“Empathy Fatigue” 2: by Matthieu Ricard

Contrary to empathic distress, love and compassion are positive states of mind that reinforce our inner ability to confront others’ sufferings. If a child is hospitalized, the presence of a loving mother at his side who holds his hand and comforts him with tender words will no doubt do him more good than the anxiety of a mother overwhelmed with empathic distress who, unable to bear the sight of her sick child, paces back and forth in the hallway. Reassured by my explanations, my nurse friend told me that despite qualms she occasionally had, this point of view agreed with her experience as a caregiver.


In light of Tania Singer’s preliminary research, it seems logical that those whose profession is to help suffering people on a daily basis be trained in altruistic love and compassion.