Of all the symptoms displayed by the child, the absence of empathy is the most disturbing. The absence of empathy is associated with the capacity for human cruelty
Baron-Cohen, S. (2011). The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty. New York: Basic Books.
There are only three disorders that display as a characteristic symptom feature an absence of empathy; autism, narcissistic personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder (the psychopath).
So when we see a child display an absence of empathy – a cavalierly unfeeling capacity to be cruel – this is an extremely concerning symptom.
Empathy represents a set of brain networks that have their foundation in a group of brain cells called “mirror neurons.” There is a wonderful PBS Nova program on mirror neurons up on the Internet:
These mirror neurons serve as the foundation for a brain system called “intersubjectivity” – what…
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