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  1. #1
    Senior Member tkae.'s Avatar
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    Default Arguments for Empathy: Is Empathy An NF Thing?

    So I just stumbled into a thread on the INTJ forums (which I troll frequent ) and saw a thread about feeling happy for other people. While the answers varied (a lot more, "Yes" answers than I expected), most of them were followed by, "But..."

    Those either said that it wasn't the same kind of happiness or that they only felt happy for close friends, and some of them even said they outright didn't feel happy for people.

    I think what made me wonder about this more was the people who said yes. If they feel good for people, then we know it's possible for an NT to actually feel something other than the typical Dr. Evil emotions.

    So why don't we see NTs pulling from the NF playbook more? Why don't NTs dress in hippie clothes like we do and have hugging parties?


    Okay, okay, seriously... But it did bring about the pseudo-related queston: are NFs the only type that values empathy as a force by which to live?

    I mean, I know ISFs are pretty fuzzy and emotional like we are, and most of them do volunteer work and are interpersonal people But how come it's usually the NFs that incorporate empathy into their daily lives?

    Or if there are any NFs that don't, why don't you?

    Or are INFPs just weird?

    Or am I just weird?

    What's going on up in here?
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  2. #2
    ReflecTcelfeR
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    I suppose you could ask yourself what you are actually accomplishing by feeling empathetic towards people. It makes them feel good, this I get, but empathy isn't necessarily pushing them out of the state, it can be a kind of enabling… Those were my first thoughts on the subject.

  3. #3
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    INTJ's, as well as othe types that have dom or aux thinking functions, more often than not are somewhat hard-nosed on following methodological frameworks or logic analysis as opposed to personal empathy as a means of making decisions. That doesn't mean they're incapable of acting from empathy, far from it in fact considering that INTJ's can be very emotional (tert Fi) and ENTP's can be very fredinly (tert Fe), just that it's not their natural method of decision making that they trust in the world. NF's on the other hand, well SF's could equally be inlcuded, are simple more likely to value, well, values both personal and impersonal when having to choose something and see logic as secondary to that, but of course are capable of being logic when needed.

    And no you're not weird

  4. #4
    Senior Member tkae.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReflecTcelfeR View Post
    I suppose you could ask yourself what you are actually accomplishing by feeling empathetic towards people. It makes them feel good, this I get, but empathy isn't necessarily pushing them out of the state, it can be a kind of enabling… Those were my first thoughts on the subject.
    I feel like my existence is validated that I can feel for others. If I accomplish nothing else in life, I'll die knowing that I felt for others, even if I never met them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Savage Idealist View Post
    INTJ's, as well as othe types that have dom or aux thinking functions, more often than not are somewhat hard-nosed on following methodological frameworks or logic analysis as opposed to personal empathy as a means of making decisions. That doesn't mean they're incapable of acting from empathy, far from it in fact considering that INTJ's can be very emotional (tert Fi) and ENTP's can be very fredinly (tert Fe), just that it's not their natural method of decision making that they trust in the world. NF's on the other hand, well SF's could equally be inlcuded, are simple more likely to value, well, values both personal and impersonal when having to choose something and see logic as secondary to that, but of course are capable of being logic when needed.

    And no you're not weird
    That's what I've always gotten from them. They definitely don't let it define their lives as much as I do. I have to be nice to bank tellers and store employees no matter how pissed off I am because I know that if I've made their day anything but better, then I'll feel bad about it for days. I'll think about what it felt like to have someone be insensitive towards them, to the point that empathy becomes a kind of spiritual standard I have to conform to or else I'll be punished.

    But at the same time, I'm happy I have that, because I know that I'll usually be a good person, and when I'm not then I'll know there was a reason that at least explained it, like me being sick or something.

    I wouldn't trade my empathy for the world, as inconvenient as it can be sometimes
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  5. #5
    Certified Sausage Smoker Elfboy's Avatar
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    I don't spend a lot of time thinking about other people, but I am indeed happy for them when something goes well for them or they are better off than me. it really bothers me when people complain about how people have it so much better than they do. if they want it they should be happy for the people who do have it and trying to get it for themselves as well
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    Quote Originally Posted by tkae. View Post
    That's what I've always gotten from them. They definitely don't let it define their lives as much as I do. I have to be nice to bank tellers and store employees no matter how pissed off I am because I know that if I've made their day anything but better, then I'll feel bad about it for days. I'll think about what it felt like to have someone be insensitive towards them, to the point that empathy becomes a kind of spiritual standard I have to conform to or else I'll be punished.

