Why Some People With ASPD Develop Depression

Empathy and personality disorders from a neurobiological point of view

06/15/2018 | Borderline type | Overview | Edition 3/2018

Magazine:
Forensic psychiatry, psychology, criminology> Issue 3/2018
Author:
Prof. Sabine C. Herpertz

Summary

In contrast to the vague use of the term empathy in common parlance, the neurobiological literature differentiates between cognitive empathy on the one hand and emotional empathy on the other. The former includes the cognitive recognition of the emotional state of the other based on reflected perspective adoption and "theory-of-mind" functions, the latter the reflexive-intuitive empathy and sharing of emotions of the other. Different brain networks that process these processes can be assigned to both mutually independent and interindividually differently pronounced facets. Processes of emotional empathy that lie at an early stage of evolution develop in the infant on the path of mirror-image imitation of facial expressions and gestures of primary relationship persons and relate, among other things, to. premotor regions, areas of the sensorimotor cortex, the inferior parietal lobule, and the anterior islet region. Phylogenetically more recent processes of cognitive empathy are v. a. Represented in midline structures such as the medial prefrontal cortex, superior temporal sulcus, posterior cingulum or praecuneus as well as in the temporoparietal junction and begin in divided attention processes in early dyadic relationships. Both empathic facets are involved in moral decision-making processes. Neurobiological studies show that “psychopaths” have undisturbed cognitive-empathic abilities and are basically able to recognize and apply moral values, but give them little attentional importance when they compete with their own goals. Individuals with borderline personality disorder in contrast to “psychopaths” show impairments in cognitive empathy: The deficits relate to mentalization functions that affect the understanding of the mental states of others and of their own and are the starting point for many misunderstandings in an interpersonal context. In addition, individuals with borderline personality disorder tend to share emotions with other people. This gives them compassion and compassion, albeit with the risk of diffusing self- / external boundaries.

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About this article
title
Empathy and personality disorders from a neurobiological point of view
Author:
Prof. Sabine C. Herpertz
Publication date
15.06.2018
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11757-018-0480-5
publishing company
Springer Berlin Heidelberg