Thursday, December 24, 2015

Empathy Run Amok?

So I have some Twitter friends who I have followed since the beginning--although I did take a couple years off Twitter as well as blogging. Most of my timeline includes people interested in politics and social issues. Over time, we let some of our real self creep through and begin to see each other as real people. One friend who has battled some serious depression linked to an article on empathy.

When I was learning to be a counselor we were told over and over again that the single most important factor in a successful therapeutic relationship is empathy.

The article, by a clinical psychologist, suggested that we can have too much empathy and cited examples in which people actually did themself harm by relating too much. 

Um. No.

Empathy is simply the ability to understand where someone is coming from; that you walk a mile in their shoes to use an old expression. Pity, sympathy and the like are harmful because it is more of a one up one down relationship. I can empathize with someone, understand their point of view and still see distortions of thought and disagree with actions taken. The point is understanding where that person is right now and nonjudgmentally understand their point of view.

I have seen harm done by therapists feeling sympathy for their patients, which then leads to the therapist trying to "fix" them. Counselors don't fix people. We help people work through whatever is keeping them stuck and help them decide for themself how to move forward. 

In discussing with others, it was suggested that someone might feel so worthless that they put themselves in situations that are harmful because their empathy leads them to believe others are more worthwhile. That is not empathy. Someone deeply depressed, experiencing poor self esteem, or feeling worthless is not likely to be capable of much empathy at the time. That level of pain becomes so all-encompassing that the gaze is usually directed inward. The notion then that someone else is more worthwhile does not come from empathy, but rather from a belief that the self is worthless. This is not empathy run amok. It is clinical depression, derealization, depersonalization, loss of self.

Just some thoughts.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015


I haven't included sourcing in my latest because there are just too many. Turn on your nightly news of choice to get an example of Trump at his most outrageous. If you still insist on links, let me know.

Disgusting. Terrible. Trump.

Anyone paying attention to the debates? Even if you are not particularly political, it's hard to avoid politics when Trump dominates the news. A 24/7 news cycle has created an industry of competition for viewers and clicks, often with little substance.

Trump is an interesting man. Just when we think he cannot be more outrageous, that he has sunk as low as is possible, he comes up with more. I avoid him if I can, but every event generates a cutaway from whatever news show is broadcasting. It is clear to everyone that he sees women as objects. Asked at a campaign event about childcare, he called the questioner darling and said that children are important. He then said that his companies offered childcare; just get one or two people and some blocks... Easy. He is quick to call women disgusting, fat, ugly, or whatever thoughts cross his mind. During a deposition a few years ago, an attorney asked for her scheduled break and when he refused, she took out her breast pump to explain why she needed the break. He left the room, and the deposition and was horrified that anyone would actually do that and that she is a horrible disgusting woman.

Do you sense a theme here?

Fact checkers have given up, stating that he has not said one true thing during his campaign. When pinned down, he says that "it makes sense" or that it could be true, therefore it is true. He cites sources that include his twitter fans or his excellent memory and has to inject profit into every discussion. When Steve Harvey named the wrong winner at the Miss Universe pagent, Trump had to offer that he sold the pagent "for a very good price" saying that what happened was horrible, implying that if he still owned it, the mistake would never have happened.

During the Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton was late returning after a break and to hear Trump tell it, it was absolutely disgusting to think of why she was late. People are often disgusting to Trump. If they question him, they are disgusting. Protestors are disgusting and deserve to be beaten up. Journalists are disgusting and he hates them--this while keeping them in a penned area at events. I remember growing up and their were two things we could say guaranteed to set my mother off. One was that someone was an idiot, the other that we hated someone. She would tell us that hating someone meant we wished they were dead. Period. Now, when I hear Trump so easily hate, it makes me wonder. 

Another comment made by Trump regarding Clinton is that she got schlonged. The one or two people unfamiliar with the term were quickly educated via Facebook, Twitter, and news shows. Now Trump has decided that everyone has changed the definition and that we are disgusting for suggesting anything improper by his use of it. One of the fastest trending hashtags on Twitter is #ReplaceAwordwithschlong. A lot of really funny and creative people in my timeline. 

Somewhere along the way, Trump learned that women are not really people, but rather, disgusting objects of derision. Anyone who says he "cherishes" women and then is so quick to opine on their appearance, weight, ect., only cherishes what women can do for him. He sees nothing wrong with seeing his daughter as "dateable" and rather than attack Clinton's policy positions, calls her a terrible, disgusting woman because she has the temerity to question him and call him out for his lies.

Fun times ahead.

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