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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kai View Post
    That's like the true definition of evil...
    Yes, empathy can be uniquely helpful or uniquely harmful.

  2. #12
    half mystic, half skeksis jenocyde's Avatar
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    Yes, alcea, I had a problem with the word "sympathisch" in German and "simpatico" in Italian, as well. So, I sympathize with you It's easier to remember when you think of the root words "syn" + "pathos" (greek), which is the same as "con" + "passio", "pati" (late latin) meaning compassion. Both literally meaning 'to suffer with'.

    I learned about empathy from art theory classes when I was a kid - trying to accurately portray what someone else feels - and so it always kind of stuck in me.

    I don't believe that you can experience sympathy without empathy. Empathy is self-centered. You can imagine that others may feel something because that's how you would feel in that situation. When a friend won the lottery, I could totally imagine how he felt, but I admit, I did not feel joy on his behalf or on my own behalf. But I knew he was feeling it. So empathy is being able to identify emotions.

    Sympathy is being able to then share those emotions. Sympathy is geared toward the other. In order to feel sympathy, you must be aware of yourself and then be aware that another person is not yourself and has their own distinct feelings (which is where sociopaths and narcissists have the problem).

    In sympathy, when something happens to that other person, you feel an emotion and project that feeling onto them. It may be accurate of what they are feeling, but it may not be. Many times, I have NFs crying on my behalf because they feel my pain, when I actually feel no pain at all. But the point is that they are feeling something on my behalf, which is compassion or sympathy.

  3. #13
    movin melodies kiddykat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alcea rosea View Post
    I see that the psyhcologist aren't agreeing on whether sympathy and empathy are learned or not. I mean there has to be some genes + environmental stuff involved because there is no one without another. I mean, people are shaped both by their genes and the environment.
    My teacher, whom got his MFT told me that his professor says, "As a counselor, you either have empathy or ya don't." Hmm.. I don't know about this.

    I think that people *can* have empathy for others, but for some, it comes more naturally, and perhaps due to life experiences? Being able to place ourselves in another person's shoes to feel deep empathy is something that also requires that one may have had to experience such tremendous amount of pain or joy to really 'connect' with whomever they associate with? And/Or it could very well be that some people have that gift of wisdom without having to endure such experiences- I would call them old-souls maybe?

    Victor, in the act of hurting another person, is that truly empathy when we dissociate that pain from the 'human experience'? Or is it apathy?

    I think when people do that, there is a level of dis-attachment, is there not? If a person truly can empathize, they would resort to acts of love, kindness, understanding- fearlessness/empowerment, deeper view of life. (I know- so corny, but true).

    in the instance in which they do/can hurt another person (take advantage of their bodies- as in rape, violence, torture), if they stop, then I would see that there is a bridge between us/them, where it is 'we' and that association is in fact, empathy, which is quite powerful, transcending.. Okay- now I'm starting to sound really new-agey, so I'll stop! :blushes:

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viv View Post
    ...so corny, but true.

    ...I'm starting to sound really new-agey
    It is very nice to think this way.

    And it feels nice.

    But it is hard to get over the fact of good and evil in the world and in ourselves.

    And it's true, it's good to avoid evil and seek the good.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenocyde View Post
    Many times, I have NFs crying on my behalf...
    Only once in lifetime have I had someone cry for me and I have never forgotten it.

    It was in a Reichian workshop, we were both sitting on the floor facing one another, I was talking about my life but I was not aware of my deeper feelings. But the therapist sitting in front of me could plainly see my personal tragedy and starting crying.

    I was startled and shocked and realised I couldn't cry for myself.

    So the therapist had given me one of the greatest gifts of my life. He did for me what I couldn't do for myself.

    So since then I have tried to love myself a little more.

    But how wonderful to meet a person of such depth and generosity.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    Only once in lifetime have I had someone cry for me and I have never forgotten it.

    It was in a Reichian workshop, we were both sitting on the floor facing one another, I was talking about my life but I was not aware of my deeper feelings. But the therapist sitting in front of me could plainly see my personal tragedy and starting crying.

    I was startled and shocked and realised I couldn't cry for myself.

    So the therapist had given me one of the greatest gifts of my life. He did for me what I couldn't do for myself.

    So since then I have tried to love myself a little more.

    But how wonderful to meet a person of such depth and generosity.
    That's beautiful Victor. I have studied a little Reich. What are your thoughts on character armoring? Could be at play here?
    "Create like a god, command like a king, work like a slave."

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Synarch View Post
    That's beautiful Victor. I have studied a little Reich. What are your thoughts on character armoring? Could be at play here?
    Yes, I thought Wilhelm Reich's book, "Character Analysis", was very good.

