Empathy and sympathy

Sympathy , built from the Greek ‘sym’, which means together, and ‘pathos’, which refers to feelings or emotion, is used to describe when one person shares the same feelings as another, such as when someone close is experiencing pain for a loss. Empathy is a newer word that is also related to “pathos,” but there is a greater implication of emotional distance . With “empathy” you can imagine or understand how someone would feel, without necessarily having those feelings yourself.



DefinitionEmpathy is most often used to refer to the ability or ability to imagine oneself in another person’s situation, experiencing that person’s emotions, ideas, or opinions.Sympathy is used largely to convey sympathy, pity, or feelings of pain for another person who is experiencing misfortune.
ExampleI know that losing weight is not easy because I have faced the same problems myself.Trying to lose weight can often seem like an uphill battle.
RelationshipPersonal understandingUnderstand the experience of others
ScopePersonal; although it can be one to many in some circumstancesOne to another or one to many (or one to a group).

What is sympathy?

Sympathy is the older of the two terms. It entered English and Spanish in the mid-sixteenth century with a very broad meaning: “agreement or harmony in the qualities between things or people . ” Since then, the term has been used in a more specific way.

Today, sympathy is used largely to convey sympathy, pity, or feelings of pain for another person who is experiencing misfortune. This sense is often seen in the category of greeting cards labeled “sympathy” that specialize in messages of support and pain for others in a time of need. You feel bad for them … but you don’t know what it’s like to be in their place.

Consider the following examples:

  • «I always liked Saturn. But I also have some sympathy for Pluto because I heard that it has been removed from the planet category, and I think it should remain one. Once you have given something planetary status, it is a kind of cruelty to take it away . – Jared Leto
  • “Pity may represent little more than the impersonal concern that prompts sending a check, but true sympathy is the personal concern that demands the surrender of the soul ” – Martin Luther King Jr.

What is empathy?

Empathy entered English and Spanish a few centuries after empathy, at the end of the 19th century, with a somewhat technical and now obsolete meaning in the field of psychology. Psychologists began using empathy as a translation of the German term Einfühlung and the concept that a person could project their own feelings onto a seen object .

Unlike sympathy, empathy has been used more widely than when it was first introduced; The term is now used more frequently to refer to the ability or ability to imagine oneself in another person’s situation , experiencing that person’s emotions, ideas, or opinions.

Consider the following examples:

  • “As you get older, you feel more respect and empathy for your parents. Now I have a great relationship with both. – Hugh Jackman
  • “I have always thought of acting as an exercise in empathy, not to be confused with sympathy. You are trying to delve into a certain emotional or motivational reality and try to figure out what it is so that you can represent it. – Edward Norton

Examples of sympathy and empathy in sentences

What quality was Whitman illustrating in his poem? Empathy. By becoming “the hurt person,” he indirectly experiences his suffering. Is it possible to fully understand how someone else feels? Most people have to be content with sympathy, the quality of caring about someone’s misfortunes, or the feeling of emotional or intellectual agreement with another person .

Neil deGrasse Tyson proposes that since “ humans are not as good as we should be in our ability to empathize with the feelings and thoughts of others. . . perhaps part of our formal education should be empathy training. Imagine how different the world would be if, in fact, [ we learned] ‘reading, writing, arithmetic, empathy’ ‘ .

If you’ve finished reading the article, perhaps these examples could help you understand the difference between sympathy and empathy more easily:

  • The woman has criticized a “disgusting” sympathy card sent by two real estate agents “chasing ambulances” offering their services after the death of her mother. -The Telegraph
  • So I have to say that my sympathy for Tyrone would be quite limited. —The Irish Times
  • From an evolutionary point of view, empathy is a valuable drive that helps humans survive in groups. -The Atlantic
  • People with a higher level of empathy learn to help others faster than others, scientists say. – The guardian

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