Ifat Glassman

Who has it easier to say what's on his heart

63 posts in this topic

How is "venting" different from expressing emotion? I see a possible false-dichotomy here, since the choice is not between unthinking emotionalism and repression. It's important to release strong emotion, because this relieves stress and helps you to think more clearly, although the form of release can be different from person to person. And it's also important to then resolve the conflict causing the pain. It's best to do both.

Yes, I think you're right. "venting" is just a handier term than "expressing emotion".

Actually, no. "venting" has to do primarily with the expressing of negative emotion, whereas "expressing emotion" is concerned with all emotions, negative and positive.

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And Sophia, I'm still curious about sympathy versus empathy.

I found this pretty good explanation:

Sympathy is feeling what somebody else feels through you. When you are being sympathetic, you're not really helping much, because you're making the situation about you... In contrast, empathy is feeling what somebody else feels through them. You keep the focus on them, until you're certain they've expressed themselves fully.

To illustrate, the following would be sympathy:

Bob: I just got fired...

Joe: Wow, that sucks... but don't worry, you'll be fine! I got fired a few years back,

and there's always work available for talented guys like us, right?

Joe genuinely thinks he is being helpful... Joe is not being helpful! Joe isn't listening to Bob at all. Joe is rambling on about his own past, and about his theories of the job market. He's trying to connect with Bob, but he's using sympathy. Sympathy leaves Joe open for this:

Bob: What the hell do you know, Joe? That was years ago! You didn't have

a house! You didn't have a wife and a kid to support! The job market was completely

different back then! You have no clue about my problems! Get the hell away from me!

Joe: ...I was only trying to help...

Bob is clearly in a lot of pain. He's afraid of a lot of things, and his good buddy Joe clearly isn't listening. So Bob lashes out, and wisely tells Joe to get the hell away from him. Then Joe gets defensive, and says something even stupider. With luck, they'll be friends again in a few weeks...

In contrast, empathy would look something like this:

Bob: I just got fired...

Joe: Wow, that sucks... you must be feeling pretty scared right now, huh?

See the difference? Joe didn't make it about himself... he kept his focus on Bob. He asked Bob how he was feeling, and after Bob answers, Joe should keep asking. He should let Bob vent about his situation: his wife, his kid, his house, the job market, whatever. Even if Joe knows a guy who might give Bob a job, Joe should shut the hell up until Bob's finished venting. This may only take five minutes, or it might take a whole hour. Either way, its an important part of the process. Bob will not listen to what Joe has to say, unless Bob feels Joe fully understands his situation.

Empathy before education. Always.

How does Joe know when Bob's finished venting? He'll hear something different in Bob's voice: hope. When Bob is open for suggestions, he'll say something like, "what do you think I should do?" or "have you ever been in this situation before?" Only after Joe hears this, is Bob ready to listen to new ideas, new possibilities, and new ways of fixing this problem. Only after Joe hears hope, or a direct request for help, is Bob ready to hear what Joe wants to say. If Joe wants to help Bob, Joe needs patience.

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Women deal with their emotions by venting. Almost immediately after we "get it out" or "talking it over" we feel better and ready to deal with whatever gave us the trouble. There is no or very little desire there for others to sympathize. In fact, often an expression of sympathy triggers aggravation (Did you notice?). Empathy -yes; sympathy - not so much.

It is not always true that a woman does not want a man (or another woman) to offer solutions. When a woman is upset and venting that is not the time to offer advice. It is the wrong timing that creates aggravation. It is not being respectful of this process; it is using your offer of solutions, in essence, to cut short her venting (that is what gets men in trouble...). When a girlfriend is listening to another we just hear the other out. We save our advice for after she is done. Just as noted above, most often than not, she will already have the right answer. So it is better to first ask: So what do you think you will do about this?

This may come as a surprise to some (because they have not been making an equivocation between the two) but men are not much different. Wives hear their husbands out, without interruptions, all the time. First, what the problem is and then how he will solve it.

Great post, Sophia. Thanks.

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Women deal with their emotions by venting. Almost immediately after we "get it out" or "talking it over" we feel better and ready to deal with whatever gave us the trouble.
Why is this? Why do you think it is necessary to share the emotions rather than just deal with the problem?

Communicating emotions to another person requires you to put what you are feeling into words and to describe the situation that gave rise to your emotions. That is the first step in identifying what you are feeling and the premises that caused them. It gives you conceptual control of your emotions. Once you identify the cause of your distress, the solution to the problem is often obvious.