    But I think some of his later books missed the mark.

    And yes like you I am very influenced by Reich's idea of character armouring.

    You might say it guides my thinking today.

    I read Reich's books and did a few Reichian workshops and they had a formative influence on my life.

    I am though today inclined to think of body armouring or character armouring more as a metaphor.

    Whereas I think Reich tended to take it a bit too literally and that is what I think got him into trouble. And after all, he died in an American jail.

    But after it all, Wilhelm Reich still makes my heart sing.



    And yes, my Reichian therapist, Lara Amber, was trained at the Radix Institute.

    You can find the Radix Institute by clicking on-

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  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    Yes, I thought Wilhelm Reich's book, "Character Analysis", was very good.

    But I think some of his later books missed the mark.

    And yes like you I am very influenced by Reich's idea of character armouring.

    You might say it guides my thinking today.

    I read Reich's books and did a few Reichian workshops and they had a formative influence on my life.

    I am though today inclined to think of body armouring or character armouring more as a metaphor.

    Whereas I think Reich tended to take it a bit too literally and that is what I think got him into trouble. And after all, he died in an American jail.

    But after it all, Wilhelm Reich still makes my heart sing.
    Well, IIRC, it was the study of orgone and the sale of unapproved medical devices for containing bions that got him into trouble with the Food and Drug Administration. In other words, allegations of quackery. The first book I read was "The Mass Psychology of Fascism" and he makes some interesting points there.
    "Create like a god, command like a king, work like a slave."

  9. #19
    Aspie Idealist TaylorS's Avatar
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    As an NF with Asperger's I find the claim that autism involves trouble with empathy to be very misleading. I have recently read that there is, in fact, no empathy deficit in autistic individuals, what is actually going on is that our perceptual-sensory issues interfere with getting good data about other people's thoughts and feelings via subtle body language and tone of voice, when the data is more explicit, in the form of speech and obvious emotional reactions, the supposed "empathy deficit" disappears.

    It was that info that lead me to realize that I am an INFJ instead of an INTJ or INTP. In fact, looking back on my childhood, I seemed to have developed Fe as my auxiliary BECAUSE of my Asperger's.


    As for sympathy, I was always made fun of as the "sensitive guy" who would be driven to tears over the smallest things...
    Autistic INFP


  10. #20
    Senior Member alcea rosea's Avatar
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    Sorry - this is going to be a veeery long post.

    Quote Originally Posted by jenocyde View Post
    Yes, alcea, I had a problem with the word "sympathisch" in German and "simpatico" in Italian, as well. So, I sympathize with you It's easier to remember when you think of the root words "syn" + "pathos" (greek), which is the same as "con" + "passio", "pati" (late latin) meaning compassion. Both literally meaning 'to suffer with'.
    Yes - to suffer with is a good way to describe sympathy because sympathy is awfully painful. It's feeling other people's pain. Sometimes there is enough in your own pain and in those cases there is no room for symphatizin other people's pain because the load will become too heavy for one person to handle.

    I learned about empathy from art theory classes when I was a kid - trying to accurately portray what someone else feels - and so it always kind of stuck in me.
    It's good to teach children empathy. I've tried to teach mine some with people and also with animals. Little children don't understand that other people or animals can be hurt until later and when teached that other people/animals can be in pain too.

    I don't believe that you can experience sympathy without empathy. Empathy is self-centered. You can imagine that others may feel something because that's how you would feel in that situation. When a friend won the lottery, I could totally imagine how he felt, but I admit, I did not feel joy on his behalf or on my own behalf. But I knew he was feeling it. So empathy is being able to identify emotions.
    After thinking about this overnight I think that there can be sympathy in emotional level without really understanding in thinking level where the other person stands. I mean, there can be emotional response without really understanding the situation where the person can be. I know few people who are like that, they can be very comforting to you when you feel down but you can see from their actions/words afterwards that they didn't really understand why you were feeling down.

    I think these emotional responses are very correct many times. I have noticed that myself, I don't react people who fake emotions. I see the emotion in them but I don't feel it. I those case there is no emotional response even the outer signs show it. It's like half of the pieces are missing in a puzzle. So, the "uncouncious" (meaning here that non rational, the intuitive) emotional reactions are very correct and people should really trust them.

    Sympathy is being able to then share those emotions. Sympathy is geared toward the other. In order to feel sympathy, you must be aware of yourself and then be aware that another person is not yourself and has their own distinct feelings (which is where sociopaths and narcissists have the problem).
    So, according to this thread, empathy is more thinking related and sympathy is more emotional-related stuff.

