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  • 1.
    Nilsson, Peter
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Social Work.
    Are empathy and compassion bad for the professional social worker?2014In: Advances in Social Work, ISSN 1527-8565, Vol. 15, no 2, p. 294-305Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Recent studies have shown that social workers and other professional helpers who work with traumatized individuals run a risk of developing compassion fatigue or secondary traumatic stress. Some researchers have hypothesized that helpers do this as a result of feeling too much empathy or too much compassion for their clients, thereby implying that empathy and compassion may be bad for the professional social worker. This paper investigates these hypotheses. Based on a review of current research about empathy and compassion it is argued that these states are not the causes of compassion fatigue. Hence, it is argued that empathy and compassion are not bad for the professional social worker in the sense that too much of one or the other will lead to compassion fatigue.

  • 2.
    Nilsson, Peter
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Social Work.
    Butler's stone and ultimate psychological hedonism2013In: Philosophia (Ramat Gan), ISSN 0048-3893, E-ISSN 1574-9274, Vol. 41, no 2, p. 545-553Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper discusses psychological hedonism with special reference to the writings of Bishop Butler, and Elliott Sober and David Sloan Wilson. Contrary to philosophical orthodoxy, Sober and Wilson have argued that Butler failed to refute psychological hedonism. In this paper it is argued: (1) that there is a difference between reductive and ultimate psychological hedonism; (2) that Butler failed to refute ultimate psychological hedonism, but that he succeeded in refuting reductive psychological hedonism; and, finally and more importantly, (3) that Butler's criticism of reductive hedonism can be used as a stepping-stone in another argument showing the implausibility of ultimate psychological hedonism as well.

  • 3.
    Nilsson, Peter
    Dalarna University, School of Health and Social Studies, Social Work.
    Compassion - a resource or threat for the professional social worker?2011In: The 2011 Joint Nordic Conference on Welfare and professionalism in Turbulent Times, Reykjavik, 2011Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    What is the proper place of compassion within social work? Should social workers feel compassion for their clients, or is this something that should be avoided? Opinions differ. While some have claimed that compassion should be avoided in favor of a more detached and professional approach, others argue that compassion is an important, and unavoidable part, of a proper working-alliance. While some claim that compassion can be beneficial for the client, recent studies have suggested that too much compassion can lead to so-called compassion fatigue and be detrimental for the professional. If we want to assess these claims, we must first consider what compassion is. That is the purpose of this study. The aim is to gain a better understanding of what compassion is, with a special eye to the question as to whether compassion is a resource or threat within professional social work. Methods include conceptual analysis and phenomenological descriptions of compassion and related phenomena. The results can be summarized in two main claims. The first is that compassion is a particular kind of suffering directed towards the suffering of someone. What is special about compassion is that it is a suffering for another person’s sake: When you feel compassion (and only compassion) for another person, then you suffer over her suffering for her sake and not your own sake. The second claim is that compassion in and of itself is not harmful to the person feeling it. Although compassion consists in suffering, since it is a suffering for another person’s sake, a person feeling compassion is not, and does not take herself to be, the victim of something bad. It is an essential feature of compassion that if you feel compassion (and only compassion) for another person, then you take this person to be the victim of a harm but you do not take yourself to be so. In conclusion it is argued that these results point towards a more positive view of compassion and its place within social work.

  • 4.
    Nilsson, Peter
    Umeå universitet, Humanistisk fakultet, Filosofi och lingvistik).
    Empathy and Emotions: On the Notion of Empathy as Emotional Sharing2003Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
  • 5.
    Nilsson, Peter
    Dalarna University, School of Health and Social Studies, Social Work.
    Empati, sympati, medlidande2013In: Empati: Teoretiska och praktiska perspektiv / [ed] Henrik Bohlin och Jakob Eklund Håkansson, Lund: Studentlitteratur, 2013, p. 51-67Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 6.
    Nilsson, Peter
    Umeå universitet, Humanistisk fakultet, Filosofi och lingvistik.
    Hume and Smith on Sympathy2005In: Philosophical Aspects on Emotions / [ed] Åsa Carlson, Stockholm: Thales, 2005, p. 141-159Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 7.
    Nilsson, Peter
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Social Work.
    On the suffering of compassion2011In: Philosophia (Ramat Gan), ISSN 0048-3893, E-ISSN 1574-9274, Vol. 39, no 1, p. 125-144Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Compassion is often described in terms of suffering. This paper investigates the nature of this suffering. It is argued that compassion involves suffering of a particular kind. To begin with a case is made for the negative claim that compassion does not involve an ordinary, or afflictive, suffering over something. Secondly, it is argued that the suffering of compassion is a suffering for someone else’s sake: If you feel compassion for another person, P, then you suffer over P:s suffering for P:s sake, and if that is all you do, then you are not affected with an afflictive suffering over something. The final section identifies and addresses a problem concerning self-pity, and a suggestion is made on how to specify the proposed account so as to cover both self-directed and other-directed compassion.

  • 8.
    Nilsson, Peter
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Social Work.
    Pain, pity, and motivation: Spinoza, Hume, and Schopenhauer2014In: Schopenhauer-Jahrbuch, ISSN 0080-6935, Vol. 95, p. 29-50Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper compares the views on compassion in Spinoza, Hume and Schopenhauer. It is shown that even though all three approach compassion with the same aim and from very similar starting-points, all give significantly different accounts of compassion. The differences among the accounts are compared and explained, and it is shown how progress is made in that later accounts avoid certain problems faced by the earlier ones.

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