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Pub. Date:
Oxford University Press
Pub. Date:
Oxford University Press
Pathological Altruism

Pathological Altruism

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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 unhealthy extreme. 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 situations they 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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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199738571
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 12/19/2011
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 496
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 10.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

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 the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research deals with the genetic and environmental contributions to empathy and altruism and how children's genetics affect their behavior and the way parents react to them.

Guruprasad Madhavan, a bioengineer, is a program officer in policy and global affairs at the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council - collectively called the National Academies - in Washington, DC. He is senior co-editor of Career Development in Bioengineering and Biotechnology (Springer, 2008).

David Sloan Wilson is SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University. His books include The Neighborhood Project (Little, Brown, 2011), Evolution for Everyone (Delacorte, 2007), Darwin's Cathedral (Chicago, 2002), and Unto Others (Harvard,1998).

Table of Contents

Part I: The Psychology of Altruism

Chapter 1: Pathological Altruism - An Introduction
Barbara Oakley, Ariel Knafo, and Michael McGrath

Chapter 2: Empathy-Based Pathogenic Guilt, Pathological Altruism, and Psychopathology
Lynn E. O'Connor, Jack W. Berry, Thomas Lewis, David J. Stiver

Chapter 3: A Contextual Behavioural Approach to Pathological Altruism
Roger Vilardaga and Steven C. Hayes

Chapter 4: Codependency and Pathological Altruism
Michael McGrath

Part II: Psychiatric Implications of Pathological Altruism

Chapter 5: Self-Addiction and Self-Righteousness
By David Brin

Chapter 6: Pathological Altruism and Personality Disorder
Thomas A. Widiger and Jennifer Ruth Presnall

Chapter 7: The relevance of pathological altruism to eating disorders
Rachel Bachner-Melman

Chapter 8: Animal Hoarding: How the Semblance of a Benevolent Mission Becomes Actualized as Egoism and Cruelty
Jane N. Nathanson and Gary J. Patronek

Chapter 9: Everyone's friend? The case of Williams syndrome
Deborah M Riby, Vicki Bruce, & Ali Jawaid

Part III. Societal implications of pathological altruism

Chapter 10: Pathological Certitude
Robert Burton

Chapter 11: Altruism and Suffering in the Context of Cancer: Implications of a Relational Paradigm
Madeline Li, Gary Rodin

Chapter 12: Considering Pathological Altruism in the Law from Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Neuroscience Perspectives
Michael L. Perlin

Chapter 13: Pathological Altruism: Victims and Motivational Types
Brent E. Turvey

Chapter 14: Does No Good Deed Go Unpunished? The Victimology of Altruism
Robert J. Homant and Daniel B. Kennedy

Chapter 15: Suicide Attack Martyrdoms: Temperament and Mindset of Altruistic Warriors
Adolf Tobeña

Chapter 16: Genocide: From pathological altruism to pathological obedience
Augustine Brannigan

Chapter 17: Too Much of a Good Thing? Foreign Aid and Pathological Altruism
Guruprasad Madhavan and Barbara Oakley

Chapter 18: Was Gandhi A "Pathological Altruist"?
Arun Gandhi

Chapter 19: A Contrarian Perspective on Altruism: The Dangers of First Contact
David Brin

Chapter 20: Is Pathological Altruism Altruism?
Bernard Berofsky

Chapter 21: Altruism, Pathology, and Culture
John W. Traphagan

Part IV. Cultural and evolutionary dimensions of pathological altruism

Chapter 22: Culture-gene coevolution of empathy and altruism
Joan Y. Chiao, Katherine D. Blizinsky, Vani A. Mathur, Bobby K. Cheon

Chapter 23: The Messianic Effect of Pathological Altruism
Jorge M. Pacheco and Francisco C. Santos

Chapter 24: Battered Women, Happy Genes: There Is No Such Thing as Altruism, Pathological or Otherwise
Satoshi Kanazawa

Part V. The development and underlying brain processes of pathological altruism

Chapter 25: Empathy, Guilt, and Depression: When Caring for Others Becomes Costly to Children
Carolyn Zahn-Waxler & Carol Van Hulle

Chapter 26: Autism, Empathizing-Systemizing (E-S) Theory, and Pathological Altruism
Simon Baron-Cohen

Chapter 27: Seduction Super-Responders and Hyper-Trusters: The Biology of Affiliative Behavior
Karol M. Pessin

Chapter 28: Empathic Distress Fatigue Rather than Compassion Fatigue? - Integrating Findings from Empathy Research in Psychology and Social Neuroscience
Olga Klimecki and Tania Singer

Chapter 29: Hell's angels-a runaway model of pathological altruism
Marc D. Hauser

Chapter 30: Altruism gone mad
Joachim I. Krueger

Chapter 31: Pathology, Evolution, and Altruism
David Sloan Wilson

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