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Thank you. It''s really an honour to be here with you today.
Wonderful. So, we're going to use this next hour and a half to really dive
deeply into the notions of empathy and resilience and look at how the Roots of
Empathy program may be doing a very profound service, not only for the kids
who are fortunate enough to be in the program, but for the communities that
those children will either directly be a part of or even indirectly influence. So,
what I'd like to do is just to begin with this photograph here. Can everyone
see it? Yeah, so this is a photograph taken clearly at a day of Roots of
Empathy...and how many of you have actually had the opportunity to be at a
Roots of Empathy classroom experience? Raise your hand. So it's, okay, so it's
about three-quarters of us. Okay so, we had the opportunity yesterday to go to a
school here in Toronto. Did I say the right? Is it Torono? (Audience Lauging) So Toronto, I think is
how you say it...and, and, and to be in the classroom just like this actually where
you see this incredible moment of the children in the classroom, who are
getting to know this baby and the mom as this baby grows for the first year of
life. So, if you just look at the photo you'll think, oh that's really cute...
and that's fine, but we're going to say beyond cute, there's profound things that
are happening here, not just in this moment, but for all the moments that will
unfold in these children's lives. So, I'd like to just take that apart piece by
piece and as we go through why this experience
is so profound, what I'd like to do is just give you a framework on where this
is coming from. So, you heard in the bio, you know I'm a
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, but actually the world I work in is a field
called Interpersonal Neurobiology...and that's a
term that I had to make up because what I was
doing back in the late 80s and early 90s didn't have a name and it was basically
saying this -- if you combined all the fields of science together...so, if you
took anthropology (studying culture), and sociology (studying our interaction in
groups), and linguistics (for how we use language to speak to each other), and
psychology (for studies of memory and attention and behavior), and biology
(including medicine and psychiatry, where you study the functions of the body and what
gives rise to life), and chemistry (how molecules interact with each other)...I'm
trained as a biochemist...or getting down to physics even (how properties of the
universe govern how things happen), and then even get to another level,
mathematics. What would happen if you took everything from math to
anthropology and saw the common ground among all those fields? So, that was an
effort that I became obsessed with in the beginning of the decade of the brain,
the early 90s, because people were saying something that Hippocrates had said
since 2,500 years ago that the mind is basically only coming from your head,
that the mind was just brain activity... and then William James, the grandfather
of modern psychology, reaffirmed that in 1890 in a book called The Principles of
Psychology...but for me as a trained psychotherapist, it just seemed to be
only part of a much bigger picture and in my field, a branch of medicine --
psychiatry, people were being reduced to bags of chemicals and being told, "You are
a depressive", or, "You are a schizophrenic"... and the attitude among many of my
colleagues was that these names that were being given were telling the whole
story...and of course there were a number of things that pushed psychiatry in that
direction, the idea to have this nomenclature called the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual and things like that or insurance companies saying, "Yeah, we
only take people who are going to be treated for brief
as of time on these medications", or the medication industry, or even the identity
crisis that my field in psychiatry had, which was how are we really different
from anybody else, you know? So, we prescribe medication. So, there were lots
of forces at work at the decade of the brain that fit with the science that
basically said mind is a synonym for brain activity. So, part of why I give you that
background is because you can hear a lot of conviction by really smart people,
scientists, that actually may not correlate with its accuracy. So, is mind
just the activity of the brain? Is it just a word meaning the same thing? So, I
brought all these scientists together from all these fields I'm speaking about
and we tried to ask the question what is a relationship between the mind and the
brain and that's a whole other long story, but what I'm about to tell you
about Roots of Empathy comes from this effort beginning in the early 90s that
ultimately we called interpersonal neurobiology, which is to say, what
happens in the betweenness?...like right here...what's happening in the betweenness,
the inter?...and what's happening with the within this, the personal?...and then how
can we understand that scientifically? So, I just use the term neurobiology but the
idea is that there's something much more than just something going on the brain.
The brain is really important, but to limit it, to limit the mind and
mental life to just the brain is actually, I think, scientifically
inaccurate, even though it's been around for 2,500 years, even though it's the
90, over 90 percent of academics will say that to you...and maybe some of you are
from academics and want to jump up and say, "You're reversing science!"...or
something like that...but I think what has hampered science is by equating mind
with brain. So, in interpersonal neurobiology we don't do that. So, you can
say, you know, if you look at the bottom of this thing, Roots of Empathy...it's
mission is to, "...build caring, peaceful and civil societies". So, if you're looking at
societies, you're going to look at culture, right?
So, you need to understand anthropology and sociology, and that the mind is
coming from the betweenness as much as the within this, to understand that part
of the sentence, through the development... so, we have to understand development,
which is what we'll talk about today... through development. So, let me move this
back without breaking it so you can see over there. So right now, I'm thinking
about the mental experience of you guys on that table and you're not seeing the
photograph. So, I'm going to try to move it but there are wires. Can you see it
now? Okay, but that probably looks terrible for everyone else so...my
daughter would say, "You should have made it aesthetically pleasing". Okay
so, through the development, so we need to understand that, of this word empathy,
right?...and empathy is an interesting word. So, even just in terms of linguistics, we
have to be very careful the words we use because some of you may know that
empathy is getting a bad rap in a number of fields in the last two to
three years. Anyone heard these anti- empathy things? So, an anti-empathy person
sitting in this room would go, "Oh God, they are really doing a bad thing"...or
like I wrote a book for teenagers called Brainstorm, where I was encouraging the
development of empathy and one of my reviewers wrote, "You're really not up on
the current science. Empathy has been proven to be bad, so you're encouraging a
bad thing". Literally that was a note. So I wrote back to the reviewer and I said,
"Please tell me more about your feelings about it being a bad thing"...and she
wrote, "You're obviously not aware of the work of Tania Singer", who's a
neurobiology researcher in Germany. So I said, "Actually I'm very aware of her work
but thank you for your input". So, then a few months later, actually a few years
later, I was teaching in Berlin and Tania Singer was one of the people on the
stage with me. So I said, "Tanya, I need to get this straight from you...people are
quoting you, telling me, that when I encourage empathy just like Roots of
Empathy encourages it, that I'm doing a bad thing". So, I'm going to just leave
that in the room. We're going to come back to what Tania said because it won't
make any sense until I explain everything else, but you'll see what she said...
and in children and adults. So, this is the idea that we're going to explore
from an interpersonal neurobiology point of view. So to do that can get a little
weird, so luckily the Mary's have given you safety belts to put on your chairs
because we're going to actually explore a lot of stuff that is stuff that you
often don't hear, but it's really worth taking the ride to see, I think the
bigger picture of things. So, if you're taking notes, I'm going to try to
highlight the take-home points. If you don't want to take notes, much of this
stuff is in these various books that you heard about. Mind would be a good place
to see the wild ride of it, Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology would get the
the fundamental points, a book called Mindsight, you'd see some of the elements and
Brainstorm is the book for adolescents to develop empathy. So there's a lot
written on it, we have all sorts of online training and stuff like that. So,
there's lots of stuff. This is going to be like a highlights time, but it goes
like this...if you say these children in Roots of Empathy, the kids in the
classroom are having an experience, it's going to change them right? If you just
take that statement that this intervention, Roots of Empathy, for a
child who gets to experience it, is going to alter their development. Just take
that basic statement. Would everyone agree that, that's why it's being done,
right? Anyone would...who agrees with that, that? That sounds about right. Okay, half the
people. Okay, very good...alright so, I've got to convince the other half. An
intervention, the reason to do it, is it influences somebody in some way. So, the
first thing we have to ask is -- how does that happen? How does an experience...
