Empathy is magical thinking

Here is a definition of empathy

The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another

This represents magical thinking

One can only ever feel their own feelings.

You can never feel another person’s feelings

You can never really understand what another person is feeling. If a person says, “I feel scared”, you cannot know what that feels like for them. You can only know what scared feels like for you and then if you want you can assume it is the same for the other person but you never know if it is.

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This is magical thinking

 

Vicarious experience means imagining what another person is feeling but you never know if they are or not. It is a guessing game. Empathy involves guessing what another person might be feeling but you never know if your guess is a good guess or a bad guess. 

Empathy is a self focussed exercise and a narcissistic act.

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A client says to you. “A man approached me in the street with knife and said he was going to kill me and I felt terrified.” The therapist then looks inside self. “How would I feel if that happened to me”. Immediately the therapist has stopped thinking about the client and is thinking about self. A self absorbed act. It is not altruistic, it is narcissistic.

 

Empathy is the faulty understanding of another persons experience or emotion, it is not the communication of that faulty understanding.

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