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Thread: Empathy

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    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Default Empathy

    Some people self-identify as having empathy while other do not. Some people demonstrate empathy while others don't. We tend to determine the level of empathy in others through observation or how they react to people we care about, including self. For those who self-identify as having empathy, how is that determined? What constitutes "proof" of having empathy.

    It is possible to project personal feelings into someone else which is a bit different from empathy. It is also possible to have selective empathy where it is felt in some cases and completely disregarded in other cases. Can genuine empathy be selective, or is it a general disposition towards perceiving reality?

    I'm wondering how it relates to ego/self. Is empathy an extension of how far one's ego (sense of self) extends, or is it a perspective from a different vantage point than self.
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    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    I would say that empathy would be kind of an extention of one's ego in the ability to see oneself in others and to sympathize with them because of it

    I tend to feel for others who I can see myself in... people who are in similar situations in which I've been before, and who react to them in a similar manner... I remember what it was like and it hurts just to see THEM in that situation- therefore I feel compelled to do something just because I know how much it matters to have someone extend a hand when you're in that sort of situation.

    People I can't identify with in some way or another I have more difficulty feeling for because I just can't understand what would work for them and it's harder to put myself in their shoes... and people who do somethings that are beyond my comprehension I have difficulty with as well... Luckily I find it incomprehensible how serial killers function, for example
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  3. #3
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    Empaths

    Quote Originally Posted by Annwn View Post
    Some people self-identify as having empathy while other do not. Some people demonstrate empathy while others don't. We tend to determine the level of empathy in others through observation or how they react to people we care about, including self. For those who self-identify as having empathy, how is that determined? What constitutes "proof" of having empathy.

    It is possible to project personal feelings into someone else which is a bit different from empathy. It is also possible to have selective empathy where it is felt in some cases and completely disregarded in other cases. Can genuine empathy be selective, or is it a general disposition towards perceiving reality?

    I'm wondering how it relates to ego/self. Is empathy an extension of how far one's ego (sense of self) extends, or is it a perspective from a different vantage point than self.
    Both sympathy and empathy come from the Ancient Greek. And sympathy means to feel the same as, while empathy means to show you understand.

    On top of that sympathy is intuitive while empathy is counter-intuitive.

    So sympathy comes naturally like learning our native tongue, while empahy must be learnt like reading and writing or playing the piano.

    Unfortunately the New Age has muddied the issue by confusing sympathy and empathy. This is a shame as empathy is uniquely helpful while sympathy makes us feel good.

    Of course the consumer society is devoted to making us feel good. The marketeers tell us we can have what we want, when we want it, and after all we deserve it. There is no mention of the thousands of hours of practice necessary to learn to read and write, play the piano or empathise. So they tell us empathy comes easily and naturally, just like sympathy, and hey, we are really all empathic, and even better, we are empaths.
    Likes elodia liked this post

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    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sunshine View Post
    A while back my ESTP sister and INFJ mother were arguing vehemently over the definition of empathy.

    I tend to have the view that there are several versions of empathy. I had an English teacher who was absolutely amazing at what he did. I learned so much in his class. It was because he was very empathetic in the sense that he was very good at seeing things from the perspective of his students. He was able to put himself in our shoes and see things from out viewpoint. So he was very able to meet us right where we needed to be met and explain things in a way we would understand. It was a sort of...um...mental empathy?...viewpoint empathy?

    Then there's the emotional empathy I normally think of when I think of empathy. There's the kind where you feel for someone because you've experienced the same pain that they have. Then there's another kind that I believe exists where one doesn't necessarily have to have gone through what the other person is going through but can still sort of get really really in tune with what the other person is experiencing and feel for them.

    And there's Marshall Rosenberg's NVC definition of empathy.

    Anyway, to answer you questions:

    What constitutes proof of having empathy? *shrug* I dunno. I suppose it depends on how you define it. What I go with is: If their mirror neurons work they have empathy.

    Is it possible to project personal feelings onto others? Most definitely. Is that empathy? No. But I suppose that depends on the context you meant for that.

    Is it possible to have selective empathy? I think so. I sort of feel like every healthy human being is empathetic in the sense that they are capable of empathetic experiences. But a lot of us are only really good at the kind of empathy where we feel for others who are going through things we've gone through. So then we have empathy for some people/pain but not for others and it's kind of "selective" in that sense. But maybe you meant can we choose to have empathy for some people/pain/situations/viewpoints/whatever and then choose to not for others. I dunno.

