Advertisement

Psychological Studies

, Volume 57, Issue 4, pp 336–347 | Cite as

Some Aspects of Empathy in the Process of Psychotherapy: Learning from Indian Tradition

  • Raghubir Singh PirtaEmail author
Review Article

Abstract

This article focuses on some practices in Indian tradition as interventions for enhancing empathy among aspiring psychotherapists. In this venture, author after briefly looking into the evolution of pro-social behavior, it defines basic nature of bond formation between therapist and client, and then summarizes findings of studies on Eastern meditational practices in the context of empathy. Since there is not much convincing evidence that meditational practices enhanced empathy in psychotherapists, the suggestion is to explore other processes in the Indian tradition. Intuition (pratibha) and holistic learning (vyutpatti) are among those processes, respectively, for journeys into the inner world and interventions at community level. They are pragmatic ways to sensitize the aspiring psychotherapists.

Keywords

Altruism Affection Intuition Empathy Meditation Mental health 

References

  1. Anandarajah, G. (2008). The 3H and BMSEST models for spirituality in multicultural whole-person medicine. Annals of Family Medicine, 6(5), 448–458.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andreasen, N. A. (2011). A journey into chaos: creativity and the unconscious. Mens Sana Monographs, 9(1), 42–53.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adrade, C., & Radhakrishnan, R. (2009). Prayer and healing: a medical and scientific perspective on randomized controlled trials. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 51(4), 247–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Atran, S., & Henrich, J. (2010). The evolution of religion: how cognitive by-products, adaptive learning heuristics, ritual displays, and group competition generate deep commitments to prosocial religions. Biological Theory, 5(1), 18–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory: an agentic perspective. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 1–26.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bering, J. M. (2006). The folk psychology of souls. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 29, 453–498.Google Scholar
  7. Bowlby, J. (1958). The nature of the child’s tie to his mother. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 39, 350–373.Google Scholar
  8. Bowlby, J. (1977). The making and breaking of affectional bonds I. Aetiology and psychopathology in the light of attachment theory. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 130, 201–210.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Boyd, R., Gintis, H., Bowles, S., & Richerson, P. J. (2003). The evolution of altruistic punishment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 100(6), 3531–3535.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Boyer, P. (2003). Religious thought and behaviour as by-products of brain function. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7(3), 119–124.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Broota, K. D. (1997). Beliefs and their functional significance. Trends in Social Science Research, 4(1), 133–139.Google Scholar
  12. Chatterjee, P. (1993). A religion of urban domesticity: Sri Ramakrishna and the Calcutta middle class. In P. Chatterjee & G. Pandey (Eds.), Subaltern studies, volume VII (pp. 40–68). Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Chattopadhyay, P. K. (2010). Clinical psychology. In G. Misra (Ed.), Psychology in India. Volume 3: Clinical and health psychology (pp. 1–106). New Delhi: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  14. Cicirelli, V. G. (2004). God as the ultimate attachment figure for older adults. Attachment & Human Development, 6(4), 371–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cornelissen, R. M. M. (2011). What is knowledge? a reflection based on the work of Sri Aurobindo. In R. M. M. Cornelissen, G. Misra, & S. Varma (Eds.), Foundations of Indian psychology. Volume 1. Theories and concepts (pp. 332–360). Delhi: Pearson.Google Scholar
  16. Dalal, A. K. (2011). Folk wisdom and traditional healing practices: Some lessons for modern psychotherapies. In R. M. M. Cornelissen, G. Misra, & S. Varma (Eds.), Foundations of Indian psychology. Volume 2. Practical applications (pp. 21–35). Delhi: Pearson.Google Scholar
