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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pitseleh View Post
    I use both A LOT. I feel for people but I detach from them when they are emotionally draining and we aren't close. Other times, I internalize people's emotions as my own but I still tend to detach if it's too much and can come off cold, uncaring, and very solution oriented. For me, it's about self-protection.

    The funny thing about what the ENFPs were saying about pity is that on the other side, I hate when people think or assume that they know how I feel. That's what I don't like about empathy. Both sides of the coin feel icky to me sometimes. Pity (sympathy) and projection (empathy) can be quite irritating.

    I have noticed that on some things I will sympathize with people and my mom (INFP) will empathize with the same people and vice versa. It really depends on the context, values, experiences, etc. It is not mainly function contingent.
    I'm an ENFP but pity doesn't bother me, because I know it's usually meant well, and I actually respond quite well to Fe style nurturing as long as it's not being overly nagging or judgmental. I know I use sympathy myself, not just empathy. I don't understand having any sort of strong opinion against sympathy, in fact, I find it strange.

    Empathy just happens to come more naturally to me, sympathy is there but like as back-up, and the only thing I don't like about sympathy is that in some situations it can feel disloyal, if that makes any sense - like the person is trying so hard to please everyone they aren't being true to anyone. On the other hand, FJ temperament can actually make for extreme loyalty in friendships and relationships, so it's not all bad.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevdod View Post
    Hi NF's, I decided to post this in the NF forum because I figured you would have the best models around this stuff. :-) I have been thinking a lot about the Fe and Fi functions and how they translate into sympathy or empathy.

    From my understanding sympathy is an understanding of another's feelings while empathy is actually feeling another's feelings. "You must be in pain" vs. "I feel your pain". And yes, I realize that from an NF's point of view it is far more nuanced than that, but this is really not the point of this post so please give this poor NT a break. ;-)

    Through some observation it occurred to me that the Fe function correlates more with sympathy while the Fi function correlates more with empathy.

    I arrived at this by noticing that my INFJ and ENFJ friends (Fe types), who were usually very warm and considerate of others, would be very cold and calculating in some situations, while my ENFP and INFP friends (Fi types) who are usually quite self centered would occasionally be overly considerate of another's feelings.

    Somehow the Fe types (INFJ, ENFJ) could distance themselves a bit more from the "other" than the Fi types (ENFP, INFP) and I found this to be the exact opposite of what I would of expected.

    This lead me to the notion that perhaps the Fe allows for sympathy, as the Fe type is not actually "feeling" the feelings of the other, while the Fi allows for empathy, as the Fi type is actually "feeling" the feelings of the other.

    I have also noticed this in myself (ENTP type with Fe) and my INTJ/ENTJ friends (Fi types). Of course we are all cold and robotic by the NF standards ;-), but I find that my Fi NT friends who are usually quite cold are actually more empathetic (when they are inclined to feel), and my Fe NT friends who are normally much nicer, can be more distanced from another's emotions.

    If this is all treading on well-trod ground, my apologies. But if not, I would appreciate some thoughts on the issue.

    Thanks, Kevin
    Of course, if we no longer have a reason to Fe-Feel for you, you become another abstract notion that is treated logically like our car keys or my pepper garden. Well treated and courteous, but not much caring.
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  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    There have been many threads about sympathy and empathy here and which Feeling function engages in which. This is my opinion on the matter.

    NFP types claim they empathize more. NFJ types claim they do both. SFs and Thinkers are left out of the picture totally. Since empathy has the greater emotional and social value, it's usually a tug of war to claim who has more of it. In the end, it tends to turn into a Fe vs. Fi thing as people are already doing now.
    I think it's unfair to leave SF types out - I don't think it's specifically an NF thing...I do, however, think it is more Fi vs. Fe...so FPs more naturally have empathy, and FJs more naturally have sympathy...that's not to say that each type can't use both, though. I'm fairly certain I use a great deal of sympathy, though my first and most natural response is empathy.