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Women deal with their emotions by venting. Almost immediately after we "get it out" or "talking it over" we feel better and ready to deal with whatever gave us the trouble. There is no or very little desire there for others to sympathize. In fact, often an expression of sympathy triggers aggravation (Did you notice?). Empathy -yes; sympathy - not so much.

It is not always true that a woman does not want a man (or another woman) to offer solutions. When a woman is upset and venting that is not the time to offer advice. It is the wrong timing that creates aggravation. It is not being respectful of this process; it is using your offer of solutions, in essence, to cut short her venting (that is what gets men in trouble...). When a girlfriend is listening to another we just hear the other out. We save our advice for after she is done. Just as noted above, most often than not, she will already have the right answer. So it is better to first ask: So what do you think you will do about this?

This may come as a surprise to some (because they have not been making an equivocation between the two) but men are not much different. Wives hear their husbands out, without interruptions, all the time. First, what the problem is and then how he will solve it.

Great post, Sophia. Thanks.

Post #27 is great, too. Really shows the difference!

Yes, both posts are really good, I agree.

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Sophia makes great points.

Until someone offers some evidence to the contrary, I'll stick by my conclusion that the one who is more philosophically advanced will have an easier time identifying and communicating his emotions.

I think it has more to do with a style or personality than to do with being 'philosophically advanced'. Not right/wrong, simply different.

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And Sophia, I'm still curious about sympathy versus empathy.

I found this pretty good explanation:

Sympathy is feeling what somebody else feels through you. When you are being sympathetic, you're not really helping much, because you're making the situation about you... In contrast, empathy is feeling what somebody else feels through them. You keep the focus on them, until you're certain they've expressed themselves fully.

To illustrate, the following would be sympathy:

Bob: I just got fired...

Joe: Wow, that sucks... but don't worry, you'll be fine! I got fired a few years back,

and there's always work available for talented guys like us, right?

Joe genuinely thinks he is being helpful... Joe is not being helpful! Joe isn't listening to Bob at all. Joe is rambling on about his own past, and about his theories of the job market. He's trying to connect with Bob, but he's using sympathy...

The example provides a very good distinction between an effective and ineffective way of listening to someone, but I have never seen this definition of sympathy before. Also, when I researched the definitions of sympathy and empathy, this example doesn't fit. This doesn't diminish the real value of the example, but I don't think it is an example of sympathy vs. empathy.

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Until someone offers some evidence to the contrary, I'll stick by my conclusion that the one who is more philosophically advanced will have an easier time identifying and communicating his emotions.

It depends on what you mean by "philosophically advanced." Great knowledge of or facility with philosophic ideas (or whole systems) does not automatically translate into good self-awareness, especially of emotions. Intellectualization is a common defense mechanism that allows one to "retreat" into intellect as a means of avoiding emotions. Or, there are those who spew emotions at others, but rationalize that behavior in philosophical (particularly moral) terms.

The issue is not only what and how much one understands philosophically, but what ideas he has accepted and integrated into his daily life and awareness.

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Women deal with their emotions by venting. Almost immediately after we "get it out" or "talking it over" we feel better and ready to deal with whatever gave us the trouble. There is no or very little desire there for others to sympathize. In fact, often an expression of sympathy triggers aggravation (Did you notice?). Empathy -yes; sympathy - not so much.

It is not always true that a woman does not want a man (or another woman) to offer solutions. When a woman is upset and venting that is not the time to offer advice. It is the wrong timing that creates aggravation. It is not being respectful of this process; it is using your offer of solutions, in essence, to cut short her venting (that is what gets men in trouble...). When a girlfriend is listening to another we just hear the other out. We save our advice for after she is done. Just as noted above, most often than not, she will already have the right answer. So it is better to first ask: So what do you think you will do about this?

This really is great advice.

Unrelated to the advice, I'd suggest that it isn't always the case that an offer of a solution by a man is mean to cut short venting. That suggests that a negative motivation on the part of the male is always at the root of his offered solution. I'm sure that's the case sometimes, but not all the time. Sometimes you just hate to see a woman you care about in pain and so you try to make it better (although obviously without success a lot of the time for the reasons you indicate).

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The example provides a very good distinction between an effective and ineffective way of listening to someone, but I have never seen this definition of sympathy before. Also, when I researched the definitions of sympathy and empathy, this example doesn't fit. This doesn't diminish the real value of the example, but I don't think it is an example of sympathy vs. empathy.

