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Schrödinger's Pussy
Observing a box has never been this much fun
Life Lesson #866 (previously learned) 
31st-Mar-2007 07:11 am
Muddy Hands
Statement: I am in pain.

Sympathy: I'm sorry. I can only imagine how that feels for you.

Empathy: Oh. How uncomfortable. I can feel your pain.

Narcissism: My pain is bigger than yours. How can you expect me to think about you when I feel like this?
Comments 
31st-Mar-2007 02:45 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, your examples aside, the line between empathy and narcissism can be thin and subjective. Is someone using an anecdote about their own pain to illustrate why their empathy is credible, or are they telling an anecdote to one-up you?
31st-Mar-2007 03:06 pm (UTC)
I think, if you know the person, you can spot the difference. One of my dearest friends was in a horrific accident a number of years ago. When I cracked up my wrist joint, she had plenty of stories she shared, and not one of them was used to say "look how much worse off I was." Quite the opposite, it bonded us more sharing healing stories.

Another very close friend at the time was having emotional pain that became bigger than my physical pain and I was berated for not attending to that while trying to adjust to my own healing in the early stages of my injury.

This post was just my observation on the differences between reactions in those three categories.
31st-Mar-2007 08:20 pm (UTC) - Quantifying Pain
I think that everyone has different tolerances for pain - and for different types of pain.
I can take the pain of a broken bone better than being scolded by the wrong person.
Some people can't take seeing others in pain or disabled by injury or disease - often the same people would take a bullet for you without a second thought.
1st-Apr-2007 03:43 am (UTC) - Re: Quantifying Pain
I agree with all you said. My post was an observation about how people react to another's pain. Mostly oversimplified into the three categories I listed, which seems to be the most common reactions to a person in pain.

So, how long have you been lurking out there?
1st-Apr-2007 07:21 pm (UTC) - Re: Quantifying Pain
Lurking is one of those Internet words I've never really resolved my feeling about.

Your post piqued my interest because it was about labels - useful designators, that I consider a necessary evil because they allow us to name and forget - placing the subject of the label in a form of stasis... like a fly in amber.

I enjoy meeting and interacting with people that are less easy to quantify... that are less predictable. (It helps ME grow, because, after all, these posts really ARE all about me - I love your journal title.)

I think that we do the 'labeling thing' to ourselves at LEAST as much as we do it to others.
My observation about predictability in an individual is that it is a sign of dysfunction. Healthy people can be creative and original. Dysfunctional people are stuck with the same old responses - even to new situations.
Like you said, an over-simplification and broad generalization... but one that I have found useful.
1st-Apr-2007 10:12 pm (UTC) - Re: Quantifying Pain
excuse me if I *SQUEEEE* for a moment. *grin*

While you couldn't really know this, I attempted to use lurking in an ingratiating way. Mostly, I was a little bummed that I hadn't noticed the friending and was trying to figure out when you started reading.

I loved your response. So many wonderful ideas to play with. If I may, I'd like to offer a label for you. It'd simply say "Gets it!"

Very nice to meet you.

I like labels. Some people out there really squirm when I use a label on them that doesn't fit their convenient high horse trail. Too bad, really. I love, LOVE, the idea that you express about a label allowing us to name and forget. I need to bump up the "forget" portion of that equation.

It tickles me so that you like the journal title. Again, some people got mightily annoyed by it, but it's the truth. And I don't think that's a bad thing.

I love experiencing a wide range of life, from views to emotions to tastes. It makes it all so much more vibrant.
1st-Apr-2007 12:01 am (UTC)
What kind of pain is it? Is it just from the rain?
1st-Apr-2007 03:45 am (UTC)
Not my pain. Not now, anyway. It was just an observation about how people react to someone else's pain. And that some people confuse sympathy and empathy. Oddly, it's often the narcissist that claims they are an empath.
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