Empathy: Exploring Human Connection (Video)

What if you could see people’s thoughts, feelings?

worried man in elevator

What if you could see a thought bubble above every person’s head, telling you what they were thinking and feeling as you walked by?

In this thought-provoking video, we create such a world. We wanted to explore what empathy means, the ability to understand and share in the feeling of another. We think empathy takes on a new dimension in a hospital, where there is the push and pull of health and sickness — and where giving and receiving care happens every day.

Empathy is who we are in our connection to each other. It’s how we view every person who comes through our doors.

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The video was commissioned by the Chief Experience Officer James Merlino, MD, and was produced internally by Cleveland Clinic Media Production.

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  • Udaya Patnaik

    Bravo!! Cleveland Clinic has hit it out of the park with this amazing video! It does a great job of illustrating the importance of empathy in changing interpersonal dynamics in healthcare. Now, let’s see the video where we hear stories about impacts; where we get better outcomes, experiences or quality as a result of providers and patients being more empathic.

  • Thanks

    Working in a hospital I’ve always been struck by the diversity of experiences all happening at once. Joy, deep sorrow, loss, new life, relief, pain. And then all the doctors and nurses have their struggles and triumphs too. Thanks for this and I hope every person who works at a hospital or legislates on behalf of healthcare tries to put themselves in other’s shoes often.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ljiljana.bengez Ljiljana Bengez

    Thank you for this. Compassion and love for every human
    being is the basis of good healthcare, as well as of every relationship. Love and
    compassion are special, God given gift to all of us and we should embrace it
    without fear.

  • http://www.facebook.com/katie.stangdiegert Katie Diegert

    Thank you Cleveland Clinic for making this video. I was a patient for 5 years (age 14-19), during that time I spent months at a time hospitalized and undergoing various treatments and many surgeries. I had it rough, no doubt…but when you literally live in a hospital for the amount of time I did, you start to realize that although you may think you have it rough there are so many people (in the same building) that have it so much worse. yes your in pain and you are far from home, school, friends, family, your tired of the surgeries and meds and you start to feel pretty bad for yourself..then you see the 7yr old girl across the hall that’s fighting leukima smile and laugh because the child life counsler brought her a battery opperated barbie race car to race down the halls and you realize how beautiful life truly is… I know I went on a ramble there but this video truly hit home, it reminded me of all of the incredible life lessons in compassion, friendship and love that all of the patients, families and staff taught me in my time there. My body and my soul will forever be grateful to this wonderful hospital, for not only saving my life, but making me a better and more complete human being.

  • Luis F Riquelme

    Thank you! I will be sharing with my graduate students…

  • Cynthia Komlo

    WOW! Powerful illustration of “listening to the soul”. I’ll pass this along to my healthcare chaplain colleagues & hospital administration who recently gave a mandatory organizational session on the “language of caring”. Thank you for this valuable resource!

    Serving with you here in Colorado,
    Board Certified Clinical Chaplain

    • Cynthia

      Why did my photo post so ridiculously large?? How embarrassing! I’m so sorry everyone- obviously I’m more chaplain than Techy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/noneyabinnis Jorma J. Takala

    The one and only thing I think should be changed is the doctors.

    The doctors need to change and step up to the plate so to speak and stand up to the pharmaceutical corporations an insist that all toxic chemicals being used in vaccines, and everyday medications.be banned. petroleum based coal tar dyes are toxic and everybody is allergic to them. This should paramount when dealing with any sort of head traumas because the artificial colors cause swelling of the brain stem and subsequent intracranial pressure through obstructing the flow of spinal fluid through the brain stem results in severe behavioral disorders in adults, autism to the unborn and alzheimers in the elderly.

    I have studied about these additives and have learned through my own experiences what they do and how they do it. I could literally sit down with you and explain it and you would most likely agree. A psychiatrist that I once saw, after hearing everything I know about this and the fact that I treated his migraine headache problem through explaining this and recommending he take dye free Benadryl for the migraines. My next meeting with him, he said… “it worked”. During the IQ test he asked me why I do not already have a Phd, later he offered to write a letter of recommendation to the medical school of my choosing.

    I know this topic extremely well and I want to help, but I need cooperation and maybe this could yet be another way that the Cleveland Clinic can stand above and apart from the rest. (as it already does anyway!)

