I read a short story many years ago - mid-80's? - in which something happens which gives everyone on earth telepathic abilities. In the short term, there is chaos, as no one can keep a secret anymore, and the veneer of polite society is ripped away. After time, though, people begin to see things from multiple - nearly infinite - perspectives, and a wave of profound empathy sweeps the planet. Got any ideas on author/title?
"Many years ago" would indicate The Cosmic Rape, where an alien hive mind - Medusa - sends a biological probe to Earth to assimilate it into the collective. The probe assimilates exactly one man, and is stopped by humans' individuality: each human mind has the same qualities as the whole of Medusa and can only be assimilated individually. So the hive mind proceeds to throw down the barrier preventing humans to be inter-telepathic, expecting this to allow easy assimilation of the whole human population.
What Medusa did not take into account was that five billion human minds now form a collective several orders of magnitude more powerful. As soon as the circuit is established, it's Medusa that gets wiped out.
The description of the initial problems etc., though, makes me rather think of a different story even if the time doesn't match at all (2012 rather than the '80s) - Robert J. Sawyer's Triggers.