Empathy—that ability to imagine how another person feels and share an emotional experience along with them—is praised as an ideal of human behavior. After all, one of the alleged hallmarks of a true psychopath is that they can’t feel empathy or don’t come by it naturally. Without empathy, how can we understand what the marginalized and the suffering go through? Social scientists believe that empathy originates, evolutionarily, as a series of “prosocial” behaviors, essential glue that helps humans stick together for increased survival.
Yet, more recently, psychologists and neuroscientists alike have begun to take a radically different stance on the empathy-is-good line of thinking. In fact, over-empathizing might be making us emotionally burned out and unwell, leading to such states as “compassion fatigue,” or “secondary trauma,” which affects first responders and caregivers at higher rates. In these states, a person can begin to feel numb, depressed, anxious, or even inexplicably angry.
Can swearing actually help you? Scientists now believe that there is therapeutic value in the act of swearing, that it can help physical pain.
The traditional logic used to dictate that swearing actually seemed to worsen pain, through an act known as “catastrophizing.” When we catastrophize, we often leap to the conclusion that the pain we are experiencing is the worst thing ever. It ignites a negative feedback loop where we begin to tell ourselves “I just can't do this!” Swearing was thought to reinforce that negative self-feedback loop.
A Lancet Psychiatry study recently found the brains of both boys and girls with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD are smaller than those of other children. Dutch neuroscientists found the greatest differences in brain size between children under age of 15 with ADHD and those without attention problems who are in the control group. A look at the brains of adults with ADHD indicates there is a developmental delay in brain growth. The good news is that children with ADHD seem to be able to catch up to their peers as they grow and develop.