Forbes Magazine recently published an interesting article titled Study: To The Human Brain, Me Is We. Here's the heart of the article:
If you read the abstract of the study (scholarly language for "summary"), you'll find that the researchers used fMRI scans of the study participants' brains to compare their reactions to a perceived threat to themselves with their reactions to a perceived threat to a friend and to threats to strangers.A new study from University of Virginia researchers supports a finding that’s been gaining science-fueled momentum in recent years: the human brain is wired to connect with others so strongly that it experiences what they experience as if it’s happening to us.
The researchers' description of the subjects' reactions uses names of brain parts that most of ua are not familiar with, but what it boils down to is that we react physically the same way to threats against the people we feel most connected to as we do to threats against ourselves. But not to threats against strangers.
It seems that we don't have built in wiring for stranger empathy, but we are hard-wired for empathy for the people we're close to. How we experience threats to them is the same way we experience threats to ourselves.
The article also references the work of Dr. Dan Siegel, one of my favorite neurobiology authors and teachers. Dr. Siegel writes eloquently and accessibly (to non neuro-trained people) about the importance of connectivity to the creation of what we call the mind.
If you'd like to read more about that, here are two excellent books. (The second one is the more technical.)
psychotherapists, since so many of the things our clients come to us for are related to their connection to others.
Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
Upper West Side Counseling