    So, empathy doens't require action, it's just understanding where the other person stands in and sympathy is sharing that person's feelings?

    In that case, I must say that I've been wrong commenting to people previously that empathy cannot be learned even if I still believe that it comes more naturally to some people.

    In sympathy, when something happens to that other person, you feel an emotion and project that feeling onto them. It may be accurate of what they are feeling, but it may not be. Many times, I have NFs crying on my behalf because they feel my pain, when I actually feel no pain at all. But the point is that they are feeling something on my behalf, which is compassion or sympathy.
    Maybe they feel something you aren't recognizing in yourself? I've seen that many T's aren't really connected with their emotional side (and I don't mean empathy here). Even with the strongest emotions, some of the strong T's arent' able to even notice the feeling (even if the people around them do see it very clearly) and don't figure out why they are feeling that way. In those cases, it helps if somebody else asks "why are you angry" " is it because...?"

    Of course, I admit, sympathizing can go wrong as we are humans and not perfect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Viv View Post
    I think that people *can* have empathy for others, but for some, it comes more naturally, and perhaps due to life experiences?
    About something coming naturally to some people:
    I've been observing my children in this matter for some years now. I mean they are born to same parents but at different times and different situations. In that way they are all born in different environments. The reactions of parents aren't necessarily the same for different types of children either.

    But still, I say that some "features" in people are inborn. I say this because after observing my 3 children and seeing the one born with strong thinking but with little empathy (I've tried to teach this to my children) and very unattached to emotional side, the other one born with deep need to be true to self, the reserveness to people and the deep empathy that is not shown to outer world and the third one with huge emotional precence, with loads of empathy and sympathy towards others, the energetic presence that the other children lack.

    So, they all look different and they have all very different personalities and structure to build their personality on. I don't know how much it's about genes and how much of environtment, but as it is with the physical features (which they all have very different too), some are inborn and some are shaped by the environment.

    Being able to place ourselves in another person's shoes to feel deep empathy is something that also requires that one may have had to experience such tremendous amount of pain or joy to really 'connect' with whomever they associate with? And/Or it could very well be that some people have that gift of wisdom without having to endure such experiences- I would call them old-souls maybe?
    Interesting point. I'll have to think about that.

    Victor, in the act of hurting another person, is that truly empathy when we dissociate that pain from the 'human experience'? Or is it apathy?
    After thinking about Victors comment about torturers being empahtic, I have strong urge to disagree with it. The tought of the torturer being empathic makes me sick. It's a purely disgusting thougt and makes me feel very uncomfortable. I mean, I've always thought that when empathizing you feel similar emotions than your "target". In torturers cases, you cannot be empahtize with the victim because if you were, you would notice the pain and that should be very troubling thought for you. I mean how would you like to be tortured? That's empathizing. How would you feel? Would you like it? Even without feeling the pain emotionally it would be impossible to be empathic when torturing.

    I think when people do that, there is a level of dis-attachment, is there not? If a person truly can empathize, they would resort to acts of love, kindness, understanding- fearlessness/empowerment, deeper view of life. (I know- so corny, but true).
    Yes, I totally agree. Attachment is empathizing, dis-attachment is not empathizing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    But how wonderful to meet a person of such depth and generosity.
    A beautiful experience, I hope it helped yourself to feel better with yourself.
    Only person with strong empahty & sympathy can do that.

    Quote Originally Posted by TaylorS View Post
    As an NF with Asperger's I find the claim that autism involves trouble with empathy to be very misleading. I have recently read that there is, in fact, no empathy deficit in autistic individuals, what is actually going on is that our perceptual-sensory issues interfere with getting good data about other people's thoughts and feelings via subtle body language and tone of voice, when the data is more explicit, in the form of speech and obvious emotional reactions, the supposed "empathy deficit" disappears.

    It was that info that lead me to realize that I am an INFJ instead of an INTJ or INTP. In fact, looking back on my childhood, I seemed to have developed Fe as my auxiliary BECAUSE of my Asperger's.

    As for sympathy, I was always made fun of as the "sensitive guy" who would be driven to tears over the smallest things...
    Yes, after this thread, if empathy is really more a way to understand other people, any people can learn that. But if it involves emotional response, then a person needs to recognize their own and other people's emotions before they can be fully empathic.

    Whereas sympathy, that is more based on strong intuition of other persons emotional state. It requires understanding your own emotions really well. It's not really rational, it's more like an instinct.

    I think it's really important to appreciate yourself as you are (I mean the sensitive guy part). I'm sensitive too and haven't really appreciated that part in myself. But I should be because it's something very special, it's very important part of myself and I should appreciate it and use it well in my life. It's a gift and I should use it well.

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