Richard’s Correspondence On Mailing List ‘D’
with Correspondent No. 45
Re: Near Actual Caring
CLAUDIU [to Alan]: (...). However, it is clear that what you experience and refer to with the term "near-actual caring" is not the experience the term properly refers to. The following snippets from the quotes you provided help demonstrate the essential difference:
[...remainder of post elided...].
RICHARD [to Respondent]: (...). Furthermore, and given that Alan portrays that prioritising of affective happiness over an actual happiness as being a “near actual caring”, it is pertinent to point out that an actual caring is epitomised by an ever-present preference for the self-imposed suffering of one’s fellow human being to come to an end, forever, sooner rather than later. For instance:
Thus the “caring as close to an actual caring as an identity can muster” that Vineeto wrote about (as quoted by Claudiu much further above) – which appears to have become known as a ‘near-actual caring’ these days – is self-evidently a caring which prioritises an actual happiness over an affective happiness any day of the week (else it be a gussied up real-world caring masquerading as a caring which is as close to an actual caring as an identity can muster).
[...remainder of post elided...]. (Richard,List D, No. 45, 28 July 2016)
RESPONDENT: Excellent science article on empathy which I found very relevant to my work. Also it aligns with near-actual caring: Attachment: Nautilus – Issue 35: Boundaries: How to Avoid Empathy Burnout [by Jamil Zaki; April 7, 2016; "Caregivers can benefit by understanding a patient’s pain without feeling it themselves"]. .... but not the last self-love bit which came out of the blue! [bracketed insert added]. (Message № 232xx; Slack Digest 03Aug16; 02:29 PM)
ADDENDUM : Actually I’m seeing that the article for the most part doesn’t align with near-actual caring or naive intimacy. But it does advocate not taking on emotional contagion, pragmatism and boundaries – which I suppose are sensible real world ways of care-giving. (Message № 232xx; Slack Digest 04Aug16; 02:22 AM)
G’day No. 45,
As the above article on ‘Empathy Burnout’ (a near-cousin to ‘Compassion Fatigue’) which you link to, and publicly commend as being an [quote] “excellent science article” [endquote] on the ‘Nautilus Magazine’ web site, was composed by an assistant professor of psychology – whose research focuses on the cognitive and neural bases of social behaviour at the Stanford Social Neuroscience Laboratory – it would surely take nothing short of a miracle for any such social behaviourist to write anything at all which even for the least part [quote] “aligns with” [endquote] what Vineeto wrote of as constituting “a caring as close to an actual caring as an identity can muster” on the 17th of January 2010 (as quoted by Claudiu in Message № 23185 and re-presented in my Message № 23198 to you as per the top of this page) let alone via them craftily redefining what the word empathy means.
Essentially, what the author describes as [quote] “a third way” [endquote] to the self-preservation of becoming empathetically calloused, with its blunted responsiveness, and the crushing risk which the burden of empathically caring imparts – which third way he specifically references as being [quote] “detachment” [endquote] mind you – is a therapeutic distancing technique similar to and/or drawn from and/or based upon [quote] “Buddhist-inspired compassion meditation training” [endquote] whereby savvy social behaviourist-type therapists and counsellors consciously shed a pattern of feeling the other’s emotional pain (which vicarious-feeling is what the word empathy has referred to ever since it was coined, in 1908, to translate the 1858 German word Einfühlung into English) and replace it with patterns of motivation and even positive emotion ... to wit: “a key feature of successful therapy is therapists’ communication of warmth and understanding toward their patients”.
A non-empathic warmth, that is, engendered by an intellectual understanding drawn from impressions based upon verbal and visual cues alone.
The following half-a-dozen or so paragraphs from that ‘Empathy Burnout’ article more or less convey these essential aspects (with over a dozen key features highlighted, for convenience in referencing those essential aspects, and explanatory info inserted within curled brackets).
As your reassessment now has you seeing how the article [quote] “for the most part” [endquote] does not align with a caring which is as close to an actual caring as an identity can muster – a caring which prioritises an actual happiness over an affective happiness any day of the week (inasmuch an actual caring is epitomised by an ever-present preference for the self-imposed suffering of one’s fellow human being to come to an end, forever, sooner rather than later) – it is somewhat intriguing to contemplate just what constitutes the least part, of the above scholastical research by Mr. Jamil Zaki (all duly referenced by the in-accord judgments of Ms. Allison Basinger, Ms. Rene McCreary, Ms. Katherine Miller, Ms. Tania Singer, et aliae), which evidently still remains aligned in your eyes.
Incidentally, despite stating upfront that “patients thrive from emotional connection with nurses, social workers, and therapists”, the central theme of this article which you commend as being [quote] “very relevant to my work” [endquote] is all about depriving those patients of what they thrive upon – that “emotional connection” popularly known as empathy (as in, “vicariously sharing another person’s feeling”, that is) but artfully designated “emotional contagion” in academe – and providing said patients with what the caregivers thrive on, instead, via a remarkably deft sleight-of-hand vis-à-vis what the word empathy has referred to since it was coined 108 years ago (so as to translate into English what the German Einfühlung has meant for 158 years).
Here is a possible reason why:
Hence also the high rates of ‘empathy burnout’, of course, as the relationship betwixt helper and helpee – as per the ‘Helper Therapy Principle’ (proposed as “an age-old therapeutic approach” by Dr. Frank Riessman; pp. 27-32, ‘Social Work’, Vol 10‹2›, 1965) – is oft-times of a symbiotic nature.
