A clinical perspective on ‘theory of mind’, empathy and altruism: the hypothesis of somasia - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Relations Year : 2014

A clinical perspective on ‘theory of mind’, empathy and altruism: the hypothesis of somasia

Abstract

The article starts by recalling the results of recent experiments that have revealed that, to a certain extent, the “ability to simultaneously distinguish between different possible perspectives on the same situation” (Decety and Lamm 2007) exists in chimpanzees. It then describes a case study of spatial and temporal disorientation in a young man following a cerebral lesion in order to introduce the hypothesis that this ability is based on a specific process of somasia. By permitting self-other awareness, this process also provides subjects with anchor points in time and space from which they can perform the mental decentring that enables them to adopt various perspectives. This process seems to be shared by humans and certain animal species and appears to be subdivided into the processing of the identity of experienced situations, on the one hand, and of their unity on the other. The article concludes with a critique of overly reflexive and “representational” conceptions of theory of mind which do not distinguish adequately between the ability to “theorise” about the mental states of others and the self-other awareness ability (which is automatic and non-reflexive).
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Dates and versions

hal-01512671 , version 1 (24-04-2017)

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  • HAL Id : hal-01512671 , version 1

Cite

Jean-Michel Le Bot. A clinical perspective on ‘theory of mind’, empathy and altruism: the hypothesis of somasia. Relations, 2014, 2 (1), pp.91-107. ⟨hal-01512671⟩
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