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  1. #31
    Senior Member Eileen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    I think it's easy to have sympathy for people who commit horrific crimes and obviously have a mental health problems.

    I feel sympathy for the teenager down the street that stole my neighbor's car and is locked up from 15-18. Or the kid in the ghetto who gets caught with weed, have drug charges piled against them and can't get financial aid to go to college, whereas the kid from the suburbs gets a slap on the wrist and community service. This is when my sympathy kicks in. These situations happen far more frequently than the extreme ones that have been given.
    Well yeah, obviously. But those kids aren't despicable, so it's not the same sort of thing that I'm talking about. I definitely feel sympathy for them as well, but I don't think that they're demonized (because they haven't done anything horrifying).
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    "I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

  2. #32
    Senior Member htb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen View Post
    I'm not sure that I'm convinced by one woman's set of articles, as I'm quite sure she has her biases, but I'll go with it.
    I referenced Helen Smith because she, in work in forensic psychology, empirically repudiates one of your impressions -- that is, the popularized characterization of violent individuals as corrupted victims rather than congenital predators.

    My sister is a public school teacher as well, and puts up with a lot, too. But there is quite a difference between louts who may speak of inhumanity, and those who actually commit such crimes. Differentiate. Who are the "despicable," and what did they do? As you clarify the generalization you will probably discover that they actually constitute your "minority."
    Last edited by htb; 05-30-2007 at 12:45 PM. Reason: Changed the first sentence. People repudiate; objects don't.

  3. #33
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    When considering topics like this, I make a distinction between sympathy, compassion, and pity.

    Sympathy means "same feeling". I can sympathize with someone if I've felt the same way they're feeling. (You break your arm; I broke my arm when I was ten. I can sympathize with you because I've felt it too.) I may occasionally come across a despicable person for whom I feel sympathy--having been in a similar position or dealt with similar feelings myself, yet not chosen to act as they've acted. It's pretty rare, though. Right now I can't think of any.

    I link compassion to a sort of personal mercy. It may be impossible (and undesirable) for them to receive actual mercy from the courts or judges, but I may grant them mercy in my own mind. Taking into account their particular circumstances--or simply refusing to stand in judgment on them--I choose compassion over hatred or anger. Sometimes I do this, but not regularly.

    I do often feel pity for despicable people. I feel sorry for them. It doesn't make me want to protect them from the consequences of their wrongdoing, though. I pity them because they've become twisted and ugly and broken; because they are so much less than they could have been. Even if they enjoyed committing their atrocities and aren't the least bit sorry, I feel regret on their behalf. They repulse me, and it makes me a bit sad that another human being could become so repulsive.

  4. #34
    Senior Member nottaprettygal's Avatar
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    Personally, I never feel sympathy for the "despicable." I am, however, able to empathize. If I were to sympathize with someone, it would imply that I feel what another person is feeling. I have no objective way of knowing whether or not that is true in any given situation.

    However, when I empathize with those considered to be the lowest of the low, all it means is that I have an understanding of how they feel (or in the case of sociopaths, how they do not feel). Empathy allows for objectivity and distance, and that's where I feel most comfortable.

  5. #35
    Senior Member meshou's Avatar
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    I used to, but I think it came from a need to understand and make safe.

    Now, I'm a lot more action-oriented. I think there's enough room in humanity to include some people who don't deserve any sympathy.
    Let's do this thing.

  6. #36
    Senior Member Alienclock's Avatar
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    I sometimes feel for some sorry bad guy, but then it creeps me out because I imagine that those types will sense it and become attracted to me, and then on day I will go to see what my husband is working on in the basement, and there I will find stuffed bodies or somethin... me no likey.
    "May our ability to smell be greater than our propensity to stink."

  7. #37
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen View Post
    Well yeah, obviously. But those kids aren't despicable, so it's not the same sort of thing that I'm talking about. I definitely feel sympathy for them as well, but I don't think that they're demonized (because they haven't done anything horrifying).
    Horrifying no, but demonized and despicable, I think yes, or at least portrayed that way. It's harder to forgive someone that seems be a bad seed than someone who has deep psychological problems that can explain away behavior. The assumption is there MUST being something wrong with the person committing the extremely violent crime. Sometimes I wish people would be more forgiving to people who commit smaller (less horrific?) acts of violence and crime instead of saving it up for sensational crimes. The rarity of chopping up your neighbor and freezing the body parts to seeing kids on the news at night hardens the heart toward the kids. I see people behind this just as much as people behind serial killers. If someone can feel sympathy for one then is it so much to do the same thing for the other? Does this same, "I wonder what happened to them to make them this way" happen for people on the nightly news?

    I think it also may be some denial. No one wants to believe that a person who does horrible things is normal. That means they could be a coworker, neighbor, or a family member. Better to label them as dysfunctional than face the fact that they may be just like you and me.

    Quote Originally Posted by toonia
    Before we forgive the sadist, it is important to start by forgiving the minor grievances people have committed against us.
    This is basically my point.

  8. #38
    Senior Member meshou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    I think it also may be some denial. No one wants to believe that a person who does horrible things is normal. That means they could be a coworker, neighbor, or a family member. Better to label them as dysfunctional than face the fact that they may be just like you and me.
    I used to think this too.

    Then I realized that no, I genuinely am not much like a person who stabbed a guy in the eyeball, in that I have not stabbed a guy in the eyeball, nor would I. And really, for how "normal" such behavior is supposed to be, there are an awful lot of people who go all their lives without doing such things. Without even real temptation to do such things.

    Like it or not, there usually is something wrong with someone comitting a crime voilent enough to make it on the news.

    They can be a coworker, family member, etc. But no, people do not go from passive and thought out to impulsive and violent without warning. They do not go from laid back and giving to controlling and obsessive.
    Let's do this thing.

  9. #39
    Member s0532's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen View Post
    Though I always feel deep sadness for victims and am a proponent for justice (whatever that means - I am against the death penalty as a general rule, which I don't want to debate with anybody, but I do acknowledge the need for consequences/punishments), I also find that I am overwhelmed frequently with sympathy and compassion for the despicable people who commit horrific crimes--people who go on shooting sprees, mothers who kill their children, child molesters, etc. I suppose that these are the main types of despicable folks who I feel compassion for, and I guess that it's because I assume that they must suffer a great deal to do the horrible things they do. I always feel defensive for them when I hear people (or the media) demonize them, because there had to be real human pain there. I don't want to make excuses for the horror that they cause, but I don't want to disregard the humanity of these despicable people.

    Am I alone?
    I couldn't say I feel compassionately toward perpetrators in any meaningful way, but demonization and scorn tend to irritate me also, precisely because they often seem heaped without motivation/ life experience/ perhaps suffering being fully known, weighed or even acknowledged. Particularly with televised news of tragic events, at a certain point, footage of suffering loved ones can seem less like documenting misfortune and more like engineering hate- mass conditioning of emotional responses in the vein of "see this poor person, this other person baad." As if enough hate will accomplish some feat of healing.

  10. #40
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    I have no sympathy for people who commit horrible crimes such as mass murder, child molestation, etc. They get what they deserve.

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