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Pathological Altruism$
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Barbara Oakley, Ariel Knafo, Guruprasad Madhavan, and David Sloan Wilson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199738571

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738571.001.0001

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Empathic Distress Fatigue Rather Than Compassion Fatigue? Integrating Findings from Empathy Research in Psychology and Social Neuroscience

Empathic Distress Fatigue Rather Than Compassion Fatigue? Integrating Findings from Empathy Research in Psychology and Social Neuroscience

Chapter:
Chapter 28 Empathic Distress Fatigue Rather Than Compassion Fatigue? Integrating Findings from Empathy Research in Psychology and Social Neuroscience
Source:
Pathological Altruism
Author(s):

Olga Klimecki

Tania Singer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738571.003.0253

In this chapter, we discuss the role of empathy as the main precursor for prosocial behavior, taking perspectives that span from social and developmental psychology to social neuroscience. We begin by introducing compassion fatigue in caregivers as a form of pathological altruism. We move on to introduce such relevant concepts as empathy, compassion, empathic concern, and distress; we then review relevant empirical findings from social and developmental psychology and social neuroscience. Finally, we propose a new integrative model that suggests that the term compassion fatigue should be replaced by the term empathic distress fatigue to more accurately account for symptoms of withdrawal and burnout. We conclude by outlining potential ways to circumvent the downside of too much empathy.

Keywords:   compassion fatigue, empathic distress, empathy, empathic concern, prosocial behavior, social neuroscience

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