NVC and empathy

This is a short comment on my blog post criticizing Marshall Rosenberg’s use of his tools of non-violent communication … in front of an audience … to “heal” people who have been gravely harmed by family members when they were children:


Rosenberg isn’t the first expert to market a cognitive tool that is effective in one situation as a universal method for healing/transformation/insertpluswordhere.

His NVC method probably works well to defuse acute aggression between equals. And, having read his book on NVC, and his description of the epiphanous effect of empathy in his life, I see where he is coming from: Having met aggression with aggression as a boy, he discovered that ” yeay! Empathy works! Everyone should use empathy! Stop accusing and thinking!”

What Rosenberg has forgotten is what is so easy to forget: He is not everyone. What works for him will not work for everyone.

I wrote the post on “filtering stories the nonviolent way” because I have seen  the heartbreaking distress of NVC disciples who have been using empathy in childhood as a survival tool, and who, as adults, are stuck in the NVC concept that only empathy heals. Who are convinced that they are healed, or that they just aren’t empathizing enough.

And I am not criticizing NVC as a tool for peacemaking between warring equals. Mkay?

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