  17. Daniels, M. (2002). The transpersonal self: 1. A psychohistory and phenomenology of the soul. Transpersonal Psychology Review, 6(1), 17–28.Google Scholar
  18. Davidson, R. J., & Lutz, A. (2008). Buddha’s brain: neuroplasticity and meditation. IEEE Signal Processing, 25(1), 171–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dawkins, R. (2006). The God delusion. London: Bantam Press.Google Scholar
  20. Dreze, J., & Sen, A. (2002). India. Development and participation. New Delhi: Oxford.Google Scholar
  21. Frankl, V. E. (1959/2008). Man’s search for meaning. The classic tribute to hope from the holocaust. London: Rider.Google Scholar
  22. Friedman, H. (2002). Transpersonal psychology as a scientific field. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 21, 175–187.Google Scholar
  23. Friedman, H. (2005). Problems of romanticism in transpersonal psychology: a case study of Aikido. Humanistic Psychologist, 31(1), 3–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gallese, V. (2006). Mirror neurons and intentional attunement: commentary on olds. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 54(1), 46–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gupta, V., Surie, G., Javidan, M., & Chhoker, J. (2002). Southern Asia cluster: where the old meets the new? Journal of World Business, 37, 16–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Grof, S. (1975/1996). Realms of the human unconscious: Observations from LSD research. London: Souvenir Press.Google Scholar
  27. Grof, S. (2008). Brief history of transpersonal psychology. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 27, 46–54.Google Scholar
  28. Haldane, J. B. S. (1964). A defense of beanbag genetics. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 7(3), 343–359.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Hebb, D. O. (1959). A neuropsychological theory. In S. Koch (Ed.), Psychology: A study of a science, volume 1 (pp. 622–643). New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.Google Scholar
  30. Hoch, E. M. (1977). Psychotherapy for the illiterate. In S. Arieti & G. Chrzanowski (Eds.), New dimensions in psychiatry: A world view. Volume 2 (pp. 75–92). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  31. Hoenig, P. (2010). Totem and taboo: the case for a secession clause in the Indian constitution? Economic and Political Weekly, 45(39), 43–50.Google Scholar
  32. Horan, R. (2009). The neuropsychological connection between creativity and meditation. Creativity Research Journal, 21(2–3), 199–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hussain, D., & Bhushan, B. (2010). Psychology of meditation and health: present status and future directions. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 10(3), 439–451.Google Scholar
  34. Jena, S. P. K. (2008). Behaviour therapy: Techniques, research and applications. New Delhi: Sage.Google Scholar
  35. Jung, C. G. (1969). The archetypes and the collective unconscious. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. (second edition; translated by R. F. C. Hull).Google Scholar
  36. Kandel, E. (1999). Biology and the future of psychoanalysis: a new intellectual framework for psychiatry revisited. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 156, 505–524.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Kakar, S. (1982). Shamans, mystics and doctors. Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Kakar, S. (1997). Culture and psyche: Selected essays. Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Kakar, S. (2009). The resurgence of imagination: psychoanalysts can learn about empathy from Eastern traditions. Harvard Divinity Bulletin, 37(1), 47–57.Google Scholar
  40. Kakar, S. (2011). A book in memory: Confessions and reflections. New Delhi: Viking.Google Scholar
  41. Kapur, M. (2001). Mental health, illness and therapy. In J. Pandey (Ed.), Psychology in India revisited. Developments in the discipline. Volume 2. Personality and health psychology (pp. 412–472). New Delhi: Sage.Google Scholar
  42. Kazdin, A. E. (2009). Psychological science’s contributions to a sustainable environment: extending our reach to a grand challenge of society. American Psychologist, 64(5), 339–356.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Krishnan, L. (2005). Concepts of social behaviour in India: daan and distributive justice. Psychological Studies, 50(1), 21–31.Google Scholar
