Empathy vs. Sympathy

cheerful1_gwMay 16, 2006

What's the difference between the two? Do they go hand in hand, or can you be one without the other?

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Empathy is the projection of your personality into someone else's in order to understand the situation better. It's basically thinking "If I was in your shoes, how would I feel?" Sympathy is feeling the same as another person. They do not always go hand in hand.

For example, if you had a friend who was gambled her and her spouse's life savings away, and he got angry and left her, you might try to put yourself into her situation to better understand and comfort her. However, she may not believe that her husband should have left her, and you may think she got what she deserved, so you don't sympathize with her. Dramatic example, but you see the point. You could also sympathize with someone without empathizing with them. Say a friend lost someone close in a car accident. You would also feel very sad for your friend, without having to imagine the death of your loved one.

Sympathy and empathy could go together. If your (increasingly unfortunate) friend lost her job you may both sympathize and empathize with her.

Hope that was a little clear.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 6:14PM
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Last time I was at the book store I noticed they had a vast selection of dictionaries. As do libraries.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 8:16PM
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What a brilliant example Meghane, well done.

Do you think we are all capable of empathy ?

Do we have to learn empathy ?

I have noticed that some people are more empathetic than others, in fact I am so inclinded..it drives me insane sometimes, because I can feel how everyone else feels. Even on the news, those terrible stories of war. I sit there and cry, sometimes.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 10:30PM
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