Is emotional empathy the same as sympathy?
1. On the concept of empathy
a) empathy as "participatory observation"
The viewer of a film acts as a lay sociologist while he trembles with the film characters, as Wulff explains:
"The viewer can be compared with a lay sociologist in his competence to understand and understand situations, his methodological
and interpretative skills are anchored in competent everyday action. "(1)
The viewer enters into a so-called "parasocial interaction" with film characters, as Wulf further explains:
"Part of the audience's participation in what is happening on the screen also includes building social relationships with the screen characters and ... entering into an interaction.
If the viewer is addressed directly, he is involved in a parasocial interaction. "(2)
Empathy between viewers and film characters could be described as a "participating observation" of the "film characters by the amateur sociologist television or film viewer, ie the viewer understands the typified action intentions of the film characters and trembles emotionally. The demarcation between sympathy and empathy, between" feeling with "and" feeling for "must be taken into account, although there can also be smooth transitions between these two types of viewer-film character interaction, for example when the viewer reacts with relief when the chased protagonist was once again able to escape a deadly trap, as in Hitchcocks, for example Cornfield scene in "North by Northwest". A film scene is connected in many ways with the textual context and at the same time points back to forms of order and organization of everyday action and interaction. (3) One could therefore create an exciting film scene such as the M Aisfeld scene as a "sociological crisis experiment" that includes three components, as Wulff explains: "On the one hand, the scene is exciting because it shows a protagonist escaping a deadly trap. Second, it is funny because the protagonist destroys a ritual situation and traces an interactive game back to a physically immediate confrontation. Third, it is analytical and material for sociological analysis. "(4)
How this transference between emotional qualities in the film scene and the experience of the viewer comes about is what the mysterious concept of the stands for
"Empathy", which now needs to be clarified.
b) empathy as "empathetic understanding"
According to Michael Basch, "empathy" is the ability to understand someone else's feelings, thoughts and motives as if they were your own, and yet still look up
To stay at a distance from him:
"Understanding so mate that the feelings, thougths and motives of one are readily comprehended by another." (5)
Empathy is the ability to change perspective, the ability to "empathize with the other person's shoes". There is none for empathic empathy
Personal attitude is required as with sympathy, but empathy also works without any affective concern, as Douglas Chismar explains:
"Empathy allows one to sense what he is feeling, but does not entail the kind of mutuality and` fellow feeling 'involved in sympathizing. "(6)
Even with a critical distance between the adult viewer and certain television programs, empathy works on the cognitive level, as Dorr,
Doubleday and Kovaric emphasize:
"Children and adolescents of all ages can understand program content without being emotionally involved in the slightest. Most of the time, understanding is not even a prerequisite for an emotional reaction. Understanding program content can increase the possibility of emotional reactions to certain programs ; however, it is neither necessary nor sufficient to arouse emotional reactions. " (7)
One could describe sympathy as a special case of empathy, as empathy with feeling, as Chismar goes on to explain: "Empathy, then, implies sharing
something of the other's feelings without necessarily feeling affection, positive regard or the desire to help. Sympathy, on the other hand, is a special kind of
empathy, empathy coupled with a benevolent attitude towards the other person. " (8th)
Benevolent feelings such as sympathy are not a prerequisite for an empathic understanding of the motives and intentions of another, like Chismar
"One needs not truly care about another person in order to empathize with him; the parameters which determine the likelihood of empathizing differ from those
determine sympathy. "(9)
Sympathy is tied to personal preferences and affection; Empathy, on the other hand, works independently of these random variables. When you have empathy
and sympathy is described as a parameter for prosocial behavior, then more people are likely to be able to empathize with another,
than to sympathy, which now occurs sporadically, retired and accidentally. Nevertheless, it does not necessarily follow from an empathic understanding of the other
a prosocial behavior, as the Milgram experiment shows:
"This leaves us with the expected mixed result that most humans frequently but sporadically empathize, generally towards those with whom they are most familiar
regarding situations which they can recognize and understand. Where occurences of empathy with distress situations are most intense, highly altruistic helping
behavior will probably result. Unfortunately, human also have the ability to repress occurrences of empathy (as in the Milgram experiment) so that, whatever the altruistic inclination, the empathic response is inefficiacious. "(10)
So empathy is not a predictor of prosocial behavior, as the Milgram experiment shows. Although one is empathic with the motives and intentions of another
understands, you are not necessarily ready to help him in a hopeless situation. On the other hand, the neutrality of empathy would be more in favor
suitable to arouse understanding for other people who do not belong to one's own family or national group, as Chismar explains:
"Empathy may occur in situations where there exists no prior attachment to the recipient and no prospect of individual utility gain." (11)
Empathy could therefore provide a broader basis for prosocial behavior than sympathy, which is person-related and sporadic on one's own family or group
remains limited. On the basis of empathic understanding, one could induce people to train their empathy instead of that
pursuing unrealistic humanistic goal of bringing people closer to one another on the basis of such a fluctuating quality of feeling as sympathy:
"Because empathy is construed as sympathy, the humanistic yet unrealistic goal of getting people to sympathize all others is attempted, with dismal results. In
attempting to generate sympathy for everyone, we overlood the more generalized capacity for empathy. As a result, this capacity remains undeveloped and,
being left in this state, functions only inconsistently and idiosyncratically, which appears to make it worth overlooking. "(12)
Empathy on the cognitive level is therefore much more suitable as a basis for understanding film than sympathy, which only occurs sporadically and by chance
Hires spectators. An empathic change of perspective between different film characters is also possible without personal sympathetic participation.
