Mansfield professor makes presentation on empathy, sympathy and compassion

MANSFIELD – Adrianne Leigh McEvoy, associate professor of Philosophy at Mansfield University, gave a two-hour presentation to the Center for Inquiry in Tallahassee, FL on July 12.

Richard T. Hull, professor emeritus of Philosophy, SUNY at Buffalo, summarized and reviewed McEvoy’s presentation.

“Dr. McEvoy led an interactive discussion on the nature of empathy, sympathy and compassion,” Hull said. “Clarifying these concepts permitted a useful discrimination between various attitudes people take when dealing with tragedy in others’ lives, and understanding why so many condolences fail to help the recipient. The distinctions also permitted her to provide evaluative characterizations of behaviors and attitudes of physicians and nurses and other health care providers. She argued that much unfeeling behavior of physicians was defensive in that they were efforts to hold to therapeutic regimens despite a patient’s obvious suffering. Dr. McEvoy indicated that better physician and nurse training should be instituted so as to better humanize the patient in their eyes, and avoid excessive objectification of the patient and her family.”

Hull noted that the audience included people with backgrounds in philosophy, engineering, forensic psychology, nursing and theology.

In addition to her teaching responsibilities, McEvoy directs the new Great Conversations Honors program at MU.

She is author of the monograph “Will You Know My Pain?” and editor of two collections of essays; “Philosophy and Women, and Sex, Love and Friendship” and “Studies of the Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love,” both part of the Value Inquiry Book Series published by Brill.

McEvoy has made academic presentations on the nature of empathy as well as the nature of pain, and is working on a philosophical assessment of mirror neurons and their role in development of the “Theory of Mind” in young children.