The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty

The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty - Simon Baron-Cohen This is my share of a dual review posted at Boxes of Paper.Like shelterdowns, the title of this book caught my eye, but in my case it was the term empathy.  I've become interested in empathy since discovering the work of Dr. Brené Brown, who researches the connection between wholehearted living, empathy, vulnerability and shame.One of Dr. Brown's catchphrase/explanations is "Shame is 'I'm bad"; guilt is 'I did something bad."  This is echoed in The Science of Evil when the Baron-Cohen quotes Peter Lipton:If we treat another person as essentially bad, we dehumanize him or her.  If we take the view that every human being has some good in them, even if it is only 0.1 percent of their makeup, then by focusing on their good part, we humanize them.  By acknowledging and attended to and rewarding their good part, we allow it to grow, like a flower in a desert.I agree with pretty much everything in shelterdowns review, so I won't repeat it, but there was one passage that caught my eye which she doesn't mention. Baron-Cohen puts forth the idea that a factor in the development of anorexia may be an inhibition in the brain's ability to feel empathy for the self. Though he does not mention it, my mind immediately began to wonder about the brain chemistry of cutters and others who practice other forms of self-harm.One only has to turn on the news to see that we are living in a world that needs more empathy, for both each other and for ourselves. I welcome more books like this one, and like Dr. Brown's. It's time we started to speak empathy aloud. There are no more reassuring words in the world, sometimes, than these:"I understand what that's like."