Posted by: Judy | October 16, 2012

Sympathy and Empathy…

I didn’t want to hijack upsi’s blog, so I’m posting this here. Actually, I’m posting for me.

Empathy is deeper than sympathy.

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

Sympathy ~ 1570s, “affinity between certain things,” from M.Fr. sympathie, from L.L. sympathia “community of feeling, sympathy,” from Gk.sympatheia, from sympathes “having a fellow feeling, affected by like feelings,” from syn- “together” … + pathos “feeling” …. In English, almost a magical notion at first; e.g. in reference to medicines that heal wounds when applied to a cloth stained with blood from the wound. Meaning “conformity of feelings” is from 1590s; sense of “fellow feeling” is first attested 1660s. An Old English loan-translation of sympathy was efensargung.

Empathy ~ 1903, from Ger. Einfühlung (from ein “in” + Fühlung “feeling”), coined 1858 by German philosopher Rudolf Lotze (1817-1881) as a translation of Gk. empatheia “passion, state of emotion,” from en “in” … + pathos “feeling” …. A term from a theory of art appreciation that maintains appreciation depends on the viewer’s ability to project his personality into the viewed object.

Links I found that said it better than I could:


  1. I’m glad you posted this because I was thinking that someone on Upsi’s blog has it bass-ackward. Of course, I probably ought not judge what words hold meaning to others. I just found it… baffling. 🙂

    • Yes, I was frustrated by the same thing. The hazards of being a wordsmith, I suppose. When you fight for every word to be exactly the right one, it’s maddening when someone comes along and changes the meanings to suit their own purpose. The problem might be as simple as perspective, but I needed to reaffirm to myself I have a grasp on the meanings. And isn’t that the ACoN in my coming out? I’m not crazy. I don’t misunderstand. I really do “get it.”

  2. “Empathy is deeper than sympathy.” This says it all. Hugs.

    • ((Ruth))

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