June 18th, 2015


Does suffering build empathy?

I mean, I know it does in me, but I don’t know if this is one of those things that produces two divergent reactions.

I was bullied at school, and one of the long-term effects is that I would never bully anyone else, because I know what it feels like. On the other hand, I’ve known people who were bullied in school, and the lesson they learned is that there are two kinds of people, and they’d rather be the ones doing the bullying.

Which could also be a fundamental “levels of empathy” thing - if you have high levels of empathy for people then you probably learn different lessons from the people who care a lot less. Not that I know where “empathy” falls in the nature/nurture scale, or whether it’s something that’s easy to change in later life.

All of which is brought to you by my increased empathy towards women going through menstrual cramps, having spent an hour or two on the toilet on Tuesday evening, with stomach cramps so bad that I thought I was going to throw up. I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to go through that, let alone once a month.

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