“Sensitivity to other people’s emotions helps relationships; you can learn to be better at it,” the Journal says in the item by Elizabeth Bernstein.
In what seems like another life, back when I was going through marriage counseling, I learned that I needed to have more empathy to improve our relationship. Empathy is defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” Wikipedia says, “By the age of two, children normally begin to display the fundamental behaviors of empathy by having an emotional response that corresponds with another person.”
While my marriage didn’t survive, I did become much more sensitive about empathy and its value in all relationships. You can check out the link above to get the Journal’s take on empathy.
I mentioned empathy because it brought to mind a post I wrote several years ago which I am reblogging below.
Please feel free to share your views on this as I think it is an important subject.
What About Heroes Without Empathy?
I am asking about heroes without empathy because I really don’t know the answer. Over the past few years, we have been offered several heroes that have become hugely popular yet who do not seem to care at all about other people. They have no empathy.
Empathy is defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” Wikipedia says, “By the age of two, children normally begin to display the fundamental behaviors of empathy by having an emotional response that corresponds with another person.”
A hero is someone admired for achievements and noble qualities. Someone who demonstrates a lot of courage. The heroes below are over the top on achievements, but seem utterly lacking in empathy, a quality I consider a noble one.
I like movies and TV and as a retired guy indulge in my share. I am thinking of two heroes of popular TV shows and one of books and movies.
Lisbeth Salander is The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and Played with Fire in Stieg Larsson’s memorable trilogy. Abused as a child, Lisbeth forged a successful life for herself that included physical combat, computer hacking, bisexuality, higher mathematics and a general off the grid existence. She hijacked the focus of millions of fans worldwide, but appeared incapable of fathoming the feelings of the person seated across from her in a room. Lisbeth is the first of my three heroes.
The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper is the number two. A Cal-tech theoretical physicist, according to Wikipedia, “Sheldon exhibits a strict adherence to routine, a total lack of social skills, a tenuous understanding of irony, sarcasm, and humor, and a general lack of humility or empathy.”
Jim Parsons who plays Sheldon has won Primetime Emmys, a Golden Globe Award, A TCA Award and a Critics’ Choice Television Award for his work on the series.
Sheldon dominates his roommate, Leonard, with The Roommate Agreement, a multi-page document that Leonard signed to come aboard. It is heavily weighted in Sheldon’s favor. He has a similar agreement with his girlfriend, Amy Farrah Fowler, about which she laments in one episode that she didn’t consult with a lawyer before signing.
Unlike Lisbeth Salander’s crushingly dark character, Sheldon is a bright incredibly comic character whose antics propel The Big Bang Theory to the top of the sitcom charts every year.
The third hero is none other than Sherlock Holmes himself, in his latest incarnation on TV’s Elementary. Brought to life by Jonny Lee Miller, Holmes is a recovering drug addict with the lovely Lucy Liu as his ‘sober companion’ Dr. Joan Watson.