THE FATBOY SHOW: The Tyranny of Empathy

Posted on 07/02/2024

People often confuse Empathy with Compassion.

Emotion researchers generally define empathy as the ability to sense other people's emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.

Having empathy is not directly related to whether or not one may act kindly towards another. Empathy just means that when you see another person suffering, you are able to instantly envision yourself going through that same experience and feel what they are going through. It doesn't mean you will necessarily do anything to alleviate their pain, or that you will even feel bad for them. There is also nothing to stop you from adding to their pain either, as an empathetic person. In fact some of the cruelest people are deeply empathetic. Sadists, for example, have tremendous empathy for their victims. It is PRECISELY because they know EXACTLY how painful it must be for you, that they enjoy causing you misery.

The word you are looking for to describe a kind-hearted person is Compassionate. Compassion is the desire to take action to help the other person.

Empathy is a just state of mind. It is merely your perceptiveness of the pain of others. It is morally neutral, and it doesn't necessarily mean you care about others. Sometimes it's the opposite.

Compassion is the actual virtue. It means not only are you aware that someone is suffering, but you also feel sorry for them and, most importantly, actually want to help them and relieve them of that suffering, and you are actively taking steps to do so.

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