Neurological Sciences

, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 855–859 | Cite as

Addiction and empathy: a preliminary analysis

  • Valentina Ferrari
  • Enrico Smeraldi
  • Giampiero Bottero
  • Ernestina PolitiEmail author
Original Article


Addicted patients show impaired social functioning. Chronic drug consumption may lead to impairments in decoding empathic cues. The aim of the study is to explore empathy abilities in addicted patients and the hypothesis of a differential impairment between affective and cognitive empathy. 62 addicted patients and 40 healthy volunteers were evaluated using the empathy quotient (EQ) and its subscales cognitive empathy (factor 1), emotional empathy (factor 2), social skills (factor 3). Patients scored statistically significantly lower than controls in EQ total score, in particular in factor 2. No difference was found in factor 1 and in factor 3. Consistent with previous findings, our study suggests specific impairment in emotional empathy combined with preserved cognitive empathy. These findings show important clinical implication in the development of specific rehabilitative programmes for the empowerment of empathy abilities and interpersonal skills that constitute important components in the prevention of relapse.


Social cognition Empathy Addiction Neurorehabilitation 



The authors are grateful to Claudia Soldi, psychologist

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valentina Ferrari
    • 1
  • Enrico Smeraldi
    • 1
  • Giampiero Bottero
    • 1
  • Ernestina Politi
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Neuropsychiatry SciencesScientific Institute and University Vita Salute San RaffaeleMilanItaly

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