Although there is not yet much scientific research to back up this claim, anecdotal reports seem to indicate that cannabis could help develop a stronger sense of empathy. This could simply be a consequence of other factors and benefits that accompany cannabis use, but if that were the case, it would still be an interesting outcome: we all know how much our current society could gain from having more empathetic individuals.
We are disconnected
Our modern society is characterized by an increasing sense of detachment, loneliness and the interference of technology in our human interactions. We can see it in gatherings with our friends: where we used to have eye contact, conversation and laughter, we now have people looking at their phones, laughing with reels and tiktoks. This could have a tremendous impact on future generations, as it is believed that when most human-to-human social interactions occur with a screen in between, it greatly reduces the possibility of bonding or empathizing with the other person. After all, if you don't see their gestures and physical reactions during the conversation, you would be missing out on feedback on the other person's emotions.
What is empathy?
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings, thoughts and experiences of others. It involves being able to put yourself in another person's shoes, imagine and understand their perspective, and respond with compassion and sensitivity. It is activated when you cry during a movie, or when you see someone sad and that makes you sad too. But not everyone develops a good sense of empathy on their own, and most people these days try to get away from it, to numb their sensitivity. This is because empathy makes us feel vulnerable and "weak," and it is not treasured among the values of our society today.
The influence of cannabis:
The cannabis plant contains several types of compounds, including cannabinoids. These are chemicals that, when consumed, can be linked to our body's endocannabinoid system, which is a complex structure of enzymes and receptors that plays a role in regulating physiological processes, and help regulate our brain cells' responses to certain signals and neurotransmitters.
Cannabis and Empathy:
Some anecdotal reports and limited research suggest that cannabis may have the potential to enhance empathy. The effects of cannabis may vary depending on strain, dose, and individual factors, but it is believed that THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, may influence empathy by altering perception and increasing emotional sensitivity.
- Cannabis may help people become more attuned to the emotions of others due to the altered state of consciousness it induces, which can sharpen sensory perception and make users more receptive to nonverbal cues and subtle emotional expressions: we become better at reading body language, facial expressions and tone of voice, among other things.
- Another possibility is that enhanced empathy occurs as a consequence of other cannabis-induced sensations, such as relaxation, euphoria, and introspection. Being in these heightened states of mind may contribute to a more empathetic and receptive mindset, allowing people to connect emotionally with others on a deeper level.
- Other cannabis strains can make people feel more talkative and uninhibited. This could lead to more openness and communication between people, giving users more confidence and eliminating their anxiety and fears that could become obstacles when talking about their feelings.
Potential Benefits and Limitations:
While cannabis may offer potential benefits in terms of improving empathy, it is necessary to understand that it should not become the only way to develop this social attunement. As long as we use substances responsibly, there is nothing wrong with extracting their benefits, but they should not become necessary, and we should never become dependent on them.
That is why it is crucial to approach the use of cannabis in a safe way, ensuring a controlled environment to promote positive social experiences. Here in Barcelona we are fortunate to have the ability to join a cannabis dispensary or club, becoming members of a social club where we can consume cannabis products in privacy but also in partnership with other members. Not only do we have access to a diverse menu full of premium cannabis products, but we can also meet people with similar interests, share our thoughts and experiences, and perhaps make new friends.
Open and honest communication, active listening, and genuine efforts to understand others' experiences remain critical to fostering empathy and nurturing meaningful connections in our social interactions.
It is important to explore options and definitely helpful to have cannabis as a way to connect with people, but it should never be the only one. Emotional intelligence, active practices to develop empathy and a genuine desire to understand others is where the true power of empathy lies, and that should transcend the influence of any substance.