The word empathy means an affective resonance with someone else. If you are moved by the suffering of someone, even though you make a clear distinction between yourself and that person, you suffer because she suffers. You may also feel joy when she feels joy. Researchers found that a part of their brain network associated with pain is activated in subjects who watch someone being hurt.
When repeated over time, empathic resonance with others’ pain can lead to empathic distress and emotional exhaustion, or burnout. According to a study carried out in North America, 60 % of all nurses, doctors, and caregivers who are in constant contact with patients experiencing suffering have or will suffer burnout at some point in their professional life.
Compassion and selfless love are associated with positive emotions.
by Matthieu Ricard