Paul Bloom in a discussion on the merits of empathy:
'For those in the helping professions, compassion and understanding are critically important. But not empathy — feeling the suffering of others too acutely leads to exhaustion, burnout and ineffective work. No good therapist is awash with anxiety when working with an anxious patient. Some distance is required. The essayist Leslie Jamison has a great description of this, in writing about a good doctor who helped her: “His calmness didn’t make me feel abandoned, it made me feel secure," she wrote. "I wanted to look at him and see the opposite of my fear, not its echo.”'
Read the article here.
Empathy is more than identifying with and mimicking the other person's emotions.
But I tend to sympathize with Mr. Bloom's position, we don't need empathy in order to be an ethical citizen. And the torturer can feel, or claim to feel empathy with his victim. If he identifies with his victim he is probably able to torture better.
And empathy can be narcissism as well. We identify with certain people because it's emotionally profitable.
Didn't Christ teach us that we should identify with thieves, whores and crooks?
Most people rather feel empathy for this lovely one-eyed cat. Our empathy should be cozy, and this fact alone makes me believe that the person who benefits most from empathy is not the other, it is the person who claims to feel it.