Random sympathies and antipathies for one or the other film character play a role in the cognitive understanding of the protagonists' motives and intentions
the canvas does not matter. The film can completely rely on our fundamental ability to understand empathically. Chismar recommends an empathic
Sensitivity training for television viewers to better understand films and people in everyday life:
"Empathic education, then, might consist of a kind of 'sensitivity training' perhaps relying heavily on role-playing and video resources in response to a variety of
situations, persons and cultures. "(13)
c) mimicry empathy
According to Theodor Lipps, empathy is a "conclusion by analogy" between the actors' gestures and the comprehension of those contained in this expression
"As the psychic, such as anger, takes place in me, I experience it at the same time as an expression of it, as something in which the inner experience is expressed, or
in which I announce the same thing, the gesture. And if I now make such a gesture somewhere else in reality, i.e. in the physical world
see, I conclude, that a similar inner experience is expressed in the same sense of the word or is announced by an 'I' "."
The decisive question for Lipps, however, is how the affects shown and the affects felt by the viewer are bridged? He describes
bridging this gap as "conclusion by analogy":
"Rather, there is a gap here, which to try to fill in with the otherwise very pleasant word" conclusion by analogy "is a strange illusion." (15)
According to Lipps, empathy is only possible through an affective placement in the position of the actor, whereby a "transference" of the acted ones
Affects on the emotions of the audience takes place:
"I shouldn't think about my grief or my anger, or myself, in short, but think about something completely different, namely instead of my grief
or another's anger of mine, and another's anger or sorrow; I am supposed to be the absolute subject by virtue of this alleged conclusion by analogy
Exchange for something that is an object and only an object for me, I am supposed to exchange this completely new thought of an I that is not me, but of myself absolutely
is different, perform. "(16)
This "conclusion by analogy", however, turns out to be extremely problematic on closer analysis, as Lipps notes:
"How does 'me', or 'the' I, which I alone find, become 'an' I? How does this one by nature, which I call 'myself', become the genus 'I'?
I am indeed one. 'An' ego, on the other hand, is an example of a species. But the answer to that question is: `` An 'I' or the genus 'I' arises for mine
Consciousness in that 'the other', i.e. the other self, confronts me. And now the question is how does this happen? "(17)
According to Lipps, empathy is based on an "intuitive certainty", on an instinct that cannot be further analyzed:
"There would be no physical knowledge without the instinctive belief in the objective reality of what is sensually perceived. And likewise there would be none
psychological insight without trust in memory and without belief in the foreign consciousness life. Every knowledge of the real is based
thus ultimately on instinct. "(18)
But how is the spectator 'I' able to grasp the other 'I' of the actor's body, when all deeper feelings are primarily located in myself:
"Anger, friendliness, sadness are simply not perceptible to the senses. Instead, we know from ourselves what these words mean. We can only be in ourselves
experience the like. So only as our own experiences do we know such things directly. "(19)
"I" intuitively grasp the excitement of the other "I" by perceiving them in the physical expression of the other "I" and them with my own
Connect arousal potential, as Lipps explains:
"But just such experiences now confront us in a tangible way 'in' the apprehension of a sensually perceptible body or its changes.
That means that sensual perception and grasping and this becoming aware of the inner excitement that cannot be sensed by the senses happens in an inseparable act.
Both experiences are combined in a single experience. The grasping of the sensual appearance is at the same time the presence of that soul, in such a way,
that the sensual seems to immediately include the nonsensual of excitation in us. "(20)
According to Lipps, the physical gesture of the actor's body functions as the middle link for empathy. The viewer interprets these gestures as certain
Affects, which he then compares with his own, familiar affects from his inner life:
"In this way I also experience the tendency to produce this gesture in the perception of a foreign gesture directly with ... By comprehending in the gesture
I am and while I am at the same time, without knowing what is happening to me, that is, instinctively, directed towards producing these gestures or I tend to do so. So
So I become aware of myself in the strange gesture of myself as tending towards its own production. "(21)
The empathic transference between the affects of the actor and my own affects takes place via the sign language of the
Actor body. I assume the actor has similar affects as I would feel myself if I performed the same gestures as the actor
"I see the strange gesture and grasp it mentally or am comprehensively in it. And while I am in it, the tendency to produce this gesture is in me,
i.e. the tendency to perform a certain physical activity. This tendency, however, as just said, is one with the feeling of anger
directly bound to this affective state. "(22)
So I recognize affects in the gestures of the actor's body that are inherent in myself. Certain signs are given a certain emotional or
affective index, as Lipps says:
"Conversely, this affective state is also linked to the drive to produce that bodily process. This drive is in me in that it is itself
stimulates, not just an impulse outright, but rather, it is that which is rooted in an own affect of anger. It sticks to her ... this index, expression of anger, ... a
Moment to be at this anger. "(23)
The viewer reproduces certain affects, which he has indexed with certain gestures of the actor's body, in himself as if he were the same affects
feel that he subordinates to the actor's body:
"And now I experience the tendency to utterance again, but not out of my own affect, but on the basis of the perception of the gesture on one
foreign body, then first of all the affect from which this tendency arose from me in that experience is reproduced (...) The affect is from me into the
seen gestures introduced or thought into. "(24)
The recognition of certain feelings that are expressed in facial expressions and gestures is the subject of many ethnological studies, such as Dorr, Doubleday and
"Ten primary emotions were identified: arousal of interest, joy, surprise, sorrow, anger, disgust, contempt, fear, shame and
Fault. Many researchers claim that all human beings, regardless of their cultural affiliation, have certain feelings with the same facial expressions
Whether these conventions have been learned in whole or in part, whether they are passed on genetically as part of the human genome, and whether they are
Are shared with members of other cultural areas is irrelevant in this context; What is decisive is the socialization of certain, more culturally contingent
Norms such as Dorr, Doubleday and Kovaric explain:
"What is essential, however, is that a system of knowledge and norms is created in some way within every culture and that children and young people also
to develop understanding and acceptance for this system with increasing maturity. "(26)
This is how Lipps explains the empathic transmission of affects by imitating the sign language of the actor's body:
"While I now experience the tendency to utterance, a part of that former overall experience is there in me again. And therein lies the tendency of this
Part, to become a whole again, or to complete itself ... So when I see a gesture, there is certainly a tendency to the
Affect, from which it naturally arises, to be experienced in me. And this tendency is realized when there is no obstacle. "(27)
It is crucial that certain feelings are assigned to certain signs and that the viewer recognizes this affective index immediately. The
According to Lipps, the audience experiences the supposed affects of the actor by physically imitating his gestures:
"Introducing the affect in the strange gesture or thinking it into the gesture has then become an experience of it, a feeling of empathy ...
