I'll be showing the power that empathy has in three functions, healing, mediation, and reconciliation. In the previous session, we looked at the dynamics of empathy. We saw how it requires our full presence to another person, and full presence on what's alive in them, what they're feeling and needing. In this session, I will show just how powerful that process can be.
In healing past wounds, mediating conflicts between people, and reconciling groups that are at war with each other, to see how they can live in peace and harmony, the power of empathy.
First, let's look at how empathy supports healing. The word healing has some aspects that I get concerned about, because when it's applied to people's emotional pain, we use this term mental illness, and then we think of trying to heal the illness.
I have some deep concerns about the concept of mental illness. My concerns about this concept began when I receive some precious gifts from a professor I had at the university just before I was ready to graduate with my doctor's degree in clinical psychology.
This professor showed me the scientific limitations of the concept of mental illness, and the political dangers of this concept. He helped me to see that there was almost no reliability about how professionals use these terms because it was an real scientific basis for all of the different problems that were defined in the basic manual used by psychiatrists and psychologists to make diagnoses.
So what one professional might call a bipolar disease, another might call something else. And research shows that there's very little reliability of a scientific nature about how all of these terms in the manual are used. But what's more important to me is the political dangers he pointed out to this. He pointed out to me that we live under political and economic structures that require a certain education that contributes to great pain on the part of large numbers of people.
He helped me to see how the concept of mental illness takes the focus away from what might be causing the problems, the structures and the education they require. And by making it look like it's something that's wrong within individuals, we take away from what's really creating the problem. And we do it in a way that isn't really helpful and helping the people because we talk as though they have an illness. When it isn't an illness they have, it's an educational problem that they have. They've been educated in a way that might make them depressed, or educated in a way that might make them insensitive to other people's needs and preoccupied only getting their own needs met regardless of how it affects other people.
Nonviolent communication is a process that consists of an intention to contribute to our own well being, and the well being of others, compassionately. So that whatever we do is done willingly, not done out of guilt, or shame, or fear of punishment, or trying to buy love, by submitting to what we think others expect us to do. That we give solely out of the joy that comes naturally from contributing to life. Our own life and the lives of others.