Rehumanizing the Other: Empathy and Reconciliation

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Jodi Halpern, Harvey M. Weinstein
Publication Date
August 1, 2004
Publication Type
Journal Article
Conflict, Public Health


The health effects of intra-ethnic conflict include hatred and fear among neighbors and friends who have become enemies. The dehumanization of specific groups through concomitant stereotyping does not stop when conflicts end. The inability to see former enemies as real people impedes reconciliation. While much attention has been paid to the reconstruction of infrastructure and the establishment of rule of law, little thought has been given to what is required at the day to day level in order to restore a sense of interpersonal security. To reverse the destruction of social and familial networks that normally sustain health and well-being, a process of rehumanization must occur. We suggest that the promotion of empathy is a critical component of reconciliation.