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ToughDiamond
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30 Sep 2008, 11:16 am

mysterious_misfit wrote:
ToughDiamond wrote:
I only discovered the difference between empathy and sympathy today, so it's too early to tell. It seems that sympathy is when you've "been there," empathy is when you haven't been there but can imagine what it must be like, and you feel their pain or anxiety via that connection. Trouble is, I can't think of any bad situation I haven't been in at one time or another! There must be some corner of hell I haven't visited?


Loss of a child? My friend had a stillborn earlier this year. I've never been in that position, but I do have children. I have wept bitterly for my friend and that poor little soul. I still do sometimes.


Losing a child is a thing I never experienced. A neighbour had that happen, but we're not close. I didn't feel much, though I was aware that the mother was probably feeling something very bad indeed. It was a bit difficult because I'd often wished she'd not let her existing kids run riot disturbing my peace so often, and I've always had a vague dislike of the whole family, so I couldn't help but think "at least it'll be less noisy now." I felt guilty for thinking that. I kept my house quiet for them as some kind of mark of respect. I at least knew something very painful must be going on. But she just carried on. Who knows? Once I noticed her sitting on her doorstep telling anybody around who would listen that her husband had gone to see his girlfriend. What got me was her nonchalance, she seemed just mildly annoyed 8O Thick-skinned, or repressing her true feelings, I don't know. I guess empathy can't really be done without the relevent information. And I honestly don't think I care much about people I don't know, though it doesn't take much contact to make me want to protect them.

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But I am 'empathy impaired'. I don't always feel empathy, and I have an especially hard time deciphering motivation. I feel like I just have no ability to be socially competetive. Maybe because it just takes me so long to comprehend speech. I can't keep up with a conversation. I offend people a lot, by good intentions. :(

Socially competitive - is that a good thing? I'm a raving socialist who views competitive behaviour as enmity, unless it's done in a controlled way. I don't disapprove of a competitive game, but for instance, if I join a group and there's nobody making sure nobody gets left out, I feel they've let the whole group down.



violet_yoshi
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30 Sep 2008, 12:07 pm

Saffy wrote:
My husband has an interesting experience of this .. he is almost hyper-empathic ( which is not a real word I know )
E.g if I am really upset.. he becomes so upset that I am upset.. he will react one of two ways.. he either shuts down, because he cannot cope with my pain/hurt or he becomes really anxious. Occasionally he will react with anger.
He does feel empathy, but does not express it in a way that would be typical for an NT. He becomes so overwhelmed by it , that he cannot focus on me ( the person who is hurt or upset) he can only focus on his own reaction. So it it not that it is not felt.. in fact it is felt too much to the point of not coping with it.

If things are perhaps not so intense.. he will hardly notice, unless i point it out to him, in which case he is normally apologetic, but it does not seem to register unless it is a strong emotion and then the reaction is unexpected ( at least from my point of view)

I wonder if any of you have similar experiences ?


That sounds exactly like my dad.



Kris94
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30 Sep 2008, 12:17 pm

:| i dont lack empathy at all dont know why tho rly

:nerdy:



Morgana
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30 Sep 2008, 3:31 pm

This may sound silly, but it was only very recently that I learned that "empathy" meant that you have to feel the exact same feeling as the other person...I guess I learned that word by osmosis, never looked it up in the dictionary, so I didn´t know. As it is, I`ll usually have a feeling, but a different one from what the person is feeling. For instance, if someone I care about is upset, I may just feel love for them, or the desire to help, but I cannot "get into" their feeling.

I do, however, feel empathy for children, particularly if they are being bullied or out-casted. Maybe because I´ve been there...


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wrongchild
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30 Sep 2008, 8:18 pm

Leila wrote:
I have (what I take to be) massive empathy for my cats and for my housemate's dog.


I have extreme empathy for animals including insects. I remembered when I was a child once I killed a butterfly by accident then I stared to cry. I buried him and sang a
requiem for him, hoping that he could enter heaven.



tomboy4good
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30 Sep 2008, 9:53 pm

I am able to have empathy but it really all depends on the situation.


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Aurore
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30 Sep 2008, 11:18 pm

Sometimes empathy for me is overwhelming; sometimes it isn't there at all. I always, however, possess sympathy.

