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Is It Wrong to Feel Sympathy?
Another odd idea that was introduced in Advanced Procedure and Axioms was a negative view toward the feeling of sympathy.
SYMPATHY is commonly understood as a feeling of pity or sorrow toward some misfortune of another.
It obviously depends on one’s ability to recognize and form perception of the suffering and misfortune of another, and then to be able to feel something about it.
While there are some subtle differences between the three, SYMPATHY, EMPATHY, and COMPASSION are all derivatives from the Greek’s root word PATHOS which means “feeling” or “suffering.” The word “compassion” comes from Latin’s compassio and is “an ecclesiastical loan-translation of Greek sympatheia (i.e. sympathy) [Online Etimology Dictionary]. While there are some differences in the common understanding and usage of the words, sym-pathy and com-passion basically mean the same thing – to suffer together – and hold comparable definitions in most dictionaries (though additionally, sympathy can also mean a sharing or agreement in feeling or understanding). Empathy means “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another” [Oxford Dictionary].
The view of “sympathy” is quite simple when relying on standard word derivations and common sense, but here comes Hubbard to override both with his own definitions and explanations:
So here we have it: Hubbard labels sympathy a “mis-emotion” [inappropriate emotion], redefines it as “the posing of an emotional state similar to the emotional state of an individual in grief or apathy” [claiming that it is a common meaning which it is not], and asserts that it is “a non-survival apology” that is actually caused by actions against (overt acts) the target(s) of sympathy – the actions which failed.
This is obviously not correct. Sympathy is a FEELING that is connected to the PERCEPTION or recognition of misfortune and suffering of another. It does not have to have anything to do with harmful actions, though if someone did commit actions that lead to a perceived condition of suffering and misfortune that the perpetrator now feels bad about, the feeling of sympathy can also become entangled with feelings of guilt and regret over having caused the condition.
A feeling of sympathy can also be tied to a sense of guilt when someone feels like they should do something to help remedy the unfortunate condition of another and yet fail to act which then can give that person a sense of being responsible for the persisting reality of the condition. In this sense, it can also be tied to a “failure to help” as well as to mental impressions of judgment by others – if the person was somehow judged before for not being compassionate or helping enough or if such judgment existed generally in one’s culture (such as commonly the case within Christian communities, for example, that advocate help for the suffering and unfortunate).
Sympathy is not just connected to a feeling or emotion (as Hubbard asserted), it is also tied to a sense that the perceived condition SHOULD NOT BE. Hence, there is an aspect of resistance or protest toward the existence of a perceived condition and a common desire to change or resolve it. In this sense, the perceived misfortune can also be viewed as form of a problem [in line with the definition of “problem” presented on this site on page REALITY].
This “resistance” can lead one to become “attached” to the perceived reality of condition that an individual wants to change. The desire to change it and inability to do so can lead to a sense of failure and a sense of being overwhelmed by the reality of that which an individual wanted to overcome. This in turn can lead to a sense of being “overpowered” by the perceived condition which can then impinge on that individual as a seemingly persisting reality. This is how the assumption of condition that an individual had sympathy for, or a “valence shift” that Hubbard referred to, can occur [valence shift – becoming an entity for which one felt sympathy such as becoming poor, unhappy, lonely or developing some kind of a health condition – whatever it is that an individual sympathized with which then impinged on him or her as a form of reality].
Enforcing an idea that a feeling of sympathy, in itself, is somehow wrong and a result of harmful actions (as opposed to PERCEPTION of misfortune) and then instituting measures to wipe sympathy from the psychological construct of an individual is actually very destructive and dangerous as it is likely to lead to the formation of psychological construct that lacks an ability to empathize with others all together which in turn leads to a general INABILITY TO PERCEIVE the reality of others to its fullest extent.
LACK OF EMPATHY is also the basis for the condition of PSYCHOPATHY and “liberates” an individual to actually be able to cause suffering onto others with a seeming lack of spiritual consequences to oneself (as an individual now has no concept of feeling for another sentient being and so does not experience the pain inflicted on another). [Read more about psychopathy and other conditions on page Psychopathy and Conditioned Psychosis.]
This may very well be the state that Hubbard actually intended to create in his followers so they would eventually become 1) oblivious to the suffering and injustices perpetrated by Scientology itself, and 2) be willing to commit harmful acts in compliance with Hubbard’s orders, and think nothing of it.
The solution to the possible negative “side effects” in relationship to sympathy (as was described above) lies in the direction of addressing PERCEPTION of that which one sympathized with. A potential “impingement” of the sympathized condition is effectively resolved when an individual takes responsibility for CREATING THE VISION (perception) of such a condition to begin with.
In this way, “scanning sympathy” within the confines of an auditing session in Dianetics may, in some cases, have actually produced some positive results since it would motivate an individual to (re)create the perceived conditions related to sympathy and hence come to cause over them. But this positive gain is ultimately overshadowed by Hubbard’s negative view and misleading explanations behind the experience of sympathy and its indicated cause (i.e. overt acts).
AN ADDITIONAL NOTE ON SYMPATHY
Because sympathy caries with it a vision of an unfortunate condition, it could actually reinforce or even create the reality of such condition for whom the sympathy is directed. In this sense, sympathy can actually feed the unwanted condition. Hence, there can be a rational negative reaction toward the receipt of “sympathy” by those that disagree with the vision of reality that it carries (for oneself and one’s condition).