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Empathy and depression. Meditation, curse or cure and the folks in the middle.

Updated on December 12, 2012

Kids can love ducks, even though they ain't got hair, kids that is.

Kids even become attached to objects like Teddy bears. If you are mean to their Teddy they feel bad for Teddy. This we should nurture and not destroy.
Kids even become attached to objects like Teddy bears. If you are mean to their Teddy they feel bad for Teddy. This we should nurture and not destroy. | Source

Empathy and depression. Meditation, curse or cure and the folks in the middle.

Empathy and depression. Meditation, curse or cure and the folks in the middle.

Probably best if I clarify my usage of Empathy, Meditation, Depression and what I mean by curses and cures. Mine are practical working understandings of the basic concepts of the words. I don’t go much into arguing what words mean but rather focus on the context in which they are used.

Empathic or Empathy deals with the socio-psychological phenomenon of one person really knowing how another feels. It is not sympathy. It is not even compassion. It is simply a gift that some people have and some develop further. We have in some circles a saying; The good news is that I am more in touch with people around me, and the bad news is, that I am more in touch with the people around me. Empathy is also problematic socially, people do not want other people to know how they feel, in general. It is critical to an empathetic person not to outwardly convey that they know how another feels, it is kind of yucky weird and a seeming violation of the most sacred privacy another has.

Depression, for these purposes, is the emotional state of desiring not to do. Depression can be circumstantial or biologically based. It is not sadness. It is possibly debilitating. It can have anxiety as a part of it and it can cause all outward signs of laziness. At the light end, we all have faced it, on the dark end, hospitalization is required.

Meditation in this context is a practice that brings heightened awareness and mindfulness. Folks from any discipline or spiritual path that make a serious attempt toward setting aside time to reflect and look inward for a deeper relationship and understanding with themselves and the world in which they live. Meditation here would include a concerted effort to learn more about ourselves in order to better understand others.

Curse and Cure are meant here fairly straightforwardly. A curse is something that impedes progress to a healthier life. A cure is something that aides in the progress to a healthier life.

Now most would say that practiced meditation is very healthy. Most would say that depression should be prevented and has no good intrinsic value. Most would be all happy for any cure. Most would avoid curses. And very often people say things like, “I just wish I knew what is troubling him”.

Just for a moment imagine someone in pretty deep depression. And then just imagine that she has a good friend who is empathetic and nurtures that gift with meditation and study of others. It would seem that the friend would be able to help the depressed person. But probably not. Don’t get me wrong clearly people who are sick are helped by sympathetic friends being around. Depression would be avoided if we knew what it was that was causing it, ergo medication. But can you imagine if a person was in a funk, and just could not look inside themselves enough to see the cause. And then a friend came up to them and started telling them the cause and how to fix it. Clearly that kind of help would be resisted, especially by a depressed person. The best the empathetic friend could achieve would be an extremely circuitous method of letting the friend come up with it on their own.

So we feel bad for the depressed person. As we should. But how about the friend who deeply felt the depression and pain herself. Clearly being more in tune with others is a curative thing. But we must be fair to notice that it is also a curse.

In the long run both can be helped and find their own answers with study, prayer and meditation. It may include medication. But you cannot just hop to the revelations without first learning how to deal with them.

What I hope to bring to conscious light in this article, are the people effected/affected by depression. My example was dramatic, but no less true, for any spouse or child, or friend. We cannot all force a curative potion, or even hope to help with cure and prevention. But there is something even the least disposed to compassion can do. We can be there for the folks that somehow feel the pain of the sufferer and lend them our hearts and shoulders. Kindness is usually all it takes.

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    • Jewels profile image

      Jewels 4 years ago from Australia

      Well rounded article on this topic. I can concur with all you have said here and I don't think you were harsh. You were honest. Depression takes patience, it takes honesty by the friend, and the desire to care. A person will never open to the core of their issues unless they have the arena to do so. Trust is paramount in creating that arena. I'm empathic and have also suffered from depression. It takes a lot of will to get thru it.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      One shining light of success, can lead a thousand lost souls. Your courage to overcome and your strength to share, will in fact help someone -- maybe just me ;-)

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 4 years ago from US

      Very impressive and useful hub. You seem to have some real insight to share and thank you for sharing that.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Pollyannalana. I was in fact labled as having Pollyanna Syndrome. They wanted me to take meds to change it. True Story.

    • Niteriter profile image

      Niteriter 4 years ago from Canada

      There is indeed a balance to be drawn between lending a helping hand and becoming too busy in another person's business. I think an individual whose true motivation is to help has no problem finding that balance.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Niteriter -- that is how it should work. I suppose we should always double check our motives if it feels like a round peg in a square hole.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Niteriter. How does my heart remain true to only wanting the best for others?

    • Niteriter profile image

      Niteriter 4 years ago from Canada

      That's a great question, Eric, one to which I don't see a simple response at the moment. I guess the answer lies in the meaning you attribute to "wanting the best for others".

      If what you want for others is the wellness, means and freedom to acquire the things that make them happy, then remaining true to your ideal should be fairly straightforward. On the other hand, if what you want for others includes their adherence to a set of expectations designed by someone else, I can see the potential for conflict.

      Wanting the best for others is often more complicated than it first appears.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I see your implied warning. And right you are. How easy it is to fall prey to the logic of "this is what is best for you".

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