bless you, bless you, let's have a bless you for everyone who is going to
sneeze...bless you...so how does that happen that this young boy, having this
experience over the year, is going to be different if you study the outcomes
that he'd be different or that baby...what's your baby's name? Jude? So Jude is
going to have a certain kind of experience. I don't put pressure on you,
based on what her mom does with her...his okay, his...I was thinking of Hey Jude but
this is a different Jude...so based on what his mom is going to do, right? So, we
have an actual example, a photograph example, and then the idea of Roots of
Empathy...so what actually is happening there, that this child gets to spend time
in a roots of empathy program where Jude is interacting with his mom, like he's doing
right now? What's actually happening there? It's a connection, it's a
connection, exactly. What is...if you were a Martian dropping down from Mars, coming
to this planet right, and you have your own Martian thing that you do but you're
just a careful observer called a scientist...that's what a scientist is
observing, right?...and you're observing this happening here or observing Jude
with his mom...what would you actually be observing? What is it that's happening? So,
there's eye contact, right, you can see this baby,
let's call him Jude. Baby Jude here, is looking right into the eyes of this
student, right? So there's eye contact and what is eye contact at its...if you're a
Martian and you, you don't have words like eye contact, what, what would you
actually be observing? What's that? It's a communication, exactly, but you don't have
a word called communication...but you'd be observing communication and what is this
eye contact communication made of? What's that? Emotion. So you don't have a word
for emotion, you know so, but you, but we could say it's emotion because we
experience it from the inside out...but if you were a Martian watching this and you
didn't have a word for emotion what would you actually see? Now this is not an easy
exercise, but let me just say this - it's an essential exercise. So I'm trained as
an attachment researcher, so after I trained in psychiatry
I wanted to...and child psychiatry, I wanted to know, how does a healthy mind
develop? So, back in the late 80s I chose to get a National Institute of Mental
Health research fellowship to study attachment and even though all my
academic advisors said, "That's like the stupidest thing you could do for your
academic career", I said, "Why?", they said "Well, no pharmaceutical industry is going
to pay for you, you're not going to be able to get tenure because, you know, no
one's really interested in attachment. You want to study diseases", and all this
kind of stuff. I said, "Well, no one's talking about, first of all, what the mind
is, no one's even talking about a healthy mind and that's what I'm going to do". So,
you know they were trying to be helpful but it just showed you that the nature
of the thing. So, in attachment terms, you know, we might say, "Oh, this is the
development of some kind of exploration that's a part of the secure attachment
this baby has with his mom or Jude is developing a secure attachment", but even
that for me, with my attachment teachers, didn't feel like it was enough. What's
actually happening if you are a Martian, is you would be seeing, in this case, an
exchange of photons. I'm getting deep here, right? In terms of physics, you'd
basically be an exchange of energy that would be both light and sound...and this
becomes an extremely important place to start and I know it's weird, but it's
important to start there. It's an exchange of light and sound and
communication can be defined as the exchange of energy...and some energy has
symbolic (Dan speaking gibberish)...does not have symbolic value and some has symbolic
value like the term empathy is a symbol. So, it turns out that communication is
the sharing of energy; some forms of energy are symbolic and we call that
information and because it changes we have the word flow. So, there's a phrase
we're going to use over and over and over again, which is energy and
information flow. So you, as a Martian, would be seeing that unlike this kid
will be studying history or math, those are important...but unlike those things of
ideas and concepts, this child in this classroom is having an energy and
information flow exchange that is profoundly different
from most everything else he's going to have in that classroom...and when we were
in the classroom yesterday and we were asking...we observed a young class...what were
they third graders? What were they yesterday? Fourth graders in one class and then we
went to an eighth grade class and then interviewed those kids. The interviews
I'll tell you about were just profound to hear with these kids who had, had Roots of
Empathy many times...what they could say about the impact Roots of Empathy on
their development...but basically what they experienced with an immersion in
energy and information flow of a different kind.
Now the reason to start there is because you can say that experience is driving
energy and information flow through your nervous system, if you want to get brainy,
on us and in fact that's exactly what the brain is all about. It's about
patterns of energy flow that are called neural representations when they are
representing something, which they usually are. So the phrase energy and
information flow is something that happens not only between us, it's what
experience is and it's what relationships are, but it's happening inside the whole
body, especially the brain. So what we've just identified is a very important
take-home point, which is what the brain shares with relationships is energy and
information flow...and I know no one talks like this and my students say, "This is
weird, no one's talking like us and you're teaching us to be different". I
said, "Well, I'm just trying to get to the bottom the bottom of it all"...which is
that the brain and relationship share energy and information flow...one is
within, so it's the whole body not just what's in the head...the other is between...
but what I'm asking you to do to really dive deeply into what Roots of Empathy
does, is to consider that energy information flow is the shared common
ground. So we're going to talk about empathy in a moment and resilience, and
you'll hear from Michael...later today? Yeah, later today. You know, Michael, you
may not use the the terms that I'm using but we had a lovely talking dinner last
night about the overlap of the stuff. So okay, so the energy and
information flow that is being driven through this boy the student's brain, if
you wanted to go brain now on us, is a very different sort. He's got to pick up
nonverbal signals from that baby. There are seven nonverbal signals that we know
about...eye contact, facial expression...I'm going to have you repeat after me soon...
tone of voice, posture, gestures, timing, intensity...so, let's do that together, you
ready?...because these are good to memorize because they're often left out of school.
So let's do this together, ready? You point to your eyes, you say, "Eye contact".
You circle your face, you say, "Facial expression". Point to your voice box, you say,
"Tone of voice". Point to your posture and say, "Posture". Gesture and say, "Gesture".
Point to where your wristwatch is or might be and say, "Timing"...and then
make some fists and say, "Intensity". Now you do it. Are you ready?
Audience: Eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, posture, gesture, timing, intensity.
Dan Siegel: Give yourself a hand, that's great. Those are often not the
overt curriculum, but in Roots of Empathy they are the starting place. Picking up
nonverbal signals is essential to know what the inner subjective experience is of
self or other. To know the inner life of self or other requires these nonverbal
signals and if you were a Martian dropping in to earth, you'd say, "Wow, they
really, they really either pay attention to Roots of Empathy, to nonverbal signals",
or, "Wow, here's a classroom without Roots of Empathy. They're not paying any
attention those things"...right?... because they're processed in very different
areas of the brain, actually. We're not going to worry about which areas right
at this moment, but just say that people who have parents who tuned in...so I'm an
attachment researcher, this is what we study...children who have parents, like Jude here,
whose mom is tuned into those nonverbal signals, are kids who develop a very
different set of outcomes...and I'll have you consider, they become resilient. These
nonverbal signals are the essence of how a baby communicates in the first year of
life, before linguistic symbols come in.
We don't have to worry about, oh, nonverbal signals are primarily on the right and
linguistic symbols are primarily on the left, that happens to be true...
...we don't even need to worry about that. You can make a big deal out of that, but
in neuroscience, people don't like you make a big deal of it. They think it's
overstated and you don't even have to go there for this to be true, okay? It
happens to be a lot of evidence about its primarily right hemisphere and that
Jude's right hemisphere is developing in the first one to two years of life. It's
dominant activity and growth, but just put that aside because it's not what you
need to have to understand it. So, this boy in the classroom is having the
stimulation of areas of his brain that are taking in
on verbal signals and then the facilitator, I don't know where she is,
but the facilitator or the mom are then taking it to the next step. They're asking
the children the classroom to reflect, with words, on what the little baby Jude
here, what he's experiencing. So, yesterday the facilitator said, "Well what do you
think's going on?" "Oh, he feels really uncomfortable. He's a little nervous. He's
kind of a little scared"...and then a toy was presented, "Oh, he's kind of interested.
He's focusing his attention and he has the intention to actually play with that
ball". Right? So look at all those words I just mentioned...he's feeling this, that or
that so, feelings...his attention, where is attention is, and its intention. Now,
you may say, well this is so subtle. Who cares about this? Here's the reason to
think about it - when you look at evolution and understand different
forays into consciousness which is really, when we talk about creating a
peaceful and civil society, we're talking about transforming the consciousness of
humanity in communities...when you look at the signs of consciousness, this is, this
is not a separate topic, it's the topic but people usually don't put them
together, here's what we, here's what we know - two leading brain theories of
consciousness, one involves the idea that the more integrated this child's brain
is, the more capacity for consciousness this child will have...and we'll talk
about integration later on but it's basically how you're linking different
stuff together within the brain...so, there's the integrate information
theories of Tononi and all sorts of other people...Christof Koch,
Gerald Edelman...all sorts of folks have posited that, you know, about integration of
the brain is related to consciousness, that's fine. Another set of theories is
called the Social Brain Theory of Consciousness and it goes like this -
We, as mammals, are extremely social. We, as primates, have
very complex social hierarchies and we, as human beings, mammals who are primates,
and now Homo sapiens sapiens, the who know and know we know, we have this
very unusual history. You may not be aware but it's called alloparenting. Allo is
a-l-l-o means 'other'. Alloparenting means that Jude's attachment capacity,
attachment is a mammalian capacity to link with a care provider...usually in
mammals and almost all primates it's just with the mom, but not human beings.
