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  1. #11
    Senior Member Shimpei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kuranes View Post
    Let's say someone had lost their child in an auto accident, and you wanted to empathize with them. If you hadn't had any losses in your life ( not even a pet ) you wouldn't really know what it was like, besides knowing it was mentally painful in general. So how could you empathize very well ? I wasn't asking if you would need to see someone else empathize in order to know how to do it.

    Can one even "want" to empathize ? Or is it that you either do it or don't, automatically, subconsciously ?
    Ok, what I think is empathy is very much like a kind of emotional contagion. You can FEEL what the other feel, no matter whether you've already lost someone before, because that sorrow and pain is transferred to you in case you're really open to the other.
    You ask how you could empathize very well? Daniel Goleman says: "The more sharply attentive we are, the more keenly we will sense another person's inner state.... self absorption in all its forms kills empathy." "In today's psychology, the word "empathy" is used in three distinct senses: knowing another person's feelings; feeling what that person feels; and responding compassionately to another's distress. .... I notice you, I feel with you, and so I act to help you."
    I think empathy without acts has no value in itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by kuranes View Post
    I'm interested in how one could "turn off" the empathy too. How would this be done ? Consciously or subconsciously ? Do you mean "getting used to it" ?
    Yes, I think that's the case: you just don't pay attention to others' problems consciously, you become more and more self-absorbed, and thus you let the threshold of sense go up.

  2. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by nottaprettygal View Post
    I mentioned the difference in Eileen's thread.

    The briefest explanation is that sympathy is when you feel what the other party is feeling. Empathy is when you understand their feelings, but do not necessarily share them.
    That is how I usually break it down.

    Empathy is a logical assessment, sympathy is an emotional response; compassion - "to suffer with" - is a hardcore extension of sympathy.

  3. #13
    Senior Member kuranes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimpei View Post
    Ok, what I think is empathy is very much like a kind of emotional contagion. You can FEEL what the other feel, no matter whether you've already lost someone before, because that sorrow and pain is transferred to you in case you're really open to the other.
    You ask how you could empathize very well? Daniel Goleman says: "The more sharply attentive we are, the more keenly we will sense another person's inner state.... self absorption in all its forms kills empathy." "In today's psychology, the word "empathy" is used in three distinct senses: knowing another person's feelings; feeling what that person feels; and responding compassionately to another's distress. .... I notice you, I feel with you, and so I act to help you."
    I think empathy without acts has no value in itself.
    I can sense another's pain to some extent. I would certainly be able to assume they were feeling pain even if they simply told me of a severe problem or tragic event etc. However, if they did not tell me, I could probably still sense it. More likely they would both tell me and also show me. The "showing" is what I think you're talking about. If ( as a receiver of this via empathy ) you sense the other's pain, then you receive a certain amount of this. I guess I'm asking about whether or not this reception is just feeling the "tip of the iceberg only" if you have no corresponding event in your own history.

    I brought up this distinction because the original definition in the OP talked about distinguishing empathy from other things by saying "one imagines oneself in their place, versus".......what ? Vs. trying to imagine only the other, without referencing one's own experience ? It was hard for me to perceive what they were referring to in this case. You, yourself, Shimpei, do not reference "imagination", but rather openness to a "transmission" of sorts.

    Maybe I am still misunderstanding what you are trying to say about this, although we seem to agree on the basics.

    * tries opening up his empathic channels further to the white bunny*
    "The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them that they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
    Reichsfuhrer Herman Goering at the Nuremburg trials.

  4. #14
    Senior Member niffer's Avatar
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    I always thought this

    Quote Originally Posted by nottaprettygal View Post
    Empathy is when you understand their feelings, but do not necessarily share them.
    and that sympathy was when you understood what they were feeling AND cared.
    sparkly sparkly rainbow excretions

    Quote Originally Posted by ThatGirl View Post
    holy shit am I a feeler?
    if you like my avatar, it's because i took it myself! : D

  5. #15
    Senior Member sdalek's Avatar
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    I've always thought of the difference between sympathy and empathy like this:

    sympathy - I've had the same experience and know, first hand, what it is like
    ex: someone's grandparent dies - I can sympathize because my own grandfather has died.

    empathy - I can imagine what it is like but cannot know for certain since I've never been in a situation like that
    ex: someone's been through a plane crash - I can empathize what it must feel like but cannot sympathize since I've never been in a place crash myself.

