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It’s all about empathy

April 22, 2011

I have never been a fan of movies and tv shows where there were a lot of really awkward moments.

Meet the Parents.

The Office.

American Idol Auditions.

I just can’t handle them. I feel for the person who is committing the awkward act. I cringe. It hurts. Sometimes physically. Friends look at me like I am crazy when I say that I don’t like these shows, but that is just the way it is. I always thought I was just weird. I have not met many people that feel the same way.

But over at MSNBC, there is an article about a new research study shows that I am in fact not crazy, but rather just very empathic. I will take that.

Apparently there is something called “vicarious embarrassment” and it refers to the idea that some people actually experience the embarrassment of others as if it was their own. That is the basic definition of empathy: the ability to share in another person’s emotions, feelings, or actions. So, even if a person does something embarrassing on purpose (or even without knowing it) another person watching the situation may experience “vicarious embarrassment” on their behalf. Man, do I agree with that.

Oh, and I love the fact that there is a word for this. According to the article, the German word “Fremdscham” is the emotional mirror of the German word “Schadenfreude“, which refers to “the pleasure we sometimes feel from the misfortune of others.”

Anybody else experience this?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Your favorite person permalink
    April 26, 2011 6:55 pm

    I think this is because you have a lot of embarrassing moments. It’s not so much empathy as it is relational. 🙂

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