Empathy as a Survival Skill

Discussion in 'What's On Your Mind?' started by Elizabeth Conley, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. Elizabeth Conley

    Elizabeth Conley Original Member

    I was digging through this household's vast and disorganized bookshelves earlier this week, frantically seeking our excellent translation of Beowulf. (The daughter is studying English Literature this year.) I ended up pausing frequently to read pages from old favorites. Yes, I can easily testify to the fact that world domination would be easy if there weren't so many enticing distractions along the way!

    Anyhow, among my ramblings was a passage from my all-time favorite "self-help" book, The Survivor Personality by Al Siebert. The author describes empathy as a survival skill for business leaders thusly:

    I couldn't help but reflect that the refusal to empathize is one of the more serious top to bottom leadership failures I've observed within the TSA.

    There is the top to bottom ethics failure inherent in the obfuscations and deliberate decision to operate in contempt for the rule of law. Those things are obvious. What is less obvious is that a less-valued practice, empathy, would have kept their collective fat out of the fire.
    DeafBlonde likes this.
  2. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Except they can easily turn this to manipulation. Using empathy (or sympathy as it always used to be called) as a tool to further enlist your victim into his abuse. "We're so sorry we have to do this --we don't want to anymore than you do, believe us -- but it's for your own good."

    "It's for your safety."

    "It's for your safety."

    "It's for your safety."

    Even Shoshana Hebshi was told this -- with a straight face -- by the pig who was strip-searching her.

    It's the most vile form of dominance. I wager the TSA will actually start doing this soon, now that they're starting to see a backlash against their practices.
    DeafBlonde likes this.
  3. Elizabeth Conley

    Elizabeth Conley Original Member

    Well yeah. That's what sociopaths do. It's one of the many skill sets in a high-functioning sociopath's bag of tricks. That's why I won't have squat to do with a sociopath once I've identified him or her. When people say sociopaths lack empathy, they're being naive. The vast majority of sociopaths use their empathy to manipulate their victims and revel in the knowledge of the lasting pain they inflict.

    Empathy is not in and of itself a virtue. It's a skill. How you use your understanding of other people's emotion is up to you.

    Here's a glimpse into the sociopath. Use it as you will:

    They absolutely feel emotion. They just don't feel what the rest of us do. Knowing what they feel and how those feelings express themselves in actions and words can be a very powerful thing. Sociopaths are rare, but they do exist. They think no one knows what they are. If you identify them for what they are then they will not have nearly as much power as they would have if you didn't know.

    PS: To morally compromised leaders the sociopath can be seen as highly valuable. Such people will do eagerly do things normal employees have to be forced to do. It is probable that when the people who ordered Hebshi's humiliation sought "a woman" to search their victim, the weren't just seeking any woman. The particular woman had an eagerness for this kind of "work" that the organization found useful.
  4. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    There is a reason that a suspected prison guard at Treblinka (John Demjanjuk) was hounded all his life even at 90 and in a wheelchair, and deported from this country. Being low on the totem pole does not excuse you from penalty and guilt you brought on yourself by cooperating in carrying out activities any human should know are morally wrong.

    It is morally wrong to strip search innocent people Rugape, morally wrong to randomly feel their butts, breasts, and groins at the gate when they already cooperated at the checkpoint, it is morally wrong to visually strip search them their, it is morally wrong to sexually molest people on the basis of a 100% defective ETD test, it is morally wrong to perform invasive groin checks on people who have not earned this scrutiny.

    Keep on believing you have nothing to do with those actions performed by your agency. I suspect that is why you insist on maintaining doubt on whether any of this occurs.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  5. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Yes, denial is such a powerful -- and beloved -- human mechanism.
  6. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    But you do have to give John Demjanjuk credit for a novel defense -- innocent of the Treblinka charges because at the time he was actually killing jews at Sobibor.

    The defense did work. Now he's awaiting trial for the crimes at Sobibor. :D
  7. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    yes, there is that. out of pan and into fire. the record was so hard to trace that the Israelis let him go.

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