Given that psychiatry has had at least 150+ years to demonstrate its efficacy in dealing with human suffering – without a single recorded success in bringing such suffering to an end, forever, in any human being anywhere in the world – it is surely an exercise in futility to even think for a moment (let alone type-out a commendation and click ‘send’) that an assistant professor researching social behaviour at the Stanford Social Neuroscience Laboratory would have anything at all to contribute to a discussion about a caring which is entirely new to human experience/ human history.
By way of illustration, here is an instance of what feeling-being ‘Vineeto’ had in mind regarding “a caring which is as close to an actual caring as an identity can muster” (which you represent with the “near-actual caring” term).
First, a select quote:
Hence it came to pass one fine evening that feeling-being ‘Vineeto’ realised, with a profound visceral impact, how ‘she’ had never actually cared – although ‘she’ certainly felt caring (in fact ‘she’ had a deeply-ingrained and ongoing feeling of caring about all the misery and mayhem) – and upon that realisation transforming itself into an actualisation (as per the intimacy-yearning process detailed in the ‘Direct Route Mail-Out № 05 email part-quoted at the top of this page) it activated “a caring which is as close to an actual caring as an identity can muster” and there was indeed action which was not of ‘her’ doing ... to wit: the ending of ‘her’ and all ‘her’ subterfuge and trickery (just to stay in keeping with the above wording purely for effect).
Thus Vineeto is emphatic that unless this “near-actual caring” term refers to “a caring which is as close to an actual caring as an identity can muster” with a marked-action effect, such as is illustrated above, it is to no avail to utilise such terminology.
The other example provided (at the top of this page) similarly instances a marked-action effect of “a caring which is as close to an actual caring as an identity can muster” inasmuch ‘she’ was sitting amongst a group of people, as one of many, wherein ‘her’ sole interest was that everyone present, including ‘herself’ as one of those present, enjoyed themselves and obtained the maximum benefit from their meeting due to an abeyance of the ‘doer’ and the ascendancy of the ‘beer’ (i.e., an out-from-control/ different-way-of-being virtual freedom).
Needless is it to add that instances such as these are beyond the ken of social behaviourist-type therapists and counsellors (and especially those who slyly avoid ‘empathy burnout’ via shedding the very empathy their patients thrive on)?
Re: Near Actual Caring
RESPONDENT: Excellent science article on empathy which I found very relevant to my work. Also it aligns with near-actual caring: Attachment: Nautilus – Issue 35: Boundaries: How to Avoid Empathy Burnout [by Jamil Zaki; April 7, 2016; "Caregivers can benefit by understanding a patient’s pain without feeling it themselves"]. .... but not the last self-love bit which came out of the blue! [bracketed insert added]. (Message № 232xx; Slack Digest 03Aug16; 02:29 PM)
ADDENDUM: Actually I’m seeing that the article for the most part doesn’t align with near-actual caring or naive intimacy. But it does advocate not taking on emotional contagion, pragmatism and boundaries – which I suppose are sensible real world ways of care-giving. (Message № 232xx; Slack Digest 04Aug16; 02:22 AM)
RICHARD: As the above article on ‘Empathy Burnout’ (a near-cousin to ‘Compassion Fatigue’) which you link to,
and publicly commend as being an [quote] “excellent science article” [endquote] on the ‘Nautilus Magazine’
web site, was composed by an assistant professor of psychology – whose research focuses on the cognitive and neural bases of social behaviour at
the Stanford Social Neuroscience Laboratory – it would surely take nothing short of a miracle for any such social behaviourist to write anything
at all which even for the least part [quote] “aligns with” [endquote] what Vineeto wrote of as constituting
“a caring as close to an actual caring as an identity can muster” on the 17th of January 2010 (...) let alone via
them craftily redefining what the word empathy means.
RESPONDENT: Richard, I had originally not read the article too carefully, which is why I withdrew it.
RICHARD: G’day No. 45,
Ha ... it would be handy for me to bear in mind, then, for future reference, that commendatory sets of words such as “Excellent science article on [an aspect of psychiatry] which I found very relevant to my work” that are followed by an equivalency set of words such as “Also it aligns with [an aspect of actualism]” are meretricious ways of conveying that you have “not read the article too carefully” (let alone its purportedly equivalent actualism counterpart), eh?
All joking aside ... whilst the vested interest in finding an equivalency in one’s own area of expertise is readily understandable – especially when it is the end result of many years of specialist studies, in the higher institutes of learning, of the accrued knowledge distilled from the painstakingly-gained experience of all the acknowledged experts in the field, with progressively tougher examinations to pass so as to obtain the necessary accreditation for gainful employment in the professions (and partake of the lucrative emoluments available thereat) – the very fact of actualism being entirely new to human experience/ human history clearly indicates that the paradigmatic shift essential for comprehension necessarily precludes finding equivalency in areas of expertise already within human experience/ human history.
Also, and as it is germane to what prompted me to compose my initial post in the first place, this is an apt place to advise that what the words [quote] “withdrew it” [endquote] convey to a reader is at odds with what the words [quote] “for the most part” [endquote] conveyed in that follow-up chat-message you allude to.
If, in fact, you had indeed withdrawn it then your follow-up chat-message would have looked something like this;
And had that actually been the case there would have been no post from me on the topic (and neither would this current to-ing and fro-ing of emails be occurring) as the self-centred/ self-centric – and thus naturally self-justifying/ self-perpetuating – professionally-oriented theses generated so proliferatively by social behaviourist-type therapists, counsellors, and their ilk, cannot possibly add anything of an illuminative nature to a discussion about a caring which is notable by the marked absence of self-centredness/ self-centricity (and thus actively self-annulling/ self-terminating) in its operation.
RESPONDENT: Yup, should definitely have not clicked ‘send’.
RICHARD: Okay, and by this you make it unmistakably clear you are now seeing that the article in its entirety – and not only for the most part – does not align with a near-actual caring.