Strangely enough my strongest empathetic feelings are often for fictional characters. There are scenes on TV that I can't watch because I'm so embarrassed for a character (when I'm watching Monk for example), and scenes where I see sadness in a person and then feel so bad myself that I can't sleep (like with Criminal Intent).

When a friend is sad I can't stand it, I do all I can to make them feel better. But they have to tell me something is wrong first, I can't just pick up on their distress automatically the way I can for some reason with fictional TV people (maybe because even the best actors exaggerate?).

So generally it's a very intense sympathetic feeling I have, not an empathetic one.


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Malsane
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30 Sep 2008, 11:51 pm

I'm not sure if I do. I do care. I care very much for non-human animals, and humans I don't know. Humans I like or don't know very well I care about. If there is a human I'm not fond of who is hurt, I'll still help them out. I don't like suffering of any kind, and derive no pleasure from the misfortune of others. I'll probably feel worse if a friend or family member is hurt somehow than if a random person or enemy is, but that is to be expected.

I care about suffering, but I can't always tell when something is wrong. So I care, but I am not really empathic at all. I'm very similar to Aurore.

If empathizing involves knowing how the other person feels, I don't think I can. How can I be sure I know how the other person feels? I am not them, and have a different mind and life from them, so I can't really know how they are feeling. Sometimes I can relate similar feelings or experiences, but I don't think it's really possible to know how another feels.



dougn
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01 Oct 2008, 12:01 am

It's interesting how many people here have strong empathy for non-human animals. I don't.



Malsane
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01 Oct 2008, 12:02 am

Do you have empathy with humans? Humans are very confusing. Animals just talk to me. I understand them much better. They like me, and I like them.



Aurore
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01 Oct 2008, 12:10 am

Malsane wrote:
Do you have empathy with humans? Humans are very confusing. Animals just talk to me. I understand them much better. They like me, and I like them.


Me too; I get on very well with cats and dogs and if I see them in distress I crumble. Other animals affect me too; for example, there was a rabbit trapped under my fence once and its leg was torn open by some animal. I couldn't stand how much pain it was obviously in, and I slowly eased it out from under the fence. I'd originally expected it would freak out and I'd just let it go, but it actually seemed to calm down, and I just cradled it crying for 45 minutes as my mom called for the Wildlife Rescue people to come for it. In retrospect I wonder if it was a domesticated bunny, it seemed so socialized to people.


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Malsane
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01 Oct 2008, 12:18 am

Huh, I have a similar experience. Oddly enough, it was a bird with a concussion, and I had one as well. Some horrible kids (I was in high school) were throwing this poor bird against a wall, and it was so confused that it couldn't fly away. So I told the boys off, picked up the bird, and went searching for a science teacher to tell me what was wrong with the bird. The bird wasn't seriously injured, so it was okay. I just held the bird gently and stroked it a little bit. You have to be very careful with birds because of their hollow bones. It was just a little sparrow. So cute!

It's kind of horrible when my cats catch bunnies or something. I can feel the intense desire for the predator to hunt, and I understand that cats play with their food to keep their hunting skills sharp by practicing on something that moves, but can't escape. I also feel the terror and pain of their prey. Once I stopped my cat from toying with a bunny. It ran away, then I realized it would only die later from its injuries. Now I let them finish what they start, and if they don't, I do. It's horrible, but it's the most merciful thing I can do.



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01 Oct 2008, 12:33 am

I have no lack of empathy.

Because when Steve Irwin died, and his public memorial service was held in Oz, I cried during his daughter's speech.
When she said the lines: "I have the best dad in the world. Whenever I see a crocodile, I'll think of him." I started sobbing.

Stereotypes...jeez.


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Malsane
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01 Oct 2008, 12:35 am

Steve Irwin is amazing. I usually don't cry when appropriate, but I understand feeling upset about that whole affair.



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01 Oct 2008, 12:40 am

Malsane wrote:
Steve Irwin is amazing. I usually don't cry when appropriate, but I understand feeling upset about that whole affair.


Yeah, he was awesome. I was in shock. Forget his talent with animals, I mean, he was one helluva person. And he had a gift in life and he lived it to its full extent. I have such deep appreciation for him.


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