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Could Empathy be considered the wiser, more mature cousin of sympathy?

It seems to me sympathy is more like an ego thing(feeling sorry for someone with the idea that I’m glad it’s not me?) while empathy seems to have more of a spiritual side; it seems to have deeper roots(to not just feel sympathy but to actually connect with someone’s suffering because we all suffer and feel pain so we know how it is).

Is there a vast difference between the two or are they just different degrees of the same thing?

10 Comments

  • Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone. Pity. Their cat died. They look sad. Poor them.

    Empathy is understanding the feelings. Putting yourself in their shoes. If I had a cat for 14 years, who died in my arms after suffering a stroke, I would feel empty and helpless. I would probably cry too.

    They are different because sympathy is a fast reaction to another’s emotional show. Empathy uses more thought, more reaction.

  • Lol .. try to stay out of astrology on this ..

    I feel the differring degrees of same is correct … there are times and cycles where people can peak in these qualities even to the degree of actually “healing” .. physically and emotionally … alignments give us varying “gifts” with these ..

  • I think the diffrence is in the intentions.
    Someone may have sympathy for us when things go wrong and that is okay, but it is nowhere close to qualify as humane. Whereas if your intentions is to help then you wouldn’t have much time for sympathy in the first place.
    To say that a virtue such as empathy is pathetic is a fine demonstration of the patheticness of intellectual corruption, it means you don’t realise how much you have in you to give, which is alot and you can never know unless until you become a little more generous yourself. Empathy is fruit of very hard labour, the empathetic ones are my fave peoples,think Gandhi.

    Empathy is the only thing that which can save the human race , that is if we still care to save it instead on jumping up on the next best intellectual bandwagon, riding on the en vogue dogmas rather than choosing plain old Goodness. The survival of the fittest theory is the bane of humanistic pursuits. It is in fact pathetic, and pathetic folks buy into it. Machoism stinks.

  • actually they r different degrees of the same thing since they sort of deal wit ur feelings!!!!!!!

  • Empathy is where you relate to someone’s emotions, feel their emotions alongside them. Sympathy is where you feel sorrow and grief over someone else’s sorrow and grief (and not necessarily for selfish reasons). There are times where you can’t really empathize with someone because you can’t relate to the feeling. For example, if someone had a close friend who committed suicide and you’d never lost anyone close to you, it’d be almost impossible to empathize. Same would be true if you’re friend became a quadraplegic and you’ve never experienced any real handicaps in your life. Therefore, the best you can offer in those cases is your deepest sympathy. Essentially, empathy is where you feel their emotion along with them and give them comfort by letting them know that they’re not alone while sympathy is where you basically give them comfort by wishing them well. In either case, you’re offering comfort. I agree that empathy is more personal and more intimate than sympathy, but there are occasions where empathy isn’t possible and sympathy will just have to do.

  • Its like sympathy is the overburdening friend who preaches about how $hit your life is and you must be crap but all’s ok coz i’m here for you.
    Whereas empathy is the friend who puts themselves in your shoes and suffers with you carrying and thus halving the burden.

  • Empathy takes identification with the other.
    Which seems to be hubris or magic if you ask me.

    Either is, well, pathetic. Which I doubt is compatible with wisdom.
    Sympatico isn’t nice. Screw all that obsolete obsequiousness. Tell it like it is~~~~~~~~~

  • Empathy is wiser than sympathy because sympathy denotes superiority in the one who is sympathetic. Empathy, on the other hand, lets us feel as if we were the other person (Mirror Neurons!!) so that we can find a wiser solution to their problem, since the problem becomes tangable when in our perspective. Sympathy = aww, you are sad, that sucks, but I gotta go now. Empathy = I understand what you are going through, try to concentrate on “blah” or work on “blah” to get you through it.. With empathy, we are put in their shoes and can help more effectivly because their problem is more clear to us, it is presented within out own context. My 2 cents.

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