The Myth of Compassion Fatigue

One of the commonest claims relating to the alleged impact of photographs of atrocity, violence and war is that they induce ‘compassion fatigue’ in the public at large. This claim often starts with an assertion about our media saturated world, and is part of the general suspicion about the capacity of images Rancière noted. At its heart is the notion that, far from changing the world, photographs work repetitively, numbing our emotional capacity and thereby diminishing the possibility of an effective response to international crises. …

 

What is notable about compassion fatigue is that it means one thing in the context of health care and social work, and the reverse in relation to the media and politics…

 

by David Campbell