The empathetic connection in individual and group relations - Empathy is not an unambiguously defined concept; this project thus involved an exploration of the use of the term so as to detail its complexity, meaning and variations across different contexts. It is one thing to build a bridge between biology and culture, but quite another to reduce our ability to establish deep relationships with other human beings to a solely biological level, as illustrated, for example, by the discovery of mirror neurons. The immense complexity of the problem of empathy is excessively simplified if we neglect the importance of the symbolic universe, or, in other words, the terrain of psychoanalysis. These arguments represent an attempt to approach the concept of empathy through psychotherapeutic practice, certain examples of which, on both an individual and group level, are detailed in the subsequent sections of the present article. The project consists of three parts: the first analyzes theoretical aspects concerning the concept of empathy and provides a summary of authors who have worked on the connections between neuroscience and psychoanalysis; the second section provides a theoretical comparison that lays the foundation for and is supported by clinical practice; the third provides clinical examples and also takes into consideration the experiences and developments of the work group as important factors in planning the discussion and research.
Keywords: Empathy, psychoanalysis, mirror neurons, symbolic universe, psychotherapy, work group.
Laura Apostolo, Annamaria Burlini, Elena Di Bella, Gianni Fantuzzi, Bianca Gallo, Orietta Mocci, Alessandra Simonetto, in "GRUPPI" 3/2009, pp. 21-74, DOI:10.3280/GRU2009-003003