From my understanding:

The prefix "sym" means "with" and thus sym-pathy means "feeling with". So sympathy involves not only an awareness but also sharing another's state. I understand this as placing oneself in their "shoes" and experiencing how one would feel in that situation. So, the object of sympathy is feeling.

It has been my experience on more than one occasion that when people start having feelings themselves, at least to some degree, this moment starts to be also about them. Their focus is shifted or at best diffused.

Empathy, on the other hand, can be translated as "feeling into." It involves an ability to comprehend/understand another's state without directly experiencing that state. One is more likely to keep the perspective of another and their focus, at that moment, on them.

My definitions could be wrong here but I have experienced this phenomena.

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The example provides a very good distinction between an effective and ineffective way of listening to someone, but I have never seen this definition of sympathy before. Also, when I researched the definitions of sympathy and empathy, this example doesn't fit. This doesn't diminish the real value of the example, but I don't think it is an example of sympathy vs. empathy.
Funny - you took the words right out of my mouth. Almost word for word what I was going to say.

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It depends on what you mean by "philosophically advanced." Great knowledge of or facility with philosophic ideas (or whole systems) does not automatically translate into good self-awareness, especially of emotions. Intellectualization is a common defense mechanism that allows one to "retreat" into intellect as a means of avoiding emotions. Or, there are those who spew emotions at others, but rationalize that behavior in philosophical (particularly moral) terms.

The issue is not only what and how much one understands philosophically, but what ideas he has accepted and integrated into his daily life and awareness.

Yes, I suppose it does depend on my definition. As I'm not a philosophy student, nor have I ever really had a philosophical conversation with anybody who has a great understand of philosophy (besides here), my view may be a little skewed. Basically, my definition assumes that philosophy is a guide to living here on this earth, and thus, the person who is more philosophically "intelligent" or "advanced" is further in his study of both ideas and how they apply to his life. In my opinion, understanding that emotions are simply thoughts in action and actively attempting to integrate one's thoughts so that what one thinks is never at odds with what one feels is part of "philosophically advanced". My confusion for the misleading definition. I do see how a person could be brilliant regarding philosophical thought, but never integrate properly. However, these people often end up abandoning their principles, like Greenspan.

If someone takes issue with this formulation, let me know.

Cabbie touched on an important point (I think) - some people can have personalities or issues with commuication that make it difficult to convey an emotion to another person, even though they may understand it themselves. I'm a little unsure, but assuming this was the point he was trying to make, I agree. I guess I'll have to retract my statement.

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And Sophia, I'm still curious about sympathy versus empathy.

I found this pretty good explanation:

Sympathy is feeling what somebody else feels through you. When you are being sympathetic, you're not really helping much, because you're making the situation about you... In contrast, empathy is feeling what somebody else feels through them. You keep the focus on them, until you're certain they've expressed themselves fully.

To illustrate, the following would be sympathy:

Bob: I just got fired...

Joe: Wow, that sucks... but don't worry, you'll be fine! I got fired a few years back,

and there's always work available for talented guys like us, right?

Joe genuinely thinks he is being helpful... Joe is not being helpful! Joe isn't listening to Bob at all. Joe is rambling on about his own past, and about his theories of the job market. He's trying to connect with Bob, but he's using sympathy. Sympathy leaves Joe open for this:

Bob: What the hell do you know, Joe? That was years ago! You didn't have

a house! You didn't have a wife and a kid to support! The job market was completely

different back then! You have no clue about my problems! Get the hell away from me!

Joe: ...I was only trying to help...

Bob is clearly in a lot of pain. He's afraid of a lot of things, and his good buddy Joe clearly isn't listening. So Bob lashes out, and wisely tells Joe to get the hell away from him. Then Joe gets defensive, and says something even stupider. With luck, they'll be friends again in a few weeks...

In contrast, empathy would look something like this:

Bob: I just got fired...

Joe: Wow, that sucks... you must be feeling pretty scared right now, huh?

See the difference? Joe didn't make it about himself... he kept his focus on Bob. He asked Bob how he was feeling, and after Bob answers, Joe should keep asking. He should let Bob vent about his situation: his wife, his kid, his house, the job market, whatever. Even if Joe knows a guy who might give Bob a job, Joe should shut the hell up until Bob's finished venting. This may only take five minutes, or it might take a whole hour. Either way, its an important part of the process. Bob will not listen to what Joe has to say, unless Bob feels Joe fully understands his situation.

Empathy before education. Always.

