This hilarious video highlights an important truth about empathy that can cause lots of problems in relationships or be a powerful source of connection.
Fabulous Imago Therapist Pat Love in a recent talk commented on the fact that the brain actually has two empathy networks. The first is the one most woman are familiar with called the mirror neuron network.
This network enables us to literally feel into the world of another. Mirror neurons were discovered by accident during some trials on monkeys brains. During a break one of the researchers grabbed some of the monkeys’ peanuts and began shelling and eating them. The watching monkeys’ brain lit up as if they were actually eating the peanuts themselves.
Fun point: A similar version of this experiment can be tried by getting some men to watch any of the many Jackass episodes where one of the guys gets kicked in the testicles – observe how the watching men silent curl up around themselves and moan in a classic empathy display.
The second network is what Pat Love calls the TPJ (Temporal Parietal Junction) network. This part of the brain assimilates incoming data in order to assess a best course of action. It’s what enables firemen, ER nurses, doctors and paramedics to come to a disaster scene and triage how to most effectively help.
Men obviously are socialised more towards the TPJ network in fact Pat Love’s book How to improve your marriage without talking about it trades on this fact.
End of Part 1 – in Part 2 I’ll give some practical tips on how to utilise this difference to improve your relationship.