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Friday, December 11, 2015


From German meaning "world pain" where one feels empathy for the pain of the world around them. It is different from schadenfreude which is the sadistic enjoyment of the pain or revenge upon others. It cannot be taken for granted that any one individual actually feels such empathy for other creatures. In the case of Autistic Spectrum, or what was once called Aspergers, the social disconnection denies one the ability to identify with the suffering of anyone else. Or those with a Personality Disorder may also lack the emotional experience even though they may learn to emulate and manipulate others into believing they do. Some are very sensitive and identify closely with people in distressing situations. And there are many points in between with varying degrees of empathy. Such a balance is probably the healthiest emotionally and can be a sign of a basic self awareness and boundary consciousness.

Such empathy, unlike sympathy which is a more general awareness of suffering, is a motivational factor to do something about the suffering. In many cases of weltschmerz, it simply causes intense depression due to the realistic inability to do anything. Depression is often an acquired helplessness.