Difference Between Sympathy and Empathy

Sympathy and empathy are two different words with different meanings. Many people believe that they are two words with the same meaning. However, that is not the case and there is a difference between both the feelings. Sympathy is the recognition of pain or suffering whereas empathy is the sharing of pain or suffering. Empathy is involved when you have also suffered the same pain which some person is experiencing. You can relate to the incident. Sympathy can not only be towards only one person. It can be towards a group or a number of people also.


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    Basic difference

    The basic difference between the two words is basically an emotional one. In case of sympathy you would recognize somebody’s pain or suffering whereas in the case of empathy, you actually share another person’s pain. You would sympathize because you acknowledge what the other person has gone through whereas you would empathize only of you have experienced the same thing in your own life.

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    There is also a difference in the scope of emotion for the two words. In empathy, your scope is restricted to yourself mostly as you have experienced the same instances in your own life. There may be more than one incident to look upon. However, in case of sympathy the scope is not restricted. It can be towards one person and even towards a group of people.

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    Nursing difference

    There are also nursing differences between the two words. Doctors usually use this method to take care of their patients. If doctors empathize, they would relate to your injury or illness because they have been in that situation or they have experienced it with any other patient. On the other hand, they would sympathize you and your family when they see your illness as they have not been through what you are experiencing.

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    Related to

    The words relate to different persons in different ways. Many psychologists believe that sympathy generally involves caring about people who are not known to you or who are less fortunate. On the other hand, empathy is towards people who you generally know. They may be your relatives or people very close to you as you can feel their pain.

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