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Zabarenko, L.M. (1990). Empathy and its Development edited by Nancy Eisenberg and Janet Strayer Cambridge Studies in Social and Emotional Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987, x + 406 pp., $54.50. Psa. Books, 1(4):498-501.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Books, 1(4):498-501

Empathy and its Development edited by Nancy Eisenberg and Janet Strayer Cambridge Studies in Social and Emotional Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987, x + 406 pp., $54.50

Review by:
Lucy M. Zabarenko, Ph.D.

This substantial compilation provides a glimpse of how academic psychologists and some of their colleagues think about empathy.

Two major theorists, Norma Feshbach and Martin L. Hoffman, enunciate their latest thinking in chapters of their own, and their ideas and research are extensively addressed in the other 18 chapters. Of 28 contributors, twenty are from departments of psychology, three from departments of education and human development and one each from departments of psychiatry, sociology, and home economics. This is a North American collection that includes contributions from six Canadians. There are no analysts among the authors. Thus this work comes at empathy, a topic so central and pregnant with meanings and disputes for psychoanalysts, from another conceptual galaxy.

The book is divided into four sections: historical and theoretical perspectives, empathy across the life span, current issues and empirical findings, and methodological issues. Parts I, II, and III end with watch-bird commentaries by additional authors, and the editors have added an introduction and conclusions section.

Throughout, it is clear that these behavioral scientists are earnestly grappling with issues of definition and typological taxonomies; many see empathy as a species of cognitive functions in which affective and retrieval operations join or parallel each other. In his lucid commentary on Part I, for example, Staub delineates cognitive, participatory, and affective empathy and empathic joining (pp. 104-109).

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