I just experience in myself the inner state that I see expressing itself in another."(28)
The tendency to imitate physical gestures is called "somatic empathy". You can sometimes see how viewers are in the cinema
hint at gestures similar to those of the actors on the screen. This empathy term could also be called "mimic empathy"
("Imitation"). Sign language is particularly pronounced among actors in old silent films such as Fritz Lang's "Metropolis". Since they still
have no verbal language available, actors of the silent film era had to convey all affects through gestures and facial expressions. Lipps explains the puzzling
Phenomenon of empathy as a combination of two factors, the conclusion by analogy on the cognitive level and the imitation of signs on the
"The reason on which such knowledge of this kind is based is empathy or is that interaction of the instinct to imitate and the instinct of
On the basis of his idea of completeness, the viewer then generalizes the individual affects of an actor into a whole "person" and completes them
Actions in the individual film scenes to a systematic "role". Lipps states, "... that we are not only living in consciousness at all
human body, but a unified life of consciousness, a unity of consciousness, i.e. that that life of consciousness is us as that
Consciousness life of a single individual self that it is summarized in such a (...) We see with the spiritual eye in the physical
Appearance as its 'representative' or 'symbol' an 'I'. "(30)
According to Lipps, this "symbolic relation" explains the phenomenon of empathy. We keep that in the physical appearance of the actor's body
"I" thought into it for a real "I" who can feel affects and emotions that we know about ourselves. (31)
So, according to Lipps, we really experience the feelings and affects in us, while the actor in the film or on the stage only experiences these feelings
pretends. In a sense, the actor's body fuses with ours for the time of the acting; his affects he is through
His sophisticated sign language demonstrates, solves similar things in us through analogy and imitation, but in contrast to the actor
real feelings. The strange thing is that such "mimic empathy" actually leads the viewer to a real emotional experience
comes while the affects of the actor's body are only acted out on stage or in the film. The suspicion is that the
Viewers project their own feelings and affects, which they know from themselves and from their everyday experiences, into the gestures of the actor's body. So does empathy dissolve into a pure projection phenomenon?
2. Somatic empathy
a) Somatic empathy in general
Lipps' concept of mimiki empathy is expanded and specified in the so-called "motor mimicry". In Anglo-American cognitive psychology is
the everyday phenomenon of such more or less virtual, more or less automatic physical participation as "motor mimicry" (motor
Imitation), as Noll-Brinckmann explains:
"'Motor mimicry' belongs to the form of empathy or empathy ... and stands next to other empathic processes: for example the 'affective mimicry' -
the involuntary ... empathy for basic feelings that can be read off the facial expression and body language of a counterpart - or the 'emotional
simulation '- putting yourself in the position of others on a trial basis in order to sound out their state of mind and need for action. "(32)
"Somatic empathy" can be generated particularly well in the medium of film, as Dorr, Doubleday and Kovaric explain:
"Television can use the whole range of its specific techniques: music, tempo, the side by side of individual scenes, flashbacks or
Special effects. Television can also fall back on metaphors or symbols: a twitching heart, Cupid's arrow, the waves of the sea, dark ones
Clouds or a rainbow. "(33)
Successful programming usually depends on whether a program arouses emotions in the viewer, and these - especially negative emotions
then let it fade away pleasantly. Of the ten primary emotions, the most common on television are excitement and interest, joy,
Shown surprise, sorrow and fear. (34)
The more realistic the representation of the characters and actions in general, the easier it is to evoke emotional reactions in the audience. This is
certainly due to the fact that the audience is more likely to participate in characters that they perceive to be similar to themselves, and whose experiences they could have had in their own lives. (35) In the cinema in particular, "somatic empathy" can be generated particularly well. The darkness of the cinema hall and the silence in the audience provide a good seal for the cinema audience from the real outside world. According to Brinckmann, the Dispositiv Kino allows "... a particularly submerged, intense viewing, a largely forgetting of one's own in favor of the foreign body that one perceives and into which one is
empathizes. This creates favorable conditions for the development of somatic empathy. "(36)
In the cinema and on television, all conditions are in place for the viewer to get into the screen characters through somatic empathy and "motor mimicry"
can put into it. However, the distance between actor and viewer remains intact even in the case of "somatic empathy", as Noll-Brinckmann emphasizes:
"Empathic processes should not be equated with identificatory processes, because it is only a temporary, partial empathy or
To catch up with the observed person: even if their emotional and physical experiences for a moment your own perception of your own body
occupy, it remains a separate counterpart. "(37)
