Difference Between Empathy and Apathy

Empathy vs Apathy
 

Difference between empathy and apathy exists in the meaning of the words itself. Empathy and apathy are two different words that are used when referring to human interaction. Relationships and day to day engagements with others play a key role in the life of all humans. In these interactions, people can display different states or approaches through which they deal with others. Empathy and apathy are two such states. At times, we can be completely indifferent to one person and at other times very understanding. Based on these approaches the relationships that we also build change. In this article, we will be paying attention to empathy and apathy. First let us define the two words. Empathy can be defined as understanding and sharing the feelings of another. On the other hand, apathy can be defined as the lack of interest or enthusiasm displayed towards a subject. This article attempts to highlight the differences between empathy and apathy while providing a better understanding of each term.

What is Empathy?

Empathy can be defined as being able to understand and share the feelings of another individual. This is often believed as the highest form that a person can achieve as it allows the person to comprehend another fully. The psychologist Carl Rogers stated that empathy is a core element in counseling as it allows the individual to get into another person’s shoes. This denotes that it makes the individual fully comprehend the situation of the other, not from his point of view, but from the other’s point of view. Empathy allows the person to care genuinely for another. For example, when we understand the sorrow of a friend without reservations from his point of view than ours, it is empathy.

In Humanistic psychology, the counselors are advised to practice empathy as a basic skill. This is because it enables him to care genuinely for the client. Both parties actively engage in the process, where the counselor grasps the perspective of the client through empathy.

Difference Between Empathy and Apathy

What is Apathy?

Apathy can be defined as the lack of interest or enthusiasm displayed towards something. It is when an individual simply stops caring about his or her surrounding because it is too much, or the individual feels powerless to make a change in the surrounding. For example, if the individual has undergone a lot of painful experiences, he may decide to completely shut other people out and stop caring for them. He will not be interested in others and will cut off his emotional ties. This, however, does not mean that the individual cannot comprehend or lacks awareness. On the contrary, the individual is fully aware but makes a decision or a choice to ignore.

In psychology, the term apathy is used when referring to people who have undergone traumatic experiences. In such instances, the victim can become completely numb to emotions or a part of his life, such a person is considered as apathetic.

 Empathy vs Apathy

Apathy pushes others away from an individual

What is the difference between Empathy and Apathy?

• Definition of Empathy and Apathy:

• Empathy can be defined as understanding and sharing the feelings of another.

• Apathy can be defined as the lack of interest or enthusiasm displayed towards a subject.

• Empathy and apathy can be considered as two extremes in social interactions.

• Nature:

• In empathy, the individual fully comprehends another from their point of view.

• In apathy, the individual comprehends the other yet decides to stop caring.

• Connecting:

• Empathy allows to connect with the other.

• Apathy severs all connections.

• Relationship Effect:

• Empathy leads to better relationships with friends and family.

• Apathy detriments relationships.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. Empathy by Brian Solis (CC BY 2.0)
  2. Pushing hands by Diana (CC BY 2.0)