    Thank you

  • Nikki Matala

    What a beautifully done video–it really captures the wide variety of situations and emotions that people go through when confronted with a serious health situation. Compassionate care, as shown by all Cleveland Clinic staff–makes all the difference!

  • Antonis

    Empathy is also studied by neuroscience, he have this innate ability through our mirror neurons…it is really a matter of realising that potential :) he is an interesting interview with an expert http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/do_mirror_neurons_give_empathy

  • Ninos

    This video is incredible! Thank you, Dr. Merlino. Thank you. It was also a pleasure hearing you speak at our event in Burr Ridge, Illinois back in November.

  • Regitze Willemoës

    Thank you so much, Cleveland Clinic.
    You might read articles by (social) neuroscientists about empathy and the human brain. You might take an EQ test to measure your personal empathy quotient. You might have discussions about how to define empathy.
    Or you might watch this film and explore what it does to you.

    One of the important questions is whether empathy is something that you can learn – or relearn in a stressful world.
    Watch this film and explore what it does to you:)

  • Laura Hickman

    I watched this twice and cried both times. I am so proud to work for the Clinic. My heart swells with pride when I see stuff like this.

  • Adriane Hirsch

    Thank you for that amazing video, after spending 148 days in-patient at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seatlle with sepsis at 32, now 37, I can honestly say I feel I had most every one of those thoughts, fears and feelings. With out amazing staff from Every department in healthcare facilities patients, including myself could not get through these nearly unbearable times. Keep up the good work, I will forward this to VM Hospital, you all should be proud, thank you.

  • Lynn Matzules

    This is an outstanding video that every hospital/healthcare facility should see and every employee and volunteer should view. Every patient, family, friend/”guest,” to a healthcare facility should have an excellent experience during their stay, no matter how long or short. Everyone from maintenance, housekeeping, support staff, hcp’s etc. to the CEO help contribute to that positive experience. Each and every person helps makes a difference in the overall “patient/guest” experience, and this is a great reminder. Excellent video.

  • Marvonhil

    Utterly brilliant capturing reality of internal world most of is at some point will experience as a family member, patient, carer, friend, loved one. Impact on how health professionals and patients carers interact has lasting effect. Love one another!

  • http://www.facebook.com/simplyvegan Phoebe F. Reed-Horton

    I am very much touched by this video. I am a clinical psychology student and this is right up my alley. Thank you Cleveland Clinic for such a powerful video.

  • Bill Ritz

    Nice touch, but show it to professional staff. I only feel impersonal relationships from sometimes smiling practitioners who are forever preoccupied with the bottom line.

  • Connie hart

    Awesome ! Yeah we never know what’s going on with people

  • http://www.facebook.com/jaci.schoen.9 Jaci Schoen

    Powerful film – it brought tears to my eyes. As a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern, I lead an adult anger management group and our topic several weeks ago was empathy; seeing life from another’s perspective. I plan to show this in our group on Monday. Thank you.

  • Creating Connections

    We were touched by this video, used it during every break of Creating Connections Conference in the Netherlands!

  • DL-S

    A dear friend posted
    this on her facebook timeline today. Who knows, I might have seen it in March
    except that life was overwhelmed with co-managing healthcare for my 86 y/o
    Mother (with 4 loving siblings). Mother died on Easter Sunday 2013. She and a
    team of healthcare providers whose skills / talents are exceeded only by their
    commitment to their patients managed her congestive heart failure for over 20
    years. While Mother did not fear death I am not willing to speculate that she
    embraced it. She loved living among her many friends. Stoicism is a legacy in
    Mother’s family. We were cocooned in hospice the week prior to her passing and
    as soon as my life without her began I became hypersensitive to some harsh
    realities. Not everyone learned to be considerate of others at their mothers’
    sides. This lovely piece should be mandatory viewing for each of us who
    interacts with others.

  • pradeep pendyala

    I always remind my colleagues and
    subordinates, there’s a subtle difference between sympathy and empathy.
    We as medical professionals, need to have empathy towards our patients,
    as empathy is the ability to mutually experience the thoughts and sympathy is only feeling for the sufferings of others.

    We need to understand another person’s condition from their
    perspective. It is the vicarious experience of feeling and thoughts of
    another person. God has given us this rare opportunity to heal patients.
    The effectiveness of the treatment provided by us may reduce quite a
    bit in the absence of empathy. Let us make someone today a little
    happier and not feel left out.
    ….Dr Pendyala Pradeep, Anaesthesiologist.