Objective cues function as objective triggers for empathic effects in the film, which can then also trigger emotional reactions from the audience. in the
Film must be intersubjectively understandable cues, e.g. special techniques of camera work and a skilful montage, in order to be empathic
To generate understanding in the audience. So it is not only necessary that the situations and the actions that are physically dealt with be understood
must, are comprehensible and predictable. It is also important that the muscles involved in the performer are exposed to the audience, so to speak
be profiled so that the spatial orientation is guaranteed despite cuts. The distances to the camera and the setting sizes must be reasonable
remain constant, and the film plot must be shown in its duration and continuity, as Noll-Brinckmann explains:
"All of these cinematic means favor a parallelization or analog reflection of the audience in the figure shown and encourage them to get involved
These include the course of action, the characters, roles, situations, colors, the music, the point of view interpreting the content, the use of
Cartoons or live scenes, a humorous or more serious undertone, the editing, the camera work and any other creative selection of the
Notational means by the program producer. (39)
As Dorr, Doubleday and Kovaric mention, "... nothing is known about which combinations of all these elements are most effective or most effective
are the least effective or which are most important. What is certain, however, is that a programmer makes every single decision when choosing
can view his means as a way of enhancing desired emotional effects, including the ability to produce emotion-free responses
There is no magic formula for the effect of cinematic signs on the emotions of the audience. It should also be remembered that not all viewers are equal
Wise empathy, as Noll-Brinckmann emphasizes:
"What evokes manifest physical reactions in some, pleasant as well as unpleasant, in others generates at best a distant echo of the observed
Hand movements or muscle tension. Likewise, the stimuli that trigger empathic responses seem to vary personality-specifically. '"(41)
Also, not every director is equally gifted for the dramaturgical use of somatic empathy, and not every film explores the empathy-triggering elements
As Noll-Brinckmann mentions, the medium makes full use of its possibilities: "On the contrary: The audience often completely refrains from playing with the physical reactions of the audience, even if the nature of the events presented often gives the best opportunity." (42)
Television provides a media space in which the whole range of its specific techniques can be used: music, tempo,
the juxtaposition of individual scenes, flashbacks or special effects. Television can also use metaphors or symbols. '' (43)
b) Somatic empathy in Hitchcock films
The genius director Alfred Hitchcock mastered all these camera and assembly tricks perfectly. That is why you can observe the behavior of the audience, "... that Alfred
Hitchcock's films, from the silent early days to old works, almost always contain passages in which the audience becomes so involved in observing physical activities on the screen that their own muscles begin to play along. "(44)
Hitchcock's thrillers preferably presented fearful physical extreme situations, encounters in the dark, attacks that cannot be clearly identified, obsessive ones
Testimony from positions of restraint or lockout that paralyze rather than activate and a diffuse muscular nervousness or a blocking one
Can lead to hardening. (45)
Hitchock's films use elements of thriller, crime film, melodrama, and comedy, which opens up a myriad of possibilities on top of that
Engaging the audience and stimulating reactions at all levels. (46)
c) Case study somatic empathy in Hitchcock's "Frenzy"
Finely elaborated example comes from Hitchcock's "Frenzy" from 1972. (47) A sex murderer has strangled a young woman and managed to get her in unnoticed
to deposit a potato sack on a truck. But he overlooked the fact that she is holding his tiepin in her fist. When I desperately try that
The truck starts to expose the corpse again, and the murderer has to finish his project at full speed, in the dark and among the potatoes.
In addition, the back flap of the car remained unlocked, the loading area opens backwards unprotected. The killer's job is clear. There are numerous precarious moments for the audience to emphatically understand what is being done or what should be done, and various physical stimuli induce them to empathize with the situation in a tactile manner. The contrast between hard, cool metal, dusty-sandy potatoes and the coarse sack structure stimulates the sense of touch - especially because the scene is sparsely lit so that the audience - like the murderer - thinks they can feel rather than see. (48)
The muscles are also addressed very early, when it is foreseeable how hopeless it is for the film character, the heavy rear flap from the loading area
pull up. But the main obstacle is still outstanding: the murder victim's body has entered a state of rigor mortis. This fact makes
it is almost impossible to pull the dead woman out of the potato sack, because her stiff limbs - feet first - get caught up again and again. Between the potatoes
the bare, dry, smooth, now dusty toes almost feel like potatoes themselves - a somewhat comforting fact. In general it is liable
The body of the young woman is nothing hideous. The horror, the monster, is the murderer, even if he for his part feels disgust for her corpse
in turn can empathize.
