Sex Abuse June 2013 vol. 25 no. 3 282-301
Victim Empathy Intervention With Sexual Offenders
"Rehabilitation, Punishment, or Correctional Quackery?
"A sexual offender is thought to have victim empathy when he has a cognitive and emotional understanding of the experience of the victim of his sexual offense. Most sex offender treatment programs devote significant time to developing victim empathy. The authors examine three meta-analytic studies and some individual studies that suggest victim empathy work is unnecessary, or even harmful. Service user studies, however, report positive reactions to victim empathy work. The authors conclude that the enthusiasm for victim empathy work as a rehabilitative endeavor is disproportionate given the weak evidence base and the lack of a coherent theoretical model of change. However, because the research is inconclusive, it is not possible to conclude that victim empathy work is “correctional quackery.” We suggest a research program to clarify whether or not victim empathy intervention for sexual offenders has value."
Sunday, September 29, 2013
What Could Those Empathy Researchers Be Thinking? Complications, Controversies, Research, and Practice
"The above title is a weak attempt at humor. Many of the best and brightest in our field have touted the importance of empathy in the treatment of sexual offenders. It’s as though we’ve always known it in our hearts: If you truly understand someone’s internal experience, you’re less likely to hurt them. Yet the available research begs to differ, and this is frustrating to many of us. What could the researchers have been thinking? And, what are we all feeling?"
Oct. 13, 2013
Bunnies, Stinkbugs and Maggots: The Secrets of Empathy
"Feeling what someone else feels isn't easy, but the brain is wired for it
I shouldn’t give a hoot about how you feel—and you shouldn’t care about my feelings either. In a world in which survival and procreation are our greatest genetic imperatives, it has always paid to keep our eyes firmly focused on the prize—which is ourselves. But in a world in which we also depend for that survival (to say nothing of those procreative opportunities) on other people, we need a healthy dose of empathy too. For humans, that has always created behavioral tension."
October 16, 2013
Empathy Strongly Affected By Our Own Emotional State
"A new study shows that our own feelings may hamper our ability to feel empathy. And if we have to make sudden decisions, empathy is even further restricted.
Up until now, researchers have hypothesized that we mainly draw on our own emotions as a reference for empathy. This only works, however, if we are in a neutral state or the same state as our counterpart — otherwise, the brain must counteract and correct."