Sunday, July 26, 2009

Empathy

Empathy is the risky travail of mining into the tenderpoints of our shared psyche. It may produce a diamond connection to another, but the journey of peeling away defenses which ward off the possibility of being hurt during an emotional expedition such as this may be too fraught with danger.

We all have the capacity to feel alongside another while recognizing we can't resolve the problem or take away the sad event. Well, some can't. For one reason or another, they live with a mental illness categorized as a Personality Disorder. Empathy is not possible. But aside from those folks, whom I try to remain out of harm's way from, as they are the very best at charming you with their emotional manipulation, we all have it in us to imagine with our emotions what it must be like to walk in the shoes of another human being.

Some choose not to. Why?

There is no simple explanation. Their individual stories most likely hold the answer. Whatever the reason is, the risk of feeling with such ferosity shouts out with fear inside them, putting on the brakes. Empathy is a risk they can't afford to feel. Instead, it is locked inside a primitive box along with vulnerability, sorrow and grief. Sadly, kindness, joy and compassion have been packed away too.

What is left is a person who refuses to wake up to the chance to love like they've never been hurt. It seems like half a life to me.

12 comments:

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

So well put Dana....Your words are chosen and put together with such skill and depth and feeling....You paint a clear picture and I sit and nod my head...."TES, Indeed!"

Awareness said...

Thank you Naomi. We were talking about this last night over dinner...identifying a few people we know who are very uncomfortable in the face of someone else's pain. It got me thinking... :)

Sophie said...

Excellent post, and so very true about that kind of life being only half a life! I'd much rather experience both the joys and sorrows of life than forsake one to prevent the other.

Marja said...

Great post Very beautifully written
I've members in my family who are very clever, gifted but who just don't get the empathy thing
Eventhough they don't have all the symptomps I think they are close to Asperger
Interpersonal skills is one form of intelligence and I think some people just have a learning disability in this area like others have one in language or math.

Kay said...

"it seems like half a life to me"....unexpected and so relatable, I feared you had found the secret to living life as if you have never been hurt before, and I was alone on an island, until that line...

Jeeves said...

Well said

Awareness said...

Sophie...I'm with you. There are some though that truly fear the intensity of emotions, don't they? the try to maintain a sense of decorum by remaining on some kind of even keel. Then, when something happens, their ability to cope and to express themselves isn't available to them.

Marja....Thank you for bringing up Aspbergers. I had completely forgotten to mention how difficult it is with someone who is living with this to be empathic. It does not come natural.

Kay...no i havent. :) YOu are on that island with all of us. It comes down to how we react and respond to the hurt I think is key. but, its damn hard!

Jeeves...thanks.

Sherry said...

This is a beautifully crafted small piece, Dana. Some people seem to be missing this component entirely, but I've always been puzzled by the people who deliberately lock this emotion away.

I love the photo, also.

Selma said...

Without empathy we are almost less than human. I also know a few people who will shy away from what they call 'the dark subjects.' It is disconcerting because you know, not everything is lollipops and roses. Very well written post, Dana.

Awareness said...

Sherry....I often wonder too if it is wrapped in a fear of letting their guard down. To feel is to feel vulnerable, and some people choose to remain closed and stoic as a defence.

Selma...And if life were all lollipops and roses, we'd grow tired of it. Or perhaps, we wouldn't even be able to recognize them as they should be because we've never experienced (fully) the opposite.

Mark said...

Great subject. Yes, those who limit themselves to not being hurt will limit their opportunities to experience the full passion of love. To live in fear is to not live fully.

Gilly said...

I think Marja has hit thenail on the head. Asperger's symptoms are a continuum, and I am sure the lack of empathy shown by some maybe a hint of being at the beginning of the range of symptoms.