    I asked an ISFJ if he experienced empathy or sympathy, and he strongly prefers sympathy. I also seem to observe more consistently sympathetic behavior from other FJs, as I already pointed out in an earlier post.

    I don't think that EITHER is superior...the drawback of empathy is that in some cases it can seem unfair or narrow minded, because as strongly as empathy can feel for people and want to love, care, and help them, empathetic people can also be very cold or even nasty to situations they feel no empathy for. Empathetic people are probably more prone to be abrupt or impolite, especially in extreme cases, like the ENFPs up there who claim to be bothered by sympathy.

    I see the value in sympathy and was taught to use it from a very young age. However, my natural empathy can magnetically pull me to form very strong attachments and to take sides, which is why sympathy will never be my first course of action, except for in "big" social situations like death, illness, injury, etc. where no sympathy would just be heartless or inappropriate.

    Often times for me to use sympathy, I have to step back from a situation and think about it later, then it occurs to me that maybe sympathy would be useful.

  4. #24
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    Ah, good ol' sympathy and empathy discussion


    I've known people who freak out when someone they care about freaks out, which often does the other person no good. They'll just trust you less if they think that they're placing a huge burden on you.

    I've known others who think that someone who freaks out deserves a 'swift kick in the ass' in terms of telling them that they need to get over their freakout, which also often does them no good. They'll just trust you less if they think that you don't understand them at all.


    I think that the kindest approach is to meet the person where they're at, then take them to where they need to be.

    'Where they need to be' is a pretty situation-dependent, open question, but that first step is pretty much rock solid in terms of effectiveness and kindness.

  5. #25
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marmalade.sunrise View Post
    ...I do, however, think it is more Fi vs. Fe...so FPs more naturally have empathy, and FJs more naturally have sympathy...that's not to say that each type can't use both, though.
    What are you basing that on?
    Relationships have normal ebbs and flows. They do not automatically get better and better when the participants learn more and more about each other. Instead, the participants have to work through the tensions of the relationship (the dialectic) while they learn and group themselves and a parties in a relationships. At times the relationships is very open and sharing. Other time, one or both parties to the relationship need their space, or have other concerns, and the relationship is less open. The theory posits that these cycles occur throughout the life of the relationship as the persons try to balance their needs for privacy and open relationship.
    Interpersonal Communication Theories and Concepts
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    Social Penetration Theory 2
    Social Penetration Theory 3

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    What are you basing that on?
    Empathy in both in its positive and negative forms are associated with Fi - having a very intense, "genuine" emotional response rather than being polite or behaving as the social group expects, identifying strongly with others, as well as being extremely sensitive and possibly overreacting, and in it's most annoying form projecting one's own feelings inappropriately onto others...or what some ENTPs call "Fi pretentiousness." Ahem.

    Sympathy, on the other hand, is largely associated with Fe nurturing behavior like staying in tune with the entire group in terms of behavior, having an appropriately warm response in certain social situations, being able to detach one's personal feelings from a situation and treating everyone with a more equal kindness or at least politeness, and in it's lowest form reduced to expected social platitudes.

    I think you had an excellent description of empathy vs. sympathy in your post about breast cancer, and I agree that people can experience both, but that empathy seems to be the default response of Fi because it's an internalized feeling, and sympathy seems to be the default response of Fe because it's an externally-based feeling. That's not to say each can't do both.

  7. #27
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    To put it bluntly. I consider sympathy pathetic, and empathy a requirement.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by marmalade.sunrise View Post
    I think it's unfair to leave SF types out - I don't think it's specifically an NF thing...I do, however, think it is more Fi vs. Fe...so FPs more naturally have empathy, and FJs more naturally have sympathy...that's not to say that each type can't use both, though. I'm fairly certain I use a great deal of sympathy, though my first and most natural response is empathy.
    My natural response seems to be empathy. It is like empathy sounds more genuine, at least, when it comes to my response to another person. If a friend of mine had to face the death of a loved one, I'll probably feel what my friend is feeling, saddened, down in the dumps, why did this had to happen. But at the same time while I am feeling what he is feeling, I do what I can to help the person cheer up even if it is just a little bit. And that is because I can see where he is coming from, I can personally understand him and be there for him inside and outside of me.