  44. Krishnan, L. (2011). Culture and distributive justice: General comments and some insights from the Indian context. In G. Misra (Ed.), Handbook of psychology in India (pp. 205–225). New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Kripal, J. J. (1998). Kali’s child: The mystical and the erotic in the life and teachings of Ramakrishna (2nd ed.). New York: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  46. Kristeller, J. L., & Johnson, T. (2005). Cultivating loving kindness: a two-stage model of the effects of meditation on empathy, compassion, and altruism. Zygon, 40(2), 391–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kumar, S. K. K. (2011). Indian indigenous concepts and perspectives: Developments and future possibilities. In G. Misra (Ed.), Psychology in India. Volume 4: Theoretical and methodological developments (pp. 93–171). New Delhi: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  48. Lieberman, M. D. (2000). Intuition: a social cognitive neuroscience approach. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 109–137.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Loizzo, J. (2009). Optimizing learning and quality of life throughout the lifespan. A global framework for research and application. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1172, 186–198.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Manickam, L. S. S. (2010). Psychotherapy in India. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 52(7), 366–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Masson, J. M. (1976). The psychology of ascetic. Journal of Asian Studies, 35(4), 611–625.Google Scholar
  52. Mehta, M., & Gupta, D. (2011). Therapeutic practices in mental health: Changing perspectives. In G. Misra (Ed.), Handbook of psychology in India (pp. 254–272). New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Misra, G. (2010). Introduction. In G. Misra (Ed.), Psychology in India. Volume 3: Clinical and health psychology (pp. xv–xxv). New Delhi: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  54. Misra, G. (2011). Knowing in the Indian tradition. In R. M. M. Cornelissen, G. Misra, & S. Varma (Eds.), Foundations of Indian psychology. Volume 1. Theories and concepts (pp. 312–331). Delhi: Pearson.Google Scholar
  55. Moss, D. (2001). Soul and spirit in health care. Biofeedback, 29(3), Fall.Google Scholar
  56. Nandy, A. (1997). Facing extermination: a report on the present state of the gods and goddesses in South Asia. Manushi, 99, 5–19.Google Scholar
  57. Nandy, A. (2009). The demonic and the seductive in religious nationalism: Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and the rites of exorcism in secularizing South Asia. Heidelberg Papers in South Asian and Comparative Politics, Working Paper No. 44.Google Scholar
  58. Neki, J. S. (1973). Guru-Chela relationship: the possibility of a therapeutic paradigm. The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 43, 755–766.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Neki, J. S. (1977). Dependence: Cross-cultural consideration of dynamics. In S. Arieti & G. Chrzanowski (Eds.), New dimensions in psychiatry: A world view. Volume 2 (pp. 93–112). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  60. Neki, J. S. (2002). Haumai: ‘I’ The Sikh concept of individuation. The Sikh Review, 50(12), September.Google Scholar
  61. Nikhilananda, S. (1928/2008). Life of Sri Ramakrishna. Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama.Google Scholar
  62. Norenzayan, A., & Hansen, I. G. (2006). Belief in supernatural agents in the face of death. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(2), 174–187.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Norenzayan, A., & Shariff, A. F. (2008). The origin and evolution of religious prosociality. Science, 322, 58–62.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Nowak, M. A. (2006). Five rules for the evolution of cooperation. Science, 314, 1560–1563.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Obeyesekere, G. (2004). The Buddhist meditative askesis: a variety of the visionary experience. Harvard Divinity Bulletin, 32(3), 7–10.Google Scholar
  66. Pirta, R. S. (1986). Cooperative life of rhesus monkeys. In T. C. Majupuria (Ed.), Wildlife wealth of India (resouces and management) (pp. 346–365). Bangkok: Tecpress Service.Google Scholar