How does Joe know when Bob's finished venting? He'll hear something different in Bob's voice: hope. When Bob is open for suggestions, he'll say something like, "what do you think I should do?" or "have you ever been in this situation before?" Only after Joe hears this, is Bob ready to listen to new ideas, new possibilities, and new ways of fixing this problem. Only after Joe hears hope, or a direct request for help, is Bob ready to hear what Joe wants to say. If Joe wants to help Bob, Joe needs patience.

I don't know if this is just British reserve in general, or me in particular, but the last thing I would do, were I Bob, is start moaning to Joe about it.

More likely, I would assess the situation and decide on a plan and only then possibly share, but there would certainly be no emotional outburst. One may expect such behaviour from some ladies, given their sometime inclination towards emotion, but honestly, not from men.

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Women deal with their emotions by venting. Almost immediately after we "get it out" or "talking it over" we feel better and ready to deal with whatever gave us the trouble.
Why is this? Why do you think it is necessary to share the emotions rather than just deal with the problem?

Communicating emotions to another person requires you to put what you are feeling into words and to describe the situation that gave rise to your emotions. That is the first step in identifying what you are feeling and the premises that caused them. It gives you conceptual control of your emotions. Once you identify the cause of your distress, the solution to the problem is often obvious.

Plus, it helps the partner know what is going on with you. Even if a solution to the problem is not immediately possible, just knowing what the other person feels, what kind of mood he is in helps intimacy and helps knowing what kind of stuff you can do together, vs. just you/your partner doing them and the other person just cooperates passively, really being in his/her own world.

_______________________________________

Possibly relevant thoughts about sharing emotions:

I think emotions are the gateway to another person's psychology and values, and so telling someone else what you feel makes you, in a way, more vulnerable. It exposes - not just your ideas, but something deeper about who you are. If someone disagrees with your political views, it is not very emotional. If someone disagrees with the kind of person you are, or with how you feel about something - it has greater weight and can be a lot less pleasant.

One common reason is insecurity, but there are other, healthy reasons too.

I would not, for example verbally share something precious to me without knowing the other person will understand its value and in his own way, feel the same about that thing. The reason is that at the time of sharing, I re-live the feeling. If someone does not match that feeling, it creates a dissonance of atmospheres.

Or another reason is that I think the person will not understand what I'm talking about, thereby harm rather than help my process of thinking and solving an issue.

I'm not sure this is the reason why men share emotions less. A possible reason is the "macho" image, though I don't see this as an explanation for some rational men that I know, who do not try to live up to "the macho" and yet do not verbally share their emotions. It seems instead to be something that simply does not occur to them at all - to just go ahead and say "wow, I love this!" or "you hurt my feelings by saying X". Maybe the reasons are too diverse to find something in common for men, but I'm guessing something has to be a common reason to create such "statistics".

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I'm not sure this is the reason why men share emotions less. A possible reason is the "macho" image, though I don't see this as an explanation for some rational men that I know, who do not try to live up to "the macho" and yet do not verbally share their emotions. It seems instead to be something that simply does not occur to them at all - to just go ahead and say "wow, I love this!" or "you hurt my feelings by saying X". Maybe the reasons are too diverse to find something in common for men, but I'm guessing something has to be a common reason to create such "statistics".

I think not wanting to be vulnerable is a major factor, probably for both men and women. But if a guy has a "macho" self-image, which can include the idea that he must be invulnerable, this would make him even more resistant to sharing his emotions.

It's also possible that men and women's emotional needs are just different. Scott suggested something similar to that earlier. I don't really have anything of substance to add to that though.

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I would not, for example verbally share something precious to me without knowing the other person will understand its value and in his own way, feel the same about that thing. The reason is that at the time of sharing, I re-live the feeling. If someone does not match that feeling, it creates a dissonance of atmospheres.

Or another reason is that I think the person will not understand what I'm talking about, thereby harm rather than help my process of thinking and solving an issue.

I absolutely agree with both these reasons, and often refuse to share emotions with people because of them. However, we need to establish what context we're talking about regarding sharing emotions. Neither of these reasons are good enough in a romantic situation - if you use them with any frequency, you've got the wrong partner. (Not you particularly, Ifat, people in general)
I'm not sure this is the reason why men share emotions less. A possible reason is the "macho" image, though I don't see this as an explanation for some rational men that I know, who do not try to live up to "the macho" and yet do not verbally share their emotions. It seems instead to be something that simply does not occur to them at all - to just go ahead and say "wow, I love this!" or "you hurt my feelings by saying X". Maybe the reasons are too diverse to find something in common for men, but I'm guessing something has to be a common reason to create such "statistics".
Well, in my opinion, there are only two options:

1. There are significant psychological differences between men and women that govern how each deals with emotion.

2. The modern perception of a "manly" man is that he is strong and emotionless. Many people who attempt to be rational, especially men, seem to think this equates to repressing all emotion. I see no need for this type of behavior, but society equates "strong" or "rational" to emotionless, and many men follow suit. Again, the dichotomy between repression and emotionalism rears its ugly head: the rational is emotionless.