With human beings, we raise children in communities, where we as human beings
evolved, where the caregiver is not just the mother...and what that means is that
this alloparenting that Sarah Hrdy, h-r-d-y, anthropologist writes beautifully about
in her book, Mothers and Others, that this isn't just oh some subtle little thing,
this may have been a profound influence on how we evolved. We evolved to be
collaborative. So what the social brain theory says is that what likely happened
is that first we had to know the mind of the other. I've got to know Mary's mind,
so I'm going to look at her nonverbal signals and I'm going to have to figure
out if I have a baby, am I going to give my baby to Mary or not? What's her
intention? Where's her attention going? What are her emotions? What is she
thinking? Right? So in this theory, the first step
in evolution is actually to know another mind. Now what's the evidence for that? The
evidence of that is if you look at the circuitry of knowing other minds and you
look at areas, if you'd like to know the names...I always am nervous about saying
these Greek names because people get all glassy-eyed, but if you
know the names, we're talking about the superior temporal sulcus and the
temporal parietal junction just as examples. These are areas of the brain
that whenever we try to know another person, they get super activated. They're
the areas for example that track what's called biological motion. You say, "Well,
why would the brain have an area that's tracking biological motion, motion of a
living thing, versus just a rock rolling down a hill?"
The reason is, living entities have intentions. They have, essentially, mental
states that drive their behavior and so you want to know what's the mental state
so you can actually predict the behavior. That's why we have these, these areas I'm
mentioning. Here's the key thing, if you get a stroke in those areas, your
consciousness of yourself is massively assaulted. So, there's an overlap between
quote, and I don't like using this word but, "self-awareness", and you'll see later
on why I don't like self-awareness, but this idea awareness of your inner life
and your awareness of another person's mind are essentially identical circuits.
That is a hugely important issue for Roots of Empathy, to understand why it's
such an important program. What I just said to summarize all that is, one of the
leading theories of consciousness is that we use the social circuits of our
brain for consciousness of the self. In other words, awareness of my own mind and
awareness of your mind are basically the same circuitry. Now, we've got to
differentiate them so I know it's Mary and not me and whatever...I means so,
that's important, but it starts from this same origin. So, when you have a kid in
a classroom or let's start with Jude here...let's say Jude's mother was not
interested in his internal state, didn't respond to these nonverbal signals, you
could posit then that developmentally Jude would have an experience where his
capacity for self-awareness...because the mother is stimulating those circuits of
connection didn't happen...his capacity for self-awareness is much lower and in
fact, if you look at my field, attachment research,
that's exactly what we found. Kids with avoidant attachment have this kind of
distant...I think it's about 20% of the population...and it's a distant way in which
parents are not tuned into their internal world and they don't have much
self-awareness. It's remarkable and we can study that in
something called the adult attachment interview later on, where you can
actually get a sense of how aware is a person of self or other...and there's a
very thin kind of depth of awareness. So this is likely why, because what's
happening here in Roots of Empathy or what's happening now between Jude and his mom,
is these moments of...we're calling them connection...but they're deep nonverbal
resonance if you will, allow you to have this experience which one of my patients
described a long time ago, and I can't think of a better phrase than what she
came up with...and I want to quote her I can see her right now because she's in
me you know...she said when she got better in therapy and had no idea why, "...because I
didn't do what my supervisors told me to do". So the end of therapy I said, "You know,
here at UCLA we have an exit interview to talk about what happened". She goes, "Oh,
that's a great idea". She was a graduate student. I said, "Yeah so, what do you think
happens here, now that you're better from your depression and suicidal thoughts?"
She said, "Oh, it's obvious". So I said, "Yeah I know it's obvious", I said, "but how would
you put words to it if you had to put words to it?" She said, "Never before in my
life have I ever had the experience of
feeling felt"...and that phrase for me changed everything. This fantastic
graduate student could articulate what happened in the therapy but it's also
what happens just in life, you know, when you're with someone and you feel felt,
you feel that your internal world is being received by the other, made sense
of the other...but not just an intellectual way, in a deep way we're
going to call empathy. You know, empathy has five facets to it.
Actually it has more than that, but I can only remember five. There actually, if you
read a book called The Neurobiology of Empathy, the lead editor on that is Jean
Decety, d-e-c-e-t-y. The first or second chapter in that
book is written by someone, one of the contributors, but he describes eight
forms of empathy...but I'm going to tell you about five of them which I think are
most relevant...and it's why I get so upset when people quote Tania Singer and
say empathy is bad, because that statement is so uninformed...because you
have to say to the person, "Excuse me, there are eight kinds of empathy. Which
of those? Or are you saying all of them are bad? What do you saying?" So, here are
the kinds of empathy that I think are relevant for Roots of Empathy to know
about. One, which is what Tania Singer had studied, and she's in Germany and it's
just maybe an English translation, I don't know, but she studied the first
thing we're talk about which is called emotional resonance. Emotional resonance
or empathic resonance if you want to keep on using the word empathy there, is
where this boy, if, let's say the baby is feeling excited. The receiver, having an
empathic communication will start feeling excited. Let's say the boy is
feeling scared. The receiver will feel scared. It's the essence of feeling felt...
right?...is empathic resonance and I'll go through the circuitry of that with you,
through the brain, a little later on but just let's name it...empathic resonance is
where you feel the feelings of another person.
Empathy form number two is perspective taken. You know, so if you're going to be
empathic with me it would be as if you were saying, "Let me put myself in
Dan's skin. Let me put myself in Dan's glasses"...you know seeing the world as I
would see the world. So its perspective taking and you can study these things
these are all study of all things but they're different. Empathic resonance and
perspective taking, they're just different but they're both what we call
empathy. Well which one's bad? You know...so perspective taking is where the
teacher says, "What do you think he's seeing?"...you know, what's his
experience? What he's seeing that toy is too far away or it was too upsetting for
him because there was too much noise. So, they're taking his perspective and we
saw that yesterday...it's beautiful, perspective taking. Imagine a world where we even if
we just did perspective taking, what a different world that would be, right?
So, perspective taking...the next one is called cognitive empathy. It's where you
elaborate a little more and the teachers did this beautifully yesterday in both
classrooms, where you say...okay, if you're a little you know nine month old and
you're little tired because your nap didn't go so well...and now you're in the
classroom, even though you know the kids and you're a little clinging on to mom and
then a loud noise happens...what do you think that means for little Jude? So now
you're going, "Well, I think it means he's probably remembering that last time he
was in the classroom there was another loud noise and then a really scary thing
happened, so maybe he's remembering how frightened he was, and so now he's
getting more frightened". So, it's more than just his perspective of what his
perception is at this moment, it's realizing that memory influences him and
that memory and emotion and you know, these judgments we make all influenced
our present moment experience. That's called cognitive empathy, really
important. You could call it empathic understanding if you want to use that
word but sometimes called empathic... cognitive empathy. So what do we have
here? Let's name them...emotional resonance, we've got perspective-taking, we have cognitive
empathy, right? Then you have something called empathic concern, which is
basically synonym for compassion. Empathic concern is basically this - I
feel your pain and I want to do something to reduce your suffering, and
now I'm going to think about what I might do and carry it out. So I was just
in England with Paul Gilbert and Paul is one of the world's experts on compassion
and basically that whole field of the passionate is a form of empathic concern.
They're synonyms.
So we have a word compassion, but it's actually the same as empathic concern...
but the key thing about compassion or empathic concern is that you're feeling
the suffering of another, step one...so you have to receive it...so when people shut
themselves off from that they're shutting off empathic concern...then they
have to take the suffering and then say, "Wow, there's a lot of suffering in you. I
feel really bad with that"...so that's step two. Then then you go into empathic
imagination that's not one of the categories, but if we can just name it.
