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  1. #51
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ceecee View Post
    [is] it really useful to have another person fall apart in a crisis?
    Yes, this is why empathy as distinct from sympathy is so helpful in a crisis.

    Empathy enables us to know what the sufferer is feeling, without feeling it oneself, and then to be able to act in a helpful way.

    And I would emphasise, empathy is a high level skill. Empathy comes no more naturally than playing the piano. So empathy needs to be taught by a professioanal and then practised, practised, practised, until it become second nature and we don't have to think about it.

    Sympathy is fine. It comes naturally.

    We are born sympathetic but must attain empathy.

  2. #52
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleV View Post
    I knew the type of girl I was. Fearlessly sensitive.
    And you are the type of girl we like and admire: sensitive in the face of fear.

    I call that courage.

  3. #53
    Just a note... LittleV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    And you are the type of girl we like and admire: sensitive in the face of fear.

    I call that courage.
    Thanks. Though there are times when the fear would be temporarily halted.

  4. #54
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    Sympathy and empathy are both tools that can get you to a place of compassion. When exercising sympathy and empathy you're still in the picture with the other, because their suffering reminds you of your own, and/or causes you discomfort or pain. Both are valuable tools.

    Compassion is different because you don't enter the picture: you simply see the other, observe their suffering, and you respond with action that seeks only to relieve their suffering as much as possible. It takes place in the moment and it's observed through action. Compassion is dynamic.

  5. #55
    Emperor/Dictator kyuuei's Avatar
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    Maybe I'm completely off base here.. but I feel empathy is more desired because it elicits a call to arms. A hopeful action out of truly feeling and understanding someone else. It isn't that sympathy doesn't have a use or is negative.. but generally little is done when people are sympathetic. If we were talking facebook, sympathy would be the "like this if you think dogs shouldn't be abused!" and empathy would be taking the time to donate to gofundme.

    I sympathize for homeless people. I've never been homeless, probably won't be anytime soon, and while I can understand bigger picture concepts I just don't do much about it. I don't donate a dollar to the guy holding up a sign. I feel for him... and then I go back to lip singing and using A/C in my car. In comparison.. having nephews and nieces and them being crazy little shits, I completely empathize with someone who is a waitress cleaning up after a parent's kid in a restaurant. Whereas some single punk friends of mine who never have had to deal with kids can quickly complain and be sooo inconvenienced that parents just 'let their kids make a huge mess all over the place for ME to clean up!', I've experienced the situation first hand.. so even though I've never had kids of my own, I've been around them enough to realize the mechanisms behind what's going on.. and not only do I feel for the parent and have that anecdote of sympathy, but it stretches farther.. I understand the development of the kids at that age, I try to clean up after my own family's kids whenever I can at restaurants to help out the waitress because I understand the kid makes a bigger mess and I won't always be able to.. I try to think of small ways to prevent messes from happening. I reach out. There is a sense of the emotions moving one to action with empathy. It doesn't have to be a crusade against messes or anything.. but taking the extra second to ensure the lid on the kid's drink is properly secured is something I do out of empathy. .. Versus the sympathy I have for the girl when she has to clean up the drink my nephew spilled everywhere.

    .. I feel like people make a distinguishing mark, including myself, frequently about putting yourself in one's shoes vs not.. but really, I think the two are far too similar without action being a defining characteristic of empathy. Empathy moves people to do things like not litter, to stand up for others, to make personal moral calls in situations.. etc. Sympathy is the raw emotional reaction to a situation. I sympathize for characters in a show--but I won't do anything besides maybe gossip about what happened in the show... I empathize for those who get bullied though--I say something only because I know how many times someone else saying something would have helped me.
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  6. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyuuei View Post
    Maybe I'm completely off base here.. but I feel empathy is more desired because it elicits a call to arms. A hopeful action out of truly feeling and understanding someone else. It isn't that sympathy doesn't have a use or is negative.. but generally little is done when people are sympathetic. If we were talking facebook, sympathy would be the "like this if you think dogs shouldn't be abused!" and empathy would be taking the time to donate to gofundme.

    I sympathize for homeless people. I've never been homeless, probably won't be anytime soon, and while I can understand bigger picture concepts I just don't do much about it. I don't donate a dollar to the guy holding up a sign. I feel for him... and then I go back to lip singing and using A/C in my car. In comparison.. having nephews and nieces and them being crazy little shits, I completely empathize with someone who is a waitress cleaning up after a parent's kid in a restaurant. Whereas some single punk friends of mine who never have had to deal with kids can quickly complain and be sooo inconvenienced that parents just 'let their kids make a huge mess all over the place for ME to clean up!', I've experienced the situation first hand.. so even though I've never had kids of my own, I've been around them enough to realize the mechanisms behind what's going on.. and not only do I feel for the parent and have that anecdote of sympathy, but it stretches farther.. I understand the development of the kids at that age, I try to clean up after my own family's kids whenever I can at restaurants to help out the waitress because I understand the kid makes a bigger mess and I won't always be able to.. I try to communicate with the other person more. I reach out. There is a sense of the emotions moving one to action with empathy.

