Empathear

Student Name Sarah Mokhtar

This project investigates how to design for creating empathy on siblings of people who hear voices because of schizophrenia. The research revealed a workshop that the Supporting Families Association of New Zealand and its counterpart in the USA carry out with siblings. The siblings attend the workshop that explains what it is like to hear voices. At the workshops, attendees are given earphones through which they hear voices similar to what their siblings experience everyday. They are asked to carry a couple of activities during approximately 10-15 minutes. The goal of the workshop is to create empathy. Mokhtar interviewed the facilitators of the workshop and they expressed their desire to offer this workshop over a longer period of time and in public spaces, so that family members could experience more closely what it is like to hear voices while performing everyday activities. The disadvantages of using a standard music player is that the earphones are visible, the recordings of voices would need to be looped and repetitive and that other people would not interact naturally with someone apparently listening to music.

The research did not find any devices that focus on offering this experience over a long period of time. Mokhtar’s design:

  • presents to the sibling voices as similar as possible to the ones experienced by the voice hearer
  • presents voices that respond to the environmental noise
  • is wearable
  • can be used for prolonged periods of time, without forcing its use
  • aims to produce empathetic concern and avoid personal distress
  • subtly suggests what it is, with the opportunity to reveal fully if prompted
  • embraces and reflect the beauty of its purpose through embracing the beauty of its components

Designer: Sarah Mokhtar

Creative Director and supervisor: Edgar Rodriguez