Discussion in 'Braaaaiiiinnnns...' started by Re Allyssa, Feb 10, 2016.

  1. Re Allyssa

    Re Allyssa Sylph of Heart

    [I'll change the title if someone gives me a better one]

    So, a thread for what it is or isn't. Or if you experience it or not. Or whatever else.
    • Like x 1
  2. Re Allyssa

    Re Allyssa Sylph of Heart

    Hmm, so I've been confused about my empathy response for a while.
    I can't tell if I have high empathy or low empathy.

    I'm really good at reading people and helping people based on those readings. I'm very sensitive to other people's emotions. I'm good at knowing (guessing) what other people are feeling. But I don't think I actually feel those things? The only time I get a response directly from how other people are feelings it's usually my anxiety to their anger. which doesn't count as far as I can tell?

    I feel bad when other people are sad, but I don't feel sad myself, I think.

    I also tend to go into problem solving mode when my friends are upset. ("How can I make them less upset the fastest? Of course! Reason your way out!" This doesn't always work, of course. I've found that most people don't mind. When I notice I'm doing it, I'll go "sorry if you weren't looking for advice. I can just make sympathy noises if you'd like!" and they usually go "nah that's okay. this is helping.") I guess I wouldn't be as good at doing that if I was feeling their feelings?

    Oh also, shows like Wipeout are hilarious to me. If someone gets minorly hurt I'll laugh while asking if they're okay. If it's more serious, I go into problem solving mode. Once in awhile I'll get that mirror feeling though, it just doesn't always happen.

  3. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    So, there's several different things involved, and a lot of the psych research is talking specifically about "experience things you see other people experience" (to varying degrees), and not at all about compassion or concern, while most informal usage talks about "being able to think about what other people want or need" as "empathy". And that creates a lot of conflicts, I think?
    • Like x 2
  4. SpruceZeus

    SpruceZeus 2 spoopy 2 live, 2 creppy 2 die

    I had no idea that 'affective empathy' was even a thing, I don't experience it at all. However, I would never have considered at all that I 'lack empathy' because i still do feel a great deal of sympathy towards people, and I was never all that clear on the difference between sympathy and empathy anyway.
  5. chaoticArbiter

    chaoticArbiter an actual shiny eevee (destroyer of worlds)

    I don't...know if I experience empathy, now that I'm really thinking about it.
  6. sicknastyspades

    sicknastyspades Most Rad.

    I don't have empathy*. I care about people being sad precisely to the extent which it impacts me, which in practise means precisely to the extent that they talk to me about it because wow stop talking about the boring thing and make fun noises already.
    I try to act like a nice person because it's what I've found to be most beneficial to me. Sad people are boring, happy people are interesting. Sometimes sad people can be interesting in the short-term but it is always a terrible terrible long-term plan. I want to live in a world with a maximum number of interesting things in it so therefore I try to do what I can to maximise happiness.
    This was a 100% selfish decision for me when I first made it and any moral reasoning came several years later, by which I mean I only started figuring it out very recently. I'm pretty sure I would have warped my moral reasoning to fit my conclusion no matter what it was but fortunately "people should be happy" is a good starting point for morality and I don't think I ended up too badly.

    The distinction I make between sympathy and empathy has always been that I can fake sympathy but I can't fake empathy. I can pretend like I care when a person is sad and offer comfort and assistance, but I can't actually understand what they're feeling or why they're feeling it.
    Person is performing actions suggestive of Sadness, Sad actions are boring actions, therefore perform actions in file marked "sympathy" until they stop with the Sad and start with the interesting. I don't understand what causes it but I can clumsily hammer at buttons until I find the one which stops it or at least turns it down. I don't enjoy this task but I will do it in return for the enjoyable reward of people being interesting, the same way I don't enjoy chores but will do them in return for the enjoyable reward of not living in a shithole.

    Basically my development from absolutely awful human being to human being who is kind of okay sometimes has hinged almost entirely on the improvement of my ability to suffer present inconvenience for future gain. This is probably a bad thing? But better than still being the asshole I was as a teenager. If I keep working at it future me might even be a good person one day. I think I'd like to be a good person because I would like to live in a world with many good people in it and if I am a good person that is adding one more good person to that number.

    *This is sort of a lie? I felt empathy once. Exactly once. It was horrific and awful and holy fuck I hope I never have to experience misery about something which isn't my problem again for as long as I live. The absolute worst sensation. I sort of know what triggered it and I'm torn between jamming as much of it as possible into me in the hope that I will numb myself and stop caring, and avoiding it completely because the whole experience was terrifying and I don't wanna repeat it.
    • Like x 3
  7. Snitchanon

    Snitchanon What's a mod to a nonbeliever.

    I've got a very low or nonexistent affective empathy, and easily ignored or deactivated cognitive empathy. I am thus a soulless automaton.
  8. Re Allyssa

    Re Allyssa Sylph of Heart

    What's cognitive empathy exactly?
  9. LadyNighteyes

    LadyNighteyes Wicked Witch of the Radiant Historia Fandom

    I do what Seebs described in the discussion over in the Tumblr.txt thread as autistic sympathy, where seeing people unhappy makes me feel uncomfortable and want them to feel better, but it doesn't make me unhappy in the same way they are, just "I want this to not be this way and I don't know how to fix it." And I don't do the physical affective empathy thing at all, even if I'm thinking something like "Wow, that looks like it hurt."

