October 1966

Why Do We Sympathize With Each Other?

Author Affiliations

From the New York School of Psychiatry, New York.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1966;15(4):390-397. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1966.01730160054009

WHAT is it in us that arouses for one fellow being sudden feelings of sympathy and for the other being antipathy and suspicion ? What is that sudden creative communion of feelings that can be aroused? From the very onset we have to recognize a dilemma that stands at the gateway of our study. We cannot investigate the subject of sympathy without having the reader's attention and sympathy. It is the same strange quandary as how to communicate about communication. Here too we presuppose a minimum of verbal understanding that otherwise makes us get lost in meaningless verbiage.

Be aware that I do not use the word "love" that acquired such a variety of meanings in our daily language. Declaring one's love is usually asking for love and sympathy. Physicists have long been aware that the language with which we describe the phenomena of

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