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Why Do I Lack Empathy/Compassion?

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I notice that I have a real issue genuinely feeling for others. A coworker tells me she has to go somewhere for her cancer and I fake compassion, but I don’t think I actually care. Another coworker has someone dying in the hospital, all day she complains about being tired, and all I wanna do is tell her that nobody cares about her problems and to shut up. I feel in the workplace that you shouldn’t discuss personal issues and complain so much about them because you’re there for work. When i see a mass casualty online I don’t feel anything about it. I find out someone dies, unless they’re close to me I don’t care. Essentially, unless an issue matters to me or the person having the issue isn’t close to me, I don’t care. Do I lack empathy? And if so why?

Why Do I Lack Empathy/Compassion?

Answered by on -


By definition, you lack empathy, but I think what you are describing is something, perhaps, a bit more than this. My guess is you don’t believe others care enough about you. Often we will feel toward others in a way that mirrors how we think others feel about us. I may certainly be wrong about this, but this would be the first thing I’d explore. I’d encourage you to experiment with a loving-kindness meditation (LKM). This may help develop both compassion and a feeling of being cared for. You can learn more a out a LKM and other similar ones here.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Why Do I Lack Empathy/Compassion?

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2019). Why Do I Lack Empathy/Compassion?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 22, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 1 Jan 2019
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 1 Jan 2019
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