During this course, I hope to learn about ethical issues which I will be facing as a student as well as a professional one day. I have already found myself in situations where I was faced with an “ethical dilemma” and had to see to it that I handled it the best way I could. I was only able to do this because on this specific occasion I had already learnt how to deal with this dilemma correctly. This made me feel professional on a student level and also proud to be practicing my work correctly and morally. This is the main outcome I would like to achieve.
Before I talk about empathy and my feelings towards it, I will first define what it means.
“Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling. Empathy is known to increase pro-social (helping) behaviours. “(Psychology Today, 2013)
With that said, empathy definitely does play a huge role in professional practice. On a day to day basis as Physiotherapists, we will be engaging, interacting and working with kaleidoscope of individuals, each with their own problems and experiences.
Alexithymics are people who have no idea what they feel themselves and are at a complete loss when it comes to knowing what anyone else around them is feeling. They are emotionally tone-deaf.
Therefore, empathy builds on self-awareness; the more open we are to our own emotions, the more skilled we will be in reading feelings and responding to them.
Should you lie to keep from hurting a friend’s feelings? Should you keep a promise to visit a sick friend or accept a last minute invitation to a dinner party instead? When should a life support system be kept going for someone who would otherwise die?
These moral questions are posed by the empathy researcher Martin Hoffman, who argues that the roots of morality are to be found in empathy, since it is empathizing with the potential victims. Beyond this immediate link between empathy and altruism in personal encounters, Hoffman proposes that the same capacity for empathic affect, for putting oneself in another’s place, leads people to follow certain moral principles,
Their social poise lets them easily reach out to new people; they are comfortable enough with themselves to be open to empathetic experiences.