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  • Thank you. It''s really an honour to be here with you today.

  • Wonderful. So, we're going to use this next hour and a half to really dive

  • deeply into the notions of empathy and resilience and look at how the Roots of

  • Empathy program may be doing a very profound service, not only for the kids

  • who are fortunate enough to be in the program, but for the communities that

  • those children will either directly be a part of or even indirectly influence. So,

  • what I'd like to do is just to begin with this photograph here. Can everyone

  • see it? Yeah, so this is a photograph taken clearly at a day of Roots of

  • Empathy...and how many of you have actually had the opportunity to be at a

  • Roots of Empathy classroom experience? Raise your hand. So it's, okay, so it's

  • about three-quarters of us. Okay so, we had the opportunity yesterday to go to a

  • school here in Toronto. Did I say the right? Is it Torono? (Audience Lauging) So Toronto, I think is

  • how you say it...and, and, and to be in the classroom just like this actually where

  • you see this incredible moment of the children in the classroom, who are

  • getting to know this baby and the mom as this baby grows for the first year of

  • life. So, if you just look at the photo you'll think, oh that's really cute...

  • and that's fine, but we're going to say beyond cute, there's profound things that

  • are happening here, not just in this moment, but for all the moments that will

  • unfold in these children's lives. So, I'd like to just take that apart piece by

  • piece and as we go through why this experience

  • is so profound, what I'd like to do is just give you a framework on where this

  • is coming from. So, you heard in the bio, you know I'm a

  • Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, but actually the world I work in is a field

  • called Interpersonal Neurobiology...and that's a

  • term that I had to make up because what I was

  • doing back in the late 80s and early 90s didn't have a name and it was basically

  • saying this -- if you combined all the fields of science together...so, if you

  • took anthropology (studying culture), and sociology (studying our interaction in

  • groups), and linguistics (for how we use language to speak to each other), and

  • psychology (for studies of memory and attention and behavior), and biology

  • (including medicine and psychiatry, where you study the functions of the body and what

  • gives rise to life), and chemistry (how molecules interact with each other)...I'm

  • trained as a biochemist...or getting down to physics even (how properties of the

  • universe govern how things happen), and then even get to another level,

  • mathematics. What would happen if you took everything from math to

  • anthropology and saw the common ground among all those fields? So, that was an

  • effort that I became obsessed with in the beginning of the decade of the brain,

  • the early 90s, because people were saying something that Hippocrates had said

  • since 2,500 years ago that the mind is basically only coming from your head,

  • that the mind was just brain activity... and then William James, the grandfather

  • of modern psychology, reaffirmed that in 1890 in a book called The Principles of

  • Psychology...but for me as a trained psychotherapist, it just seemed to be

  • only part of a much bigger picture and in my field, a branch of medicine --

  • psychiatry, people were being reduced to bags of chemicals and being told, "You are

  • a depressive", or, "You are a schizophrenic"... and the attitude among many of my

  • colleagues was that these names that were being given were telling the whole

  • story...and of course there were a number of things that pushed psychiatry in that

  • direction, the idea to have this nomenclature called the Diagnostic and

  • Statistical Manual and things like that or insurance companies saying, "Yeah, we

  • only take people who are going to be treated for brief

  • as of time on these medications", or the medication industry, or even the identity

  • crisis that my field in psychiatry had, which was how are we really different

  • from anybody else, you know? So, we prescribe medication. So, there were lots

  • of forces at work at the decade of the brain that fit with the science that

  • basically said mind is a synonym for brain activity. So, part of why I give you that

  • background is because you can hear a lot of conviction by really smart people,

  • scientists, that actually may not correlate with its accuracy. So, is mind

  • just the activity of the brain? Is it just a word meaning the same thing? So, I

  • brought all these scientists together from all these fields I'm speaking about

  • and we tried to ask the question what is a relationship between the mind and the

  • brain and that's a whole other long story, but what I'm about to tell you

  • about Roots of Empathy comes from this effort beginning in the early 90s that

  • ultimately we called interpersonal neurobiology, which is to say, what

  • happens in the betweenness?...like right here...what's happening in the betweenness,

  • the inter?...and what's happening with the within this, the personal?...and then how

  • can we understand that scientifically? So, I just use the term neurobiology but the

  • idea is that there's something much more than just something going on the brain.

  • The brain is really important, but to limit it, to limit the mind and

  • mental life to just the brain is actually, I think, scientifically

  • inaccurate, even though it's been around for 2,500 years, even though it's the

  • 90, over 90 percent of academics will say that to you...and maybe some of you are

  • from academics and want to jump up and say, "You're reversing science!"...or

  • something like that...but I think what has hampered science is by equating mind

  • with brain. So, in interpersonal neurobiology we don't do that. So, you can

  • say, you know, if you look at the bottom of this thing, Roots of Empathy...it's

  • mission is to, "...build caring, peaceful and civil societies". So, if you're looking at

  • societies, you're going to look at culture, right?

