Empathy: From mind reading to the reading of a distant text

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7 Scopus citations


In the psychoanalytic literature empathy is commonly discussed as a form of "mind reading", which is deeply associated with the capacity to mirror the other's mental state. In this paper, I propose an alternative perspective on empathy as the process of reading a distant text. This perspective is illustrated through a Talmudic story and by weaving a thread between Bakhtin, Bion and Lacan. The paper concludes by pointing to the danger of empathy as a hidden form of projective identification that provides the reader with a false sense of control rather than with negative capability for otherness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-244
Number of pages10
JournalIntegrative Psychological and Behavioral Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • Empathy
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Interpretation
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Semiotics
  • Talmud

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Anthropology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Philosophy


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