Understanding the Concept of Empathy and Its Foundations in Psychoanalysis

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This work situates the notion of empathy broadly within the historical context of its origins and conceptual development, particularly in psychotherapy. It relates the term to its wider usage in popular culture. Chapters survey the contributions of several psychoanalytic writers, from Freud to Kohut, as well as more recent psychoanalytic inquiries. More specific contributions examine aetiology, description, function and epistemology within the psychoanalytic framework. The work concludes with exploration of some ramifications of the 'empathic stance' for broader application in forms of therapy.


". . . it should appeal to a wide audience both lay and professional. A familiarity with some technical jargon helps but by and large the book is clearly set out and readable. . . . an original and invaluable addition to the field of empathy research." -- Dr. Peter Parker, Director, Child Psychology Program, Austin Hospital, Melbourne

"A serious reading of this book forces us to confront our basic assumptions about the essential contributions of empathy to human relationships and developmental processes from infancy to old age. . . . Dr. Sharma's original contribution, tackling the formidable categories of problems posed by empathy in the philosophical, clinical and social domains, should become an important stimulus for debate and creative thinking to guide and clarify future explorations associated with the problem of empathy." -- George Halasz

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