Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sympathy vs. empathy (part 2)

My response:
Ha, hard to know if we're bad people, what does that even mean? I definitely think we can feel genuine sympathy or sadness, though. Sympathy just means feeling sorry for them, and has nothing to do with feeling what they feel or whatever else empathy is supposed to mean. I feel sorry for people when something bad happens to them or they cry or are otherwise struggling because I know what it feels like to have something bad happen to you, and it can be heart wrenching. I think we understand emotions a lot better than people think we do, but I also think that our understanding isn't too good unless/until we have experienced that exact same emotion, gone through that exact same experience before. At least for me, the more I can see other people as myself (i.e. the more they mirror me or my own past experiences), the better I can understand them. That doesn't seem strange or disturbing to me, but they keep telling me that there is this magic empathy thing that people are somehow born with a magical sense that allows them to feel what others are feeling naturally.
Yes I understand what you mean. I truthfully think we sociopaths have a higher understanding of human emotion than most normal people do. Maybe because we spend so much time trying to analyze it to understand it. I think we are very emotionally intuitive and can pick up on when someone is lying or bullshitting us, or at least I can. I can meet people and within 5 minutes know what kind of person they are. This comes to my aid a lot when it comes to friendships...I know so many things about these people, they don't even realize I pick up on it. It's like you always know their intentions. I like this being able to 'read' people quality. It certainly helps with life.

As for sympathy, I can relate to an emotion someone is having as in...I understand it perfectly...though since it's not me going through it, I tend to not care. It doesn't mean I want them to suffer, I just have no feelings towards it at all.


  1. Stop worrying so much about whether you really feel things. I highly doubt there is even an 'empath' on this planet who has never thought "Is this really what I feel, or am I just pretending because I know this is the role I'm meant to play?"

    Also, when aspies attempt to understand someone's emotional state by likening it to their own past experiences, it's fucking annoying. I assume socios are better at it, or at least, they're less vocal about their comparisons.

    Really, as long as you're willing to pretend like you care, you're probably just as 'good' a person as someone who actually cares.

  2. There is a definite difference between what you describe, and empathy. I know how to feel sorry for people, and if someone I love is sad, I feel bad for them because they are sad, but I don't feel sad in their place, or in sympathy. This is what the magical empathy is. I think guilt and empathy have a strong relationship too, as I witness people I know beat themselves up and feel awful for something they did or said that may have been innocuous, and their reason for feeling awful is "Yes, but I wouldn't have liked it if someone had said that to me". I always find that perplexing. You're not the same as that other person, so what's the big deal? Maybe my inability to feel guilt is linked in with my inability to empathise. I do sometimes see an abundance of empathy to be a set-back to some people; a fear of not just hurting someone, but the fear that this in turn will hurt yourself. I don't have that function. That middle man is missing.
    I'm glad you pointed out that we can still feel sympathy. I do, and I have met other SPs that talk about theirs. It's a fine line.

  3. Sounds like sociopaths can almost empathize with each other.

  4. I think sympathy is a feeling I have when I see others have no control over their situation and it hurts them and I fear being in that situation or I have experienced it myself and know it hurts. Empathy is more of "I feel what you feel and I'm going to use it to control you so I can fix you and feel good aboout myself." But I could be wrong..

  5. Yes, being able to pick up on the sensibilities of others is a useful skill. I got my first job a few days ago, and I'm going to quit it in a few days from now, when I find out about how not only does the company abuse its employees, but how they expect me to abuse my clients and pressure them into giving me the contacts of their friends and families. The fact the manager talks about the Jewish community as a goldmine, and me being an active member of the community, that should allow me to evoke a little sympathy from my fellow congregants. And when I tell my plans to them, they'll encourage me to go through with it (as I'll bring up the ethical objections I'll have) and maybe even receive a job offer with steady pay. Score!

    What's up with the linux picture though? Is ME trying to equate sociopathy with being the clone of the UNIX operating system? Or is he trying to show off a little penguin-pride?

    And my captcha was phatie. I'm too lazy to look for meaning there though.

  6. Again, reader, you arent describing anything that takes more than two brain cells to comprehend or pull off. Anyone can do what you do, empath or not..
    Please ME, stop publishing this rhetoric. LOL.

  7. Good days and bad days I guess. Somedays I'm so into pretending I care even I think I do. On bad days I'd just avoid you because I need to maintain my image but don't want to put forth effort so I'll let the past speak for itself and fake like I don't notice you fishing for consoling words about your problem you can solve or wrap your emotions around.

    I can see today is a bad day. I'm tired, I'm sore, and my stomach doesn't feel well either. Those are feelings I know. I'm contemplating meditation or medication, I've been pretending to care enough people are thinking I'm susceptible to being manipulated. This certainly won't do. Tomorrow I need to focus and play the game well, get things refined, time to make a few gears turns inside their pretty little heads.

    Tomorrow will be a good day.

    PS- It was a kind of related comment at first, but I agree with OMFG. This post feels like an introduction at a Sociopaths Anonymous meeting.

    "Hi my name is Nunya Biznis and I'm a sociopath."

  8. I don't understand why everyone thinks being heartless is so dramatic--or even worth talking about. You're the only one responsible for your own wellbeing, so you'd better seize every opportunity. If other people don't live up to their duty to keep themselves happy--and protect themselves from you--well, that's on them. It's not a mysterious philosophy, nor is it glorious or glamorous.

    So uhm, cool. You're heartless. Want a cookie for your rant?

  9. Any kind of cookie I want? LOL

  10. that doesn't seem strange or disturbing to me, but they keep telling me that there is this magic empathy thing that people are somehow born with a magical sense that allows them to feel what others are feeling naturally.

    i can pick up what others are feeling from the tone of the voice, eyes, body language, and i will feel with them. but is that really empathy? if the person means nothing to me, the sadness or whatever it is they're feeling vanishes when they are gone.

    isn't empathy about seeing yourself in the other person, as well as experiencing (or understanding) the feelings they are going through? in which case M.E., i think you have empathy.

  11. I never have figured out what empathy is exactly. When I see something horrible happen to another person, I cringe because I imagine myself in their place. That's putting myself in their shoes, right? Then again, that doesn't mean I actually care about the other person because I'm still making the situation all about me. Sometimes I even feel badly for hurting other people but not badly enough to sacrifice my own personal gain. I don't think I'm a sociopath, but I think I definitely have undiagnosed narcissistic personality disorder. I think sociopaths are more impulsive than narcissists.

  12. Occasionally I wish I could empathize with friends in tough time, as it'd certainly make my role in the human experience much easier..especially when I have to attempt to console or empathize via text or email, which leaves me at a loss since even trying to mentally put myself in their place brings nothing to mind, just blank numbness and slight boredom.


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