From ArticleWorld

Empathy is not to be confused with sympathy. Sympathy is feeling compassionate about another’s state followed by the desire to see them improve. Empathy, on the other hand, is putting yourself in another’s shoes and feeling what they feel. It is not just making a judgement based on indicators such as facial expression or tone of voice and being able to understand what someone is feeling, but the actual feeling of it. It is not always a pleasant process as feeling someone else’s pain could never be pleasant and it has been known for empathy to lead to depression.

We usually feel empathy with those who are similar in situation to ourselves – economically, socially, similar in attitude or outlook- and with those whom we spend the most time with.

Empathy and psychological disorders

Some people are more empathic that others and it is also believed that some do not possess the ability at all. Those suffering from autism and Asperger’s disease, for example, sometimes exhibit reduced empathic tendency. Other experts maintain that perhaps it is not so much that empathy is not felt but rather that is not displayed as such.

Psychopaths are usually extremely empathic and thus win the trust of others, but they do not go on to feel sympathy for another’s plight but instead choose to manipulate it.


While empathy is a positive trait, it can lead to problems in those who are unable to protect themselves from feeling too much. Stress and over-stimulation can lead to ill-health and depression and individuals then need to be taught how to shield themselves or detach themselves emotionally.