Finally the almost impossible succeeds, the protagonist pushes for the hand of the victim, but it holds the golden needle in an iron grip. That too
Pocket knife, which the murderer uses to force her hand on, fails, the blade breaks off. He continues to work doggedly and breaks finger by finger - them
Fist the dead up until it releases the incriminating needle. The violent destruction, the brittle cracking and yielding of the bones, the rigid rigidity of the woman's hand that withstands the metal of the blade, the superhuman strength that it takes to complete the task, all of this is reflected in the body of the audience in somatic empathy as if they were perpetrators and victims at the same time. The fact that Hitchcock fragments this long scene into many short shots does not detract from the intensity. Because the action is strong enough and close enough to maintain the empathic feeling towards the audience.
Flanking moments contribute to increasing tension and increasing physical discomfort. Glances at the carefree driving driver or other freely moving cars have a short-term relief, only to make the situation of the murderer appear all the more unbearable in contrast. The truck strolls while overtaking, sacks of potatoes slide backwards when it brakes, crash into the street and burst open so that we can anticipate how it would feel if the corpse fell on the street too. But this only happens in the next sequence. In front of her, when the truck has reached a rest stop, the murderer falls from the loading area with his full broadside. Finally everything is over. Annoyed, sweaty and encrusted with dust at the edge of his strength, he takes refuge in the men's room to freshen up. Despite all the disgust, the viewer can feel his relief, his regained freedom of movement.
Hitchcock manipulates his audience consciously and knows which body perceptions he triggers in them. In a later scene he takes up the worst part of his thriller once. When the officer in charge discussed the case with his wife over dinner, she was holding a thin, dry breadstick in her hand. Lost in thought, for her part an example of somatic empathy, she breaks this rod into finger-length pieces - a macabre echo effect, a reminiscence of the terrible scene in the truck, which mobilizes the audience's empathic feelings anew. This film example clearly documents the importance of the somatic activation of the audience at Hitchcock, how consciously and virtuously he uses it for his purposes. All ingredients are known, somatic aspects of the tactility or the cunning of the object and the type of handicap are already installed, as is a certain steadfastness of the actors. Transparency of the event and its consequences, sufficient duration or continuity of similar shots, suggestive camera perspectives on the event contribute to the intensification of the empathic effect. A corpse is at the center of the action, which the
The basic mood of horror and horror arouses, which has to do with deep fear for the integrity of the body, which is made bearable with black humor
becomes. Hitchcock savoring the discomfort of the viewer sadomasochistically and covering it elegantly. The example confirms that Hitchcock always
again took into account the effect of somatic empathy, and also that he liked to come back to earlier moments in order to vary or expand them.
Also interesting is the content of the passages, which seem to be about sadistic handicaps and mishaps
impossible but extremely urgent acts of strength or the desperate struggle of equally strong opponents. Claustrophobic situations, playing with the
Fear of heights or the fear of losing control while driving at speed are visually savored by Hitchcock in order to shock the audience. (49)
The viewer does not necessarily feel sympathy for the criminally acting persons, but morally deeply disapproves of their actions, but still hopes
secretly - beyond the "superego censorship", so to speak - that they may succeed in their criminal plans.
d) Somatic empathy exemplified on the basis of the Hitchcock short film "The corpse in the trunk" ("One more mile to go")
Another case study of somatic empathy is Hitchcock's short film "The corpse in the trunk", in which even a certain amount of empathic effects are used
Sympathy for the killer is generated. Between 1955 and 1961, Hitchcock directed a total of 17 episodes for the television series "Alfred Hitchcock presents". Each
Episode had a maximum length of 23 minutes.Alfred Hitchcock himself introduced his television series in short monologues. He pointed this out in his monologues
am that it could possibly be a little too macabre for good taste. The individual episodes were produced within three days (one day rehearsal, two days shooting). Instead of advertising from different companies, TV series were each financed by a sponsor. First sponsor
the series was made by Bristol-Meyers, who raised concerns about pill murder; later the Lincoln-Mercury group followed, which in turn attached importance to the fact that cars did not play a negative role (which is, for example, the case in "The corpse in the trunk"). (59)
In the world of "Alfred Hitchcock presents" the crimes begin in everyday domestic life, in which abysses open up. In many episodes
If there are confrontations between spouses, oppressed husbands often dream of a different life, even if this can only be had at the price of murder. Everyday objects turn into murder weapons, a poker or even a frozen leg of lamb in the rage of the moment. Almost all episodes end with a surprise that destroys the previous intrigue. Sometimes this gives the viewer a shock, more often it leaves him smiling. All episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock presents" are small chamber plays. Some episodes additionally narrow the perspective by telling the story
Tell exclusively from the perspective of the perpetrator and thereby turn the viewer into his accomplice, which increases empathy with the perpetrator. In the episode "One more mile to go" ("The corpse in the trunk") from 1957, based on the book by James Cavanagh, the argument between two spouses leads to the husband, Sam Jacoby (David Wayne), his wife (Louise Larabee) kills with poker because she talks too much. He stows her corpse in the trunk of his car to sink it into a lake. His drive on country roads at night is soon stopped by a police patrol on a motorcycle (Steve Brody) who complains about a defective taillight. When Jacoby wants to have the damage repaired at a gas station, the policeman reappears. Opening the trunk seems inevitable. The film draws its "suspense" from the way it is delayed again and again. Even if this film is told from the perpetrator's point of view, the staging still keeps us at a distance from him. (51) Empathy works by comparing the protagonists with their own everyday experience. We all know this awkward situation of being in a car that we know there is something wrong with it. And we are all afraid of being caught by the police. The only thing is that we don't usually have the body in the trunk. This fundamentally differentiates us from the man with the corpse in the trunk. Despite our distancing from the crime of murder, the skillful staging gradually and almost imperceptibly pulls us to the side of the man in the car, whom we believe we understand better and better. On the one hand, we wish him that the cup is on him
may pass and the motorcycle policeman may finally leave him alone. On the other hand, our sense of justice demands an outcome of the story that is compatible with bourgeois morality, in that the man is exposed and the murder of his wife is convicted. And that's what happens in Hitchcock's short thriller.