    .. I feel like people make a distinguishing mark, including myself, frequently about putting yourself in one's shoes vs not.. but really, I think the two are far too similar without action being a defining characteristic of empathy. Empathy moves people to do things like not litter, to stand up for others, to make personal moral calls in situations.. etc. Sympathy is the raw emotional reaction to a situation. I sympathize for characters in a show--but I won't do anything besides maybe gossip about what happened in the show... I empathize for those who get bullied though--I say something only because I know how many times someone else saying something would have helped me.
    Yes, I agree with your remarks. Sympathy is reactionary and bilateral, empathy is sharing someone's skin by plugging into the other's experience. As an NF I have found that this can be harmful and unproductive. Empathy is a tool that requires right development and responsible use. There is a time and place. It is foolish to go around and indiscriminately plug yourself in to everyone you meet.

    Anyway, you live and learn with these things. Experiencing mistakes trumps advice because a lesson learned is the best innoculation.

    In my mind, sympathy --> empathy --> compassion.

  7. #57
    movin melodies kiddykat's Avatar
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    I've always been confused by the concepts of sympathy and empathy. It seems like society highly praises empathy but doesn't care much for sympathy, which I think is opposite of what it should be. I see the word empathy being used everywhere and how it's so important for people to be empathetic (for instance, health care professionals). If you're not perceived as empathetic, you're shunned off as being "cold". But what about sympathy? I have a strong Fi and am very capable of feeling sympathy for others. I enjoy helping them out, even if I don't understand exactly why they are feeling vulnerable, sad, angry, etc. in a given situation. Of course sometimes I can't think of a way to help even if I want to, so I guess that comes off as cold? Then an empathetic person steps into the spotlight and can make the person feel better without even offering any help (other than understanding). For example, empathy seems to be a highly valued trait in physicians. I mean, sure, it would be nice for the doctor to be able to step in your shoes. But if it's empathy that everyone is after, the doctor doesn't necessarily have to feel an obligation to help you. They could take a "sucks for them" sort of attitude. Wouldn't sympathy be a better trait? Who cares if a doctor can RELATE to how you feel, as long as they feel sad for you and have an urge to help you even though they don't necessarily understand your situation.

    So I think sympathy should be more highly regarded since empathy doesn't even entail helping others but rather simply understanding where they are coming from. But I never hear people being praised for being sympathetic, or being told they should strive to become more sympathetic.

    I guess what I'm wondering is why it seems that society values empathy so much and sympathy just doesn't matter as much. Empathetic people are more likely to be very selfish, but sympathetic people are more inclined to being selfless, no?
    Sympathy also implies feeling sorry for others. When you feel sorry for others, you are also disempowering them.

    Empathy is more valued, because empathy requires us to take a step in other people's shoes and understand what their reality is like, what the must go through every single day.

    Sympathy is a superficial feeling of "I'm sorry for you" and doesn't require the other person to listen, to hear, to understand, to appreciate. It's just sympathy.

    It's like saying, "We health care profressionals don't have to practice on our caring skills. We don't really need to care about our patients. We don't really need to understand their needs." Why help if there is no want for understanding. Empathy requires more energy.

    But, in a field such as Health these days, those who are in it for the money would rather place value of sympathy over empathy, because heck, by separating one's emotions for the other person's suffering, they are a lot more easily dispensable and discardable. The relationship is based on emptiness, empty words, empty meaning, and a shallow understanding of anything significant. Is that the money most people want to shell out to fake sounding money grubbing physicians? Not really.

  8. #58
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    I think both shouldn't be regarded. They are both true forms of caring and two different things. We all can use both of them and unconsciously do. I'm very Fi and introverted, but I occassionally used Fe subconsciously making me sound like a shy ISFJ or too nice sometimes. So both are equal forms of caring in different ways.
    I am extremely quiet, an outcast, and conflict-avoidant. But I also have strengths too, that I can forgive you all because you are unique and special. I kill with kindness, hating violence and social conflicts. People always bully me into actually talking, but I can't. Just be your true self and know your strengths and weaknesses. Some weaknesses we cannot change, but work on your strengths, forgive, and accept that.

  9. #59
    Junior Member Skarekrow's Avatar
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    I thought this was a great explanation as the line is not very clear to some people/types in general.

    I once knew a man who thought he was above me…and he was, until he had that thought.

  10. #60
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    I find the definitions of empathy and sympathy to be inconsistent making discussions quite confusing.

    There are two distinct aspects to empathy that I learned from other posters here, and which are very important in making sense of this topic.

    1. Affective empathy: this is when an emotion or state in another resonates with you and you feel it alongside them. Dogs have very strong affective empathy. Some people might call this sympathy, but if you can resonate and experience a very similar feeling, then it goes deeper than caring observation. I've actually seen this trait be used without compassion in which a deeply self-centered person experiences everything they encounter as being about 'them'. If their friend has a hurt foot, suddenly they do too and they demand that even the people who inspired their imagined pain expend more energy to help them with their imagined problem. It's bizarre but extreme empathy and narcissism can both break down the boundary of Self and Other, but you can tell the source of the motivation based on how the individual expects to resolve the pain. Do they give too much of self like a true empath or do they demand even more like a true narcissist?

    2. Theory of mind: this is the ability to make sense of the internal patterns of how another person thinks and feels and to be able to view the world through that perspective and make predictions based on their framework, not your own. This doesn't necessarily translate into compassion if there is no affective empathy to go along with it. Even cruel, manipulative people can be expert at this, but when it is combined with compassion, then it makes the person's response highly effective in helping.

    Lately I've seen the term sympathy be given all the negative attributes of empathy, but I don't see the two as separate opposites. I think there is a lot of overlap. This is why the terms are so confusing. I understand sympathy to be the motivation to help and empathy the ability to understand how best to help.
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