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Do I Lack Sympathy or Compassion?

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From the U.S.: I do not believe that hate, resentment, or just a lack of caring are the appropriate feelings to have when someone is having a problem, and yet, I feel these types of feelings. Seriously, one time my mom came home saying that her gallbladder was acting up and it really hurt, and what did I do? Not even care!

My mom also is constantly getting sick. She comes up to me saying, “I’m sick.” I just shake her off (she insists on leaning on me when she says this) and tell her, “I can’t do anything for that, go back to bed.” She also has some weird form of sleepwalking; when I see this, I get incredibly pissed off and I don’t want anything to do with her. Therefore, I try to stay away during her sleepwalking episodes. Another thing is when my mom asks what I’m doing I get so annoyed with her which results in me giving her attitude.

I feel so bad and frustrated at myself for being so rude. I also feel bad about being excited for when I earn enough money to move out and get a place for myself so I can get away from her and be by myself.

I hate feeling disgusted or angered at people because they’re having trouble with their self, and I don’t know why I do because I don’t mean to.

Do I Lack Sympathy or Compassion?

Answered by on -

A.

Your mom has been chronically ill with a variety of symptoms for a long time. What you are describing may be a version of what is called “compassion fatigue.” Anyone who cares for and cares about a person who is so consistently ill can get gradually worn down by it. They then start to have a negative attitude about both the person and the illness.

In addition, you may be dealing with resentment that your mother can’t mother you as you would like her to. Instead, you are having to take care of your mom. That role reversal may be getting to you.

It is normal for a young person to look forward to starting a life of her own. There is no reason to feel guilty about that. But for you to leave home and truly be free to enjoy your freedom, you’ll probably need to work with other members of your family and your mother’s medical providers to be sure she has the supervision she needs.

In the meantime, it’s important that you take care of yourself by developing your own interests, getting out with friends, and working towards your future. I hope you are doing what you need to do to get the education you need to have a career and to support yourself. Earnings from a part time job while in school can be put in a savings account for the money you’ll need to rent an apartment and start an adult life.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Do I Lack Sympathy or Compassion?

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Do I Lack Sympathy or Compassion?. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 23, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2016/08/08/do-i-lack-sympathy-or-compassion/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.