Empathy vs Sympathy in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

In my last post, I discussed the role of empathy in promoting moral behavior; it set me to thinking more about empathy and, in particular, the way people often use that word interchangeably with the word sympathy when they actually describe different experiences. If you’re already clear on that difference, bear with me.

Here are two dictionary definitions from Merriam-Webster:


“the act or capacity of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another”


“the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts and experience of another of either the past of present without having the feelings, thoughts and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner”

In my view, the distinction between empathy vs sympathy involves the difference between entering into and sharing those feelings that another person may have verbally and intentionally expressed vs intuiting something unspoken, of which the other person may sometimes be entirely unaware. I often find that clients want me to sympathize with what they’re telling me, when in fact, they need me to empathize with and help them become aware of something unconscious they’re afraid to know. …


What’s Truth Got To Do With Intimacy? | Integral Life

What's Truth Got To Do With Intimacy? – Integral Life.

What does truth have to do with intimacy?

What kind of intimacy is in fact, a precise attunement to the emergence of existence?

Our ordinary understanding of the truth is a certain statement or perception of what would be considered true or false. Initially we see the truth as facts, but facts and the truth are not the same. If we continue, we discover that the truth is what is actually there. If it’s the physical world—we might describe what is objectively agreed upon and if it’s our subjective reality, we sense into our perceptions, beliefs, motivations, feelings, sensations, intuitions, dreams, wishes, etc. We might also become aware of defenses, desires, fears and concerns. …

Why Living in the Moment Is Impossible | University of Pittsburgh News

Why Living in the Moment Is Impossible | University of Pittsburgh News.

[Research done at Pitt shows that decision-making memories are stored in a mysterious area of the brain known to be involved with vision and eye movements

Aug 8, 2012


B. Rose Huber



Cell: 412-328-6008

PITTSBURGH—The sought-after equanimity of “living in the moment” may be impossible, according to neuroscientists who’ve pinpointed a brain area responsible for using past decisions and outcomes to guide future behavior. The study, based on research conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and published today in the professional journal Neuron, is the first of its kind to analyze signals associated with metacognition—a person’s ability to monitor and control cognition (a term cleverly described by researchers as “thinking about thinking.”)]

The Ghost of Christmas past

Posted by Rain on August 8, 2012 at 9:16pm, on the Divine Visions Network

The Ghost of Christmas past
For the last few days I have tried to put my finger on the current energy, the clues were there but I had not yet managed to put them all together. This morning it all fell into place and I understood the current challenge.

Most of us have moved on in many ways from our past but still hold an old conditioning to certain energy’s in others.
What often happen is despite how far we have come we can still be blindsided by others who have the same or similar energy to a parent or primary care giver. Which means that we can revert back to our child like state in their company where we elevate the other without question rather than just emulate the qualities we like and forget the rest.
As a child we accept others authority often without question. What they says goes and is rarely challenged, unless we are teens LOL then we challenge everything with gusto. As adults we learn to discern what feels right to us and question what feels wrong. When we come across the ghost of our past it is easy to revert back to that child like state where the other seems to have all the answers and we feel like we have to just accept their take on things regardless of an inner discomfort.

Over the last few days, quite a few that I have spoken with have had a visit from the ghost of the past. For some it was a nice ghost where their childlike selves had elevated a parent because all they remember is their nice qualities and some its a not so nice ghost where their inner old conditioning overrides common sense and they accept the authority or the words of another above their own inner knowing.
It really depends on our childhood as to which ghost is calling right now.

The main energies of the parent that we either feared or elevated is likely to show up in others now and the challenge is to see the whole picture not just the old triggers.

Open root- Authoritarian
Blocked root – pessimist/victim
Open sacral- drama addict
blocked sacral- self sacrificer
Open solar plexus- strong willed fault finder
Blocked solar plexus- procrastinator
Open heart- Image conscious (swan syndrome)
Blocked heart- others approval decides their value
Open throat- talks but refuses to listen
blocked throat- holds back from expressing true feelings
open third eye- paranoid, See’s digs where there are none
blocked third eye- rigid set in stone view
open crown- values thoughts above feelings, intellectualises
blocked crown- avoids learning from previous mistakes

Most parents had a few chakras out and some may be open and others blocked.
The energy of my ghost has show as the authoritarian, self sacrificing fault finder and I have found myself paralysed with self doubt at times and then laughing my socks off at myself when I recognised that it was not who I am today reacting to that energy.

