Harvard professor Helen Riess, MD, has been on the leading edge of research around empathy, important work that the Gold Foundation has been proud to support.
On November 27, 2018, Dr. Riess released a new book, “The Empathy Effect: 7 Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work, and Connect Across Differences.” The book offers examples of concrete ways to build essential skills for relating to others.
“Nourishing empathy lets us help not just ourselves,” said Dr. Riess, “but also everyone we interact with, whether for a moment or a lifetime.”
An associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Empathy and Relational Science Program in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Riess is also the founder and chief scientist of Empathetics, Inc., which provides innovative empathy and interpersonal skills training for medical professionals.
The Gold Foundation has supported Dr. Riess’ work through several grants since 2014. In 2017, we spoke with Dr. Riess about a study by her research team at Massachusetts General Hospital that showed physicians’ nonverbal empathic behaviors increase patients’ perceptions of physicians’ warmth and competence.
Gold Foundation President and CEO Dr. Richard I. Levin was delighted to read an early copy of “The Empathy Effect.” His take:
“In an age of epidemic meanness, the media catalogue daily events that shock us with their rudeness, even cruelty.
“Despite focusing on the patient’s – or the client’s – needs as central to successful interactions of any sort, ‘best practices’ may get in the way of forming human connections and, as Thomas L. Friedman wrote in The New York Times in 2017, “…those that put human connection at the center of everything they do — and how they do it — will be the enduring winners.’
“But how will we re-learn civility and augment empathy?
“In this wonderful, new, accessible book, Helen Riess weaves the story of her discoveries and their implementation to raise our levels of empathy. Her focus is the particular and critical empathic connection between doctor and patient where she has discovered that empathy is a teachable trait.
“From ‘shared mind intelligence’ through the ‘7 keys of empathy’ to the ‘politics of empathy in leadership,’ Dr. Riess describes in the simplest terms the neurobiology of empathy and why it is critical to healthcare and every other service offered to humans. She succeeds brilliantly in the challenge of her title, to transform life, love, work and human connection.”