    On a different scenario, if I don't empathize with a person base on my own reasons(somewhere along the lines of "That is what you get for being so and so",) I can be one of the meanest person there is. I might even antagonize the person for what he/she has done and empathize with the other person rather then the person asking for help. It is my way of saying that the person did something bad, learn from it.

    Sympathy on the other hand, it sounds too "shallow" in the sense that it isn't really me there that is helping a person. But if I wanted to help the person, I'll resort to it if I had to. Some people want you to just be there for the person when that person is feeling down. Trying to empathize with the person could potentially make it worse. I am not there to make the situation worse for a person I care about.

    That is really about it.

  9. #29
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marmalade.sunrise View Post
    Empathy in both in its positive and negative forms are associated with Fi - having a very intense, "genuine" emotional response rather than being polite or behaving as the social group expects, identifying strongly with others, as well as being extremely sensitive and possibly overreacting, and in it's most annoying form projecting one's own feelings inappropriately onto others...or what some ENTPs call "Fi pretentiousness." Ahem.

    Sympathy, on the other hand, is largely associated with Fe nurturing behavior like staying in tune with the entire group in terms of behavior, having an appropriately warm response in certain social situations, being able to detach one's personal feelings from a situation and treating everyone with a more equal kindness or at least politeness, and in it's lowest form reduced to expected social platitudes.

    I think you had an excellent description of empathy vs. sympathy in your post about breast cancer, and I agree that people can experience both, but that empathy seems to be the default response of Fi because it's an internalized feeling, and sympathy seems to be the default response of Fe because it's an externally-based feeling. That's not to say each can't do both.
    You really didn't explain anything, just spit out typological platitudes. Which I guess are the social platitudes of this particular forum, so you did some great Fe there. This also shows your lack of understanding of what Fe is...did you mean to say that Fe does not have "intense, "genuine" emotional response" because that's what you just said or at least that's what I understand you to be saying.

    This is why I this particular topic is so irritating to me. Nearly every time this topic comes up, I ask the ones who insist they are more empathetic to tell me what they base this on and all I get is Fi is the more genuine, real feeling while Fe is mechanized appropriate response, like a script or something.

    I can think of three particular examples that I'm almost 95% sure you'd be hard pressed to empathize with me about and they're socio-political-cultural life areas. I think that if you were to claim you know exactly how I feel, you'd look incredibly silly and come across condescending and patronizing.

    Empathy is more than "I know how you feel/I feel your pain." There are more components involved than that. I never see people talk about elements like:
    • Perceived empathy
    • Accurate empathy
    • Empathetic concern
    • the experiential and contextual components of empathy (which is what I described in my post)


    and yet, they have so much of it. How do you know how empathetic you are? If you say you have a lot of it, what are you measuring it against? When you say you have more or less of something, that means you can quantify it in some way...it's some standard that you're comparing yourself to. How are you quantifying and measuring that you have "more" empathy? Just saying your are more empathetic or naturally empathetic doesn't mean you are more. I'm the Queen of Sheba! Why? Because I say so.

    What does the target of your empathy say or feel from your empathy (perceived empathy)? How accurate are you in your empathy (empathic accuracy)? How do you (re)act to and on your feelings of empathy (empathetic concern)?

    Maybe if I saw you talking about the various components of empathy, breaking it down into it's pieces and parts, I may believe you. But I never see it happening, I never see people breaking a concept down in such a way that let's me know they grasp it, not just them claiming they have something and showing no understanding of what they claim to have. I used to get so excited when this topic would come up, now it's just feel like I'm going to have to do a slapdown because inevitably people will come with this Fe vs. Fi crap as their proof.

