Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sympathy and Empathy

“Sympathy” and “Empathy”

In my college days – in the early 1970s – and – in the pre-internet days – till the end 1990s – I would always carry a diary with me whenever I visited a library – to note down any interesting information (or quote) for future reference.

This morning while browsing through one of my old diaries – I found this jotting:


I was always confused about the meanings of “Sympathy” and “Empathy” - do they mean the same thing – or – are they different – and – if so – what is the difference between “sympathy” and “Empathy”.  

I was surprised to see that many dictionaries treat “sympathy” and “empathy” as synonyms.

So – when I found the meaning of the two words (“sympathy” and “empathy”) explained clearly somewhere – I jotted it down in my diary (surprisingly – I did not jot down the reference like I usually do).

“Sympathy” is derived from the Greek word “sympatheia” – which means “sharing feelings”.

“Empathy” is derived from the German word “einfulung” – which means “feeling into”.

When you sympathize with people – you get emotionally involved with those persons – since – you “share their feelings”.  

When you empathize with people – you understand their feelings – but – you do not get emotionally involved.

So – in “sympathy” – the emotional aspect is predominant.

And – in “empathy” – the perceptive aspect is predominant. 

If you want to empathize – you must remove emotion from sympathy.

Thus  “empathy” is “sympathy” minus the emotion 

In a nutshell: 


Dear Reader: Do You Agree…?

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