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  1. #31
    He who laughs
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    Quote Originally Posted by fecaleagle View Post
    So you think empathy follows sympathy? Whereas some others have mentioned the opposite. I'm struggling to see how an urge to help someone (sympathy) can come before understanding their situation (empathy). Or are you saying that the definitions are reversed?
    I tried to put this as clearly as possible, so I dont think you need an answer. Lets just say I have sympathy for your lack of understanding

  2. #32
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fecaleagle View Post
    So you think empathy follows sympathy? Whereas some others have mentioned the opposite. I'm struggling to see how an urge to help someone (sympathy) can come before understanding their situation (empathy). Or are you saying that the definitions are reversed?
    Definitions aside, I can see how the highlighted sequence can happen. It all hinges on what kind of understanding is meant. As an example, say a natural disaster occurs, and the news reports mention that there is a need for volunteers with specific skills (e.g. medical, construction, etc.). A person with such skills might understand the nature of the need and recognize that they can help. They may respond out of a general sense of charity, patriotism, or even the desire for a new challenge, or a break from routine. When they arrive at the scene and see firsthand the plight of affected people, however, they may find they connect emotionally with the situation.

    It basically comes down to why people help others. I am usually not motivated by an emotional connection to the people receiving help. If that comes, it is usually after I have become involved.
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  3. #33
    Senior Member Chiharu's Avatar
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    Okay I think I might be able to answer your question.

    So, hypothetically, something bad has happened to a friend/acquaintance of yours. You've never had the same experience.

    So A) you feel bad for them. It sucks that they're suffering. You might try to figure out something you can do to help. You feel SYMPATHETIC.

    Or, B) You connect with them on the basis of similar feeling you've felt before. (For example, you may never have lost your father, but you've lost someone who meant a lot to you, or you can imagine how it would feel to do so, or you just connect to the sight or mental image of anyone in pain etc.) You UNDERSTAND how they feel. You might be driven to try and figure out something you can do to help because it's what you would want them to do if you were in their place. You EMPATHIZE with them.

    Obviously, you most likely feel a combination of both.

    Many people would prefer to accept the help of someone who empathizes, rather than sympathizes with them. It doesn't offend their pride as much. An empathetic connection can seem more profound than a sympathetic one... compare accepting financial help from an organization founded by a once-poor man to accepting financial help from a wealthy religious group who has no idea what you're going through. It's true that sympathy seems more selfless in origin, but sympathy often makes the giver feel better rather than the receiver. Sympathy can also more easily lead to self-righteousness, I would think.
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  4. #34
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Not sure you are addressing me, but:

    If someone close to me is having trouble and I feel bad about it, the feeling usually seems to be my own, and not some reflection of theirs. In other words, if a friend's father died, I would probably not be feeling what it is like to lose someone close, I would be feeling the feeling I associate with "friend in trouble", same as if they lost their job or had a car accident.

    As for receiving help, I prefer to receive it with as little emotional content as possible, the minimum I need to get by, and if possible, the chance to "pay it back", either directly or indirectly.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  5. #35
    Senior Member pinkgraffiti's Avatar
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  6. #36
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    Although the two terms are referring to different functional modes, sympathy is merely a facet of empathy. It often acts within the realm of ‘empathic concern’— one cannot sympathize without some ability to empathize (empathy is the overall umbrella). Empathy allows for the processing of sympathetic feelings in varying contexts; an empathic person can relate to most others (when needed) due to the combination of affective and cognitive processing. Empaths (of all types) regularly process others’ needs and feelings, even when they are away (esp. INFJ's)… enough to perhaps ‘randomly’ send a message or make a phone call at the most vital of instances.

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  7. #37
    Theta Male Julius_Van_Der_Beak's Avatar
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    It seems that the OP is defining sympathy as a feeling of concern for someone else. To me, if I'm not feeling great, I value this less than I value other reactions. I like either being ale to put it in it's proper context, help preventing me from having these feelings in the future, or a distraction that takes my mind off these feelings. Sympathy, as the OP defines it, as at odds with all of those things. I do place some value on people caring for me, but too often, I feel that there is an expectation or obligation on my part to feel grateful for that. Am I imagining this, or does it actually exist?