    Someone I know talking about how awful their home life is will give me pretty much the same feeling as suddenly having some urgent responsibility at work that I wasn't prepared for, which is closer to anxiety than to sadness.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2016
    • Like x 1
  10. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    I would be very interested to hear more about the extent to which people feel different types of empathy and how they possibly relate to stuff going on neurologically. Back in tumblr.txt seebs seemed to be implying that the fact that I was confused when he was talking about affective empathy could be a sign of some sort of brainweird, although it seems more likely to me that people just vary, but then who knows?
  11. Snitchanon

    Snitchanon What's a mod to a nonbeliever.

    Quoth Wikipedia:

    "the capacity to understand another's perspective or mental state."
    Sometimes associated with Theory of Mind, associated with understanding the perspectives of others and fantasising, etc.
    • Like x 2
  12. SpruceZeus

    SpruceZeus 2 spoopy 2 live, 2 creppy 2 die

    yup this is pretty much exactly what i experience
    • Like x 1
  13. sicknastyspades

    sicknastyspades Most Rad.

    Question for everyone: Does it bother you if people lack empathy(/general ability to give a fuck about people) just as a general concept, regardless of how they act?

    I've known people to get mad at me for not caring about stuff, and it's like dude feel 100% free to get mad at me if I am being an asshole and I will totally deserve it because being an asshole is not my life goal, but I think it's unfair to be mad at me for the thing I didn't choose and can't control.
    And I wanna know whether this is a fair opinion for me to have or whether I'm being self-serving.
    • Like x 1
  14. Re Allyssa

    Re Allyssa Sylph of Heart

    I think I do that a lot. It's not hard for me to understand why or how someone is feeling a thing.
  15. chaoticArbiter

    chaoticArbiter an actual shiny eevee (destroyer of worlds)

    I am not upset by people lacking empathy, but then I may myself lack empathy, so I can't really speak for what would be a 'normal' reaction.
  16. LadyNighteyes

    LadyNighteyes Wicked Witch of the Radiant Historia Fandom

    Yeah, I'm also fine at cognitive empathy, it's just the affective empathy that's mostly a no. Like, when my roommate broke up with her boyfriend I can logically grasp, "Well, she feels terrible because they broke up and the relationship was really important to her," but I couldn't emotionally grasp what it would feel like in that situation even if I tried. (I felt bad because she was upset and I had no idea how to make her feel better, but there wasn't any feeling devastated with her.)
    • Like x 1
  17. IvyLB

    IvyLB Hardcore Vigilante Gay Chicken Facilitator

    it doesn't bother me honestly.
    but maybe that's because the extent to which I care more about a fictional horse in a movie than I care about some people at my university is truely vast.
    That horse was very strong and courageous and his friend died in war and I just cried and cried because of how terrible it was.
    meanwhile people hurting gets a relatively trained 'Oh No What Can I Do To Help?' response bc i dont liek people being in pain mostly because that's bothersome for everyone.
    I also do not understand the intensity of some people's reaction when i tell them that I'm almost always in a moderate amount of pain? like why... do you look like it hurts you if i say this? please don't? hurt? I'm just a dumb monkey shaped person in pain why are you so concerned?

    (People close to me are somewhat exempt because i actually care about them lol)
  18. chaoticArbiter

    chaoticArbiter an actual shiny eevee (destroyer of worlds)

    you know what I just realized?
    I always, for as long as I can remember, have thought that pity = sympathy and empathy.
    which is why I used to and still somewhat do hate people sympathizing or empathizing with me, because it feels pitying to me and I hate being pitied.
  19. winterykite

    winterykite Non-newtonian genderfluid

    Huh. i never would've thought that I have low affective empathy, but from the definitions seebs gave and y'alls examples? Low affective empathy (but it's sorta present with a very few select people who I hold very dear (my paternal grandmother, my moirail, my two sisters, and in those cases only if it's a strong emotion along the happiness, anger, or surprise lines (i have trouble feeling sadness, and my disgust line is pretty much deep in sensory stuff. fear doesn't really carry over)), the rest is purely cognitive.
    -takes note to talk to shrink about that-

    Never really realized there is a difference between affective and cognitive empathy, but a lot of things make sense now. I can interpret cues. I can even simulate feelings, but that's an optional thing I've trained myself to be able to. Helps with acting.

    And nah, it doesn't bother me if people don't have affective empathy. I kinda expect some sort of sympathetic response because that's a Thing People Usually Do and if they don't they're going Off Script, but that can be circumvented with adjusting the script.
  20. LadyNighteyes

    LadyNighteyes Wicked Witch of the Radiant Historia Fandom

    ...Now that I think about it, I think me having much lower affective empathy levels than my sibling explains a lot about our different reactions to fiction. Last week we were talking about a book series I wasn't as far along in, and I was told Book 5's ending is almost as suffering-laden as Book 3's ending, where most of the cast (and most of the population of the planet, actually) die. I read Book 5 expecting society to catastrophically collapse and more than one major character to die, and got to the end and they did not, and I was like ??? And then I realized that Sibling was grading Suffering level based on the emotional pain the protagonist was in at the end of the story, while I was going, "Well, his life sucks, but everything everyone worked for didn't collapse and nobody died and most of the good guys' goals were met" and therefore didn't leave the story feeling sad (or even emotionally drained) myself.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2016
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