To the Editor of The New York Times:

Re “Where’s the Empathy” by Nicholas Kristof:

The empathy gap depicted by Nicholas Kristof is an ugly attitude of blaming, projection and distortion, yet even more complex and malignant than we might easily recognize.

This gap perversely intensifies, as does the inequality that fuels it. Many of us, quick to feel the terrible injustice of a society that helps destroy lives like Kevin Green’s, harbor within ourselves another kind of empathy failure.

We vilify the wealthy, the economically privileged, that 1 percent. In fact, they have become easy targets themselves.

Clinical research supports the perception of a correlation between wealth and lack of empathy. But wealth is a risk factor in human development. Research demonstrates that as well.

Ultimately, empathy must transcend economic class. The wealthy must not be maligned or objectified, or we further isolate and alienate them. Their active involvement is critical to resolving these most pressing economic, social and political issues of our time.


The writer is a psychiatrist.

Published New York Times January 25, 2015