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The Death and Rebirth of Empathy

Posted Apr 28 2008 9:06pm
I’ve slowly come to realize with the help of my therapist that there is a black hole in the core of my being that has swallowed up my ability to touch one of the most fundamental and unique traits that separate us from the animals or machines - empathy. By empathy, I mean the ability to feel the emotions of another human being within myself or the ability to more effectively connect to and recognize another’s mode of thoughts, emotions or moods. I’ve known forever that I’ve always had great difficulty connecting to people on an emotional level and truly understanding their perspective and feelings on things, but I always associated it with who I was as a person and I didn’t think I could ever change this and I’m still unsure if this can be fully changed or rehabilitated in the future. Time will tell.

What is clearer now though is that I’ve made the connection between recognizing empathy and recognizing my inability to experience  empathy and in doing so I have on some level given myself a foundation to start from. I’ve partially disconnected from something that I once identified with and I now see it as a hurdle to overcome and regain as part of my life. I’m looking at it as a possibility now and not impossibility like I have in the past. A step forward I think.

I’m not sure if the inability to experience empathy is common for people with bipolar disorder, but I know the struggles I faced with the shifts in my mood surely didn’t help and I guess over time behavioral patterns developed until I completely lost touch with portions of who I fundamentally was as a human being. The extremes and intensity of mood shifts consumed my attention and robbed me of fully appreciating and participating in the minds, moods, emotions, and thoughts of the many great people that I shared my life with until now. Most of who are completely out of my life for reasons associated to my bipolar behavior and of course my inability to share the basic human trait of empathy. I’m glad I’m still fairly young and I’ve luckily made the connections where I’m beginning to regain some control over my life and I’m recognizing my flaws before it is too late. I truly hope that one day I can experience the rebirth of an emotion that has been dead to me for so long and potentially see the world truthfully through the eyes of another, where I will care about and feel their concerns, hardships and struggles like they were actually mine.

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