A Perspective from Developmental Psychopathology
One important source of insight into the development of empathy and morality is the study of children who have profound difficulties in establishing and sustaining affective engagement with other people. This contribution shall consider how individuals with autism face special difficulty in this aspect of their interpersonal relations. It shall draw upon clinical studies and experimental research in autism to explore not only what empathy entails, but also, what are its broader implications for a person’s attitudes toward the welfare of others, for the development of emotional reactions such as feelings of guilt or shame, and for other aspects of moral conduct.
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