Empathy and Empathic Disconnection in Difficult and Uneasy Situations: Facing the Suicidal Individual



Empathy, in the patient-clinician relationship, plays a key role. Here we address this issue from a neuroscientific perspective, as neuroscience research attempts are shedding much light on the mechanisms underlying empathy. In particular, we focus on the relationship between clinician and suicidal individuals that represents a difficult category of patients that puts the emotional and empathic regulation capacity to the test. Therefore, we provide the reader with an overview on the current neuroscientific knowledge about empathy, intending to return an interpretative clue and favour new intuitions promoting a better comprehension, based on a scientific use of empathy in the patient-clinician relationship. We then propose the concept of “empathic disconnection” referring to those situations in which the clinician, automatically and unconsciously, puts him/herself in the position of not taking any advantage from the empathic relationship with the patient. We propose the concept of “empathic moment” as a communicative strategy, whose goal is to intentionally use empathic mechanisms to gather information directed at identifying the inner state of the patient. We finally suggest the use of vitality forms as a relevant element for the cognitive analysis of the patient’s inner states. We conclude with some practical-applicative considerations based on what is discussed.


Suicidal Individuals Empathic Moment Empathic Mechanisms Affective Empathy Empathic Resonance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.C.d.L. Magistrale Medicina e ChirurgiaUniversity of ParmaParmaItaly
  2. 2.PordenoneItaly

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