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Viewing entries tagged with 'sympathy'

My 17,000 pageviews of 2013

Posted by Philip on 13 December 2013, 2:23 pm in , , , , , , , ,

Today is officially my last day of work until February so I thought I'd look back through my five most popular posts of the year.

5. Understanding disability from a place of empathy

The fifth most read post on my blog in 2013 was one I actually wrote way back in February 2012, where I wanted to encourage, in the disability social change space, empathy in place of sympathy. When considering the difference between empathy (understanding) and sympathy (pity), I got thinking about the astounding amount of sympathy or pity people display about the experience of disability.

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From sympathy to empathy – understanding disability

Posted by Philip on 2 February 2012, 5:48 pm in , , , ,

I'm currently reading a very interesting book — "I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power", by TEDster Brene Brown. The book's core themes are the causes and connections between shame, courage, empathy and compassion.

One of the sub-themes Brown talks about is the difference between empathy (understanding) and sympathy (pity). Instantly I got thinking about the astounding amount of sympathy or pity people display about the experience of disability.

Brown says sympathy conveys the idea that you could not possibly understand someone's experience, while also implying that you are glad you cannot. "In most cases, when we give sympathy we do not reach across to understand the world as others see it," she writes. "Inherent in sympathy is, 'I don't understand your world, but from this view things look pretty bad.'"

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