Love and Empathy

Love and Empathy

In other stories or articles, I talked about how a therapist helps a client deal with trauma.  I found that even as a young adult, as an undergraduate, I felt with my roommate.  For example, during one quarter at college, he had Mononucletitus, aka Mono.  One day toward the end of that quarter, I developed the symptoms that my roommate had during the quarter.    They did pass relatively quickly, as in 12 hours later.  Obviously, the disease did not inhabit my body for a mere 12 hours.  I intuitively learned that this would not be the best strategy for experiencing empathy.  A female client discussing being raped doesn't need me as the therapist, crying with her, or getting scared while she seeks to process the incident.  At the same time, she obviously benefits from knowing that I am deeply compassionate and empathize with her experience.  However, she needs me to be strong to help her process the trauma experience.  I never was overly confident that one time would be all that is needed. 

No matter how many times you hear the same story from a client or even as a friend or family member who is listening to a person tell of a traumatic event, the other person may need to be reassured in different ways.  He or she may need to be reminded that it wasn't their fault.  He or she didn't do anything wrong.  He or she didn't deserve this.  The only person whose purpose was served by this injustice is the perpetrator's interests.  It doesn't serve the interests of justice or of God.  There is no greater good being served by violence, abuse or trauma, especially when the harm is caused by the actions of another person.  Perhaps one of the causes of evil in the world is the inaction or inability of others in society to act.   It is well documented that crime in big cities often doesn't get reported right away due to the bystander effect. 

We figure that someone else will call the police or probably already did.  Maybe the lesson to learn is not to assume someone else called the police but if you hear someone scream help, do something.  In some instances, we may be inspired to intervene.  Those are the times when we find the strength to be a hero.  That strength isn't just physical strength.