What does Lack of Empathy mean?


As social beings we generally tend to empathize with people when they are experiencing a negative emotion or loss. Empathy is a state where you can literally put yourself in the other person’s place and understand their plight. The feeling of empathy thus implies an active involvement with the person concerned.

Why is empathy important?

The best part of empathy is that a person feels and relates to another’s emotions and thoughts without any of these directly communicated to the person. Empathy is generally felt for a person with whom you are emotionally involved, or a person you know. They may include members of a family, friends or even people of your community. When your friend loses his father it would be a natural for you to feel empathy for him more so if you have also undergone a similar experience of pain and loss.

Empathy has many benefits it not only helps the other person but also provides a valuable lesson for you. Empathy instantly connects people experiencing the same emotions together. When you empathize with someone you feel a great therapeutic or healing experience. By empathizing with someone you pave the way for developing feelings of concern and trust.

Empathy has great relevance as a communication skill. Communicators can instantly relate to their audience and share their emotions. It is this sense of inspiration and mutual understanding that creates a rapport between the speaker and his audience. On the other hand  a lack of empathy would mean ineffective communication as the communicator doesn’t understand the listener’s perspective and there may be a total loss of rapport between the speaker and his audience. As such the audience may feel sympathy to the speaker or the message as part of the communication process.

What happens when there is Lack of Empathy?

A person suffering from lack of empathy would be lacking self-worth, self-love and self-awareness. In other words he is unable to relate to the others emotions or accept their needs and choices.

Empathy is the basis for any relationship to survive and thrive. Problems start in relationships when there is lack of empathy as communication is the key to the growth of a relationship. It would be presumptuous to assume that others can understand your emotions without you expressing them out. Lack of empathy in a marriage arises when the partners lack understanding and trust for each other. Lack of empathy in partners can percolate down to children who start developing similar patterns of behavior.

A psychopath is called so as he suffers from lack of empathy. He cannot and does not empathize with people around him. He is spurred to action only by his self-interest and in a sense is socially dysfunctional. Similarly a narcissist suffers from lack of empathy when he focuses on his own pleasure and goes to any extent of manipulation even with family and friends just to gratify his needs.

Empathy as such is essential for proper social and psychological functioning. A lack of empathy would make people abuse and exploit others in society.


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