In other words, there is no corresponding other part – a ‘for the least part’ as it were – of the article which is in alignment.
(As far as I am concerned this would have been the end of the matter – and any remainder simply a case of attending to the detail which iconoclastic posts have a tendency to spawn ad minutiae – but because the general thrust of your responses, below, is indicative of still considering aspects of professional caring to be relevant to a near-actual caring, this post has become far more extensive than might otherwise have been the case).
RESPONDENT: To explain: I jumped to the conclusion that the article was referencing aspects of caring that other empathy researchers have talked about and which I was previously aware of e.g. perspective taking, theory of mind, problem solving etc.
RICHARD: I see ... so the real reason you advised that the article “aligns with” near-actual caring, in your first chat-message, was because of those particular aspects of caring – namely [quote] “perspective taking, theory of mind, problem solving etc.” [endquote] – which you were previously aware of and not because of what the article is actually about.
(More on this, further below, where you reintroduce those particular aspects of professional caring along with two URLs whence the names to what your etcetera represents can be obtained).
By the way, as the article is titled “How to Avoid *Empathy* Burnout” and sub-titled “Caregivers can benefit by understanding a patient’s *pain* without *feeling* it themselves” it is quite a feat to jump to a conclusion which does not include what is expressly presented thereby as its central theme – namely: how empathy burnout, which stems from caregivers affectively feeling their patient’s emotional/ passional pain, can be avoided by obtaining such understanding via non-empathic means – as it is an exceptionally frank summary of the article’s prolix contents.
RESPONDENT: I then realised that most of the article wasn’t about this at all and mostly it was focussed on blocking oneself from feeling caring, sympathy and Buddhist compassion – as you pointed out – and changed my mind.
RICHARD: What I actually pointed out was that the article focussed exclusively on avoiding “Empathy Burnout” by consciously shedding empathy, adopting detachment, and replacing that shed pattern of feeling the other’s emotional pain with patterns of motivation and even positive emotion.
Or, in Assistant Professor Jamil Zaki’s own words, the article is solely about “How to Avoid Empathy Burnout” via caregivers “understanding a patient’s pain without feeling it themselves” – without “vicariously sharing another person’s feeling” that is – and then “forming a goal to alleviate that person’s suffering” via that non-empathic understanding.
And here are those very words of his (made bold for convenience) exactly as quoted above:
I also pointed out how the central theme of the article was depriving those patients of what they thrive on – that “emotional connection” popularly known as empathy (as in, “vicariously sharing another person’s feeling”, as above) but artfully designated “emotional contagion” in academe – and providing said patients with what the caregivers thrive on instead (i.e., a non-empathic “warmth and understanding” drawn from impressions based upon verbal and visual cues alone).
RESPONDENT: For starters it I have been using the term ‘near-actual caring’ as a proxy for ‘more innocuous caring’ ...
RICHARD: And thus does the watering-down process begin – even while the pioneer of what that specialist term refers to is still alive – and by which process thus does identity prevail.
As Vineeto’s reports/ descriptions/ explanations of a near-actual caring are scattered throughout her ‘Direct Route Mail-Out’ emails some background details presented numerically will aid clarity in communication.
1. When feeling-being ‘Vineeto’s everyday feeling of caring first shifted into what has since become known as a near-actual caring the qualitative difference was so marked in its effect ‘she’ initially mistook it to be an actual caring (as per ‘her’ memories of PCE’s).
2. This shift occurred when ‘she’ transitioned from ‘her’ pragmatic, methodological virtual freedom into being out-from-control – a dynamic, destinal virtual freedom – for the remaining four-and-a-half weeks of ‘her’ life (albeit with a melodramatic three-day out-of-control interlude towards the end).
3. Due to ‘her’ naïve intent to be as intimate and without prejudice as possible – which, in conjunction with the absence of self-centredness/ self-centricity that is part-and-parcel of being out-from-control had resulted in the actualism method segueing into the actualism process – ‘her’ cheerful and thus willing concurrence allowed pure intent to dynamically pull ‘her’ evermore unto ‘her’ destiny. (Hence the “dynamic, destinal virtual freedom” nomenclature).
4. This moment-to-moment experiencing of a caring which is not self-centred/ self-centric provided ‘her’ with the experiential convincement that actualising such caring, via ‘self’-immolation, was the only solution to the human condition; this ‘hands-on’ understanding as a dynamically present feeling-being – an impressively distinct contrast to having been abeyant during PCE’s – left ‘her’ with absolutely no choice (lest ‘she’ be forever “rearranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic”).
5. Since a near-actual caring is, of course, epitomised by a vital interest in the suffering of all human beings coming to an end, forever, as a number one priority, then ‘her’ single-minded focus was essentially centred upon the most immediate way of ensuring this long-awaited global event could begin to take effect the soonest ... to wit: bringing ‘her’ own inevitable demise, at physical death, forward into a liminal imminence.
6. Because the means ‘she’ elected to utilise towards these ends was the near-actual intimacy which goes hand-in-hand with a near-actual caring (per favour that afore-mentioned absence of self-centredness/ self-centricity which typifies being out-from-control) it is apposite to defer to what Vineeto herself wrote on the 20th of January 2010, only fifteen days after her pivotal moment/ definitive event, as its refreshingly simple directness speaks for itself.
(Incidentally, her words “to give them what they want most” refers to my oft-expressed emphasis on the necessity of a female replicating my condition – for those oh-so-vital ‘core of civilisation itself’ reasons spelled-out elsewhere on my portion of the web site – and it speaks volumes, to those males having reservations about going all the way due to the popular wisdom that what women want is loving relationships, that in the handful of daring pioneers women out-numbered men by a 4-to-1 ratio).
