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Re: Empathy Vs Sympathy (ranting)

Slightly off-topic, how you do distinguish a feeling from a thought? I mean... if i think "wow sucks to be him" is it sympathy or merely thinking that it would not be very fun to be in that situation? Is there a difference? I don't feel sorry when i see pictures of children being shot in the face or someone who has lost an arm, my only reaction is "thats gotta suck". Is that sympathy or just intellectually thinking about it?

I have the same question too. White Wolf's article covered it in part. Sympathy, per the article, is "wow, that sucks dude." Empathy would be "wow, that sucks dude. I feel you." But as to what you are asking, I find myself saying things like "how awful for you!" and "OMG!" etc when people tell me their stories of woe. I mean real stories too, like a friend telling me last week that her 5 year old nephew was life flighted to a hospital for emergency surgery. She was on the verge of tears and she asked me to pray for him. (I'm pretending to be a Xtian. Don't ask.) I mouthed the words of concern, by instinct. But afterwards, I noticed that I felt nothing. I said the words though. This is a regular occurrence for me. Does saying the words alone count as sympathy?

Thanks for starting the thread WW, btw. Now I wonder if any normals will come on and give me some feedback here...

Re: Empathy Vs Sympathy (ranting)

'Does saying the words alone count as sympathy?'

yes. the difference between saying the words and saying nothing (a warm hug is even better when the person is crying) is everything. not reacting at all is a very strong sign there's something off.

Re: Empathy Vs Sympathy (ranting)

He's baiting you, Daniel.

No I am not.

Re: Empathy Vs Sympathy (ranting)

So I ask you this. How can you assume to know how other people feel when you yourself have not been subject to their experiences or enviornments? If we are products of our raising.. then how can we ever truely know how a person of a different raising.. feels?

No, you detect their emotions and you share with them those feelings.

Also I'll pull the RAPE card. Can a man really know what it's like to be raped?

I don't understand...

You don't have to have experienced their experiences to have the ability to feel their emotions. That's why psychopaths cannot feel empathy, they detect another beings emotions but cannot experience any reciprocal emotion as they have never felt that emotion or been through there emotional suffering.

What really disturbs me is this society, in the US, is so used to lying to itself that people are actually arrogent enough to believe they can feel empathy for people they have never met. People lie to themselves about feelings. At least that is how it seems.

You are wrong. I can tell you with 100% certainty that empathy exists. And yes, I can feel empathy for people that I have never met.
It only seems that way to you because you have never felt such, so it wouldn't be a big stretch for you to assume that such emotions simply do not exist.

I am deepply offended when people, who have never experienced my suffering, try to tell me they understand how I feel. F you!

I can't say that I have experienced exactly what you say you have, but I have felt the emotions that I would've felt if I was in the position that you say you were in.

It's us understanding the emotions others are feeling, rather than us understanding the situation in which they're in.

Re: Empathy Vs Sympathy (ranting)

Toby, you're an a ss.

Re: Empathy Vs Sympathy (ranting)

as a particularly sensitive empath (based on my neurology) let me clarify once and for all.

i agree with daniel birdick that it's an act of imagination, and some have a stronger imagination based on having more sensitive responses to stimuli. those with a lower pain threshold are likely to possess a stronger, shall we say, sympathetic/empathic imagination. the imagination then feeds an emotion, perhaps turning sympathy into empathy. however you will never know exactly what the other's pain is like in the moment they are feeling it. that would be absurd.

and in certain situations, you can literally physically shudder when you see someone stub their toe for example. again, imagination feeding an emotion.

some empaths literally take on the feelings of others, like it's infectious. if i really love someone, i will take on their pain or happiness often more so than they feel it themselves. is that sick? lol. especially if, for some reason, i can't comfort them when they are sad, it's like the energy has no one where to go so stays in me.

i agree that there are posers, neither here nor there, who espouse a lot, but actually feel little. motives are everywhere, and manifest themselves in all manner of hypoctrical, self-decieving or downright calculating ways.

since i know i have excessive sensitivity to other people, i quite happily admit when i do not care, or no longer have the energy to care about a situation I can not help. irony of ironies, I am setting myself up for the possibility that someone will deem me heartless. it is often the ones who talk about caring, as opposed to actually caring, who you should watch out for. for those unskilled in emotions, they can get confused, and (like many socios do) resort to calling everyone insincere.

i am not perfect, I don't really apply my imagination to certain people's pain, like my mum for example, and there is obviously some reason for that that I do not understand. it was this that made me think I had something wrong with me.

shutting off empathy is a defence mechanism, when things go beyond what you can physically handle.

but yes, empathy exists to a degree, for you can't replicate exactly the other person's inner life. otherwise, imagine seeing a dead body then dropping dead yourself - that's complete empathy, and well, that's useless.