    Is empathy an extension of one's ego or a perspective from a different vantage point than the self. I think it's both. "My ego is seeing and experiencing things from your persecutive which is causing me to experience the emotions you are" ???
    And then well obviously if you're talking about the "mental empathy" I was talking about earlier then of course empathy is a perspective from a vantage point other than the self.
    But maybe you meant "extension of one's ego" in a different way.

    Anywho, where are all the INFJs and INFPs? Shouldn't they be here by now? :P

    P.S. I might delete this post. Chances are someone is gonna come and post something that I'll feel is way better than this post and feel the need to delete this one.

    ETA: As for the self identification as either having or not having empathy/ being or not being empathetic. Do you, Annwn, self identify as being empathetic? If you do, why?

    And to those who self identify as not having empathy or not being empathetic...how are you defining empathy?
    Doesn't MBTI help us to be more empathetic by better understanding where the other person is coming from?

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    Quote Originally Posted by highlander View Post
    Doesn't MBTI help us to be more empathetic by better understanding where the other person is coming from?
    It has for me. At least in terms of INTJs and probably other IxTx types...where as my instinctive response was "omg you're a fucking asshole" my perspective is now "omg I was making you uncomfortable and possibly psychologically torturing you by insisting on emotional conversation, et al."

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    Entrenching Inequality

    Quote Originally Posted by highlander View Post
    Doesn't MBTI help us to be more empathetic by better understanding where the other person is coming from?
    Please, it was concocted seventy years ago to induct adolescents and women into the war machine. And since then has been used by the military/industrial complex to recruit adolescents and has been used by business to induct employees. And interestingly it is also used today by sexual predators.

    They tell us it is a personality test but in seventy years not one random double blind experiment has been done. If it were a personality test, hundreds of random double blind experiments would have been done for all to see.

    No, it is a cult that entrenches inequality between the miltary and their adolescent recruits and between employers and employees and between sexual predators and their victims.

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    Between sexual predators and their victims? MBTI?

    WTF, Victor.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Sunshine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by highlander View Post
    Doesn't MBTI help us to be more empathetic by better understanding where the other person is coming from?
    buahaha did you only quote that so that even if I delete my post it's still in this thread?

    MBTI creates hate and it creates empathy....at least according to my broad definition of empathy. But didn't you know I was going to say something along those lines?
    "To find beauty in loss, hope in darkness."

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    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    The only difference between projecting personal feelings and feeling actual empathy is that the latter is the condition of being correct in one’s assessment of the other’s existential position. …I think. It’s the same action: but when we get it wrong, we call it ‘projecting’; when we get it right, it’s properly ‘empathy’. So I suppose, in looking for what could possibly signify ‘proof’, we’re looking for tangible indications that our own assessment- of an other’s existential position- is correct?

    I’m not sure it’s possible to find tangible proof, except through dialogical verification that the ‘other’ in question concedes to feeling understood.


    I’m not sure I directly understand the question about how ego is related. I think the more important it is to someone to be considered ‘empathetic’ by others- if it’s a significant piece of the identity they want to project- the more they will be concerned about the appearance of being empathetic. Sometimes the obstacles presented in putting out the appearance of being empathetic become a concern over and above actually being empathetic: in which case the ego interferes with the condition of being empathetic. The less an individual needs it to be true about him/herself (for the sake of appearance), the more s/he can allow for the frailty of their own assessment- ultimately allowing for the truth of how empathetic s/he is being to be more of a concern than the appearance: in which case the ego won’t interfere with the condition of being empathetic.

    At the same time, is it possible to make something important to yourself without it necessarily being- at least in part- a component of one’s ego? Is it possible to have a component of one’s ego which is completely independent from the feedback from others? In other words: is it possible to believe something is important to you if the feedback you receive from others (at least occasionally) doesn’t reinforce this belief?

    I suppose the key ingredient- to maintaining a sense of its importance, whilst simultaneously allowing individual instances in which it may not be true without feeling threatened by such instances- is finding security in the notion that it’s a condition one aspires to emulate as much as possible while wholly accepting there will almost necessarily be individual instances of lapses in one’s own judgment on the matter. The more one is threatened by these individual lapses in judgment on the matter, the less one will be willing to accept that they happen- and therefore will be less willing to honestly accept the frailty of his/her own assessment of an other’s existential position on a case-by-case basis.
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

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