to seek it ... let alone `hope for' or `expect' it.
If childhood leaves one with cPTSD one's ability to interact with both `law enforcement' functionaries and pretentious necessarily JUDGMENTal asses sitting on `the bench' -- yes, surrogate parents -- then this potential great tool
manifests as something decidedly less-great and less useful than one would desire of a tool qua `tool' ... as if personally useful.
By and large I'd characterize `the law' as productive of pro forma as-if justice rarely capable or humane enough to manifest catharsis, human development, or any other form of `kinder gentler' behavior.

On a side note:
Most INTPs -- as evinced by threads on other INTP groups I've participated in -- test as an Enneagram type which Riso and Hudson assert are ambivalent towards BOTH parents.
Ponder, if you will, the repercussions on how much `justice' or `satisfaction' was experienced in their/our formative years as those `making the laws' selectively enforced them perhaps on a not-so `fair and equal application of the laws' basis (ref 14th amendment to the US. Constitution).
Would those experiencing cathartic `justice' experience ambivalence toward those trusted(?) judges and their summary judgments of dubious `due process'?
Think about it.

The problem with the justice system does not necessarily lie in the written law as much as in the punitive repercussions, and how these can be interpreted as targeted toward the person rather than their actions.
Shall we use so-called `hate' crimes as an example
What part of assaulting or killing another isn't already covered by laws against both?
What happens when ever so `judicious' individuals -- lawyers liars, judges, and juries -- start dabbling into the MOTIVES underpinning facts-in-evidence criminal behavior?
How does The Accused NOT get used as an Ink Blot for a conjoined Rorschach Test?
How do those repressing traits they project onto others -- either individually or /en masse/ -- NOT have their way with a `defendant'?
Shall we round up the Coen brothers to do a reVisioning of Kafka's The Trial?
The actions of the individual are scanned for vilified, criminalized, socially-unacceptable EMOTION ... while the judgmental actions of the legalized MOB which stands in judgment remain shrouded in pious social sanction as juris /prudence/ ... a priori prudence.
No hubris to be found here.

If I jay walk sans malice aforethought I get community service; if I jay walk with HATRED IN MY HEART, I should get a life sentence as a sin eater for those vilifying hatred?
What the fuck should my emotional state have to do with my overt behavior?
Especially in victimless crimes.

I don't cry "Fire!" in a crowed theater ... yet if I use -- intending or not -- language not pre-approved by self-righteous Politically Correct judgmental asses elected Judge by NO ONE, by no democratic process ... then what can unfold?
How does the individual avoid the effects and affects of diffusion of responsibility enacted by Politically correct SJW's (re)acting en masse?
 

Polaris

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#20
Yes, but I think we agree :confused:

Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough in outlining the errors and abuse of such a system. My bad.
 
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#21
Hating a person you can understand them. Yes that is a kind of empathy. But people do not, in general, see empathy taking on such a negative manifestation but a positive one. (I feel I may get negative feedback here so I will just say I myself do not see people regarding empathy as negative use)
 

Hadoblado

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#22
Interesting AK.

I think... the people I have the strongest dismissive reactions to are the people I feel I understand too well. Like their intentions are too obvious and base for me to truly respect them. They're just predictably garbage. Whether this is because I actually understand them, or fail to understand them, is not entirely clear. From what I perceive as understanding flows a concerning lack of empathy.
 
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#24
Empathy is understanding people.
Empathy can be both emotional and cognitive.
Depending on the type of person this can be used to harm or help.
In my experience, people I've encountered behave such that they believe help is the main function.
I have not met every person on earth, only some of them, so that is what I experienced of peoples beliefs about empthy.
 

gps

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#25
if "Empathy is understanding people" then Donald Trump IS empathic as he understands people enough to tell them what they want to hear.
However most experts agree he is a sociopath and narcissist both widely regarded to lack or be incapable of empathy.