I am fortunate to have worked through my lessons with my parents and now have a better understanding of them but I know others who were robbed of the chance so others take the role of the parent, offering them a chance to work through old conditioning’s and move on.
One friend talked to me about a memory of her father on her birthday and how that ghost still seems to haunt how she approaches birthdays now.

One of the things I rarely admit to is the fact that I can tune into the chakras of people who have passed. I found out by accident and told a friend who took it upon herself to prove to me that it was not a fluke, so added the names of the dead to the list when she asked for chakra reading and then broke the news to me later after I had managed to describe the character of the dearly departed. Some were more than 30 years passed but I was still able to pick up their chakra state.
The only time I willingly look at those who have passed is to help someone understand a family pattern and where their conditioning may have come from.

The energy of my friends dad gave huge clues as to the situations and patterns that are going on in her life now. As her father is no longer around there are others who have taken his place and are repeating the energy pattern. With some she can see it and rise above the knee jerk reaction to react from her childlike state, but with others she still allows their energy to drag her back to a helpless state where their energy rides rough-shot over hers.

Over the last few days I found myself back in my childlike state response to some energy’s and it was only when I investigated and asked myself who that person reminded me of that I was able to revisit my ghosts and see why they were like that and how little it had to do with me.
Being able to not take personally the actions of others who have the ability to make us want to take it personally is a good way to step out of the pattern and hand their projections back to them.

I now understand that the way my dad was with me was more about how he was unable to deal with his own presumed failings than it was ever about me. He took how I was, personally and as his heart was also blocked he presumed that his value came from how I turned out and was seen by the outside world. As I did not fit with his expectations his imbalanced chakras made me wrong. But now that we have worked through our ghosts, dad now see’s me as me not an extension of him.

Look closely at the people who are in your world, who do they remind you of?
Its not about blaming them or demonising them, they are there to help us to understand our misunderstandings and if we just blow them out someone else will take their place. Where as if we learn to find our own balance despite the triggers their presents may create we and they can move on.

The flip side is Kate and her romantic view of me as she was growing up. There is no doubt that she loves me and feels blessed by the childhood she had. She seen enough of others childhoods to be grateful for her own. But there is a danger in her not remembering my darker side and the mistakes that I made. I was far from perfect and I hold my hand up to that. I see it that Kate and I grew up together in ways and I think its important that she remembers the whole picture not just the nice bits.

I know from experience that if Kate keeps her rose coloured spec’s on when she meets others who remind her of me she is in danger of elevating them rather than just emulating the qualities she admires and learning from the mistakes they still make.

I have learnt that in each person in our lives there is an opportunity to redress an old imbalance or misunderstanding of a previous relationship. When we just see how others have hurt us, let us down, put us down or devalued us we will only ever learn part of the lesson. Where as when we take a little time to look in and possibly back we can see that the wounds we still carry are calling in the energy we need to help us heal and move on.

Our new mantra in our house is emulate don’t elevate LOL cos both of us have had the good fortune to meet people its easy to admire right now and we know the danger is in us missing the opportunity if we just elevate those people rather than emulate the qualities in them we admire.

How to remove negative thoughts and tame your monkey mind

How to remove negative thoughts and tame your monkey mind, Part 1 | Personal Development – UrbanMonk.Net.

[What is the one of the biggest obstacles that you can face in achieving personal mastery?

Your mind, your thoughts. Master them, and you master yourself. Then there is little you cannot do over time. Happiness, character, external success – they all begin in the mind. As the famous saying goes – “As within, so without.”

The moment we begin paying attention to our thoughts we discover how unruly they are. We don’t really beat our heart, it beats itself. Neither do we control our thinking – we are being thought. Estimates place the number of thoughts we have each day at 40 to 60 thousand, and we don’t have more than the most basic control over them. Increasing this control – mental labour – is often said to be the hardest work of all. The good news is; even the slightest increase is well worth it. …]

The door back in…

The door back in… | Intuitive Bridge.

[The world cannot be separated into the good-enough and the not-good-enough. No matter how hard we try to do so.

If you felt ashamed, alone, apart recently, this post is for you.
When I was a girl my best friend was Sarah. She was tiny and perfect. Every grown-up loved her. Her parents kept a shrine of violins, starting with the smallest, tiniest one that she had played on, and adding new ones as she grew …]