  • BuddaflyZ

    WOW! I clicked on the link thru Hulu- missed it the first time I saw this because I was so touched & in tears. so I was ready when I saw it come on again and clicked to view the video.
    I am in California. I am only 51. this really touched me- I am disabled since 1994- and getting worse. in a ‘race against time’ to get packed before a move and surgeries. just recently, here in Santa Clara County, Ca. the ‘disabled community’ has been hit by cuts in in home supportive services, food stamp program ( Ca calls it ‘snap’ & even though I am disabled and that is all I live on- I only get 33.00 a month!.- *thankful for that!) and the section 8 voucher ‘county housing authority’ made cuts ( was notified that my rent is increasing 105.00 a month as of Sept!). I had to change to HMO care ( since I was ‘Medicare/Medical’ and as of Sept Medical in Ca is no longer). I know this seems like a lot of ‘issues’.
    sorry- it is not that- what it s YOUR VIDEO- HELPED ME TONIGHT!!!! ( I had a really rough day! )
    I will be sharing this link to other disabled people as well as my Doctors’ – maybe they will kick start one in the Bay Area!
    GR8 JOB!! Y’all hit the point- CARE! I believe that even though I am disabled- THAT DOES NOT MEAN MY’ PAIN’ or ‘DAILY LIFE’, is harder than another person! Each persons’ pain is unique within itself, as well as how the person in pain handles it. **This IS THE 1ST DISABLED VIDEO/COMMERCIAL I HAVE EVER SEEN ! seriously!
    BuddaflyZ In Bay Area, CA. USA

  • John

    We will all be patients sooner or later. Good video

  • Marie

    Well done! Excellent move, Chief Experience Officer James Merlino, MD,! Fantastic job Cleveland Clinic Media Production team! Just perfect.

  • earnest.roberts

    Empathy – a daily practice in my personal life.. “There but for the grace of God, go I”.. I live by these words knowing the words are true.

  • Braeden Lavigne

    what program was used for the editing of the whole video?

  • Dana Lords

    I am Nursing Faculty at a school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I have struggled to teach empathy and the human connection to my students. It is my main philosophy in nursing and I am a big believer in holistic care. I have been challenged by students for my insistence on this philosophy of care. It has become disheartening at best on some days…

    Today another faculty showed me the Cleveland Clinic U-Tube site and said I should watch the videos because it reminded him of how I teach.

    I could not help but crying and feeling overwhelmed by the videos and the message.

    I grew up in Chardon, Ohio. I was a candy striper at Geauga County Hospital when I was 14 years old. It was there I learned about culture and the differences in people. I observed the patients, the Amish and how they interacted with their ill family members and the other individuals who came and shared their stories in the sandwich shop. It is my earliest memory in my nursing career, and the one I treasure the most.
    I have always known the philosophy I teach as part of my upbringing. It was an absolute comfort and confirmation to know that I come from a place that encourages organizations to lead with this message. It empowers staff and that empowers the patient.

    I am a Nurse and regardless of how far I have advanced my career or education; it is most important to me that I understand the story of who the patient is and that I provide care from their experience.

    Thank you for reminding me that I practice the “Art of Nursing.” Humans are living works of art and we just have to be able to understand the colors they choose to paint the picture of life.

    Dana Lords

  • Dana Lords

    To add to the message below from Dana Lords… If anyone is interested ..I have created an ‘ONION THEORY’ for nursing students and healthcare members to enhance educating on this concept and philosophy of empathy. It is a hands on lecture and workshop. This is one tool I have used that I receive positive feedback on. If anyone is interested in using this tool in your organization or practice please feel free to contact me.

  • Diane H

    I plan to use this video as an instructional aide for my Occupational Therapy Assistant class as it relates to ‘Therapeutic Use of Self’. This video is worth a thousand words.

  • Marla

    Thank you for this amazing video. Any chance you would ever consider doing something similar in the nursing home environment? It is sooooo needed.

  • Donna Evans

    Beautifully executed, I will be sharing this with Health Information Technology students at Miami University. Thank you for this compassionate portrayal of the patient experience.

  • tkim

    Simply an amazing job for an internal media team. You hired great talent and I hope they’re appreciated!