Does Pain Help You Empathize More With Others?

Empathy, in spite of its pivotal role in both our individual interactions with other people and in society, is a relatively new construct. As human beings, we are attuned to other people’s distress or pain. Now, however, an interesting new angle to empathy is surfacing. It seems that having experienced pain yourself might make you better equipped to empathize with other people. Ironically, this could mean that pain may actually be good for more reasons than you’d imagine.

Empathy is an important part of being human. It enables you to see the other person’s side of an argument, to understand what is troubling them, and “feel” what is hurting them emotionally, mentally, or physically. But does this feeling extend to actual physical experience too? Can pain itself help you be more empathetic or sympathetic to another person’s problems and pain?