  • So, you need to understand anthropology and sociology, and that the mind is

  • coming from the betweenness as much as the within this, to understand that part

  • of the sentence, through the development... so, we have to understand development,

  • which is what we'll talk about today... through development. So, let me move this

  • back without breaking it so you can see over there. So right now, I'm thinking

  • about the mental experience of you guys on that table and you're not seeing the

  • photograph. So, I'm going to try to move it but there are wires. Can you see it

  • now? Okay, but that probably looks terrible for everyone else so...my

  • daughter would say, "You should have made it aesthetically pleasing". Okay

  • so, through the development, so we need to understand that, of this word empathy,

  • right?...and empathy is an interesting word. So, even just in terms of linguistics, we

  • have to be very careful the words we use because some of you may know that

  • empathy is getting a bad rap in a number of fields in the last two to

  • three years. Anyone heard these anti- empathy things? So, an anti-empathy person

  • sitting in this room would go, "Oh God, they are really doing a bad thing"...or

  • like I wrote a book for teenagers called Brainstorm, where I was encouraging the

  • development of empathy and one of my reviewers wrote, "You're really not up on

  • the current science. Empathy has been proven to be bad, so you're encouraging a

  • bad thing". Literally that was a note. So I wrote back to the reviewer and I said,

  • "Please tell me more about your feelings about it being a bad thing"...and she

  • wrote, "You're obviously not aware of the work of Tania Singer", who's a

  • neurobiology researcher in Germany. So I said, "Actually I'm very aware of her work

  • but thank you for your input". So, then a few months later, actually a few years

  • later, I was teaching in Berlin and Tania Singer was one of the people on the

  • stage with me. So I said, "Tanya, I need to get this straight from you...people are

  • quoting you, telling me, that when I encourage empathy just like Roots of

  • Empathy encourages it, that I'm doing a bad thing". So, I'm going to just leave

  • that in the room. We're going to come back to what Tania said because it won't

  • make any sense until I explain everything else, but you'll see what she said...

  • and in children and adults. So, this is the idea that we're going to explore

  • from an interpersonal neurobiology point of view. So to do that can get a little

  • weird, so luckily the Mary's have given you safety belts to put on your chairs

  • because we're going to actually explore a lot of stuff that is stuff that you

  • often don't hear, but it's really worth taking the ride to see, I think the

  • bigger picture of things. So, if you're taking notes, I'm going to try to

  • highlight the take-home points. If you don't want to take notes, much of this

  • stuff is in these various books that you heard about. Mind would be a good place

  • to see the wild ride of it, Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology would get the

  • the fundamental points, a book called Mindsight, you'd see some of the elements and

  • Brainstorm is the book for adolescents to develop empathy. So there's a lot

  • written on it, we have all sorts of online training and stuff like that. So,

  • there's lots of stuff. This is going to be like a highlights time, but it goes

  • like this...if you say these children in Roots of Empathy, the kids in the

  • classroom are having an experience, it's going to change them right? If you just

  • take that statement that this intervention, Roots of Empathy, for a

  • child who gets to experience it, is going to alter their development. Just take

  • that basic statement. Would everyone agree that, that's why it's being done,

  • right? Anyone would...who agrees with that, that? That sounds about right. Okay, half the

  • people. Okay, very good...alright so, I've got to convince the other half. An

  • intervention, the reason to do it, is it influences somebody in some way. So, the

  • first thing we have to ask is -- how does that happen? How does an experience...

  • bless you, bless you, let's have a bless you for everyone who is going to

  • sneeze...bless you...so how does that happen that this young boy, having this

  • experience over the year, is going to be different if you study the outcomes

  • that he'd be different or that baby...what's your baby's name? Jude? So Jude is

  • going to have a certain kind of experience. I don't put pressure on you,

  • based on what her mom does with her...his okay, his...I was thinking of Hey Jude but

  • this is a different Jude...so based on what his mom is going to do, right? So, we

  • have an actual example, a photograph example, and then the idea of Roots of

  • Empathy...so what actually is happening there, that this child gets to spend time

  • in a roots of empathy program where Jude is interacting with his mom, like he's doing

  • right now? What's actually happening there? It's a connection, it's a

  • connection, exactly. What is...if you were a Martian dropping down from Mars, coming

  • to this planet right, and you have your own Martian thing that you do but you're

  • just a careful observer called a scientist...that's what a scientist is

  • observing, right?...and you're observing this happening here or observing Jude

  • with his mom...what would you actually be observing? What is it that's happening? So,

  • there's eye contact, right, you can see this baby,

  • let's call him Jude. Baby Jude here, is looking right into the eyes of this

  • student, right? So there's eye contact and what is eye contact at its...if you're a

  • Martian and you, you don't have words like eye contact, what, what would you

  • actually be observing? What's that? It's a communication, exactly, but you don't have

  • a word called communication...but you'd be observing communication and what is this

  • eye contact communication made of? What's that? Emotion. So you don't have a word

  • for emotion, you know so, but you, but we could say it's emotion because we

  • experience it from the inside out...but if you were a Martian watching this and you

  • didn't have a word for emotion what would you actually see? Now this is not an easy

  • exercise, but let me just say this - it's an essential exercise. So I'm trained as

  • an attachment researcher, so after I trained in psychiatry

  • I wanted to...and child psychiatry, I wanted to know, how does a healthy mind

  • develop? So, back in the late 80s I chose to get a National Institute of Mental

  • Health research fellowship to study attachment