Page: 83-92 Author: Vágnerová, M. Key words: empathy, mentalisation, mirror neurons, sharing and imitation
The ability to share emotional experiences and to orientate oneself in the feelings of other people is an important prerequisite for the development of empathy and consequently also adequate social orientation and appropriate, proportionate behaviour. This depends not just on adequate stimulation and the specific behaviour of the mother, but also has its neuro-psychological basis, which is the system of mirror neurons. Mirror neurons make empathy possible, but also have a significant function in the process of learning new skills on the basis of imitation. Another important requirement for proportionate social behaviour is the capacity for mentalisation, i.e. orientation in the thoughts of other people, and this develops a little later than empathy, to a certain extent building on it. Mentalisation too has its neuro-psychological bases, but in order for it to develop adequately the child needs to acquire experience in contact with other people. Inability to get proper bearings in relation to the expressions of other people, especially contemporaries, is a frequent reason for various problems in the behaviour of schoolchildren.