Your heart beats faster as you watch a tarantula crawl on James Bond's chest in the movie Dr No, your hands sweat and your skin tingles under the spider's legs. You feel scared, tense, and finally relieved when Bond manages to escape the danger. We are essentially empathic. But what is empathy? How does your brain enable you to feel so much of what 007 is feeling? How do you connect with people in real life, people you love or even strangers? In this book, you will visit leading labs to find your own answers. The journey starts where 'mirror neurons' were discovered. The door of a lab in Parma, Italy, opens to reveal that your motor system not only controls your own body - it becomes automatically activated each time you see others move. A little later, you lie down on a bed and slowly move into the bore of a brain scanner in Marseille, becoming a subject in an experiment that will show how your own sensations and emotions are automatically triggered while you witness those of others. These experiments unravel the mirror in our brain that lets our own actions, sensations and emotions resonate with those of Bond and the people around us. By sharing their inner lives, we connect with them. We are hard-wired for empathy. By looking at autistic individuals and psychopathic criminals, by comparing men and women, by exploring empathy for robots and enemies, this book explores the multifaceted nature of empathy and evidences both its power and limits. Science begins to reveal the wisdom of why so many of the world's religions command "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
Praise and Prizes
Praise and Prizes
- Gold Medal for Best Science Book, 2012 IPPY Book Award.
- If anyone can write about the brain mechanisms of empathy, Keysers is the man... A page turning ... authoritative read. -- Prof. Bruce Hood, 2011 Royal Institution Christmas Lecturer, Bristol University for The Psychologist
- A lively close-up at ... empathy... an exciting read for anyone interested in the gentler side of our species -- Prof. Frans de Waal, author of 'The Age of Empathy.'
- Though many have written about mirror neurons, this book outshines them all. -- Prof. Mark Hauser, Harvard University, bestselling author of 'Moral Minds').
- A masterful description of how mirror neurons turn us into social beings. -- Prof. Dick Swaab, bestselling author of 'Wij Zijn ons brein'.
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