ERIC Number: ED326814
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Aug-10
Reference Count: N/A
The Anti-Empathic Attitude in Clients and Therapists.
Hager, Drevis L.
This document notes that it is commonly recognized that empathic attunement is vital if psychotherapy is to be truly therapeutic. It goes on to explain that, in spite of this recognition, therapists and clients alike will frequently demonstrate an anti-empathic attitude that indicates a basic opposition to understanding and being understood. In-session behavioral and experiential manifestations of this phenomenon are discussed, and many of the psychodynamics underlying the desire to avoid or destroy empathic understanding are identified. It is contended that this anti-empathic attitude occurs in many psychotherapy situations and accounts for the majority of psychotherapeutic failures. The first section of the paper deals with the patient's anti-empathic attitude, looking at in-session indicators that can help the therapist to identify when a client is resisting empathic connection, and discussing the underlying issues of self-esteem motives, guilt and self-punishment motives, and self-protective motives. Two case examples are included. A section on the therapist's anti-empathic attitude also examines in-session signs and underlying issues. Two case examples are given that demonstrate the therapist's unwillingness to provide a completed empathic circuit. Implications for interventions are discussed, and it is concluded that, when an anti-empathic attitude arises, it is the therapist's responsibility to recognize that the attitude exists and to intervene so as to repair the damaged empathic circuit. (NB)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (98th, Boston, MA, August 10-14, 1990).