RESPONDENT: ...[I have been using the term ‘near-actual caring’ as a proxy for ‘more innocuous caring’] i.e. an affective caring that is more innocuous/ harmless than say an out-and-out emotional fusion with another person.
RICHARD: I will first draw your attention to the following:
Thus, as an actual caring is epitomised by an ever-present preference for the self-imposed suffering of one’s fellow human being to come to an end forever, sooner rather than later, then why would a near-actual caring not *self-evidently be a caring which prioritises an actual innocuity over an affective innocuity any day of the week* but would instead be, for example, a gussied up “affective caring that is more innocuous/ harmless than say an out-and-out emotional fusion with another person” masquerading as a caring which is as close to an actual caring as an identity can muster?
RESPONDENT: I would like some guidance on this and I’ve discussed in later in the post.
RICHARD: As a general rule-of-thumb, then, always be aware of the propensity for watering-down unequivocal reports, descriptions and explanations meticulously conveyed with precise meaning given to terminology – a propensity rife within the human condition – via many and various rationalisations and/or justifications and/or simplifications and/or appropriations and/or arrogations and/or confabulations and/or deconstructions (and all manner of such ‘self’-survival shenanigans too numerous to list).
RESPONDENT: Regarding ‘the least part’ of how this article has anything to do with near-actual caring (or more accurately something down the track from near-actual caring) ...
RICHARD: To interject purely on a point of order: as your reassessment had you seeing [quote] “that the article for the most part doesn’t align with near-actual caring” [endquote], in that follow-up chat-message of yours, it necessarily implied you were, therefore, seeing that the other part, the least part of the article, does align with near-actual caring.
Thus I would have expected your above sentence to begin something like this:
As there is a distinct difference between being in alignment (in correspondence and/or concordance and/or tallying) with, or matching, a near-actual caring and merely having “anything to do” with it – plus, least of all, being more accurately depicted as “something down the track” from it – you are substantially watering-down the impact your “for the most part” words had in that follow-up chat-message of yours.
(I will say it again for emphasis: were it not for the impact your “for the most part” words occasioned there would have been no post from me on the topic and neither would this current to-ing and fro-ing of emails be occurring).
RESPONDENT: ...[Regarding ‘the least part’...] it had to do specifically with the empathy burnout bits and not misguidedly taking on another person’s feelings as a means to helping them.
RICHARD: What your words convey most of all is that the other part – the least part of the article which you were seeing does align with near-actual caring – had to do specifically with an assumption on your part that a near-actual caring is a non-empathic caring.
Also, I cannot help but notice how the very act of empathy itself – vicariously feeling what another person feels about themself (about their situation: their past, their present, their prospects; plus the circumstances besetting them and their lot in life itself), so as to viscerally know and affectively comprehend the emotional/ passional makeup of their current state-of-being, rather than forming an intellectual understanding drawn from impressions based upon verbal and visual cues alone – is considered by you to be acting “misguidedly” as a means to helping them.
(And I say “considered by you” advisedly as nowhere in that article is the very act of empathy itself criticised but, rather, it refers repeatedly to the effect an empathic rapport can have – often called secondary trauma – upon the empathiser due to their own unresolved issues being triggered. As it is widely-known that it is people with unresolved issues who are more inclined to gravitate toward the helping professions – plus the article specifically states that “Surveys of career helpers find they are more likely to report family histories of abuse or substance dependence than professionals in finance, music, and science” – the optimal solution is, of course, to screen-out the helper thus afflicted rather than discard the empathy which the helpee thrives on).
Now, as the identity inhabiting this flesh-and-blood body all those years ago was in an out-from-control virtual freedom for something like five months – although not named as such back then, of course, nor thought of in those terms – I can readily report how ‘he’ was more empathetic during that period than ‘he’ ever had been in all ‘his’ 34 years of existence. So much so, in fact, that I would be inclined to characterise a near-actual caring as an acutely-empathic caring.
This acutely-empathic characteristic of the near-actual caring which prevails in the out-from-control way of being is, by virtue of not being self-centred/ self-centric, universal in its scope. As such there is no way the (self-centred/ self-centric) professional caring depicted in that article [quote] “aligns with” [endquote] a near-actual caring as that universality itself is the very potency required to effect the universal solution to the human condition – the ‘self’-sacrificial extirpation of blind nature’s instinctual passions by the feeling-being formed thereof cheerfully and thus willingly ‘self’-immolating for the benefit of this body and that body and every body – as contrasted with a personal (re)solution within the human condition, of otherwise unresolved issues, in those cases of successful helper-helpee transactions by way of the empathic rapport the helpee thrives on.
RESPONDENT: Obviously if this was just a repressive blocking out action, then it would have not be harmless. In this case even any proposed alignment of this article with innocuity is off the mark.
RICHARD: Hmm ... as these are the 4th and 5th times, so far, you have used the words harmless and innocuity (or innocuous) in relation to near-actual caring an impression is being conveyed that the main distinction, for you, betwixt actually caring and affectively caring is the absence of malice in the former and the presence of same in the latter.
Here is how you expressed it in regards to near-actual caring (from further above):
The question which immediately arises is: a “more innocuous caring” than ... than what? Than a less innocuous caring? Less innocuous than what? Than an innocuous caring? Is there such an item as a non-innocuous caring that it need be qualified thataway? As in a nocuous (i.e., malicious) type of caring?
In all those years when an identity was in residence in this flesh-and-blood body I cannot recall any instance of ‘him’ being nocuously (i.e., maliciously) caring ... let alone such as to initiate aspirations of developing a “more innocuous caring” (i.e., a more harmless type of caring).