    This, when it exists, seems self-involved, and is not truly selfless. There's an unspoken undercurrent of "look, pal, your bad attitude is making me feel bad. Let's snap it together for my sake. Oh, and praise me for my selflessness." It rubs me the wrong way.I'm already feeling shitty, and now I have the obligation to help you feel like an awesome person even though you aren't actually doing anything that's helping me?

    I sometimes am upset just because others are upset too. I don't think that makes me better or worse or more or less selfless. It just is. Giving people credit for that seems odd, when the only thing people should get credit for is doing things that actually make the other person feel better. If a person was truly considerate of others, they would understand why this should count more than simply not feeling good because they aren't feeling good.
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  8. #38
    Just a note... LittleV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msg_v2 View Post
    It seems that the OP is defining sympathy as a feeling of concern for someone else. To me, if I'm not feeling great, I value this less than I value other reactions. I like either being ale to put it in it's proper context, help preventing me from having these feelings in the future, or a distraction that takes my mind off these feelings. Sympathy, as the OP defines it, as at odds with all of those things. I do place some value on people caring for me, but too often, I feel that there is an expectation or obligation on my part to feel grateful for that. Am I imagining this, or does it actually exist?

    This, when it exists, seems self-involved, and is not truly selfless. There's an unspoken undercurrent of "look, pal, your bad attitude is making me feel bad. Let's snap it together for my sake. Oh, and praise me for my selflessness." It rubs me the wrong way.I'm already feeling shitty, and now I have the obligation to help you feel like an awesome person even though you aren't actually doing anything that's helping me?

    I sometimes am upset just because others are upset too. I don't think that makes me better or worse or more or less selfless. It just is. Giving people credit for that seems odd, when the only thing people should get credit for is doing things that actually make the other person feel better. If a person was truly considerate of others, they would understand why this should count more than simply not feeling good because they aren't feeling good.
    I see what you mean… and in your case, I’d say that it’s a battle between social intelligence and empathy (or empathic concern, if to be specific). If you’d take empathy out of social intelligence, you’d get some of the most underhanded bullying/instrumental aggression in the social realm… the exact behavior that you had described (Björkqvist, Österman, & Kaukiainen, 2000). Of course, those who mean well may not always help in the best of ways… but if they’d truly want to you feel better: they’d be monitoring your progress and not primarily their emotions. Still, ‘feelers’ need to be validated from time to time, especially if they'd actually lose some resources to help (so they should also know their own limits before trying to help, or know how to remove themselves from being emotionally involved – it can be difficult for Fe-doms in particular). Validation can buffer the loss of emotional resources, essentially, and doesn't often take more than a ‘thank you’ or what have you.

    And one could argue that those who’d feel empathic concern are programmed that way, such that they’d enjoy it – making it not inherently altruistic. I’m not going to attempt to answer a philosophical question scientifically, but too much passion without emotional regulation or cognitive control can also be dangerous. Regardless, there will be people who would help at their own expense… and then there will be the other kind.

  9. #39
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    I am being driven mad by the confusion between sympathy and empathy.

    So sympathy means to feel the same as, while empathy means to know what another is feeling, but without feeling it oneself.

    This makes empathy uniquely helpful to those who are suffering.

    Also sympathy comes naturally like learning to speak our native tongue, but empathy must be learnt and practised, like learning to read and write.

  10. #40
    Just a note... LittleV's Avatar
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    They coincide; sympathy is a portion of empathy. Empathy contains both cognitive and affective properties: perspective-taking (understanding another’s state), empathic concern (the desire to relieve another’s pain) and personal distress (feeling another’s pain). Sympathy goes under ‘empathic concern’ because it works in often motivating one to help after noticing another’s distress – but the person may not be experiencing the same emotions. Scholars refer to empathy as the main (elaborate) framework.

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