    But at the same time, I'm happy I have that, because I know that I'll usually be a good person, and when I'm not then I'll know there was a reason that at least explained it, like me being sick or something.
    This level of empathy is often essential to society; as I see it, F's bring some level of compassion and harmony to people, while T's generally bring structure and organization to others. I mean could you imagine what the world would be like if NF's like you or me weren't around to willingly see things from others perspectives and sympathetically act in a way that benefical to them?

    Alternatively, a world without T's would be heaven on Earth! (just kidding of course, it would be a fucking mess).

    I wouldn't trade my empathy for the world, as inconvenient as it can be sometimes
    True that

  7. #7
    Emperor/Dictator kyuuei's Avatar
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    I find empathy to be an essential part of socialization. People who lack it are often engage in abusive and criminal behavior, as I've seen a lot in younger crowds. The kids simply don't care.. (OMG Stop right there you! You know who you are! Mr. "OMG YOU JUST SAID IM A CRIMINAL JUST BC I DONT HAVE EMPATHYWAAHHH"... ) When you care about the status of others, it affects your actions and decisions. I suppose no, it isn't really necessary for you yourself, nor is it necessary to function in society for SOME.. but I believe it to be a characteristic that keeps people safe when living in groups and communities.
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  8. #8
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    Hi. You might be interested in Baron-Cohen's The Science of Evil. He treats a lack of empathy as 'single-minded' and an abundance of empathy as 'double-minded,' with the latter essentially belonging to individuals who shine a spotlight on both themselves and another.

    Specifically, you might be interested in his attempts to measure and classify levels of inborn empathy and his outline of his classification scale here. I don't know if I necessarily agree fully with the 'inborn-ness' of it, but.. whatever, it's related to the concept of inborn types.

    Also related: the Big Five "Agreeableness" factor, which also measures something that's pretty freakin' close to this.
    --

    I'd argue that we all ought to try to shine a spotlight on others. I mean, after all, even rats see the value of it, and we're probably even more reasonable than rats, right?

    Maybe that's just an inborn preference speaking, though


    Quote Originally Posted by ReflecTcelfeR View Post
    I suppose you could ask yourself what you are actually accomplishing by feeling empathetic towards people. It makes them feel good, this I get, but empathy isn't necessarily pushing them out of the state, it can be a kind of enabling… Those were my first thoughts on the subject.
    Good point. It also turns out that Baren-Cohen also sort of addresses this. His thoughts (well, my jumbled paraphrase of them) are that empathy is about both recognizing and responding appropriately. A truly empathetic person, to him, not only recognizes the emotional state of another, but also acts upon it in a constructive way. I agree that enabling wouldn't be constructive.

  9. #9
    Dreaming the life onemoretime's Avatar
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    Of course most people incorporate empathy into their lives. They just may do it in a way that you don't recognize, since it's not the way you incorporate empathy into your own life.

    For example, a person might either start offering instructions or advice, or do something that another person is struggling with, because he or she feels the distress that the other person is feeling, and wants to remedy it. They may not seem very empathic at the time, if they act imperiously in the process. However, this may have less to do with a lack of empathy than it does difficulty with handling one's own emotional response.

    At the same time, any sort of pathology is going to interfere with a person's empathic response. Think about the kind of person who would outright declare that they do not feel happy for others. Think about why they would even offer that sort of information in the first place. That's certainly not your business, right? It also certainly does not build a relationship, does it?

  10. #10
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    i think it's more what @onemoretime has said, that we have a different way of experiencing responding to empathy. NFs see things in billows of color and smoke and dreamy images and strong feelings coursing through us, making us resonate on an emotional level when we experience empathy.

    SFs, as far as the ones i know, also experience strong feeling in terms of empathy, and Fe types in general are more likely to act upon these feelings, whereas Fi types are more likely to wallow in inner experience before reaching out. SFs may also be more attuned to situations at hand while NFs may be more attuned to "global" empathy, hence often getting involved in ideological work, whereas many of the SFs i know are teachers, nurses, and artists, dealing with things at a more day-to-day, person-by-person level.

    but there is cognitive empathy, too, where you see someone and understand their plight and want to help fix things for them because they are a fellow being in trouble and it ultimately benefits both of us. my INTP dad is definitely empathetic - he's a doctor and chose his specialty despite less pay and worse conditions because he wanted to help the worst-off people. he's not super warm and fuzzy, but he has a strong ethical sense and clearly cares about their well-being, as well as the condition of society as a whole, and has dedicated his life to it. i don't think there would be any rationality behind his chosen path short of assuming he has a strong sense of empathy.

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