Nor can I think of anyone I know about, personally, who is nocuously (i.e., maliciously) caring ... the very word ‘caring’, in and of itself, implies benignity; being considerate, being helpful, being of a beneficial nature, being well-wishing (a.k.a. benevolent), and the such-like.
RESPONDENT: Further to my point about any ‘least part’ validity, if the original definition of empathy is retained as you pointed out then empathy can largely be substituted for ‘feeling caring’, ‘emotional contagion’ or even sympathy ...
RICHARD: And there is that watering-down process in action again (whereby the words empathy and sympathy, for the most obvious example, can become interchangeable in your eyes).
Nevertheless, I will first provide a ‘technical point’ explication of both why I wrote of [quote] “a remarkably deft sleight-of-hand vis-à-vis what the word empathy has referred to since it was coined 108 years ago (so as to translate into English what the German Einfühlung has meant for 158 years)” [endquote] and why I provided that word’s etymology, and its literal meaning, and not any one or any number of dictionary definitions ... to wit: the English ‘empathy’ is an accurate translation of the German ‘Einfühlung’ which, in turn, is an accurate translation of the Greek ‘empatheia’ inasmuch they all refer to ‘in’ + ‘feeling’ (pathos=feeling) as in, ‘feeling-in’ or ‘feeling-into’.
Therefore, not only do terms such as “perspective taking” and “theory of mind” and “problem solving” *not* refer to what the word empathy has referred to since it was coined in 1908 (so as to translate into English what the 1858 German Einfühlung meant) nor does that deceitfully-misnamed “empathic concern” (i.e., “forming a goal to alleviate that person’s suffering”) refer to it, either.
Put succinctly: unless empathy involves ‘in + feeling’ (i.e., feeling-into) there is no empathic rapport and any names or titles – such as ‘Cognitive Empathy’, for an obvious example, in those aspects of professional caring that are the real reason you advised that the article “aligns with” near-actual caring – which thereby advertise the presence of that empathy the helpee thrives on yet are totally devoid of same are not only misnamed but are deceitful as well (and outrageously so, in fact, as it borders on malpractice).
Now, back to your rendering of the words empathy and sympathy largely interchangeable: here is the etymology, and literal meaning, of the latter word from the same source.
As the word sympathy (‘syn’ + ‘feeling’) literally means ‘together-feeling’ or ‘jointly-feeling’ or ‘feeling-alike’ – as in, two feeling-beings feeling the same, or similar, feelings – it is distinctly different to the word empathy (‘in’ + ‘feeling’) literally meaning ‘feeling-in’ or ‘feeling-into’ (as in, one feeling-being vicariously feeling another’s feelings).
And so endeth another attempt at watering-down what a particular word or term specifically refers to.
RESPONDENT: ... and then any claims of alignment with harmlessness is null and void.
RICHARD: Hmm ... here is that “alignment with harmlessness” criteria again (only this time in respect to watered-down meanings of words).
RESPONDENT: Perhaps expanding the meaning of empathy is a ‘crafty re-definition’ as you say.
RICHARD: Oh, there is no “Perhaps” about it ... in view of how both the title and the sub-title of the article are composed it is indeed crafty.
’Tis a bait-and-switch trick (and possibly with the added bonus of being ‘click-bait’ as well) insofar as the bait is ‘Avoid Empathy Burnout’ – a noble aspiration – and the switch is ‘shed empathy’ (only first re-define it to mean “emotion contagion”) rather than resolve the therapists’ unresolved issues which occasion their burnout via repeated triggering of same.
Given that ‘contagion’ has undesirable connotations – as in ‘contagious diseases’ for instance – then to liken empathy to a carrier of infections (whereby the helper is direly ‘infected’, as it were, by the disease-stricken helpee via the empathic connection forged as a necessary part of the therapeutic process) is to render therapy virtually useless because ... (1.) the helpee is deprived of the empathy they thrive on ... and (2.) the helper, viewing the helpee as a potential infectious agent, keeps them at arm’s length (emotionally) ... and (3.) the helper has unresolved issues clouding their area of (supposedly) professional expertise ... and (4.) the helper’s diagnosis and, thus, prognosis, is further compromised by being engendered via a non-empathic intellectual understanding drawn from impressions based upon verbal and visual cues alone.
RESPONDENT: On the other hand, words are always evolving from their original usages.
RICHARD: Which is why I provided that word’s etymology, and literal meaning, and not any one or any number of dictionary definitions (which also provide a record of usage changes over time; its 1858 usage, for instance, was in respect to aesthetics).
I have had over 35 years, now, of interacting with errant egos – plus nigh-on 25 years of dealing with slippery souls – and have learned through experience that judicious pre-emption saves a lot of unnecessary to-ing and fro-ing of emails.
RESPONDENT: Often there isn’t even a consensus from the start ...
RICHARD: As there was consensus from both the 1858 start of the German ‘Einfühlung’ (‘in’ + ‘feeling’) and the 1908 start of the English ‘empathy’ (‘in’ + ‘feeling’) that is beside the point in this case.
RESPONDENT: ... never mind their etymological root meaning.
RICHARD: You may very well “never mind” the root meaning, if you so choose, of the English ‘empathy’, the German ‘Einfühlung’, and the Greek ‘empatheia’, but I do mind it ... and mind it well.
You see, the difference between you and me is that I actually care about my fellow human being and will leave no stone unturned, if that be what it takes, to facilitate clarity in communication ... I like my fellow human being and prefer that their self-imposed suffering come to an end, forever, sooner rather than later.
RESPONDENT: More specifically, terms in scientific research, have to be defined much more strictly and standardised for application.