Empathic imagination I go, "Wow, what, what could I do now to make you feel better?
Okay, you know, I could just be with you or I could bring you some water because
you're really so thirsty or I could get you a band-aid if you've fallen down"...or
whatever...so now I carry out, I imagine how I would carry out an action to be of
service to you and then depending on circumstances I actually do something,
but sometimes you can't but that's okay. Sometimes being with a person is fine.
So, compassion or empathic concern, synonym, is an action-oriented form of
empathy. So that's number four...and then number five is something we hardly ever
talk about which is called empathic joy... and you saw every one of these
were seen in the classroom yesterday.
It was so beautiful, right? Empathic joy is, "I get so excited about your success. I
am so happy"...in this case you know these kids are seeing this little Jude develop
over the time and they're so thrilled about his accomplishments. "Now he can sit
up, wow! Now he can crawl, whoa!" We're putting the ball over there and he's going
after his mom you know, she went on the other side. It was awesome to see the
empathic joy. It's one of the most underemphasized empathic skills that we
have. You know, I was... is there question? Yes.
So, empathic joy, yeah...so in a way it overlaps an emotional resonance in fact, they all
overlap in the emotional resonance. You could say you can't have the other four
without emotional resonance but you know, you've got to resonate with someone's pain,
you've got to do all those things...but it's different in the sense that emotional
resonance is, "I'm just feeling your feelings"...empathic joy is, "I am thrilled
with your, you know basically, your positive experience". A lot of people have
schadenfreude, right? They get upset with other people's success. So this is the
opposite of that. This is where, you know, the way I was going to say that...the way,
the way you do this is you can imagine life as a candle, right? The way our
modern cultures set things up and this came up...there were, there's a few public
high schools in California that are right near Stanford University and sadly
a number of the high school kids were throwing themselves in front of a train
and killing himself...so they asked me to go do an intervention and when I went to
the school, some of the students interviewed me and they asked if they
could film it...so the students filmed it and they did such a good job filming it,
we just put it up online. So if you go to my website, drdansiegel.com, you can
see me speaking and the camera will be on me so you won't see the terrified
looks on the kids' faces or their parents who are in the room's face or the teachers
or the administrators...the principals of the school were there...but you'll at least see
my face and you'll see me resonating with them. So at the end what I said was
you know, part of the problem with our culture of competition is that we have
this attitude where if we're candles and my wick is lit and your wick is lit I'm
going to do everything I can to blow out your wick, so I'm like the only candle
shining...so when I apply to middle school and can get into that elite middle
school or I'm going to apply to college and get into the elite college, I'm going to
be the one that shines through, you know... or when I'm applying to the most
competitive graveyard, I'll get in there first, you know...and, and I said this is a
serious problem in our society. Other people's
being lit up threatens us...so, it's the opposite of this empathic joy...so, what I
said was, "Imagine a world where, if you're wick is lit and you see someone next to
you whose wick is not lit"...like someone's not learning or they're not
figuring out how to be in life and stuff... "and you lean over and you light their
wick and then you come straighten out again and now both of you are lit up, and
then you see someone to your left their wick is not lit and you lean over. You light
their wick"...and now I said to the group listening you know, "what did that do to
my flame, to light up these other two candles?"...and they go, "nothing, it took nothing
away"...and then one of the moms in the room who had been looking very frightened before
she goes, "but it makes the world a brighter place"... you know, and that's when
a empathic joy is you say listen...and we'll get to this soon, the notion of the self
being defined by the boundaries of the skin, just like the mind being defined by
the boundaries of the skull, these are linguistic parts of our modern culture.
It's been around with us in science for 2,500 years, so this is a long-term
linguistic, I'm going to suggest you, lie... and it's a lethal lie. There is no reason
that the self needs to be limited by the skin...and you may go, "That is just weird.
Why did the Marys bring this guy up here? That is like so freaky weird". Well, the
thing is, if you say that the self comes from the mind which I think it does, like
where is this boy's mind? It's not just in his head and it's not just in his
body. It's happening now in the classroom.
The mind is broader than the brain and the self is bigger than the skin encased
body...and this is something we don't often talk about...that's why I'm nervous
about the word self-awareness or self-regulation or stuff like that...
...because self is a plural verb, it's not singular noun but we use it as
singular noun. Oh, this, Dan...his self is in this body. Well that's just part of
the story and as long as we live a life and have cultural communication that
keeps on repeating the lie, basically it's lethal. It's a lethal lie. It kills
the reality, so it's untrue. It kills our sense of belonging in the world. It kills
our capacity to actually connect with "others", but really connect with
human beings that are actually a part of who we are. It, it really inhibits our
capacity to be a part of a community...this, how am I going to help the
self do that?...and people, at least in the United States, who experience this are
miserable. It's, it's...but it no one talks about it.
So, the mind of this child is actually being created in the betweenness, with
little Jude and this boy...and that's the kind of connection that doesn't happen
just by learning math, or reading a book, or learning history, or something. It just
doesn't...and yet it happens in Roots of Empathy. If you would have heard these
eighth graders talk about what Roots of Empathy did with them, you could see, it
allowed them to start sensing the mind of another person. Okay, that's step one.
All five forms of empathy we've talked about are reinforced with the Roots of
Empathy, but if you then go back to what we said about the Social Brain Theory of
Consciousness or even the integrations theory we're going to get into now, then
what you see is that these experiences of interconnection change your
experience of inner awareness. Let's just use that term inner and Inter, rather
than self and other...right? So, Joshua was telling us before we got started about
you know programs where you start being of service to others, where you start
being of service to the community, service to nature, scientifically doing
things to support a more sustainable environment. Those kids have a much
better academic outcome because they have a much better developmental outcome...
because they are a part of a larger world.
You literally have an expanded experience of life because the true
nature of who you are is being realized... because you are connected to that creek.
The Creek is a part of you, but we don't talk like this because we got these
words...self...well, that doesn't get that self advanced
into that elite graveyard, you know, seriously. Okay so, let's go through...let
me see if there any questions about where we're at now. We've now defined
empathy. I've got to come to the Tania Singer story, and then we're going to get
a little bit into the brain and then talk about resilience, empathy, and the
brain to dive into that. Any questions so far? Yeah, Jean..everybody know Jean?
Jean Clinton? Yes.
Jean Clinton: Self is a plural verb.
Dan Siegel: Yeah. Self is a plural verb, yeah.
Jean Clinton: Could you tell me more about that?
Dan Siegel: Yeah so, you know...I mean, I'm kind of a nut about all these different disciplines, but in
linguistics you know, especially because it's how we communicate with each other,
you get to these fun opportunities like, what are these words doing to us without
our even knowing it? So words are both limiting and liberating at the same time.
So, self as a plural verb versus self as a singular noun, the way it's usually
used is you know...you have a self called Jean that's just you, in that body. I have
a self called Dan, it's in this body, right? So those are singular noun views. So
linguistically we don't even question it. We just live it. Okay well, here's little
Danny. My parents say, "Danny, get a good grade on
the test, Danny do this, Danny do that"...and I believe them because they love me and
the only want good for me, right? So, I believe it but it gets embedded in...you
know, I mean, let's keep in mind really, who we are is basically energy and
information flow patterns, all right?...but it's such a complex thing, we have to
make these things called models and the models like, who am I? Okay, I'm Dan, in
this body. You know, the models are represented by words...then once we hear
the words that are coming from the models, the words themselves reinforce
the model. So here's, here's this, what's called a mental model,
it's basically if you think about it this way...energy and information flow
comes to your body. Its energy. That's called sensation. Between sensation and
perception, there are models that are filtering sensation into certain
organizational structures. So for example, if you've seen a d-o-g before a dog, you
know, when this fluffy animal comes in... okay, you may have the photon hit your
eyes and this fluffy animal's thing wagging is like that and you know...and
then you hear the "woof, woof", you hear the sound coming into your ears, that's all energy flow.
