Empathy and Transcendence

Carol M. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Empathy is described in a variety of ways in the literature, depending on the perspective of the author. Common meanings associated with empathy include walking in another person's footsteps, or moccasins (a rather psychobiological derivation), sympathy or like feeling (emotional), projecting one's feelings into another (psychological), or into a work of art (aesthetic), taking the role of another (psychological/sociological), accurate understanding and consideration of the other's viewpoint (psychological), needs (emotional), rights (sociological, political, moral), and feelings (emotional), or taking the perspective of another (psychological). This article makes a case for a unifying description of empathy, developed by Stein, that incorporates all of the variety of meanings listed, and highlights one aspect of empathy, the "crossing over stage," that is transcendent in nature. Because of this property of transcendence, empathy then is portrayed as a vehicle for the development of the spiritual quadrant of function and meaning in practitioners and in-patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-274
Number of pages10
JournalTopics in Geriatric Rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Empathy
  • Spiritual
  • Transcendence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Health Professions(all)


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