The empathy relates to the murderer who transports his wife's body in the trunk and tries to escape the police. One trembles with this man; The policeman on the motorcycle who follows him, on the other hand, is perceived as an enemy. Hitchcock succeeds in turning the viewer into an accomplice of the murderer for a few moments through the skillful staging and above all through the subjective narrative perspective. The viewer almost forgets in the course of the plot that it is a murder. At least we can understand the motives of the man who killed his wife in affect after a marital dispute. Not much is learned about this dispute between the married couple, but enough is shown to understand the man's motives. The marriage seems too pure in the end, he just seems to be unable to endure his wife any longer; who does not know this situation from their own partnership experience?
The killing of the wife, of which the protagonist is weary, appears almost as a logical consequence of a broken marriage or as a kind
of an accident for which nobody can actually do anything. That the protagonist apparently only becomes aware of the gravity of his crime after his wife has been murdered,
namely, only the moment he stows the corpse in the trunk of his car makes him even more likeable. We can understand the motives of the
Understand protagonists very well, and also that he tries to cover up all traces. We hope with him to the end that he may succeed in the
outsmart penetrating patrolmen, and are always relieved when he leaves these pleasant contemporaries miles behind him. Once the
penetrating policeman reappears on his motorcycle to complain about the defective flashing light, we tremble with it again, and every time it is the protagonist
if we manage to outsmart the police, we feel a relief almost physically.
When everything is exposed at the end of the film, we react just as relieved as the protagonist, as if a heavy load had fallen from us. Now everything is open
days, now the game of cat and mouse is finally over. The policeman will open the trunk because of the still defective flashing light and open the body
discover. This is no longer shown, but can be guessed at. And a great relief overwhelms the viewer, who for twenty minutes out of fear of the
Discovery shook with the protagonist. The blinking of the defective flashing light at the end of the film could be seen as a wink of the director's eye
on a meta-level, as a hint from the director that we shouldn't take the whole story too seriously. Also from Hitchcock's smug comment
after the end of the short film, in which he gives us a bon mot, the director's ironic intention becomes clear. It is Alfred Hitchcock
succeeded in generating empathy with a murderer without us realizing who we were actually empathic with for twenty minutes. That the
The protagonist, of course, had to be exposed in the end, was probably Hitchcock's concession to the morality of the 50s, which does not mean that a husband's murder was not suspected
would have allowed. An escape of the definite murderer would strain our sense of justice a little too bad, although we are the whole time
felt significantly more empathy with the murderer than with the motorcycle policeman. This empathy was generated through a skilful staging, see above
e.g. by the fact that Hitchcock tells us the story from the perspective of the protagonist, so that the policeman appears as an opponent who repeatedly stands in his way as a resistance.
Also through the facial expressions of the protagonist, who can be seen exactly every emotion, e.g. when he visibly flinches at the sound of the police siren,
empathy with the protagonist is generated. Hitchcock has led us by the nose because he has succeeded in generating empathy and maybe even sympathy with a protagonist who, in view of his criminal act, should actually feel disgust and disgust, yes, who we morally according to the usual sense of justice would have to condemn. The fact that we are not doing this, but that we increasingly feel empathy with the murderer, whereby our moral standards are suspended for a certain time, shows that empathy works independently of personal sympathy or antipathy. In retrospect, Hitchcock's short thriller is also an empirical confirmation of Lipps' sign language empathy: Because the protagonist's facial expressions and gestures are the decisive intersubjective trigger mechanisms that make us feel empathy with him, regardless of whether we morally approve of his murder or whether we find this man sympathetic or not. (52)
3. The importance of spoken dialogue for empathy
Of course, one essential element in the film must not be overlooked: the spoken dialogue. What and how is spoken in the film, the intonation, the voices of the actors or the voice actors have significant effects on the audience's empathic understanding of the film. Spoken dialogues and monologues by the protagonists provide on the one hand specific information about what is happening in the film, and on the other hand the manner of speaking gives important clues to the protagonists' presumed emotional state. For empathic understanding of films, good voices are just as important as differentiated gestures in facial expressions and gestures. That's why actors not only have to have a repertoire of gestures, but also a whole range of intonation variations vocal. The empathy takes place parallel to Lipp's mimicry theory of sign language via an intonation-affect indexing. On the basis of the actors' monologues and dialogues, which are intoned in a certain way, the viewer draws conclusions about certain affects that he tries to imitate in himself in order to understand the intentions and motives of the protagonists in the film or on stage. For empathic reactions, the reception of sign language is sufficient, as in silent films, but in the interplay of sign language and verbal dialogue, the empathic effect is more intense and differentiated.
