I Feel Your Brain

Sharon Salzberg speaks with Daniel Goleman about altruism, mirror neurons, and how the human brain is wired for compassion.

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daniel goleman1What about when the person we're interacting with isn't in distress but is attacking us, expressing anger or hatred toward us? So while we are wired for compassion when the other is in desperate need, other circuitry flips on when we face anger or aggression—wiring for fear, or for anger in ourselves. Psychophysiologists who study marital disagreements call this the "downward spiral," when one person's hostility triggers the same in the other, in a reverberating circuit of building recrimination. On the other hand, if one of the two has strong equanimity or compassion—or just a sense of humor about what's going on—that spiral can be broken.

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