    Maybe my definitions are too simplistic?

  6. #16
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdalek View Post
    sympathy - I've had the same experience and know, first hand, what it is like ex: someone's grandparent dies - I can sympathize because my own grandfather has died.

    empathy - I can imagine what it is like but cannot know for certain since I've never been in a situation like that
    ex: someone's been through a plane crash - I can empathize what it must feel like but cannot sympathize since I've never been in a place crash myself.
    That is somewhat how I view them too, although I tend to divvy them up by general function use for myself: When I say I sympathize, it means I feel the actual emotions (and usually because I have experienced them before myself as you mention), it's very physical and visceral; and when I say I empathy, it means I can put myself in someone's shoes and intuit the emotions and state of mind and the context and situation (so it's more "abstracted" but still very deep), even if I've never experienced that situation closely myself before.

    That description is probably not very orthodox, but it is my personal shorthand.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  7. #17
    Senior Member Lookin4theBestNU's Avatar
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    I didn't want to read this thread too thoroughly or the dictionary definitions. I have a feeling it would influence it too much. The difference between the two for me is hard to describe in words but I will give it a go.

    Sympathy means to me: I have a feeling FOR you. Hypothetical example: Your pet died and you are very sad. I can feel sad because you feel sad. I share my feeling FOR you. "I am sorry that your pet died. I know how rough that can be!"

    Empathy means to me: I feel WITH you. I will use the same example. I almost instantly (personally speaking here) internalize the feelings and replay them of with my own grief over a loss. I am feeling your pain WITH you. An empathetic response would appear more like this: " I remember the pain I went through with my own pet dying. I sense what you are feeling right now. I had so much sadness over it because my pet was my best friend when no one else was around." I will experience actual grief, not a feeling of sadness because you are sad. Make sense?

    I lightly skimmed over the if someones child was killed, and why you want to empathize. I don't know that I ask for it really, just being super-sensitive it happens on it's own without my permission. It can be rather a bit of an inconvenience when you know an objective view would be best and then you have to mentally pry your feelings away to do so.To be honest though empathy makes itself much more apparent with people I have a 'connection' with. Compassion is much more inclined to appear to strangers. I have compassion for people who just lost all of their belongings in a fire let's say. I want to give to you so that you can get back what you lost even though I don't know you. Let's say that one of my close friends lost a child. I probably wouldn't want to have extreme empathy and it would be different because it hasn't happened. My strong imagination however would lead me in that path and I could feel the pain and misery WITH you as if it did happen to me instead. The feelings would be very real.
    "At points of clarity, I realize that my life on earth is meaningless, and that I am merely a pawn in a bigger game. A game I cannot possibly understand or have control of. Thankfully, before depression sets in, I drift back into my cloudy, bewildered daily routine." **Joel Patrick Warneke**

  8. #18
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    I took a class in empathic listening during college. The purpose was to learn how to hear and understand what people say about their own feelings. You didn't have to experience those feelings yourself, but you had to go far enough into the other person's experiences that you understood his feelings and reactions and attitudes and could communicate with him about those things on his own level and in his own words. You didn't have to agree with him, but you had to be able to understand his world through his eyes.

    It was a fascinating (and somewhat uncomfortable) study.

  9. #19
    Senior Member sdalek's Avatar
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    Based on what everyone's responses are, could it be that sympathy is a more personal and visceral response to someone's pain or feelings whereas empathy is a less personal and more detached response to someone's pain or feelings?

  10. #20
    Senior Member niffer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdalek View Post
    Based on what everyone's responses are, could it be that sympathy is a more personal and visceral response to someone's pain or feelings whereas empathy is a less personal and more detached response to someone's pain or feelings?
    that's the underlying idea at the very least
    sparkly sparkly rainbow excretions

    Quote Originally Posted by ThatGirl View Post
    holy shit am I a feeler?
    if you like my avatar, it's because i took it myself! : D

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