You say your friends don't try to be "macho", but it is not unreasonable for a man to attempt to be "manly". Many smart, rational men want to think of themselves as manly - and societal norms can pervade the subconscious of even the most rational minds.

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Intellectualization is a common defense mechanism that allows one to "retreat" into intellect as a means of avoiding emotions.

Can you explain more about this defense mechanism and how it works? It sounds very interesting.

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I would not, for example verbally share something precious to me without knowing the other person will understand its value and in his own way, feel the same about that thing. The reason is that at the time of sharing, I re-live the feeling. If someone does not match that feeling, it creates a dissonance of atmospheres.

Or another reason is that I think the person will not understand what I'm talking about, thereby harm rather than help my process of thinking and solving an issue.

I absolutely agree with both these reasons, and often refuse to share emotions with people because of them. However, we need to establish what context we're talking about regarding sharing emotions. Neither of these reasons are good enough in a romantic situation - if you use them with any frequency, you've got the wrong partner. (Not you particularly, Ifat, people in general)

Right. I agree. I was talking generally, not about a romantic relationship. It was just part of the subject of vulnerability that I saw a need to bring in such examples to make the idea of vulnerability clear (and not just a matter of weakness or insecurity).

I'm not sure this is the reason why men share emotions less. A possible reason is the "macho" image, though I don't see this as an explanation for some rational men that I know, who do not try to live up to "the macho" and yet do not verbally share their emotions. It seems instead to be something that simply does not occur to them at all - to just go ahead and say "wow, I love this!" or "you hurt my feelings by saying X". Maybe the reasons are too diverse to find something in common for men, but I'm guessing something has to be a common reason to create such "statistics".

Well, in my opinion, there are only two options:

1. There are significant psychological differences between men and women that govern how each deals with emotion.

2. The modern perception of a "manly" man is that he is strong and emotionless. Many people who attempt to be rational, especially men, seem to think this equates to repressing all emotion. I see no need for this type of behavior, but society equates "strong" or "rational" to emotionless, and many men follow suit. Again, the dichotomy between repression and emotionalism rears its ugly head: the rational is emotionless.

In #1 you mean something in the brain is hard-wired this way, right?

Regarding #2, I think the macho explanation for rational people with self esteem is only really possible as a habit instilled in childhood - not as a standard a person tries to hold himself to. I was explained once by someone, that little boys are encouraged not to cry when they fall, while girls get hugged and comforted. And this creates different habits of dealing with pain in girls and in boys. Girls learn that satisfaction can be achieved by expressing hurt, and boys learn that satisfaction can be achieved by bravely dealing with pain alone.

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It's also possible that men and women's emotional needs are just different. Scott suggested something similar to that earlier. I don't really have anything of substance to add to that though.

Yes, here. I suggested that women have either a closer connection to or different type of psychological relationship with their physiology (or both). The monthly menstrual cycle is one reason women would understandably be more attentive to their physical state than men.

The related issues of whether or not to bear a child, how many, with whom, when, and so forth tie the physical experiences women have to the cognitive and then emotional aspects of their psychologies. Women have "biological clocks," whereas men really don't, or at least not nearly as much. The physical experience of pregnancy is something a man cannot begin to fathom. All of these things will be extremely significant, psychologically, to most women.

In this sense, I speculate that women are understandably much more attuned to the physiological component of their emotions. They are already attuned to the physiological out of necessity and the fact of being a woman. Therefore, why wouldn't they naturally be more attuned to their emotions, at least at the physical level?

If this is true, then I think it's natural and appropriate for women to more easily express emotion. It also strikes me as a natural compliment to masculinity, which approaches emotions differently. I hope the women here will help confirm or disconfirm my speculations.