RICHARD: Yet even though the title “How to Avoid *Empathy* Burnout” and sub-title “Caregivers can benefit by understanding a patient’s *pain* without *feeling* it themselves” were written by an assistant professor of psychology – the words “by Jamil Zaki” and the date “April 7, 2016” feature immediately below – whose research focuses on the cognitive and neural bases of social behaviour, at the Stanford Social *Neuroscience* Laboratory, he did not use the word empathy in any such “defined much more strictly and standardised for application” manner as it is patently obvious he was using it in the way it has been referred to since it was coined 108 years ago (so as to translate into English what the German Einfühlung has meant for 158 years) ... namely: ‘in’ + ‘feeling’.
Incidentally, if the contents of that article are representative of what constitutes [quote] “scientific research” [endquote] these days then the educational standards of the higher institutes of learning leave a lot to be desired.
RESPONDENT: If – as many researchers have pointed out, and which this article has only touched on in a narrow way – ‘empathy’ has become a catch-all and poorly operationalised term, which collapses within it: theory of mind, affect, cognitive perspective taking, mentalization etc. – then it seems that at least some of these domains that scientists consider (incorrectly or not) under the rubric of ‘empathy’ are compatible with near-actual caring.
RICHARD: First of all, I cannot help but notice that you have shifted from saying the above “aligns with” near-actual caring to now saying it is “compatible with” near-actual caring.
Nevertheless, as those aspects of professional caring are the real reason you advised that the article “aligns with” near-actual caring, in your first chat-message, it is obviously necessary to access those URLs to discover what your “etc.” represents – both immediately above (viz.: “theory of mind, affect, cognitive perspective taking, mentalization etc.”) and much further above (viz.: “perspective taking, theory of mind, problem solving etc.”) – so as to be as fully informed as possible as to what you are referring to.
As no such professional caring terms, as above, are to be found at the second URL the following is what features at the first URL.
Arranged numerically, in the sequential order presented above, purely for the ease of comparison:
As only three of your (combined) examples feature in those six aspects of professional caring, above, a comparative listing in that same sequential order is as follows:
(I am presuming, of course, that by “mentalization” you were referring to her “cognitive empathy” term and, as your “affect” and “problem solving” terms did not match those items listed 1-to-6, further above, I have arbitrarily numbered them 7 and 8 for want of any other option. And, speaking of which, I do find it cute how right after after declaring that “terms in scientific research have to be defined much more strictly and standardised for application” you immediately demonstrate a singular lack of not only standardisation, as per № 3, but strictness as well inasmuch “affect” is so vague as to mean almost anything related to the affections and “problem solving” can, and does, have a wide range of application in all manner of disciplines).
Anyway, as those six aspects of professional caring are, of course, self-centred/ self-centric – and thus self-justifying/ self-perpetuating by nature – then the real reason you advised that the article “aligns with” near-actual caring, in your first chat-message, adds nothing of an illuminative nature to a discussion about a caring which is notable by the marked absence of self-centredness/ self-centricity (and thus actively self-annulling/ self-terminating) in its operation.
Nor is there anything else presented at either of the two URLs – not even one single solitary item – which “aligns with” near-actual caring, either, and no matter how diligently a reader might peruse the material made public knowledge there, under the rubric ‘empathy’, they would emerge from their studies not one whit wiser that such an extraordinary caring even exists (let alone its demonstrated effectiveness in ending suffering, forever, for the remainder of their life).
RESPONDENT: ...[it seems that at least some of these domains that scientists consider (incorrectly or not) under the rubric of ‘empathy’ are compatible with near-actual caring] i.e. A near actually caring or even an actually caring person will be able to use perspective taking, problem solving to help someone more effectively – without the distorting effects of sympathy, commiseration, affect etc.
RICHARD: Hmm ... this leaves me wondering, of course, as to whether or not the “etc.” after those three named items incorporates empathy itself as a distorting effect for professional carers. Bearing in mind that one of those duly accredited “scientists” wrote that ‘How To Avoid Empathy Burnout’ article – and given the inclusion of “sympathy” as one of the three named distorters of professional caring – it quite likely does.
In regards to your assertion that an actually caring person will be able to use ‘Perspective Taking’ to help someone more effectively I will first re-present here what is presented as the third trait, listed under that very title, at the first URL.
As an actually free person cannot possibly see through another person’s eyes and view their own “feelings” from that other person’s perspective – there are, of course, no such “feelings” to view from any specified perspective – nor recognise that others can look through the actually free person’s eyes and view their own “feelings” thereby either (an actually free person neither looks through eyes nor is able to view that which has no existence in actuality) this is evidentially yet another instance where you have “not read the article too carefully” (let alone its relevant actualism counterpart), eh?
If I might suggest? Rather than make assertions, about how even an actually caring person will be able to use that ‘Perspective Taking’ aspect of professional caring – which those duly accredited “scientists” consider under the floating signifier ‘empathy’ – to help someone more effectively, why not try giving those web pages, at those URLs you sent this particular actually caring person to, a thorough read-through from his perspective first?
In other words: pourquoi pas prêcher par l’exemple, mettre en pratique ce que l’on prêche?
Now that I have your attention I will say again here, with added emphasis this time around, the essential point of my initial post: given that psychiatry has had at least 150+ years to demonstrate its efficacy in dealing with human suffering – *without a single recorded success in bringing such suffering to an end, forever, in any human being anywhere in the world* – it is surely an exercise in futility to even think for a moment (let alone type-out unexamined assertions and click ‘send’) that those duly accredited “scientists” would have anything at all to contribute to a discussion about a caring which is entirely new to human experience/ human history.
Or, couched in terms of the ‘Perspective Taking’ aspect of that professional caring you so obviously favour over all else, the impressively experiential ‘perspective’ of near-actual caring is the choiceless convincement that the only solution to human suffering is the actualising of an actual caring via ‘self’-immolation.
