Needful Mirror Neurons
Mirror neuron cells allow us to connect with one another. We can work together, learn together, and reap benefits together from cooperation. A question arises...why do we tear up when someone is kind to us? Why the glow when we feel understood?
“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” is a phrase that we throw around. Mark Goulston,MD has a hypothesis that seems to work. He would go farther, “Sometimes people aren’t able to care about what you want them to do, until they feel cared about by you.” The reason for that is that when people feel un-mirrored and uncared for, they are experiencing a MNRD (mirror neuron receptor deficit), they are in a state of emotional deprivation. Because of that, their focus is often distracted by trying to correct that deprivation rather than focusing on what they need to get done. When accurately mirrored, they feel temporarily complete. That usually crosses over into feeling grateful and often the desire to follow through and take steps towards getting well.
I see this with chronically fearful patients. They have fears that they have difficulty controlling. They are embarrassed, feel stupid, unworthy, and broken. Those feelings are often reinforced by health care providers that communicate that those very real fears are stupid and getting in the way. In my experience and in my investigations, many have been victims of child abuse or sexual abuse. They have had some trauma that has caused a version of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may not even connect prior abuse to their fears. Something bad happened to them and the emotions are deep seated. They deserve understanding and compassion. When the fear is acknowledged, they feel believed and empathized, they respond.
They feel emotionally touched, disarmed and even overwhelmed when someone acknowledges their pain. Tears and gratitude are common. They do often follow through.
photo by Dave Hutt, www.dmddigitalphoto.com