That's sensation...but because you've seen a dog before, many dogs, and you have the
name dog...right away that model, from sensation before you get to perception,
is turned into a constricted perceptual model. So you don't actually see that
animal in front of you. You just, and you don't even know this is happening, you just call
him dog. I mean, to be very respectful, but it's a fun story...there's no such thing
as immaculate perception. Okay? It is shaped by prior experience and models. So
now you have this perceptual model that you think is the thing itself but it's
not. It's your model of the thing. Then you go from perception to cognition,
right?...where you have other models that are going in, shaping how you think, right?...
...and then you go from cognition, you know, to planning...for motor action planning, right?
...and that's full of models that you don't, that you aren't even aware...these models are not
even in our awareness...and then you carry out an action, and you may think you're carrying
it out based on what you think you want to do, but it's all sorts of other things
going on before consciousness, beneath consciousness and then you carry out an
action. You go, "There, I am carrying out that action". Right?...but it's all
influenced by these models that get reinforced by our communication with
each other, including language. So like, an avoidant attachment, what happens in
those families is, there is a relational model that the mind doesn't exist and
only behaviors are worth experiencing. So like, when I went to medical school
and my professors would tell people, "Oh, we've got in your lab data and you know,
I'm sorry to report but you're dying.
Goodbye"...and I'd pull on their lab coats after they left the room and I'd say,
"Don't you want to talk to this patient about how she feels?"...and literally my
professors would say, "Why?", and I would go, "What?", and they'd go, "Why would I talk to that
person about how she feels? I'd told her what's going on. I made an assay,
basically of her body and her molecules"...the physical aspect of this
being, "Why would I talk about feelings?" I go,
"Well because, you just told her she's dying and she may have feelings about it".
They would say to me over and over again, "That's not what doctors do". So I
dropped out of school and when I decided... and I came to Canada, of course. That's the
only place you go, when you drop out of school...travelled across Canada, met a lot
of nice Canadians and I was going to be a salmon fisherman in Vancouver Island.
Anyway, I did get picked up when I was hitchhiking...don't tell my kids I was
hitchhiking, but I was hitchhiking... I got picked up on Vancouver Island and
this guy says, "Well, what's your story?" I said, "Well, I was a medical student but I
dropped out and I become a salmon fisherman"...and he goes, "That's
amazing". I said, "What's so amazing about that?" He goes, "I am a salmon fisherman and
I'm dropping out to become a psychology professor"...and I'm looking for this guy,
if you anyone knows who it is. I don't know who he is. I said, "Well cool", I said, "What's it
like being a salmon fisherman?" He goes, "I said I'm dropping out". I said, "Why?". He goes,
"Well, I like playing tennis but you get up at 4:00 in the morning and all you're
doing is like this all day long. I can't even stand up straight anymore". I said, "Oh
my God". I already had a bad back, so I said, "Okay, you just saved me many years
of salmon fishing". So I decided to do other things, but the bottom line of that story
is when I decided to go back to school, I made up this word called mindsight and I
said, "Look, I imagine those professors probably hadn't changed in the year I
took off", you know so I need a word to protect me. So I went in there kind of
like an anthropologist and I studied how bad they were as care providers, you know.
So I could try to constantly in my mind say, "Does this person have mindsight or not?"...and
then when I was in pediatrics, I noticed the families who had mindsight did better
with their kids who had these medical problems. Right? They could deal with them
more resilient way. Mindsight is three things - it's this capacity to have insight
into your inner life, empathy for the inner life of another bodily experience/
another person, and the third thing is integration which is this honoring of
differences in promoting of linkages and we're going talk about it right now. So it
was a very helpful term for me, but what I noticed sadly, was that most of my
professors in medical school were research professors...I was at a research
institution...you know, they had physical sight up the wazoo. They were very famous,
renowned researchers doing physical research that could then...they were also
MDs, so they were seeing patients...but they didn't have mindsight. You can go through
an entire curriculum K through 12 and be taught physical sight. You can go through
college and be just taught physical sight. You can go to medical school, like I did,
and only be taught physical sight...but I used to work on a suicide prevention
service in college and I was taught, the way you tune into the mind of the caller
on the phone who is about to kill herself, can make the difference between life and
death. So when I went to medical school, I thought, "Cool, I'm trained as a biochemist. I'm also
trained as a suicide prevention service. Medicine will be where they come
together". No way, it didn't happen at all because they lack mindsight. Now, I'm not
going to make any proclamations of understanding that this is true, but as
an attachment researcher what I found out was that 20% of the general
population basically lack mindsight... and those are the ones with a history of
avoidant attachment, and I'm not saying that, that percentage is the same in
universities because maybe it's different in certain directions, right? So,
you know, so physical sight and mindsight, are just very different circuits in the
brain...you know they're very different circuit of the brain...and you can turn it
off like that. It's what genocide is based on. If you
start treating someone like an out-group you can shut off your mindsight circuits.
I used to be the psychiatrist for the survivors of the Shoah foundation. We
collected 55,000 interviews of survivors of the Holocaust and my job was to keep
the staff healthy, as best I could, because hearing those stories was
unbelievably painful...you got secondary post-traumatic disorder.
Anyway, part of my job was to go over to Europe and go to the concentration camps
where the subjects were interviewing had been interned and obviously they
survived...but when I was at one of the camps Majdanek, in Poland, the person
giving me a tour, had been a kid in the town and Majdanek, if any of you have ever been
there you know, is where the crematorium... you know, because they were gassing and
then murdering like six million people... and this is one of those camps where they did
that...it was right next to the apartments where the guards lived. So I said to the
tour guide, I said, "Well, what was it like to live there?" He goes, "Well, you'd be
surprised. Those guards were nice people"...like they played with their, kids they
played with their dogs, they were nice people...and it made me realize, your mindsight
circuitry can be turned off if you look at a person and say, "This is a
sub-human being. This is like a cockroach"...and sadly we had this in-group, out-group
distinction thing that we talked about last yesterday in the eighth grade, you
know, where...especially if you look at mortality salience studies or what are
called terror management studies...when we're under threat, it increases the
brains in-group, out-group tendencies and you treat people that you deem as the
in-group with more kindness, when you're under threat...and you treat people who
you deem in the out group with more harshness, you know...and then our
wonderful colleagues from Northern Ireland, you talked about the incredible
thing about the Protestants and the Catholics killing each other. You know,
because one of the kids in the classroom who was an African-Canadian said...you
know, we said, "Well, what are you guys worried about about the world? What would
like to see change"...and he goes, "How stereotyped people can become"...you know,
we start talking about racism and then we were talking about this in-group,
out-group distinction...the experience in Ireland. I said, "Look, you know, with mindsight
you can rise above that because the brain does have this natural proclivity
to do in-group, out-group distinction, especially under stress but we now know
the mind can rise above what the brain is doing". This is the key thing to
realize about resilience, is that your mind is not the same as your brain. You
can develop resilience from communities, you can develop resilience from
consciousness that rise above these tendencies
we have. So in Roots of Empathy, what you're teaching is you're expanding the
consciousness of these kids. I mean, I'm telling you and luckily it was being
taped, when you see the tapes of this discussion that these Roots of Empathy
graduates could talk about wanting to reduce racism, wanting to actually have
less violence, wanting to have people respect each other, seeing that it was
good to Roots of Empathy over and over again because then you saw from a
different perspective as you, yourself grew...even though the kid was still you
know zero to one...you, yourself saw it through a different lens...and just to see
the way these kids of all different nationalities in the school or ethnic
backgrounds in the school...I guess they were all Canadian, you know, to see them
actually respect each other's contributions to the discussion was
amazing. It was absolutely amazing, but that's what integration is, honouring
differences, promoting linkages. So, let's, let's look at some of the circuitry of
this and Jean does that, that help to get to the issue of the self? You know, when you
could feel in the room, this 8th grade classroom, you could feel that the self
was not just in a separate way...you could feel it...they might not have words
for that, but if you don't have mindsight, which Roots of Empathy, I think is
promoting mindsight in a huge and experiential way...the best kind of
learning is experiential learning, and Roots of Empathy just dives right into
that. You can have a kid go through an attachment set of relationships, develop
no mindsight...you can have them in schools where most schools don't develop
mindsight at all...awareness ones inner life, awareness of the mental life of
other people, and integration is respecting that another person's
perspective is different from yours. There was one kid in the eighth grade class
yesterday...it was unbelievable...he said, "What Roots of Empathy taught me was that you
know, I've got a lot of opinions, I got a lot of judgments...but it's taught me that
even though I may have a judgment come up inside of me, when I look at another
person who's not doing something the way I think they should do it or think in
way I think, I've got to go well their perspective is just as valuable as mine".
