Thursday, February 21, 2019

CBC Interview with Dr. Brian Goldman

This may be of interest to you, a CBC interview with Dr. Brian Goldman from 5 years ago. Thank you George Oliver for sharing this.

Listen to Brian Goldman from Broadcasting Canada in Podcasts

There is also an interesting podcast from NPR's Hidden Brain series on Compassion.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Fourth Session: Friday, March 1, 2019

Please read Chapter Five, The Bar at Ground Zero for Friday's book club meeting.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Third Session: Friday, February 15, 2019

Please read Chapter Four, The Donut Shop for Friday's book club meeting.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Second Session: Friday, February 1, 2019

Chapter 3:  Psychopaths, Narcissists, and Machiavellians – The Dark Triad

Discussion Before the Break

1.  What are the common denominators shared by the psychopaths, narcissists and Machiavellians? (p. 38)

2.  What are the behavioral traits and activities in the brain that characterize the psychopaths? (pp. 42-46)

3. Goldman presents many different categories of people lacking in empathy:
            criminal psychopaths                          successful psychopaths
            grandiose narcissists                          vulnerable narcissists
            Machiavellians                                    narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)
Discuss the similarities and differences among them.  (pp. 42 – 48).  But don’t spend too much time on this question. 

4. There is a brief discussion of the callous and kind people in one study cited by Goldman.
How would you distinguish between these two categories of people, based on the book or your own experiences? (p. 45)

5. How can the empathy trait be used for either good or bad purpose? (p. 56)

6.  What are the characteristics of a Machiavellian according to Goldman? (pp. 59 – 60)

7. Goldman gives only one reason for the rise of narcissism and psychopathy.  Can you think of other reasons?  

Discussion After the Break

1.  Goldman raises the nature vs. nurture issue in this chapter. Discuss whether the psychopaths, narcissists and Machiavellians are born this way or they become the Dark Triad after birth.

2.  Goldman went through a range of emotions (surprise, embarrassment, shame and grudging acceptance) in reaction to his scores on the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised questionnaire.  Why?  Would you have experienced the same reaction if you scored like him? Explain.

 "Epigenetics:  Why Inheritance Is Weirder Than We Thought.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Second Session: Friday, February 1, 2019

  1. Please bring the Goldman book to the session.
  2. Please bring passages in chapter 3 that you find interesting, thought-provoking or objectionable.

First Session: Questions & Video Links

Chapter 1 questions:

  1. What is it that keeps us from being empathetic? Goldman wonders whether he has been “too stressed, too busy, too preoccupied, too anxious and too self-absorbed to think enough about others to be kind to them.” Do you relate to his comments? (p.2)
  2. How do you understand the difference between sympathy and empathy? Are both valuable? (p.3)Goldman describes the emotional empathy that prompted the international outcry in response to the picture of Aylan Kurdi, a 3 year old Kurdish boy whose lifeless body was found on a Turkish beach. He was one of millions of refugees fleeing awful conditions. (p.4
  3. Charities often showcase one story rather than telling us the big numbers. Why do you think our empathic response is so different when it’s big numbers? 
  4. p.6&7) Goldman shares some examples of a lack of empathy in the health care realm, with heart-breaking results. 
  5. Do you believe that some people “are just like that”? Were they “like that” before they started those jobs? Do you think we are all capable of behaving unempathetically, given the ‘right’ conditions? 
  6. Do you think we are becoming less empathetic, as a society? Why or why not? 

Chapter 2 Questions: 

  1. Perspective-taking - cognitive empathy - having a sense of how another person is feeling. (p.4&5) Powder movie clip. Most humans seem to have this ability (to feel what others feel) to some degree. To what degree do you think you are able to do that? How does it affect you? What if Powder’s powers actually existed? How might the world be different if we all had this ability to this level? Would it be a good thing? 
  2. p.17 - Research shows…”for health care professionals, being exposed on a daily basis to the pain of others leads them to underestimate the pain of others.” “I treat their pain, but I don’t tune into the abject fear and despair that they feel.” Would empathy actually be a liability in some circumstances? Is ‘tuning out despair and pain’ a learned behaviour or are some more naturally able to do that? 
  3. Mirror neutrons - the motor system get reactivated when humans see the actions of others — mirror neutrons switch on when performing an action or observing someone else doing it. How is this discovery related to empathy? Are you convinced that some mammals (including most humans) are hard-wired for kindness? 
  4. p. 30 - “Keysers suspects that humans have an empathy off-switch…strong enough to override the instinct to be kind. … You empathize only when you calculate that there is a personal gain in it for you.” What is your reaction to this statement? Agree or disagree and why? 
  5. p.36 - “I think people can do the right thing without feeling it (empathy) and without caring. So is it necessary to be empathic? 
  6. Can we have too much empathy? 

Links to the videos: (just click)

Monday, January 14, 2019

First Session: Friday, January 18, 2019

Our first book study session is Friday, January 18 at 7:30 pm in the meeting room. Deb Ellis will lead this session, and Randy & Laura have said they'll bring snacks. There will be a sign up sheet for anyone who would like to bring light refreshments for future meetings. 

If possible, please try to read Chapters 1 and 2 before then, but no problem if you haven't as we'll be going through those chapters in detail. When we have specific questions for discussion they will also be posted to this blog.

Here is the list of dates, chapters to read in advance, and facilitators for each session:

Deb: Jan 18, Chapter 1 & 2,
Wei: Feb 1, Chapter 3
Ken: Feb 15, Chapter 4
Don: Mar 1, Chapter 5
Deb: Mar 15, Chapter 6
Wei: Mar 29, Chapter 7
Ken: Apr 12, Chapter 8
Don: Apr 26, Chapter 9 & 10

Deb: May 10, Chapter 11