4. The magic of cinema
According to Paech, empathy is a "hallucinatory-magical empathy with what is happening on the screen", so that "... the viewer is all about himself
forgets around. "(53)
According to this conception, great directors like Lang, Preminger and Hitchcock have used the "hypnagogic power" of cinema to bridge the gap between
To pick up spectators and screen figures, as Paech explains:
"Fascination is called this complete absorption of consciousness by the drama. It is the intervention of a critical consciousness by the
to prevent close interlinking of the filmed acts. By the perfect correspondence of real and imaginary time. "
According to this conception of empathy, it is a matter of removing the distance between the spectator and the drama, temporarily increasing the critical awareness
suspend and fascinate the viewer. Paech's view tends to hit the affective aspect of empathy, while Lipps' definitions of empathy
rather focuses on cognitive aspects in the audience experience. While in Lipps' empathy conception, the viewer remains at a distance from what is happening on the screen,
According to Paechs, he is intimately woven into the drama, so that he no longer has room for intellectual debate, but himself
ecstatically surrenders to the fascinating power of the flood of images.
In my opinion, all aspects, affective, emotional and cognitive, are always mixed in different ways in the complex empathy process
interwoven, and it depends on the one hand on the genre and on the other hand on the personality and the viewer's attitude towards the
Take a film to see whether the cognitive or affective components of the empathy process are addressed in the individual case. A hypnagogic one
The fascination of the audience is likely to be the rare exception; normally the viewer is well aware that this is "only" one
Film is about even if its stream of consciousness is temporarily so absorbed by what is happening on the screen that it "understands everything."
around "forgets what Paech thinks." (54)
The viewer usually stays at a certain distance from the film, but still reacts emotionally affected to the action shown. It is
assume that one's emotions, such as fear or joy, tension or compassion, anger or disgust, are actually real feelings, although these are
"real" feelings are triggered by actors on the screen.
1. Empathy as the "understanding of strangers" (cf. Lipps) is the ability to understand the motifs and intentions of film characters and cinematically represented actions by the viewer. Empathy takes place primarily on the cognitive level independently of personal sympathies or antipathies with film characters, but not entirely independent of the viewer's affects and emotions. In addition to cognitive patterns, the viewer mobilizes an affective and
emotional reservoir to accomplish the change of perspective from themselves to film characters and their motives and intentions.
2. Empathy takes place via "mimicri" patterns, the imitation of the sign language of the actor's body in the spectator's body (lipps), whereby this
"Motor mimicry" can go up to somatic empathy (cf. Noll-Brinckmann).
3. Certain cinematic signs act as triggers for empathy. In addition to sign language, spoken dialogue also plays an important role in that
empathic film understanding. In particular, there is a certain intonation and stage of the spoken monologue and dialogue in the film or on stage
Viewers important clues about the emotional states and affects of the actor, which are then understood by analogy conclusions (cf. Lipps)
can. Decisive for empathic reactions are objective cues in the facial expressions and gestures of the actor's body as well as the audience's ability to
cognitive decoding of certain sign-affect indexes of the actor's body.
4. The somatic empathy can go up to the partial identification of the viewer with certain film characters, especially stars. A total
However, identification or hypnotic fusion between viewers and film stars is rather the rare exception; usually at least keep that
adult viewers maintain a critical distance from the film and are aware of the staging of what is happening on the screen.
6. Empathy and sympathy cannot always be clearly separated. Often in empathic understanding, in addition to the cognitive parts, there is also the emotional and
Affective dimension involved in the viewer. Showering an emotional involvement - sympathy or antipathy - can deepen the empathic process of empathy
become. Too many emotions, on the other hand, can also hinder the rational process of understanding. One could use empathy as sympathy with characters "from
inside "from their perspective (" feeling with "), characterize sympathy as sympathy with characters" from outside "(" feeling for "). Empathy relates
primarily on objective intentions and actions, intentions and motives of a figure; Sympathy or antipathy as subjectively conditioned sensations
can be determined primarily from the character drawing of film characters. Moral evaluations of intentions to act tend to depend on
subjective sympathy / antipathy values; empathic film understanding is independent of this.
7. The capacity for empathic empathy is different in different individuals. This may be due to the ability to
cognitive recognition of certain sign-affect indices, on the other hand with the subjective and mood-dependent
Willingness to get involved in a film.
8. The ability to understand certain affectively indexed signs in the gestures and facial expressions of the actor's body depends on the cultural background in which a certain sign language is indexed in a certain way. For empathic understanding of film, a certain similarity of the film events to one's own living environment is a prerequisite. Without such a comparability between what is happening on the screen and the personal or cultural background, empathy probably cannot work. We can probably only understand protagonists, motives and intentions for action that are somehow similar to ours. This is where the limits of our empathy lie.
9. It can be assumed that a lot of our own projections enter into our understanding of the film, whereby the viewer has his own subjective intentions,
Motives and knowledge projected into the film characters.
10. The understanding of film is basically limited to a certain cultural area and to a certain historical period. These limits are through
Targeted practice in understanding culturally alien sign language and its sign-affect indexing can be expanded to a certain extent.
Basch, Michael: Empathic unterstanding: Review of the concept and some theoretical considerations, in: Journal of the psychoanalytic association, 31 (1963).