I mean, isn't that what he said? I mean you go, "Oh my God".
You know, now the fact that Mary Gordon you know trained him to say that, you
know, and it was all a set up. Where's Mary? You know...no, I'm just kidding about that.
I mean it was so beautiful. Yeah, Josh. Joshua Aronson: I like the idea of sight as a metaphor
and it turns out, if you don't get visual stimulation when you're really
young, you won't develop your sight. Dan Siegel: Exactly
Joshua Aronson: So does work the same way
with mindsight? Or can you go through life without the Roots of Empathy
experience and develop it later on? Dan Siegel: Yeah. It's a great question, you know, when I
was in medical school, the person who taught me brain science was a fellow
named David Hubel and David Hubel in 1981, when I was in school with him, won
the Nobel Prize for proving just what you just said...that if you don't expose a
visual stimuli to, these were kittens, at a certain age they can never develop
that. In Pediatrics, we knew this you know, if a kid had you know, opacities in the
lens of the eye you know, and they couldn't see well, we had to do something
within the first two years or you, you messed up the brain for life. With mindsight,
you know, it's an interesting issue there's in...and now let's get into
the brain, based on Joshua's question...I don't want to shock anyone but once upon
a time there was a sperm and egg...are we okay so far?...and they get together, right,
and the sperm and egg get together and they form a single cell. The single cell
forms two, then four you know, and eight and sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four, etcetera, etcetera...
...until there comes a time this glob of cells in the womb of the mother becomes so big
that there's an interesting moment that affects the rest of existence, which is
they begin to differentiate. Some cells are on the outside and some are on the
inside just because of the size. So we're going to keep track of that word,
differentiation. Differentiation just means making different, being special,
being unique, okay?...but their linked because they're connected to each other,
okay? So now as this glob grows, the organs start growing and stuff like that and
an incredible moment happens and put your hands together like this...so you can
see what this like...where the outer layer so the ectoderm actually
starts to invaginate. So if you move your fingernails inward, so your knuckles, your
first knuckle, then your second knuckles kiss like that...see where your
fingernails now are? They're inside this body. That's the neural tube. That's going
to become all the neurons which are going to make up the brain. So, let's back
it up and do it again. So the outer layer called the ectoderm is going to
invaginate inward and become the nervous system. So, to say it really in a simple
way -- neurons, the basic cell of the nervous system, are fancy skin cells. Now
I say that because it's an important place to begin, because basically, we think of the
brain as inside the skull, the nervous system inside your body, but what's the
purpose of the skin? The purpose of the skin is to interface the outer world and
the inner world, but that's exactly what the nervous system is...so when we say the
brain, this collection of neurons that cluster up inside the head, is the social
organ of the body, it's just like saying the skin is the interface between the inner
and the outer...because these are fancy skin cells. That's lesson number one.
Lesson number two is the way these basic cells of the nervous system are going to
make connections with each other, synaptic connections, is by a process
driven by two things...one is genes not like Jean Clinton but by g-e-n-e-s,
well maybe that's the way you spell your name but genes you know,
chromosomes with DNA and experience and they go together in some interesting
ways. The first thing to say to respond to Joshua's question is you have two
kinds of genetically driven growth...one is called experience-expectant growth,
the other's experience-dependent growth. So, experience-expectant growth is where
every member of the species would expect you're going to have that kind of
experience, so experience-expectant. What does that mean?
For Jude, we would expect light is going to come in his eyes. His mom is not going
to stick him in a dark room his whole life. So light coming into eyes would be
expected. So, genes set it up so your visual
system, which is primarily in the back of your brain, is going to grow independent
of light, you see. It's going to start growing in the womb even and then
afterwards it's going to grow, grow, grow. Genetics is going to say, "Produce the
visual system, produce the visual system"... but if there's something wrong with his
eyes, if that experience-expectant genetically driven set of circuits
doesn't get the stimulation from the eyes it will die away and that's what
David Hubel was able to show. So experience-expectant growth is just what
you're saying...if you don't get the stimulation at some point it's going to
be a problem. The second kind of genetically prepared growth is called
experience-dependent. So, think about riding a tricycle...not every kid on this
planet is going to ride a tricycle but you can learn to ride a tricycle.
So the actual experience of being put on a tricycle and learning to do your
tricycle riding, that's experience-dependent. Experience is getting neurons
to fire and as your wonderful Canadian physician and physiologist Donald Hebb
said, although he didn't really say it but he said the essence of it, neurons
that fire together wire together...that was actually Carla Shatz, a woman who is
the neuroscientist at Stanford who paraphrased Donald Hebb...so, but it's
called a Hebbian law, you know, neurons fire together wire together...and there's
a more elaborate thing that we can say which is where attention goes, neural
firing flows and neural connection grows... and that becomes essential to understand
the Roots of Empathy or even the tricycle experience. If I'm on the
tricycle and now I'm paying attention to what I'm doing, where attention goes is
getting my neurons to fire in a tricycle kind of way, right? So okay, so now I'm
doing that...so where attention goes, neural firing flows and here's what
we've learned, and a Nobel Prize was given for this, which is when neurons
fire they turn on genes and get them to produce proteins to make the connections
grow. So, that's basically the mechanism beneath this idea of where neural firing
goes, neural connection grows. In Roots of Empathy, you're getting
attention on the mind. So it could be that while attachment may be an
experience-expectant system, so that you know, if you have zero attachment figures
by the age of ten it may in fact be you can never really develop the capacity
for close connections...that some of what it's my colleagues and attachment are
feeling...there's some window because that's experience-expectant. Mindsight
may be a more experienced-dependent... that's the good news...so the window may
not close totally, you'll want to do it...earlier is better you know...but if you know the book
Mindsight, you know I talked about a case of a 92 year old person who had very
little mindsight and with some intervention, because he had an avoidant
attachment history, he could develop those circuitries of compassion and empathy.
So that's 92...so that's the way to understand it for the attachment system
in general, if you have someone who's had zero attachment, it's not called an
attachment category, it's an attachment disorder...but for people who've had
attachment, even really traumatizing ones, you can grow through that...so a number of
us are talking about the ACEs study, the adverse childhood experiences scale...
...Michael and I were talking about this last night you know, you have this opportunity
to think about that finding that early challenging events for some people can
lead to really negative physiological outcomes, medical illness...but there's a
certain percentage of people where that doesn't happen and what those
researchers didn't study was have those people, where they don't have that
negative outcome actually resolve those traumas, resolve those losses...because in
my field, attachment, we've shown in our research that you can have a horrible,
horrible, horrible set of experiences but if you've taken the time to make sense of
them and resolve them as you know, that's what the research shows...that's why I
wrote a book called Parenting From the Inside Out, which is to show you how to
do that...you can actually show that at least for the next generation, they are
clear of what happened to you. So making sense
is really important. How do you make sense? With mindsight...so this is why I
think it's probably as a therapist, I never give up hope for developing mindsight
and that 92 year old is a good example in that Mindsight book. Okay, so now the
brain is developing... now, the Marys came in early this
morning and with that blue tape you use when you're putting stuff up, they've put a
model of the brain as a handout for today's talk that you can take home. So,
if you reach under your chair, they've taped it under your chair, reach under
your chair, you'll see...can you, can you feel it?...and then you pull out your hand...
