Pathological Altruism

Hardcover | November 24, 2011

EditorBarbara Oakley, Ariel Knafo, Guruprasad Madhavan

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The benefits of altruism and empathy are obvious. These qualities are so highly regarded and embedded in both secular and religious societies that it seems almost heretical to suggest they can cause harm. Like most good things, however, altruism can be distorted or taken to an unhealthyextreme. Pathological Altruism presents a number of new, thought-provoking theses that explore a range of hurtful effects of altruism and empathy. Pathologies of empathy, for example, may trigger depression as well as the burnout seen in healthcare professionals. The selflessness of patients with eating abnormalities forms an important aspect of those disorders. Hyperempathy - an excess of concern for what others think and how they feel -helps explain popular but poorly defined concepts such as codependency. In fact, pathological altruism, in the form of an unhealthy focus on others to the detriment of one's own needs, may underpin some personality disorders.Pathologies of altruism and empathy not only underlie health issues, but also a disparate slew of humankind's most troubled features, including genocide, suicide bombing, self-righteous political partisanship, and ineffective philanthropic and social programs that ultimately worsen the situationsthey are meant to aid. Pathological Altruism is a groundbreaking new book - the first to explore the negative aspects of altruism and empathy, seemingly uniformly positive traits. The contributing authors provide a scientific, social, and cultural foundation for the subject of pathological altruism,creating a new field of inquiry. Each author's approach points to one disturbing truth: what we value so much, the altruistic "good" side of human nature, can also have a dark side that we ignore at our peril.

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The benefits of altruism and empathy are obvious. These qualities are so highly regarded and embedded in both secular and religious societies that it seems almost heretical to suggest they can cause harm. Like most good things, however, altruism can be distorted or taken to an unhealthyextreme. Pathological Altruism presents a number o...

Barbara Oakley is an associate professor of engineering at Oakland University in Michigan. Her work focuses on the complex relationship between social behavior and neuroscience. Her books include Cold-Blooded Kindness (Prometheus Books, 2011) and Evil Genes (Prometheus Books, 2007). Ariel Knafo is a senior lecturer in psychology at th...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:480 pages, 10 × 7 × 0.98 inPublished:November 24, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199738572

ISBN - 13:9780199738571

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Table of Contents

Part I: The Psychology of Altruism1. Barbara Oakley, Ariel Knafo, and Michael McGrath: Pathological Altruism - An Introduction2. Lynn E. O'Connor, Jack W. Berry, Thomas Lewis, David J. Stiver: Empathy-Based Pathogenic Guilt, Pathological Altruism, and Psychopathology3. Roger Vilardaga and Steven C. Hayes: A Contextual Behavioural Approach to Pathological Altruism4. Michael McGrath: Codependency and Pathological AltruismPart II: Psychiatric Implications of Pathological Altruism5. David Brin: Self-Addiction and Self-Righteousness6. Thomas A. Widiger and Jennifer Ruth Presnall: Pathological Altruism and Personality Disorder7. Rachel Bachner-Melman: The relevance of pathological altruism to eating disorders8. Jane N. Nathanson and Gary J. Patronek: Animal Hoarding: How the Semblance of a Benevolent Mission Becomes Actualized as Egoism and Cruelty9. Deborah M Riby, Vicki Bruce, and Ali Jawaid: Everyone's friend? The case of Williams syndromePart III. Societal implications of pathological altruism10. Robert Burton: Pathological Certitude11. Madeline Li, Gary Rodin: Altruism and Suffering in the Context of Cancer: Implications of a Relational Paradigm12. Michael L. Perlin: Considering Pathological Altruism in the Law from Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Neuroscience Perspectives13. Brent E. Turvey: Pathological Altruism: Victims and Motivational Types14. Robert J. Homant and Daniel B. Kennedy: Does No Good Deed Go Unpunished? The Victimology of Altruism15. Adolf Tobena: Suicide Attack Martyrdoms: Temperament and Mindset of Altruistic Warriors16. Augustine Brannigan: Genocide: From pathological altruism to pathological obedience17. Guruprasad Madhavan and Barbara Oakley: Too Much of a Good Thing? Foreign Aid and Pathological Altruism18. Arun Gandhi: Was Gandhi A "Pathological Altruist"?19. David Brin: A Contrarian Perspective on Altruism: The Dangers of First Contact20. Bernard Berofsky: Is Pathological Altruism Altruism?21. John W. Traphagan: Altruism, Pathology, and CulturePart IV. Cultural and evolutionary dimensions of pathological altruism22. Joan Y. Chiao, Katherine D. Blizinsky, Vani A. Mathur, Bobby K. Cheon: Culture-gene coevolution of empathy and altruism23. Jorge M. Pacheco and Francisco C. Santos: The Messianic Effect of Pathological Altruism24. Satoshi Kanazawa: Battered Women, Happy Genes: There Is No Such Thing as Altruism, Pathological or OtherwisePart V. The development and underlying brain processes of pathological altruism25. Carolyn Zahn-Waxler and Carol Van Hulle: Empathy, Guilt, and Depression: When Caring for Others Becomes Costly to Children26. Simon Baron-Cohen: Autism, Empathizing-Systemizing (E-S) Theory, and Pathological Altruism27. Karol M. Pessin: Seduction Super-Responders and Hyper-Trusters: The Biology of Affiliative Behavior28. Olga Klimecki and Tania Singer: Empathic Distress Fatigue Rather than Compassion Fatigue? - Integrating Findings from Empathy Research in Psychology and Social Neuroscience29. Marc D. Hauser: Hell's angels-a runaway model of pathological altruism30. Joachim I. Krueger: Altruism gone mad31. David Sloan Wilson: Pathology, Evolution, and Altruism