The Empathy for Health Congress - Modules

The Congress and Journal Special Issue will be centered along six broad questions as put here together with some suggestions of topics:

  • What is empathy, how can we define it?

history of the concept empathy and predecessors, bedside-manners…; empathy for health in literature; empathy versus placebo; neuroimaging of empathy

  • What is known about its practice?

empathy as non-specific factor of psychotherapy; sense and nonsense of empathy tests; difference between auto-evaluation and hetero-evaluation about own empathy; insights from Buddhist compassion; insights from humanistic psychotherapy; Balint experiences; do current medical studies really diminish empathy sometimes?; what are negative effects of a serious lack of empathy and how?

  • How important is it in healthcare?

in regular medicine, psychotherapy, psychiatry, CAM; can empathy have an influence upon physical illness?; exactly why do people like an empathic relationship with their caregivers?; are there negative side-effects of empathy or ‘altruism’ for patients?; the relation between ideas of physicians and patients; empathy and non-professional caregivers; does empathic sensitivity provoke vulnerability of caregivers?; relationships between empathy and burn-out; can we quantify financial stakes for health insurance companies and society in general?

  • Lack of empathy

alexithymia, autism, psychopathy… and the impact upon health and healing

  • How can we improve empathy?

good and bad experiences with empathy courses; experiences outside healthcare: leadership, stage acting, child-rearing; are there important intercultural differences to take into account?; what are existing recommendations and how can we bring them together in a pragmatic way?

  • Where do we (probably) evolve towards?

enhancing empathy of students in healthcare professions; a bigger place for empathy in all kinds of medical research; bringing meaning and humanity back to the core of medical science; empathy as a tool for getting rid of magical thinking; how can we convince regulatory instances to validate empathy?

This congress is organized by AURELIS IVZW (NPO) and Dr. Jean-Luc Mommaerts, MD, MSc (Cogn.Sci, A.I.), PhD (Med.Sci.), in cooperation with VUB (Brussels)