Should this procedure be made mandatory? Via the Huffington Post:
A woman developed “hyper empathy” after having a part of her brain called the amygdala removed in an effort to treat her severe epilepsy, according to a report of her case.
Doctors removed parts of her temporal lobe, including the amygdala. The surgery is a common treatment for people with severe forms of temporal lobe epilepsy.
After the surgery, the woman reported a “new, spectacular emotional arousal,” that has persisted for 13 years to this date. Her empathy seemed to transcend her body — the woman reported feeling physical effects along with her emotions, such as a “spin at the heart” when experiencing empathic sadness or anger. She reported these feelings when seeing people on TV, meeting people in person, or reading about characters in novels.
She also described an increased ability to decode others’ mental states, including their emotions. Her newly acquired ability to empathize was confirmed by her family, and she performed exceptionally well in psychological tests of empathy, the researchers said.
The case is the first in the scientific literature describing this kind of emotional change after removing parts of the temporal lobe.