One may `understand' -- at an academic or cause-and-effect level -- people without empathizing with them.
The understanding of sociopaths and psychopaths may allow them to exploit people without ever having-to or incidentally `empathize' with them.
 
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#26
Cognitive and emotional empathy do not need neasisarily to coexist in the same person. (different levels exist) Sociopaths and psychopaths would have cognitive empathy and lack emotional empathy. Emotional empathy as I was saying is when you want to help. You would want to help because you feel what they feel emotionaly. I am not clear if this is so when empathy involves feeling the anger another person feels.
 

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#27
I don't have to experience what happened to sympathize with someone else. The older I got, the more I'd ensure I didn't imagine it all happening to me. I noticed it was pointless. That is, it'd result in misery and depression while doing nothing to remedy whatever happened. Also, no one really cares. During any bad time they want words or action. Usually words.

Empathy is being able to see from another's point of view.
 

gps

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#28
Emotional empathy as I was saying is when you want to help.
You would want to help because you feel what they feel emotionally.
I am not clear if this is so when empathy involves feeling the anger another person feels.
Okay.
Can we now decouple the seemingly spurious conflation of `want to help' from an empathtic resonance with another -- perhaps not even human -- being?

Can you find a definition of empathy anywhere on the web which includes the feature `wants to help'?

Once you've removed this rider for your notion of empathy you're tasked with playing out your favoritism FOR some acceptable emotions and AGAINST others.
I've seen NO definition of `empathy' which makes such distinctions as you apparently do.

I was at an Emotions Anonymous meeting once where a fellow participant sitting across from me stood up, attempted to tower over me, and ANGRILY proclaimed, "YOU HAVE AN ANGER PROBLEM!!" to which I calmly responded, "What is it you spot that you don't got?"
The other participants had all previously heard, "If you spot it, you got it." on several prior occasions.
My projective testee looked sheepish, sat back down, and shut up.

If you can't empathize with those experiencing anger, odds are, you routinely suppress/repress your OWN anger and thus can't or won't empathically `identify with' anger when you apperceive/notice it in others ... perhaps even when expressed passive-aggressively or in an otherwise subtle, non-overt way.
 

BurnedOut

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#29
Empathy = internal emotional response
but
Internal emotional response =! Empathy

This means that empathy is elicited by emotional responses that take place due to external stimuli. However the whole thing in reverse order is not possible or true in each and every scenario. Oversimplification : if empathy then emotional response.

I surmise that people feel varying levels of empathy for different people. It operates on the principle of randomness (accoupled with biased probability towards elicitation of reaction) simply because sometimes we feel empathy, sometimes we don't. Empathy is more of an anticipatory response. You see an entity of your species and you unconsciously anticipate a reaction which is directly correlated to the thermostat of hormonal systems in your brain relative to their concentration with the supramarginal gyros in the frontal lobe. The mechanisms of this response is still unknown but we can still try to root out a number of causes. I theorise that it can be :

1. A negative response triggering the limbic system and memories related to the emotions assessed by the brain by its natural ability to gauge emotions by various observations. This makes us feel the same emotion but not exactly the same. This can work both for in-person empathy and out-of-range empathy.

2. Another theory is that our body just like many insects, animals and even plants trigger panic-pheromones which automatically puts the other person to action.

One possible reason why we don't get influenced by someone's emotional state sometimes might be because of the active usage of the prefrontal cortex or the concentration of one hormone which doesn't balance out the other hormones, giving a monoemotional state or malfunctioning of the limbic and emotional processing system.
However it is interesting to note that, even if empathy doesn't take place right at the moment, it can still happen after a delay (very much true in my case) which means our brain still registers a distress call unconsciously.
Sorry for the digression, my answer to your question is empathy and emotional state have a same Base, one sided relationship but no wired connection as such which will cause them to work two way

2.

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BurnedOut

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#30
Okay, theory confirmed, our body can release distress pheromones. Just looked up.

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