Too Close for Comfort?
Lessons from Excesses and Deficits of Compassion in Psychopathology
In this essay, we raise an intriguing question not considered explicitly in the literature on compassion: Are there pathological levels of compassion? We provide an overview of the emergent findings related to the experience and expression of compassion in psychopathology. Three conceptual themes are reviewed for considering the empirical relationship between psychopathology and disturbed compassion, including deficits, excesses, and preservations in compassion examined transdiagnostically across disorders ranging from mania to sociopathy. This work provides an important window into addressing the question concerning the boundary conditions of compassion and when it might go awry.
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