you'll see attached to your wrist is a hand. Does everyone have that? Let me
check with Mary. Can they take this home? Yeah. Mary is it okay if they take it home? So,
so this is your hand model of the brain. We're going to go through some neuro-
anatomy and neurodevelopment here. So you put your thumb in the middle and you
can all take this home, it's very useful... my daughter said, "Dad, do not call it a
handy model of the brain". So I didn't...I did not call it a handy model brain, but
it's very handy and it's a model. So let's go through this model and we're
going to look at the neurobiology of empathy, and what I think is the
neurobiology of resilience but we have one of the world's experts on resilience
who's here...you'll hear whether Michael agrees or not, but I'll give you my take
on resilience as an attachment research person based on an interpersonal
neurobiology view. So here's how it goes... the spinal cord is represented in your
wrist. If you lift up your fingers, lift up your thumb, the deepest part of the
brain, the brain stem is represented here in the palm and we teach this to you
know, teachers, to therapists and kids in school as young as five learn the hand
model the brain...it's very handy and the brain stem is here in your palm, the
limbic area develops next and it's in your, your thumb...how old is Jude? Four
months, great... So when Jude was in utero, his brain stem
developed very well and almost fully developed then his limbic area, let's say
at birth, is partially developed...and one of the biggest things that's going to
happen now to Jude at four months of age is the way is limbic area is going to
continue to develop and the very underdeveloped cortex, if you put your
fingers over the top, will be developing right?...and the key thing for the whole
notion is that you have the way this cluster of neurons, there's about a hundred
billion of them, will work together as a system and the way a system works is it
differentiates its areas and links them. What is this system all about? It's all
about energy flow in the form of electrochemical energy flow,
so its ions flowing in and out of membranes called an action potential...you don't
need to worry about that, that's the electrical part. It releases chemicals,
that's the chemical energy part, but it's electrochemical energy flow and these
systems can become differentiated and then linked. So the word we use for that
is integration, is integration. Here's the amazing thing about this development and
now if you want to see the science of this, I wrote a textbook called The Developing
Mind...if you just want the take home messages, you can read a book called The
Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology... or if you want to see how to do this
with kids, there's a bunch of parenting books I've written or books for
adolescents...but the idea goes like this... the way and, can I have your first name?
Is that okay? Liz. So the way Liz is interacting with Jude can be promoting
of relational integration or not. So remember, integration is the linking
of differentiated parts. So as an attachment researcher, if I were popping
in to watch Liz interact with Jude, it would be where I'm watching how their
communication, for me, is revealing integration or not. How would they not be
integrated? If there was no differentiation, then Jude (Liz) might have in
her mind, "Oh, he's probably you know needing some stimulation now because I
need some stimulation"...and then she's going to bounce him around the room but
he's really just tired. So she's not differentiating his needs
from her ideas. So that would be an unintegrated relationship and that would be seen as a form of
something we would call ambivalent attachment...or if there was a
parent-child dyad where someone was getting their sexual needs met with a
child or was getting their anger needs met and beating a child, there wouldn't
be differentiation. So those would all be various degrees of impaired integration
in the relationship...or there might be too much differentiation and Liz might
say, "I'm just listening to this lecture. Jude's cool. He's four months, he can do
it on his own. What's the problem?"...and she puts him off in the corner and soon
Jude would learn what's going on inside of me is not worth being seen by anybody
else...and soon he would just shut down and that's called avoidant attachment...or if
it were really severe, it would be called neglect...but in a minor way, it's just a form
of avoidance. That's a whole talk on attachment, but let's just say that, that
also would be too much differentiation and not enough linkage, right? So either
way, impairments to secure attachment are impairments to integration. Now, an
integrated relationship would be where you say, you know, "I'm feeling a little
tired, so maybe I'm misinterpreting what Jude's things are going on. So I've tried
jumping around but maybe I'm really not right. Oh my God, maybe he's hungry. No
he's not hungry. Okay, it looks like he's really tired, he just needs to be soothed".
So there would be you would be making your efforts to repair any disconnection
that happens, repair is really important... or if you flip your lid you make a
repair, but those ideas of connection with repair of ruptures are what we mean
by an integrated relationship. So that's the relational side of it...the kids in
Roots of Empathy are seeing that happen all the time. When both the mother and
the baby and a facilitator, and the mother and the baby are having these
integrated relationships, they're demonstrating them for many kids who
don't have that at home. So, Roots of Empathy gives a
powerful source of experiencing integration in a relationship. Now here
is the startling thing, and if you read the developing mind, especially the
second edition, you'll see all the science behind what I'm going to say...
because if I were you never hearing anything I, Dan had ever said before, I
would think this is ridiculous... and I would say to my interns, I had 15
interns work for me to revise the first edition of The Developing Mind, I said to
them, "This is too simple. It can't be like this, it's too simple. It's not said
anywhere else, so it's probably wrong. Let's discover the wrongness of it, find
all the ways it's wrong and let's write a new book that'll be more fun and more
accurate"...and they thought I was nuts. I said, "That's the way you have to do
science, you have to look for the things as if they're wrong. Anyone could just
nitpick one thing or the other and say there, I'm right". So this comes from these
15 interns looking for all the wrongness of what I'm about to say. They could find
nothing to disprove what I'm going to say and tons of thing to support it.
Relational integration stimulates the growth of neural integration. That's
take-home message number two or whatever we're at. When you have energy and information
flow that's shared in an integrated way, it creates integration in the nervous
system...couldn't find one thing to go against that kind of evidence...just look
at The Developing Mind. I'm going to stop saying that but because of...I'm kind of
relating to you and I'm looking at these faces go, "That's weird". I know it's weird
but remember skull and skin are not boundaries, impermeable boundaries of
energy information flow...it's one system, energy information flow...let's put
ourselves in the Martian point of view. Energy information flow, relationally,
when it's integrative, just like we tried to carefully define it here,
differentiated and linked, promotes integration the brain. The next related
take-home message is this, and I said to the interns, "This can't be true", but here's
the statement: All regulation comes from integration. I said, "Show me one thing
that doesn't support that". They couldn't find one thing.
When you regulate emotion, affect, mood, it depends on fibres in the brain that are
differentiated and linked...when you regulate attention, differentiated and linked...
...when you regulate thought, behavior, when you regulate morality, when
you regulate relationships, it all depends on integration of the brain. Just to
give you an example what I'm talking about,
the corpus callosum linking the left and right hemisphere links to differentiate
left to the differentiated right...the hippocampus which links widely
differentiated memory systems to each other, the prefrontal cortex...take your
hand model and this cortex here has an area right behind your forehead which is
represented where your middle finger nails are and let's look at what it
links...it links the cortex, which is making representations or maps of the
world, with the limbic area that has five features, which is all about working with
the brainstem and the body to create emotion, working with the brainstem to
create motivation, working within itself to create what's called appraisal...so you
have emotion, motivation, appraisal, you've got systems that are basically involved
in memory differentiation, that's a long story we won't get into it, but involving
memory functionsand the fifth function is attachment, our close relationships
with each other...so attachment, memory, appraisal (evaluating the meaning of
things), motivation (what drives your behavior), and emotion are mediated by the
limbic area. So, this prefrontal cortex is connecting cortex with all those five
functions...then if you lift up your limbic area and go to your brainstem, the
brainstem is involved in basic physiological processes like regulating
heart rate and respiration and digestion... but in addition to that it has the
clusters of neurons called nuclei that are involved in the fight, flight, freeze
and faint response...what gets activated when you're threatened. So
we were talking yesterday but was having an Ireland or what happens the United
States or what's happening around this world, human beings are activating their
threat response...they're activating their brainstem, some people call the old
reptilian brain, right? Some people like to call it the lizard brain. It's part of us
so it's not just a lizard brain, but it's very, very primitive. When you get in this
fight, flight, freeze and faint state activated by the brainstem. So, this
prefrontal region here is connecting cortex to limbic area to the brainstem and
even signals coming up from the body, that we'll talk about in just a moment...