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Well, in my opinion, there are only two options:

1. There are significant psychological differences between men and women that govern how each deals with emotion.

2. The modern perception of a "manly" man is that he is strong and emotionless. Many people who attempt to be rational, especially men, seem to think this equates to repressing all emotion. I see no need for this type of behavior, but society equates "strong" or "rational" to emotionless, and many men follow suit. Again, the dichotomy between repression and emotionalism rears its ugly head: the rational is emotionless.

You are so right about "the rational is emotionless." I think that translates, in many people's minds, to "the rational is the dead." To be emotionless is to be unable to feel, and if you can't feel anything, then you're not alive (or what's the point of being alive in that state?). Many would rather be emotional and alive than rational and dead.

Additionally, I think both your options are at play. For the reasons mentioned in my previous post, I think men and women do have different psychological relationships with their bodies. But, those relationships are also based on their experiences, thinking, and resulting premises. Both men and women can hold irrational ideas about masculinity and femininity as related to emotional expression. So that will affect things, too.

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I would surmise that the issue isn't entirely cultural. Evolutionarily, men are physically stronger and are supposed to have that protective role and generally handle situations differently including staying focused under stress (not that women cannot, including some who do so superlatively, but that doesn't change the apparent fact that women are typically more emotional.) That doesn't mean that men cannot be strongly emotionally affected by extreme loss. A good illustration of that is in the movie 300, where the otherwise tough-as-nails soldier's son is unexpectedly killed right in front of him.

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You say your friends don't try to be "macho", but it is not unreasonable for a man to attempt to be "manly". Many smart, rational men want to think of themselves as manly - and societal norms can pervade the subconscious of even the most rational minds.

There is certainly such a thing as rational masculinity. Just as a lot (if not most) women want to enjoy the capabilities of their bodies (in many forms), so do men.

I believe this starts young with general athletic and "roughhouse" play. Most boys like doing athletic things, even basic things like throwing rocks at targets, jumping distances, i.e., things that require a skill that one can develop. In roughhouse play, boys most often aren't really trying to hurt one another (nor is the father who roughhouses with his son). Later these things develop into organized sports, many of which are contact. Although girls can and do play contact sports, boys' bodies are better "built" for it.

I think women's psychological connection to their bodies comes internally, via their necessary attention to physical processes. For men, I think it's the opposite. A man's primary connection to his body comes externally, initially rooted in his physical actions alone or in contact with other males. Both show a male what his body can do, and he "feels" himself through that contact.

For example, I played both noncontact (e.g., baseball) and contact (e.g., football) sports. I loved throwing a ball accurately, fast, or far, as well as getting a hit or making a catch. I also loved hitting guys on the other team (and I did my best to avoid being hit!). They were not cheap shots, nor did I intend to hurt the person. They were legal hits, and the feeling of contact within that context was extremely gratifying (but it wasn't as gratifying as scoring in whatever way). Regardless of the sport, the direct experience of impacting the world through physical action helped form my psychological relationship with my body. I developed a sense of my physical self primarily through those external actions (as opposed to internal physiological states).

I think that the idea of "manliness" is rooted in the above. Of course that idea can be very distorted depending on the particular man and his premises. But there are plenty of things that are specifically masculine that have a realistic basis and rational expression.

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The prefix "sym" means "with" and thus sym-pathy means "feeling with". So sympathy involves not only an awareness but also sharing another's state. I understand this as placing oneself in their "shoes" and experiencing how one would feel in that situation. So, the object of sympathy is feeling.

It has been my experience on more than one occasion that when people start having feelings themselves, at least to some degree, this moment starts to be also about them. Their focus is shifted or at best diffused.

Empathy, on the other hand, can be translated as "feeling into." It involves an ability to comprehend/understand another's state without directly experiencing that state. One is more likely to keep the perspective of another and their focus, at that moment, on them.

This makes much more sense than what was written in the example and is more consistent with the definitions I saw.

The example didn't convey that the second person, Joe, actually did feel the same thing as Bob, i.e., that he was sympathetic with Bob. Joe briefly acknowledges that the situation "sucks," but then very quickly makes it about himself. Granted, this is an exchange between people presented in a written form, which doesn't lend itself well to knowing the feelings of each person. However, I would still describe Joe as not being sympathetic. You're right that it became all about Joe--he didn't want to help, he wanted to be a helper. But I don't think that naturally results from sympathy. It's a possible route, but not a necessary one. That is, one could become focused on his own feelings and lose focus on the other person. But he could also control his emotions and maintain his focus on the other person.

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You are so right about "the rational is emotionless."
I certainly bought into that when I was much younger. I got it directly from watching Mr. Spock on Star Trek.

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