Tag: empathy

Baltimore Cops Take Lessons in Niceness



The police officers who keep Baltimore safe (and who also occasionally get in trouble for things like falling asleep on the job, or shooting unarmed civilians) don’t necessarily have a reputation for being tactful and empathetic. But if the BPD’s newest training regimen really does what it says it will, you can expect a whole lot more kindness from police officers around town.

The Road to Hell



Baltimore writer Elizabeth Hazen confesses (and reconsiders) an ancient crime.

Some mornings my son, nearly six and a half years old, wakes up raging over the injustices of the world: Why does he have to eat green vegetables? Why does everything he wants cost “too much money”? Why doesn’t his dad live with us? Why, as he once phrased it from his booster in the backseat of our car, is life so hard? Devastated that I had failed already to guard him from this truth, I had little comfort to offer. Finding my own life a series of difficult navigations and compromises that leave all parties feeling deprived, I have struggled throughout my adult life to reconcile the lessons I learned as a child – all dreams are achievable, hard work always pays off, people get what they deserve – with the reality of my experience. The science of these teachings, quite simply, doesn’t play out. So what, then, do I tell my son? That intentions don’t matter? That the universe is random and our place in it negligible? That it is virtually impossible to predict what will happen, and even harder to know what will make us happy?

2013: The Year of the Mensch?


Image courtesy of Grand.

In which University of Baltimore Asst. Prof. and Bohemian Rhapsody Columnist Marion Winik extols the benefits of rationalization…and recounts the Magical Popcorn story.

A couple nights before Christmas my son’s girlfriend threw a ball for the dog. It smashed a bottle of wine sitting on a counter in the kitchen. We all leapt up from our game of Masterpiece to sop up the scarlet liquid and green glass with paper towels.

This Week in Research: Your Cell Phone is Making You Selfish


One upside of the technology boom is that it enables us to stay in touch, connect with others, and otherwise be more social animals… right? Maybe, but not necessarily in a good way, according to a study by University of Maryland marketing professors. After talking on a cell phone for a short time, research subjects were less likely to volunteer for a community service activity than those who hadn’t been chatting on a phone. The researchers posit that a cell phone conversation gives the user a feeling of connectivity and belonging. Once that itch is scratched, there’s less of a need to engage in empathic or prosocial behavior. Even more scary, this decreased focus on others held true when participants were asked to draw a picture of their cell phones and think about using them, without even making a phone call.

And — sorry for more bad news! — patients who recover from potentially deadly diseases are hardly brimming with joy and gratitude, according to research by Johns Hopkins psychiatrists and doctors. Instead, these patients often suffer from depression… which can lead to new physical problems. (Yes, that’s right — the depression comes before the new physical impairments.) The study looked at survivors of acute lung injuries in Baltimore hospitals, and found that 40 percent suffered depressive symptoms in the two years following their discharge. Two-thirds had new physical problems that made it difficult to perform the tasks of daily life, such as using the phone and shopping for food. This is despite the fact that the average age of the patients was 49. “Patients are burdened for a very long time after their hospital stays,” says Dale Needham, a Hopkins doc who was the study’s principal investigator. “We need to figure out what we can do to help these previously productive people get back their lives.” The study posits that it’s not just the illnesses that make patients have a hard time recovering, but also the standard ICU procedures of deep sedation and bed rest.