  67. Pirta, R. S. (2003). Native cognition of sustainable development in the western Himalaya. Psychological Studies, 48(2), 30–42.Google Scholar
  68. Pirta, R. S. (2005). Community mental health approach in rural areas: developing the traditional institution. Journal of Personality and Clinical Studies, 21, 91–108.Google Scholar
  69. Pirta, R. S. (2006). Community-based approach to mental health: the traditional healing. Journal of Community Guidance & Research, 23(2), 161–177.Google Scholar
  70. Pirta, R. S. (2007). Ecology and human well-being: Nature and society in Himachal Pradesh. Delhi: Shipra Publications.Google Scholar
  71. Pirta, R. S. (2009). Biological and ecological bases of behaviour. In G. Misra (Ed.), Psychology in India. Volume 1: Basic psychological processes and human development (pp. 1–67). New Delhi: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  72. Pirta, R. S. (2011a). Indigenous approach to environmental psychology. In G. Misra (Ed.), Handbook of psychology in India (pp. 313–326). New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  73. Pirta, R. S. (2011b). Search for values. Report of the Working Group on Ecosystem Resilience, Biodiversity and Sustainable Livelihoods for the XII Five-Year Plan. Annexure 9. The Planning Commission of India (Environment & Forest Division): planningcommission.nic.in/aboutus/committee/…/enf/wg_ecobio.pdf. Accessed on 30.03.2012.Google Scholar
  74. Pirta, R. S. (2012). Mutuality of mind and body: role of supernatural elements in human well-being. Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology, 38(2), 221–233.Google Scholar
  75. Purzycki, B. G., & Sosis, R. (2011). Our Gods: Variation in supernatural minds. In U. J. Frey et al. (Eds.), Essential building blocks of human nature (pp. 77–93). Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Raffone, A., & Srinivasan, N. (2010). The exploration of meditation in the neuroscience of attention and consciousness. Cognitive Process, 11(1), 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Ram, K. (2001). The female body of possession: A feminist perspective on rural Tamil women’s experience. In B. V. Davar (Ed.), Mental health from a gender perspective (pp. 181–216). New Delhi: Sage.Google Scholar
  78. Rao, K. (2010). Psychological interventions: From theory to practice. In G. Misra (Ed.), Psychology in India. Volume 3: Clinical and health psychology (pp. 317–359). New Delhi: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  79. Rawson, P. (1978). The art of tantra. London: Thames and Hudson.Google Scholar
  80. Raychaudhuri, T. (1999). Perceptions, emotions, sensibilities: Essays on India’s colonial and post-colonial experiences. Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  81. Roland, A. (2007). The contemplative life and psychopathology. Prabuddha Bharata, 112(1), 150–156.Google Scholar
  82. Salagame, K. K. K. (2011). Ego and ahamkara: Self and identity in modern psychology and Indian thought. In R. M. M. Cornelissen, G. Misra, & S. Varma (Eds.), Foundations of Indian psychology. Volume 1. Theories and concepts (pp. 133–145). Delhi: Pearson.Google Scholar
  83. Sarkar, S. (1997). Writing social history. Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  84. Sax, W. S. (2009). God of justice: Ritual healing and social justice in the central Himalayas. Oxford: New York.Google Scholar
  85. Schloss, J. P., & Murray, M. J. (2011). Evolutionary accounts of belief in supernatural punishment: a critical review. Religion, Brain & Behavior, 1(1), 46–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Sen, N. N. (1961a). An objective study of ‘experimental neurosis’ I—an historical and critical review. Psychological Studies, 6(1), 10–29.Google Scholar
  87. Sen, N. N. (1961b). An objective study of ‘experimental neurosis’ II—behavioural changes during ‘experimental neurosis’. Psychological Studies, 6(2), 18–58.Google Scholar
  88. Sen, N. N. (1962). An objective study of ‘experimental neurosis’ III—after-effects of ‘experimental stress’. Psychological Studies, 7(2), 38–42.Google Scholar
  89. Sen, N. N. (1968). A historical introduction to behaviour therapy. Paper presented at a seminar on Behaviour Therapy & Speech Disorders held on December 26, 1968 at the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Mysore-5.Google Scholar
  90. Sen, N. N. (1969). The challenge of emerging trends in mental health. Presidential Address delivered at the First Annual General Body Meeting of the Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists held in Bangalore on 14 Oct., 1969.Google Scholar
