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A definition of empathy

A definition of empathy

The German word for empathy is "Einfühlung" and was coined in the late 1800s. It means "feeling into."

Empathy is about understanding other people's feelings. Some think empathy means the ability to read fellow human beings or simply feeling connected to people. Others see it as a moral stance about showing concern for others.

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Psychologists point out that defining empathy as the act of stepping into someone's mind to experience their feeling can lead to some tricky moral dilemmas.

  • Empathy is about stepping into someone's shoes.
  • Compassion is a feeling of concern for another person's suffering, which moves the person to help.

In recent years, researchers have found that misplaced empathy can lead to exhaustion and apathy, and prevent you from helping the people who need you.

We naturally have more empathy for people closer to us. Our empathy and affinity for others decline the further people are from us.

While shared happiness is a very pleasant state, sharing someone's suffering, such as a loved one, can be very difficult.

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