How Compassion & Sympathy Affect a Homeopath's Abilities
Mar 19, 2020
There is a motivation amongst those wanting to be a homeopath, which I believe is the desire to help others. This comes from a deeper sense that we having something to share with another to help them in their sufferings.
There are feelings and processes that happen to each of us as we work with another human being or animal. Hahnemann made it clear that we are to be unprejudiced observers. We are to avoid transcendental speculations and be true observers of the human condition before us. This leads to common emotions that happen for most living beings, which include compassion, sympathy, and empathy. Let's look closer at each of these and see how they affect our abilities as a homeopath.
Compassion is defined (com=together + pati=to suffer), according to Merriam Webster's Dictionary, as "the sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." I like to think of it as coming together to suffer, feeling sorrow for the sufferings or troubles of another with the urge to help.
Sympathy, syn=together + pathos=feeling, is "unity or harmony in action or effect, the sameness of feeling, the affinity between persons or of one person or another and the actions that arise from this." The entering into or ability to enter into another person's mental state or feeling, emotions, and experience pity or compassion for another's troubles or suffering.
Empathy, en=in + pathos=feeling, is "the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner." The projection of one's own personality into the personality of another in order to understand him/her better.
All of us have felt one of these emotions, in regards to a client, at one time or another. We tend to hear the stories of grotesque suffering. And though it is easy to feel for another’s pain, it is a pitfall to step into an emotional response when sitting before our client. The last thing that our client needs is for the practitioner to be joining them in their tears.
When we are feeling another’s pain, we are simply relating some previous emotional pain we have felt ourselves and letting the emotion come forth. The client's story has triggered our own story. When this is happening, we are not present for the case.
When most people are asking for help, especially from a professional, they are wanting understanding and not pity. Pity only keeps a person in the feeling of hurt. Joining them may add a level of comfort (misery loves company) but we are there to help a person move out of their suffering and not add more of it.
This is why sympathy, pity, and compassion are not what is best for the client. Remaining clear and objective with our client is to be an unprejudiced observer. Having empathy and being free from an emotional response allows us to stay present with our clients and understanding them better. It is important to notice when feelings arise in ourselves. The feeling part of our experience is usually equivalent to our own pain. If we stay with these emotions, we might as well be receiving our own case.
This does not mean that we become uncaring. This is quite the opposite of uncaring. We are actually meeting the client in a healthier state this way and our clarity will enable us to offer kind words without the emotional response. This will let the client know that we understand them.
The job of the homeopath is to remain clear and not follow the emotional feelings that may arise in a case. If we embrace empathy, we will be better homeopaths and be much more successful in understanding our clients and prescribing for the case.