Il grado zero dell’empatia

Capacità empatiche e correlati neurali nella psicopatia


  • Nicole Nascivera
  • Tilde Annunziato
  • Martina Messina
  • Anna Di Leva
  • Marco Letterese
  • Yari Mirko Alfano



Empathy is a multidimensional construct that develops on two levels: an affective level and a cognitive level. Recent studies have shown that empathic abilities are compromised in some specific cases. Psychopathy, in particular, is characterized by a total absence of affective empathy. Subjects with a diagnosis of psychopathy would seem, however, to possess the skills related to cognitive empathy. The main areas involved in empathic processes are the anterior cingulate cortex and the anterior insula. This work, starting from a careful analysis of the previous scientific literature, has made it possible to raise awareness of the impossibility, with psychopathic subjects, to develop therapeutic plans based on contact and management of emotions. Therefore, the possibility of creating a therapeutic plan aimed at strengthening empathic abilities in psychopathic subjects has been hypothesized. In conclusion, we highlight the possibility of using meditative techniques and mindfulness to increase the self-awareness of these subjects. Starting from these assumptions we hypothesize the need to investigate the effectiveness of these techniques in the treatment of subjects diagnosed with psychopathy, starting from the scientific results reported by studies in the neurobiological field.

Key words: empathy, empathic processes, psychopathy, mindfulness.

Abstract in italiano

L’empatia è un costrutto multidimensionale che si sviluppa su due livelli: un livello affettivo e un livello cognitivo. Studi recenti hanno dimostrato che le abilità empatiche risultano compromesse in alcuni casi specifici. La psicopatia, in particolare, è caratterizzata da una totale assenza di empatia affettiva. I soggetti con una diagnosi di psicopatia sembrerebbero, però, in possesso delle abilità relative all’empatia cognitiva. Le principali aree coinvolte nei processi empatici sono la corteccia cingolata anteriore e l’insula anteriore. Questo lavoro, a partire da una attenta analisi della letteratura scientifica pregressa, ha permesso di consapevolizzare l’impossibilità, con soggetti psicopatici, di elaborare piani terapeutici basati sul contatto e la gestione delle emozioni. Quindi, si è ipotizzata la possibilità di creare un piano terapeutico volto al potenziamento delle abilità empatiche nei soggetti psicopatici.In conclusione, si evidenzia la possibilità di servirsi di tecniche meditative e della mindfullness per l’incremento dell’autoconsapevolezza di tali soggetti. Partendo da tali assunti si ipotizza la necessità di indagare l’efficacia di tali tecniche nel trattamento dei soggetti con diagnosi di psicopatia, a partire dai risultati scientifici riportati dagli studi in ambito neurobiologico.

Parole chiave: empatia, processi empatici, psicopatia, mindfullness.

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Come citare

Nascivera, N., Annunziato, T., Messina, M., Di Leva, A., Letterese, M., & Alfano, Y. M. (2019). Il grado zero dell’empatia: Capacità empatiche e correlati neurali nella psicopatia. Phenomena Journal - Giornale Internazionale Di Psicopatologia, Neuroscienze E Psicoterapia, 1(2), 76–82.



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