I must clarify: Empathy and compassion are not the same thing! The simplest way I can think of to describe the difference between these is that empathy is a physiological reaction and process through which compassion manifests itself in intent and then through action. Empathy involves a mutual sharing of information between people.
Both processes heavily rely on physiological pathways in the nervous system and brain – but the empathy response is PRIMARILY an automatic instantaneous PHYSICAL response, while compassion — I believe — is a quality of the soul that can be fostered far more easily than empathy disorders can be ‘corrected’. Compassion is what we DO with the information our empathy gives to us. The health of our attachment system determines how well (healthily, appropriately) our empathy abilities operate.
Healthy empathy is designed to let one person receive accurate and clear information about the internal state of another person. It is in no way (in my opinion) supposed to involve the NEEDS of the receiver in any way. Clear empathy is about THE OTHER PERSON.
It is through appropriate and clear empathy – along with love, compassion and appropriate response — that an infant’s caregiver builds both safe and secure attachment circuitry into the emotional-social rapidly growing right brain of an infant, and also into its rapidly growing and developing nervous systems (Central Nervous System and Autonomic Nervous System).
In infant-caregiver interactions this is called MIRRORING. The caregiver is supposed to resonate with the ‘feeling states’ of an infant and MIRROR these back to the infant without caregiver contamination in the information being sent back and received by the infant.
Again, as I have said so often, the information needed to understand the truth about attachment – and empathy – is here:
Again, PLEASE also see:
The entire scenario with Sabrina (see posts listed below) would have gone entirely differently if I did not have the most severe type of insecure attachment disorder and resulting empathy disorder that I received as my body-brain was built from birth in an unsafe and insecure, inadequate, traumatizing, abusive environment.
My own needs, feelings, memories, etc. would NOT have been triggered. I would not have dissolved (become disoriented-disorganized) in any way by Sabrina’s condition. I would have been able to respond entirely appropriately in the situation.
Most certainly I would have been able to lock Sabrina into my house and refused to let her out at least until her mother provided me the telephone number of Sabrina’s probation officer – so that I could give it to Sabrina. This is what Sabrina needed!!
My compassion cannot result in the most appropriate actions I COULD take because of what I just wrote in bold type.
This post follows these ones:
As things stand I am completely in need of reestablishing my own self-organization and self-orientation as a result of my own terrible LONG history of traumatic abuse having been triggered.
Every piece of furniture in my house came to me used. All of my ‘table chairs’ but one have duct tape repairs to them. On my one ‘best’ chair I will keep a flowering plant, a vase of fresh flowers, a plant of some kind — for a long long time to come.
NOBODY will be allowed to sit in this chair. This chair is now SABRINA’S CHAIR. It is the chair in which that suffering troubled child sat as she pleaded for protection, safety, help.
If anyone asks about this chair, I will certainly tell them its story.
Abused children live in war zones. They are not equipped to fight back against those who are harming them. They cannot win against a society who does not honor and help them – but instead is protecting their abusers.
This chair is now a memorial space for suffering I cannot stop. The issues represented by Sabrina’s Chair are those around which my entire life centers.
Not law yet but HOPEFULLY!!
CANADA – Senators approve anti-spanking bill
Please click here to read or to Leave a Comment »