We can create what we can imagine. Science recently discovered mirror neurons, which allow us to feel what another person is feeling, or at least provide a biological reference for this feeling. For example if a spider goes up another person’s arm, we react as though it is happening to us. The reaction depends on how we feel about spiders. In other words we are biologically able to imagine what the other person is feeling.
Seeing is a process of projecting what you expect out into the world and constantly matching your experience, your prejudice, your expectation with what’s out there. So for me the mirror neurons are a particular system which embodies this principle.
Listen to the audio interview on Nova
For me the discovery of mirror neurons presents a scientific glimpse in to the importance of collaboration in the therapeutic process. It is important for the psychotherapist to be a good reader of body language, to have highly developed intuitive skills, and to recognize that the client is the expert in their lives. It is equally important to use our skills to help the client bring forth their interpretation of their experience. As the therapeutic relationship develops, so does attunement and clarification of the client’s life stories, resulting in the client feeling better about their relationships. At the same time, both the therapist’s and client’s empathic skills are honed, as well.
Jeremy Rifkin – a credible, brilliant mind of our time – asks the question: is it possible that we can imagine worldwide empathy? Rifkin suggests that a yes answer may be necessary for the salvation of the human race. In the short version of Rifkin’s talk, an RSA Animation, “The Empathic Civilisation: importance in today’s convergence of communication and energy”, he says, “To empathize is to civilise and to civilise is to empathize.”
If you find this as thought provoking as I did, I recommend going on to the full video of Rifkin’s talk.
Could the world live as one, as John Lennon imagined?
One of my favorite quotes is of the English Romantic poet John Keats, 1795 – 1821: “I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections and the truth of the imagination….”