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28th International Conference on Psychiatry & Mental Health

Melbourne, Australia

Allan Donsky

Allan Donsky

University of Calgary, Canada

Title: The promise of Empathy for the relief of suffering : A Hermeneutic and Mindful exploration of a promise often implied, sometimes wanted and occasionally not needed


Biography: Allan Donsky


It is a given that empathy is a worthy and necessary part of any healing practice and perhaps nowhere more heartfelt than in the field of mental health. This is taken for granted and never questioned. Yet, who decides if empathy is always needed and where should it live? When was it promised and by whom?   This presentation will explore the virtuous and highly treasured goal of relieving suffering, both for oneself and others. With the clarity that a mindful awareness of our own necessary fictions can bring, we will discuss the construct of and the various facets of empathy. The initial promise of empathy, who some would argue is at the core of caring, will be examined from the moment of it’s arising, through the desire grounded in the “rescue fantasy” of healers, to the ultimate realization that suffering itself may offer it’s own paths to healing. Is it possible that empathy is already embedded in suffering? With a hermeneutic lens we may see that some of our caring  is a fictional construct and that suffering and empathy have their own relationship, beyond our promises. This presentation will include quotes from persons who willingly suffered their humanity and found relief in completed suicide.