Do I Lack Sympathy/Empathy/Compassion?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I was trying to find this answer on the internet but was bogged down with sympathy vs. empathy articles. I’ve read the differences countless times now. I cannot identify with either one. I absolutely am not sympathetic. As far as empathetic, I do have the ability to mentally put myself in another person’s shoes and intellectualize how they are feeling but I do not feel their pain or care. I also have a general lack of compassion for everybody else. Although, the ironic thing is that I’m not narcissistic.

A small bit about me. I am married and have four children. I do love them of course so I know I have feelings. I’m not a depressed person by any means. I am an INTJ if this helps. When thinking of career choices I feel the need to choose a career that helps people (law enforcement, medical, etc.) but this is only for the reason of obtaining a sort of prestige or something for my children to look up to.

Anyways, thanks for any advice you might have to offer.

A. You believe that you lack the ability to sympathize and empathize, but you did not provide any specific examples of why this might be true.

For instance, some people judge themselves as lacking sympathy or empathy in an instance when a distant family member dies and they don’t feel bad about it. They would be wrong to believe that their not feeling bad about the death of a person they may not have been close to would constitute evidence of lacking empathy or sympathy. Yes, they were family members, but having no interaction or connection with them makes that person a relative stranger.

In the abstract, it is difficult to determine your ability to sympathize and empathize. That could only be properly determined in the context of specific examples. If you would like to write back and provide these examples, they would greatly assist me in answering your question. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Jun 2014

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2014). Do I Lack Sympathy/Empathy/Compassion?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/06/12/do-i-lack-sympathyempathycompassion/

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