    I have talked to people (like when my mother was in the nursing home), who talk about empathy casually...not like they're psychologists or therapists but just in a casual manner that shows they get it, both intellectually and emotionally. They just don't spit out emotional buzzwords and catch phrases like "intense" and "genuine" and "deep" and "intimate" and when you quiz them harder on it they resort to easy answers like what you said above.
    Relationships have normal ebbs and flows. They do not automatically get better and better when the participants learn more and more about each other. Instead, the participants have to work through the tensions of the relationship (the dialectic) while they learn and group themselves and a parties in a relationships. At times the relationships is very open and sharing. Other time, one or both parties to the relationship need their space, or have other concerns, and the relationship is less open. The theory posits that these cycles occur throughout the life of the relationship as the persons try to balance their needs for privacy and open relationship.
    Interpersonal Communication Theories and Concepts
    Social Penetration Theory 1
    Social Penetration Theory 2
    Social Penetration Theory 3

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    You really didn't explain anything, just spit out typological platitudes. Which I guess are the social platitudes of this particular forum, so you did some great Fe there. This also shows your lack of understanding of what Fe is...did you mean to say that Fe does not have "intense, "genuine" emotional response" because that's what you just said or at least that's what I understand you to be saying.

    This is why I this particular topic is so irritating to me. Nearly every time this topic comes up, I ask the ones who insist they are more empathetic to tell me what they base this on and all I get is Fi is the more genuine, real feeling while Fe is mechanized appropriate response, like a script or something.

    I can think of three particular examples that I'm almost 95% sure you'd be hard pressed to empathize with me about and they're socio-political-cultural life areas. I think that if you were to claim you know exactly how I feel, you'd look incredibly silly and come across condescending and patronizing.

    Empathy is more than "I know how you feel/I feel your pain." There are more components involved than that. I never see people talk about elements like:
    • Perceived empathy
    • Accurate empathy
    • Empathetic concern
    • the experiential and contextual components of empathy (which is what I described in my post)


    and yet, they have so much of it. How do you know how empathetic you are? If you say you have a lot of it, what are you measuring it against? When you say you have more or less of something, that means you can quantify it in some way...it's some standard that you're comparing yourself to. How are you quantifying and measuring that you have "more" empathy? Just saying your are more empathetic or naturally empathetic doesn't mean you are more. I'm the Queen of Sheba! Why? Because I say so.

    What does the target of your empathy say or feel from your empathy (perceived empathy)? How accurate are you in your empathy (empathic accuracy)? How do you (re)act to and on your feelings of empathy (empathetic concern)?

    Maybe if I saw you talking about the various components of empathy, breaking it down into it's pieces and parts, I may believe you. But I never see it happening, I never see people breaking a concept down in such a way that let's me know they grasp it, not just them claiming they have something and showing no understanding of what they claim to have. I used to get so excited when this topic would come up, now it's just feel like I'm going to have to do a slapdown because inevitably people will come with this Fe vs. Fi crap as their proof.

    I have talked to people (like when my mother was in the nursing home), who talk about empathy casually...not like they're psychologists or therapists but just in a casual manner that shows they get it, both intellectually and emotionally. They just don't spit out emotional buzzwords and catch phrases like "intense" and "genuine" and "deep" and "intimate" and when you quiz them harder on it they resort to easy answers like what you said above.
    I never said Fe was mechanical, and I never claimed the "genuine" behavior of Fi is always pleasant, appropriate, or even emotionally mature. I think you're very defensive about Fe for some reason, and I went out of my way to point out the flaws in Fi, which are certainly evident. I'm actually someone who values Fe, and scores fairly high on it for an Fi user.

    This is a typology forum. I explained to you my observations based on function theory.

    I acknowledged that people of both types can use both functions. I complimented your earlier description. I'm not sure what you want, exactly.

    Fe users have told me about their capability of distance from a situation, almost sometimes as though they feel superior about it, and Fi users often talk about how overly involved they get into things sometimes. It's not like I'm just pulling this out of my ass.

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