RESPONDENT: Apologies if I have missed answers to the questions below, that you may have
already given. I have found it hard to answer any of these definitively.
RICHARD: There is no scale involved – there are no degrees of near-actual caring – just as there is no scale involved in an actual caring (a person actually free from the human condition is automatically an actually caring person by virtue of being sans identity in toto and, thus, is the purity and perfection of infinitude personified). Similarly, an out-from-control feeling-being is automatically as near to actually caring as a feeling-being can be per favour the absence of self-centredness/ self-centricity and, thus, in full allowance of the benignity and benevolence inherent to pure intent to be dynamically operative.
RESPONDENT: But I may have missed that it was intended originally as a distinct ‘high-point’ for an identity.
RICHARD: It is not “intended” (be it “originally” or otherwise), period – as in some ideal ethical or moral state, planned or devised and arrived at by training or discipline or skill acquisition or whatever – as it is, rather, what ensues upon transitioning from a still-in-control virtual freedom to an out-from-control virtual freedom.
RESPONDENT: Am I to understand that it is the absolute zenith of caring that a feeling being can experience ...
RICHARD: As the word “zenith” implies some sort of scale it would be more useful to consider just what an extraordinary state of being it is where the absence of self-centredness/ self-centricity allows the benignity and benevolence inherent to pure intent to dynamically operate in both word and deed.
RESPONDENT: ... and that it is a necessary condition for self-immolation to take place?
RICHARD: There is no “necessary condition” for ‘self’-immolation to take place – and it is so dead easy to become actually free it is, literally, all much ado about nothing – other than being sure it is what one wants to have happen due to its irrevocability.
RESPONDENT: If so it may be better to use the term more harmless caring, ...
RICHARD: Again, the question immediately arises: a “more harmless caring” than ... than what? Than a less harmless caring? Less harmless than what? Than a harmless caring? Is there such an item as a non-harmless caring that it need be qualified thataway? As in a harmful (i.e., malicious) type of caring?
RESPONDENT: ...[it may be better to use the term] innocuous caring, ...
RICHARD: As the term “innocuous caring” implies a non-innocuous type of caring to distinguish it from, in that manner, is there such an item? As in a nocuous (i.e., malicious) type of caring?
RESPONDENT: ...[it may be better to use the term] naive caring for caring that stops short of near-actual caring?
RICHARD: Going by the contents of that article – and particularly those aspects of professional caring numbered 1-to-6 further above – there is certainly a difference between the sophisticated caring of the trained professionals and the unsophisticated caring which ensues when in a consistent state of wide-eyed wonder, amazement, marvel, and delight (i.e., naïve sensuosity) such as to constitute the term ‘naïve caring’.
Howsoever, as to be in that consistent state of wide-eyed wonder, amazement, marvel, and delight (i.e., naïve sensuosity) is to be out-from-control – in an ongoing different-way-of-being known as a dynamic, destinal virtual freedom – then such ‘naïve caring’ which ensues (otherwise known as a near-actual caring) can hardly be described as a caring “that stops short of near-actual caring” as they are one-and-the-same item.
RESPONDENT: Is it reasonable to consider a harmlessness scale of sorts where the beginnings of harmless is on one end and near-actual caring is on the other?
RICHARD: The word harmless, in actualism lingo, refers to the innocuity which ensues in the absence of malice – just as the word happiness refers to the felicity which ensues in the absence of sorrow – and it is only in either a PCE (where the feeling-being is abeyant) or upon an actual freedom (where the feeling-being is extinct) that there is a total absence of malice and sorrow.
It is possible, though, to be virtually harmless (virtually malice-free) in the meanwhile.
A virtual freedom is described as being as happy and harmless (as free from sorrow and malice) as is humanly possible, come-what-may, whilst remaining a ‘self’.
There are two types of virtual freedom – a pragmatic, methodological virtual freedom (where application of the actualism method has become ‘second nature’ so to speak) and a dynamic, destinal virtual freedom (where the actualism method has segued into the actualism process) – and it is the latter, an out-from-control/ different-way-of-being virtual freedom, that near-actual caring features.
So, essentially, you are asking about a “scale of sorts” where the still-in-control/ same-way-of-being virtual freedom (which is where “the beginnings of harmless” occurs) is on one end and the out-from-control/ different-way-of-being virtual freedom (which is where “a near-actual caring” takes place) is on the other end.
As a scale of any sort requires gradations from the one end to the other end – and there are no gradations between the pragmatic, methodological virtual freedom and the dynamic, destinal virtual freedom (between being still-in-control and being out-from-control) – your “Is it reasonable to consider...” query is a non-sequitur.
RESPONDENT: Q2) If, for example, I am experiencing an EE with increased naivete and a naive intimacy for someone AND in such a situation care about this person with diminished affect, would it be fair to say that I have a caring in line with near actual caring, but more distal or down the track for it?
RICHARD: Just for starters: if you are experiencing a naïve intimacy with another during an excellence experience (EE), with increased naïveté, it would save you a bit of typing by referring to it as an IE (an intimacy experience).
Then your query would look something like this:
Nevertheless, I am none too sure what “and care about this person with diminished affect” refers to because in both an EE and an IE – either of which are so close to being a PCE as to be known as near-PCE’s (as in the quoted text above) – both the ‘bad’ feelings (malice and sorrow) and the ‘good’ feelings (love and compassion) are so “diminished” anyway as to be virtually non-existent (else it not be an IE or EE) and the ‘congenial’ feelings (felicity and innocuity) are, thereby, maximal.
