National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: Empathy plays a part in the healing process

How empathy plays a part in the healing process for those with eating disorders. By Judy Scheel, 


Empathy is the ability to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings that are being experienced by another, and to feel what it’s like to be in his or her shoes. Most eating disorder sufferers feel pain and fear, and are trapped by ruminating and self-loathing thoughts. Sometimes families, friends and the general public believe that eating disordered behavior is voluntary, or that the sufferer truly feels deep down that he or she is better than others. The reality is that any attempt to “appear” better than others is really a protection against these deep feelings of self-loathing, shame, guilt and loneliness….


The idea of empathy isn’t so that family and friends can experience or take on the sufferer’s emotions; it’s simply an interactive experience shared between two people. Empathy transcends sympathy.