Is there such a thing as a compassionate instinct? Throughout much of history, there has been a general shared opinion that humans are selfish. Plato wrote that the body is a chariot being pulled by horses of raging emotions while the intellect acts as the driver to keep them in line. The seven deadly sins take our darker passions as a given part of human nature. In both, a higher power, whether the grace of God or our own intellect, is required to control natural emotions. Building from this, the idea of real compassion and concern for others has been derided and even doubted.
Neuroscience suggests there is compassionate instinct!
Recent studies on compassion argue, however, that compassion is a core part of our biology. Compassion, when harnessed, serves the greater good. According to evolutionary theory, compassion lends itself to human survival.
The compassionate instinct is necessary for healthy relationships
Partners, able to be compassionate to each other’s points of view are motivated to address the other’s needs. When one partner feels his/her needs are tended to, the attachment is deepened; the relationship grows.
Promoting the compassionate instinct
We’re learning that children who are securely attached to their parents are sympathetic to their peers at the very young age of three. Children brought up in abusive homes have less empathy. Extrapolating from this, we can conclude that securely attached adult partners make it possible for the compassionate instinct to flourish.
Read the full article here: The Compassionate Instinct