Thus I would expect your query to look something like this:
However, I am having some difficulty following your “but more distal or down the track for it” train of thought.
For example (regarding “but more distal...”):
For instance (regarding “...or down the track”):
Thus the “...but more distal or down the track for it” part of your query seems to refer to two quite distinct phenomena (with the former referencing anatomical, dental, or geologic features and the latter referring to either time or progress).
All of which leaves me with the [quote] “a caring *in line with* near actual caring” [emphasis added] portion of your query – wherein the highlighted ‘in line with’ phrasing appears to be quite similar to your [quote] “aligns with” [endquote] terminology – as the crux of the matter.
As a near-actual caring is unique (due to both the absence of self-centredness/ self-centricity and its dynamically destinal character) no other type of caring – no matter how many types you may conceive of – can ever be in line with it as it is in a different paradigm.
RESPONDENT: [Keeping in mind that a near-actual caring represents the apogee of caring as an identity and not merely caring in a more innocuous manner].
RICHARD: As the word “apogee” is but a variant on your usage of ‘zenith’ further above – and your “more innocuous” implies ‘less innocuous’, ‘innocuous’, and ‘nocuous’ types of caring – I will pass on your “Keeping in mind...” monition.
RESPONDENT: Q3) I take that it would not be possible for someone who has a high degree of agency – say when they are feeling good or great to experience a near actual caring?
RICHARD: As the term ‘agency’ of necessity implies an agent (i.e., a doer) when used in reference to human beings then it is the presence or absence of that agent (i.e., that doer) which determines whether or not a near-actual caring occurs and not some “degree of agency” (be it higher or lower; greater or lesser; larger or smaller) by which you presumably mean the degree of involvement of the agent (i.e., the doer) on some scale, as is your wont, ranging from passive to active.
To explain further: when out-from-control – out from being under control of the ‘controller’; that self-centred/ self-centric ‘doer’ (i.e., the ‘doer’ of deeds; the ‘actor’ of acts; the ‘speaker’ of words; the ‘thinker’ of thoughts; the ‘feeler’ of feelings) – the primary impetus of agency is the benevolence and benignity of pure intent being dynamically operative via the full concurrence of the ‘beer’ of those deeds, acts, words, thoughts, feelings (i.e., being the experiencing of same, as a state-of-being, as opposed to doing them).
And the words “primary impetus of agency” (‘impetus’ as in, “being dynamically operative”, that is) are used advisedly as, with the ‘doer’ abeyant and the ‘beer’ ascendant, the modus operandi of this mutual agency is indeterminable due to an incapacity to distinguish between the one and the other.
I have written about this quite extraordinary state of affairs before (albeit expressed as “unable to distinguish between ‘me’ doing it and it happening to ‘me’” due to those words of mine being read/ heard by a ‘doer’ and not a ‘beer’).
And again, via the spoken word (where ‘R’ = Richard; ‘Q’ = Devika; ‘Q(1)’ = Peter) back in 1997, where words such as ‘impetus’ and ‘momentum’ feature interchangeably, the term ‘cause and effect’ is utilised to good advantage, and a third alternative is referenced in regards to being “neither controlled nor uncontrolled”.
Lastly, because the terms ‘doer’ and ‘beer’ are utilised in religio-spiritual/ mystico-metaphysical literature to refer to ‘ego’ and ‘soul’, respectively, it is apposite to point out here that those terms are *not* being used thataway when referring to the doer being abeyant, and the beer ascendant, in either a near-PCE – else IE’s and EE’s would instead be ASC’s (i.e., egoless) and thus not near-PCE’s – or when in an out-from-control virtual freedom.
The following exchange (also back in 1997) explicates why this ‘doer = ego’ and ‘beer = soul’ attribution is experientially contraindicated inasmuch agency is inextricably part-and-parcel of being a sentient creature.
(I have gone into the topic of agency way beyond the scope of your query so as to forestall the most obvious questions arising had I left it at my one-paragraph response).
RESPONDENT: Is it possible for someone who is in an EE and not out-from-control to experience near actual caring during the duration of the EE?
• [Correction]: As to be having an EE (or an IE) is to be out-from-control then the critical criterion, which you have evidentially been looking for throughout this email exchange, is the ascendant beer being in full allowance of the benignity and benevolence inherent to pure intent being dynamically operative (whereby the actualism method segues into the actualism process) and pulling one evermore unto one’s destiny”.(See Claudiu’s feedback)
RESPONDENT: Q4) Can someone in a PCE have near-actual caring ...
RICHARD: As the entire affective faculty is in abeyance in a PCE (else it *not* be a PCE) it is simply not possible, period, for the caring inherent to a PCE to be anything other than an actual caring.
RESPONDENT: ... or does the identity have to present and not in abeyance?
RICHARD: Yes ... you are aware, are you not, that an identity and its feelings are one-and-the-same item (as in the ‘I’ am ‘my’ feelings and ‘my’ feelings are ‘me’ expression which returns 112 hits on my portion of The Actual Freedom Trust web site)?
Furthermore, you are aware, are you not, that a PCE is a direct experience of an actual caring?
As a PCE provides an experiential understanding of what an actual caring is – and that direct experiencing is streets ahead of any of my descriptions and explanations – it is the benchmark par excellence
As such it is the quintessential point of reference upon which all terms of reference – and especially, for example, a near-actual caring – can be reliably and confidently sourced.
In the meanwhile, I will leave you with what I wrote, much further above, about the first time feeling-being ‘Vineeto’ experienced a near-actual caring as it very effectively conveys just how extraordinary a near-actual caring is.
Continued on Correspondence with Vineeto, Man from Sydney
The Third Alternative
(Peace On Earth In This Life Time As This Flesh And Blood Body)
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