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Authors: Thiemo Breyer and Anna Storms

Abstract

This article investigates the possible functions of empathic interpersonal engagement in the context of medicine and health care. While empathy can be understood in different ways on a theoretical level – as an embodied process of resonance and synchronization, as an affective process of emotional sharing, as a cognitive process of understanding the other, or as a narrative process of externalizing and communicating personal experiences – it is often called for on a normative level as a desideratum in the competence of medical professionals. We address this issue by introducing different models of the relationality between doctors and patients, in order to clarify which dimensions of empathy are relevant in which model and raise the question whether empathy is more than a nice-to-have virtue on the side of the professionals.

Open Access
In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society