...and to boot, it connects the social world. So social, somatic, bodily, brainstem,
limbic and cortical are all coordinated and balanced by the prefrontal cortex. So
what I'm going to say to you is that relational integration promotes growth
of these integrative areas...the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, the
corpus callosum and now we know, through a set of reasoning, that this is a
probably issue...but we have a new study called the Connectome study, The Human
Connectome Project...Connectome is the word connect with the letters o-m-e at
the end. It's a new way we're identifying differentiated areas of brain and how
they're linked...and we now know the following findings...number one, the work
of Martin Teicher at Harvard University shows that the three areas I mentioned
prefrontal, hippocampal, corpus callosum are all damaged with developmental
trauma, which means abuse and neglect...we may be able to grow them but, I'm just
identifying his work which is not intervention work, it's just describing
what happens...and the connectome is less interconnected, meaning the brain is less
integrated with developmental trauma. So the reason kids with developmental
trauma, abuse and neglect, have trouble with regulation is because regulation
depends on integration. See how that works?...and the integration of the brain
comes from integration in the relationship,
which is what Roots of Empathy teaches, you see this? Number two, studies not
related to experiences like developmental trauma...this is now the
work of Marcus Raichle at the University of Washington St. Louis or Hilary
Blumberg at Yale University... what are those show? Those show that
people with disorders like manic-depressive illness, schizophrenia,
or autism, not caused by what parents do, they have impaired integration in the
exact same areas. So we have this finding now that psychiatric disorders either
experientially caused or not experientially caused all have impaired
neural integration...and then we have an online program and one of our online
students called us up in October 2015 and she said, "Hey you guys, did you see
this study that came out this morning?" ...and we said, "Well, we're not sure. What is
it?"...and she goes, "i'm going to send it to you". So in October 2015, the international Human
Connectome Project came out with this massive study of many, many, many
individuals...they studied every measure of well-being you could measure and
tried to find any neural correlates that predicted well-being and they found one...
...how interconnected your connectome is, how he integrated your brain is, is the
best predictor of your well-being. So in terms of resilience and well-being, and
you'll hear from Michael later about this and much more depth, my view is that
resilience comes from integration. The ability to respond in a regulated way to
challenges in life is how I would define integration, I mean sorry how I would
define resilience comes from integration. That's what I think. Now why would empathy
have anything to do with this?...and I know I have five minutes left, then we have a
Q&A, right? Yes. So, here's what I want to talk to you about and why people said I
was saying the wrong thing about empathy... and why a Yale professor writes a book
against empathy and why scientific American minds said too much empathy is a
bad thing...because this is what's been happening last what, three
years, two or three years...it's goofy, it's really goofy and it's also destructive
because they're missing the impact on society and here's what's happening...so
I'm on the stage with Tania Singer...I said, "Tania,
everyone's quoting you and telling me I shouldn't talk about empathy because of
you". She goes, "What?" So what Tania did in her study, to say it
very briefly was, she puts a person in scanner, shows them a photo of a really
bad situation and basically, when people over identify with the person in the car
accident let's say, they have so much emotional resonance and they're not
differentiating themselves from others, their whole brain shuts down...and this is
consistent with other studies that you'll see in that density book too.
When you don't differentiate, when you're two linked and you quote, "have too much
empathy", this is where they're getting it from her study, that's not good...but what
Tania showed was that if you take it from excessive emotional resonance
without differentiation, that's what I said to her, she said, "Absolutely", and take
it to compassion where you say, "Well that's not me, that's that person. What
can I do to be of service to that person?" ...she's actually creating integration,
she's creating the differentiation that's needed...
...empathy doesn't require you become the other person, so basically, the way I
would summarize her work with her permission because is what she said was,
yeah, when you resonate too much and you don't distinguish yourself from the
other, you can burnout... no kidding, but empathy is so much more
than over-identification. When you put perspective-taking in it, you're not a,
your cognitive understanding, all the things we talked about...so i said, "Tania,
his empathy bad?..she goes, "Absolutely not". I said, "Tania,
don't you need empathy for compassion?" She goes, "Completely". There was one small
group of monks from Tibet that didn't, they could do it on their own but anyway,
but in general, in general she said you can't have compassion without empathy.
So for someone to say this is a quote from Tania Singer, for someone to empathy
is bad is completely misleading. It's not bad. When you put the integration
framework in, it makes sense. So let me just do about...two minutes? Yeah...let me
do a quick passageway of empathy in the brain so we can understand that. So
here's your brain...take your hand model... this is looking at Marco Iacoboni's insula
hypothesis and this I think is what deeply happens in Roots of Empathy, that
builds your mindsight circuitry...so if you want to know about this it's I-a-c-o-
-b-o-n-i, Iacoboni colleague of mine UCLA, he wrote a book called Mirroring People
and it's one perspective on the neurobiology of empathy but it builds on
a bunch of different people's views so it's not like an outlier...but here's how
it works... this boy is watching little Jude here,
okay? The energy information coming from
little Jude is entering this boy, let's call him Joey,
it's entering Joey's brain...it's being taken in by a set of neurons called
mirror neurons but you don't believe in neuron neurons, then you don't even need this...
it's basically soaking in what he's seeing in the nonverbal signals of another person.
That's the crucial thing, those seven signals...he takes them in, he can do a
couple things...number one, and I can tell you all the areas if you want to know
him in the Q&A, but basically he's mapping little Jude's
intention, he's mapping his attention, and he's starting to create what's called
simulation. He's going to drive what he takes in from little Jude and it's going
to go down from these cortical mirror neuron areas and the superior temporal
sulcus (that biological motion area) map little Jude's intention, follow his
attention, take his emotional state, drive it down
through his insula (which is an area that goes from the cortical region down to
the limbic region, the brainstem, and down into his body)...he's going to feel in his
body, that's what resonance is, what's going on
in little Jude. Then the signals from the body come back up through lamina one,
layer one of the spinal cord, and the tenth cranial nerve (the vagus nerve)...
...those things all push up in various ways to the insula which takes this bodily
state up into the middle part of this prefrontal region area
we talked about right here, and the first thing it does is it maps out in Joey,
what's going on in my body? What am I feeling?
...and then right adjacent to that, he does this thing where he goes, "If I'm feeling
this, this is what I'm feeling"...so that's called interoception (perception of his
interior)...then just literally a hair breadth away from that it goes, "Gosh, if
I'm having pounding in my chest right now and a churning in my stomach,
I wonder if little Jude is feeling scared". So, it's saying there's a
simulation in my body that is not mine, it's from my perception. This is when you
get burn out, when you don't do that... that's the burnout part. You've got to say,
"Oh I see, I'm open to what other people are feeling because I've learned to
distinguish...my body is like an antenna and because I feel another person's
suffering, it doesn't mean I'm the suffering one". So, if you're, if you're not
taught this, yeah of course you can get burn out and what do people do they just
shut themselves down from other people's minds...you lose mindsight. So now,
in this area right here, these are the mindsight circuits are right here
literally behind your forehead, you then go, "Oh, my body is feeling this. I wonder
if little Jude is feeling that"...and then you start developing all those layers of
empathy, right here. Empathy is, remember, a third of what mindsight is, insight into
myself, empathy for others, and I'm going to differentiate but then link...so mind-
sight is insight, empathy, and integration. Roots of Empathy is teaching mindsight
skills without even using that term perhaps and what you're doing then is
allowing Joey to massively integrate his brain. Mindsight circuits of insight,
empathy, and integration literally are taking this area of the brain,
linking cortex, limbic area, brainstem, body and the social world into one...and
you know what the outcome of such an integration is? You know what integration
made visible is? It's kindness and compassion. That's what's going to happen
when we've taken the time to give programs like, let's say Roots of Empathy
or relationships like actual Jude is having with Liz, when we take the time to have
integration in relationships and we develop integration in the brain, what
you do is you can develop communities that are filled with kindness and
compassion. People don't have to burnout, they can realize itself as a plural verb,
that we are all deeply interconnected with each other...and I don't mean in some
kind of airy-fairy way...I mean literally we're all interconnected. We are a part
of energy and information flow that is happening, not just now with all these
bodies that are alive now, but we are related to the ancestors that were here
before on this land...and for people who will be in this building 200 years from
now, when all of the nodes that are these bodies we live in are now gone, the
system will continue because the system is really the self. The system we're in
is the self and we have many, many nodes and if you start living like that, life
becomes bigger, life becomes more connected, life actually becomes more
meaningful. So if meaning and connection are what you're looking for and
resilience and empathy and insight and having a more integrated life are what
you're looking for, Roots of Empathy gives you the roots of how that can be
created because you're stimulating all this integration within and between...and
think about having a world that can be kinder and more compassionate...wouldn't
that be a great world to live in and to leave for future generations? So thank
you very much for your kind attention.
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Dr. Dan Siegel - An Interpersonal Neurobiology Approach to Resilience and the Development of Empathy

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Susan Chang published on March 18, 2018
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