Bolz, Norbert: The controlled chaos.From humanism to media reality, Düsseldorf 1994
Chismar, Douglas: Empathy and sympathy: the important difference, in: The Journal of Value Inquiry 22 (1988), 257-266
Dorr / Doubleday / Hovaric: Understanding the emotions shown on television, in: Meyer, Manfred (Ed.): How do children understand television programs,
Publication series Internationales Zentralinstitut für das Jugend- und Bildungsfernsehen, Munich 1994, p.111-137
Lipps, Theodor: The knowledge of strange Ichen, in: Psychological investigations, Leipzig 1907, p.694-722
Meyer, Lars Olaf / Seesslen, Georg: Alfred Hitchcock, Berlin 1999
Noll-Brinckmann, Christine: Somatic empathy in Hitchcock: A sketch, in: Heller / Prümm / Reulings: The body
in the picture: Acting - performing - appearing, Marburg 1999, p.111-121
Paech, Joachim: Dispositions of Empathy, in: Hickethier et al. (Ed.): The film in history, Berlin 1997, p.106-121
Wulff, Hans-Jürgen: Representation and communication. Elements of the pragma semiotics of film, Tübingen 1999
1 Wulff 1999, p.256
2 Wulff 1999, p.255
3 See Wulff 1999, p.255
4 Wulff 1999, p.256
5 Basch 1963, p.103
6 Douglas Chismar: Empathy and sympathy: The important difference, in: Journal of Value Inquiry, 22 (1988), pp. 257-266, here p. 258
7 Ib., 124f
9 Ib., P. 260
10 Ib., P.262. In the Milgram experiment, subjects were made to shock other subjects behind a glass wall with up to 330 electric shocks
Punish volts if they didn't give the correct answers to certain questions. Most of the punishing subjects turned the amperage in
The course of the Milgram experiment actually went up to the lethal dose of 330 volts, even though they heard the test subjects' cries of pain and
could perceive their pained expression in the laboratory behind the glass wall.
11 Ib., P. 263
12 Ib., P. 264
13 Ib., P.264
14 Lipps 1907, p.706
15 Lipps 1907, 707
16 Lipps 1907, 708
17 Lipps 1907, 709
18 Lipps 1907, p.710
19 Lipps 1907, p.714
20 Lipps 1907, p.714
21 Lipps 1907, p.716f
22 Lipps 1907, p.717
23 Lipps 1907, p.718
24 Lipps 1907, p.719
25 Dorr / Doubleday / Kovaric: Understanding Emotions Depicted on TV, In: How Do Children Understand TV Programs? ed. by Manfred Meyer,
Munich 1994, pp.98-137, here p.99
26 Eb, p.99f.
27 Lipps 1907, p.719
28 Lipps 1907, p.719
29 Lipps 1907, p.720
30 Lipps 1907, p.721 f.
31 See Lipps 1907, p.722
32 Christine Noll-Brinckmann: Somatic empathy in Hitchcock. A sketch, in: Heller / Prümm: The body in the picture: acting - representing - appearing,
Marburg 1999, 112
33 Don / Doubleday / Kovaric: Emotions presented on television and stimulated by television, in: How do children understand television programs? ed. from Manfred
Meyer, München 1984, pp.98-127, p.98 Empathic reactions are particularly easy to observe in children, for example when they have a
Follow children's theater play with interest and also physically go along with the sign language of the protagonists. While in adults physical
If reactions are rare, the somatic empathy in children up to ten years of age is more likely to be carried outwards. Is observable in many
Children an immediate imitation of the facial expressions and gestures of the protagonists in children's theater.
34 See ibid., P.107
35 See ibid., 112
36 'Ib., 113
37 Ib., P.111
38 Noll-Brinckmann, loc. Cit., P.114
39 See Dorr / Doubleday / Kovaric, op
41 Noll-Brinckmann, p.114.
43 See eb.
44 Eb., P.111
45 See eb, p.115
46 See ib.
47 I take this film example from Noll-Brinckmann, op.
48 Bolz, with references to Marshal McLuhan, points out that the film basically acts as a synaesthetic medium for the audience, not just seeing
and hearing, it stimulates all senses in the viewer: "Tactility. The buzz word` touch 'does not primarily mean skin contact with things, but rather
the very life of things in the human mind. The sense of touch is the reality that creates relationships. But you can also use electricity as that
absolutely relationship-building and therefore characterized as tactile. (...) So it marks the threshold between the visual book culture and the tactile world of
new media synesthesia ... The electricity supports the interaction of the senses and media. "(Norbert Bolz: The controlled chaos. From humanism to
Media Reality, Düsseldorf 1994, p.21 7)
49 See Brinckmann, op. Cit., P.120
50 See Lars-Olaf Beier / Georg Seeßlen: Alfred Hitchcock, Berlin 1999, p.167
51 See eb., Pp.173f
52 Addendum: An experiment confirmed Lipps' empathy theory: during a spontaneous field experiment during a lecture on the concept of empathy
we film students "exposed" to the Hitchcock short film "The corpse in the trunk". The students confirmed that they were seeing individuals
Scenes have felt somatic empathy, e.g. somatic muscle tension and relaxation at corresponding tension peaks in the film. Some
Students even felt "annoyed" by the film up to and including physical cramps that were also externally visible. So we could in the
Empathy lecture empirically verifying the mimicry empathy of Lipps and the somatic empathy of Noll-Brinckmann.
53 Paech 1997, 116
54 At least this applies to the production of films using the Cinemascope or video process, which is still common today. It could be different with 3-D films or in
Cyberspace behave where the possibility of differentiating between virtual and real reality could be lost because of the faked reality
Film world appears in the same codes as everyday reality. In cyberspace, it could actually be Paech's
suspected hypnagogic fascination. In the American science ficiton film "Project Brainstorm"
(USA 1983) such a development is simulated, in which test subjects directly transfer video images
Be fed into the brain and mixed with their own unconscious dream images.
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