Sanne Kabalt

Empathy

Sanne Kabalt

You tell me of your sorrow.

Often, we listen to one another, yet we each feel our own feelings.

Sometimes they don’t interfere.

They change shape.

I feel your sorrow.

I swallow it, take it in, make it my own.

You leave the room.

Your words leave my mind.

But your feeling stays with me.

 

A definition of empathy;

empathy

the power of entering into another’s personality and imaginatively experiencing his feelings. — empathie, adj.

See also: Understanding

 

What bothers me about this definition is the word ‘imaginatively’.  This single word raises a lot of questions:

 

Do we merely think that we can feel what the other is feeling?

Is it impossible? Is the whole idea of empathy simply an illusion?

Then what is that painful feeling that I am left with after you told me of your pain? Is it an echo of your feeling? Or is it my own feeling that I unconsciously connect to your story? Is it even possible to feel for another? Do we truly have that capacity? Do we only think so? Are there people who can feel for others, and others who can not? Can I?