Role of Empathy in Healing
Role of Empathy in Healing
The most important element in promoting healing is the authentic relationship between affected and another party. The relationship can be between a patient and a doctor, a bereaved person and a friend or even strangers. Empathy is defined as capability to feel and share another person’s feeling. It is important for understanding what others are going through since when an empathetic person sees someone in pain, they feel that response in their own gut. In other words, it is the capacity to place oneself in another person’s shoes. Being able to empathize is an important sense of humanity since one is able to understand a fellow human and their problems.
For sick people, empathy can promote healing through proving therapeutic effects, which reduce anxiety in patients. This happens when the sick person or the affected family feels that the doctors or the attending physicians understand their condition and apprehensions giving them an opportunity to confide in them. That process of telling one’s story can be therapeutic and can facilitate healing. For instance, in A small Good thing, the doctor kept on assuring Scotty’s parents that everything was going to be alright (Raymond, 2015). The doctor kept on telling them that he knew that what they were going through was not easy. He also showed some compassion for them and he kept on telling them to go out of their sick son’s room for a bite. He would often tell them that he was sure that they were worn out and that he knew their situation was hard. After their son’s death, the doctor also extended his empathy to them through assuring them of how concerned he was about the whole situation. He also extended a shoulder to cry on for Ann. Through the doctors’ empathy and concern, Scotty’s parents partly healed from their grief and they managed to leave the hospital. The same sense of empathy was extended to the by the bakery man who explained to them how his life had been without children and all the things that he had gone through, the loneliness and the disadvantage of always having to bake cakes for people’s occasions yet he never had an opportunity to bake one for his absentee family. The baker was able to see and value what Scotty’s parents were feeling and experiencing. Through their talk with him, they were able to get some form of relief through knowing that someone else had experienced a similar problem and they got out of it stronger.
Empathy can also help in healing a person failure, rejection and shame that makes people feel and believe that they are bad or worthless in the community. Normally people as human beings are meant to connect and have a sense of belonging, however, they encounter experiences that affect then at all stages in life. The responses that they receive from the people that they reach out to during the tough times determine their expectations for relationships. Negative responses trigger rejection or shame. Empathy helps people with such experiences to heal from the shame and rejection. Having someone who understands such an experience makes the affected feel safe and loved. In Just as a prayer, the relationship between the doctor and the patient seem to correlate, at least according to the doctor, they both had unresolved guilt (Rafael, 1997). The patient, for the life that he had been living to an extent of injecting heroin to his I.V and the doctor for considering himself a sinful outcast member of the faith. The doctor seemed to understand, the sinful life of the patient and this got him thinking after the patient told him to pray for him after going to church. That statement was ironical to the doctor considering that he thought of himself as an unfaithful. It was ironic that such a sinful person could remember to ask for prayers. It, however, got him thinking of his redemption, the redemption that he knew he needed. That conversation gave some form of healing to the doctor because it got him thinking about redeeming his faith.
With empathy, one is able to treat other people the way we would wish them to treat us. It also becomes easier to understand the needs of the people around us. Being able to understand a person’s perceptions enhances psychological healing. For the sick, it provides therapeutic healing while for other problems it provides healing from shame, guilt, and rejection.
Rafael Campo. (1997). Like a Prayer. W.W Norton & Company Inc. Retrieved 7th May, 2015
Raymond Carrer. (2015). A Small Good Thing. Retrieved 7th May, 2015