  91. Sen, N. N. (1974). Behaviour therapy in depression—I: an experimental analysis. Indian Journal of Clinical Psychology, 1, 53–58.Google Scholar
  92. Sen, N. N. (1975). Behaviour therapy in depression—II: plan and procedure of case analysis and treatment. Indian Journal of Clinical Psychology, 2, 77–85.Google Scholar
  93. Shapiro, S. L., & Izett, C. D. (2008). Meditation: A universal tool for cultivating empathy. In D. Hick & T. Bein (Eds.), Mindfulness and the therapeutic relationship (pp. 161–175). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  94. Sharma, P., Charak, R., & Sharma, V. (2009). Contemporary perspectives on spirituality and mental health. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 31(1), 16–23.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Sharma, S., & Misra, G. (2010). Health psychology: Progress and challenges. In G. Misra (Ed.), Psychology in India. Volume 3: Clinical and health psychology (pp. 265–316). New Delhi: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  96. Shariff, A. F., & Norenzayan, A. (2007). God is watching you: priming God concepts increases prosocial behavior in an anonymous economic game. Psychological Science, 18, 803–809.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Sperry, R. W. (1991). Search for beliefs to live by consistent with science. Zygon, 26(2), 237–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Sperry, R. W. (1992). Paradigms of belief, theory and metatheory. Zygon, 27(3), 245–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Srinivasan, N. (2011). Cognitive science: Emerging perspectives and approaches. In G. Misra (Ed.), Handbook of psychology in India (pp. 46–57). New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  100. Srinivasa Murthy, R. (1998). Rural psychiatry in developing countries. Psychiatric Services, 49, 967–969.Google Scholar
  101. Srinivasa Murthy, R. (2004). Mental health in the new millennium: research strategies for India. Indian Journal of Medical Research, 120, 63–66.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  102. Subramanya, P., & Telles, S. (2009). A review of the scientific studies on cyclic meditation. International Journal of Yoga, 2(2), 46–48.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Swann, W. B., Jr., Jetten, J., Gomez, A., Whitehouse, H., Bastian, B. (2012, May 28). When group membership gets personal: a theory of identity fusion. Psychological Review, Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0028589.
  104. Travis, F., & Shear, J. (2010). Focused attention, open monitoring and automatic self- transcending: categories to organize meditations from Vedic, Buddhist and Chinese traditions. Consciousness and Cognition, 19(4), 1110–1118.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  105. Tyagananda, S. (2002). Kali’s child revisited or didn’t anyone check the documentation? Evam-Forum on Indian Representations, 1(1&2), 173–190. (www.gemstone-av.com/KCR3b.pdf).
  106. Vahali, H. O. (2009). Lives in exile: Exploring the inner world of Tibetan refugees. New Delhi: Routledge.Google Scholar
  107. Vahali, H. O. (2011). Landscaping a perspective: India and the psychoanalytic vista. In G. Misra (Ed.), Psychology in India. Volume 4: Theoretical and methodological developments (pp. 1–92). New Delhi: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  108. Van der Horst, F. C. P., Van der Veer, R., & Van IJzendoorn, M. H. (2007). John Bowlby and ethology: an annotated interview with Robert Hinde. Attachment & Human Development, 9(4), 321–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  109. Velmans, M. (2007). An epistemology for the study of consciousness. In M. Velmans & S. Schneider (Eds.), The Blackwell companion to consciousness (pp. 711–725). New York: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  110. Wallace, B. A. (2009). Within you and without you. Tricycle, Winter, 78–119.Google Scholar
  111. Young-Bruehl, E. (2003). Where do we fall when we fall in love? Journal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society, 8(2), 279–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© National Academy of Psychology (NAOP) India 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyHimachal Pradesh UniversityShimlaIndia

Personalised recommendations