Empathy vs. Compassion

Published May 11, 2009 2:01AM ET

A groundbreaking study suggests people with autism-spectrum disorders such as Asperger’s do not lack empathy—rather they feel others’ emotions too intensely to cope.


Me, Stephen:

And I always try to point out... empathy is a scientific term. Animals can have empathy. Compassion is learned, from storybooks, fiction... animals don't write books/create films/etc. Using metaphors of modern computers, I view empathy as hardware/genetics and compassion as microcode/firmware. It's very difficult to teach/program, but it can be done. I view military boot camp, which has a lot of the same teaching and housing methods regardless of which part of the world, as stripping compassion and having it only for the in-group/buddies.