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When Does Empathy Border on the Pathological?

When last I wrote on the blog, I mentioned there might be a couple months without content due to the process of moving. Well, now I’m knee-deep in the process of putting stuff away in my new home.

I’m so excited, I could just scream…

So during a recent, much-needed therapy session, I revealed an aspect of myself that leads into today’s Million-Dollar Question:

When does empathy border on the pathological?


For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a quirk about my imagination that I’ve never told anybody about before said therapy session, which I personally feel borders on that fine line between demonstrating empathy and some sort of twisted pathology.

Now to note what my therapist said, she feels that it demonstrates a form of empathic thinking, but it still bothers me that my imagination runs in this direction.

Hold up, Jon! What direction where? What exactly do you imagine about other people? Do we even want to know? Is it THAT kind of thing?

Relax, it’s nothing like THAT. For as long as I can remember, I could see a happy stranger… it could be a random person on the street or a person in a commercial… Whoever it is, this person is happy… But for some sick, demented reason, my mind’s eye goes out of its way to attempt to imagine what this person is like when he or she is angry or otherwise upset.

That’s where I feel it becomes pathological. It’s one thing to see a celebrity and wonder what his or her daily life is like, but it’s completely different, and I’d go as far as to say unnecessary, to imagine a random stranger getting upset.

Even after my therapist did her best to convince me that it’s just my mind trying to understand others’ emotions better, I’m not entirely convinced that it’s not a pathological behavior. So, I’m opening the conversation to you guys.

What’s your spin on this?