How much empathy is too much empathy?

12/100

Is there something termed as “too much empathy?” I personally thought no term such as this exists, but when I checked on it I was surprised that it does exist. First things first, why did I check on this at all? There are some people I, sometimes, find myself unable to step in shoes of. I mean I cannot imagine doing what they do or what they have done. Looks like, I should not have to. So empathy means understanding what other person is going through and being able to gauge what they need and also be able to understand why they need it. It can be a gut that tells you or your understanding of that person. We, as humans, want to be understood without having to explain. Empathy is not agreeing to people who are wrong but just understanding when people feel discomfort to express and just respect that. It can be an actual challenge when the other person is struggling to articulate and feel it is a pressure to explain and that is when most empathy might be needed.

There is a term called as “empathetic reactivity” and it essentially means “when too much empathy is bad”. It is also be termed as “toxic empathy”. When we are empathizing, we are taking on other person’s feelings and when it is so excessive that we feel them as our feelings that is where we need to step back and check ourselves. Such stream of emotions can lead empathizer to hopelessness and depression. Another prominent and known problem here is when you empathize with everyone, you could end up feeling drained and having no time for your problems.

Although I know world needs more people who empathize, there are also good folks who are doing overtime here and this is just for them to take a break and concentrate on their ownself.

A bad apple!

“Hi doctor”.

“Hi, so what’s the issue”.

“This is my regular check up. No issues per say. Although my periods are delayed but that is because of hormonal disorder for which I am already being treated”

“Late hua hai period? Are you sexually active?”

“Yes and yes (beetroot red)”

“Are you married?”

“No”

“Pregnancy ho gayi toh kya karogi? Test kia hai? Shaadi kab hai?” (All this after I have mentioned that I have been diagnosed for hormonal disorder)

“I–” (I was too stumped at the questions so literally dumbed out for a min)

“TEST KAR LO BETTER HAI. Now, anyway, let’s do your regular checkup”

I awkwardly stared at the other girl (probably a nurse) to leave before my check up starts.

“Wahan pant and panties utar kar let jao” (yep that was her sentence).

I highlighted that the door is not locked, upon which the nurse went and shut it. I am till date thankful to that girl who was nursing there as she made sure I had (whatever little) privacy I could get. I went to the farthest corner, undid my pants and laid down for check up (this was obviously my first time with this doctor and I was scared to death)

She came, checked my clit very roughly and started taking out medical instruments which looked very scary and when I said “give me a min to process and tell me what you are doing” she said and I quote “sex kia hai na and iss se issue horaha hai”. She went on to do the checkup without pausing.

Post which she just went to clean her hands and asked me to get dressed. She simultaneously called for next patient, while I was still on the stretcher, half naked. Nonetheless, I dashed for my clothes and out of the room once I wore them within seconds.

It was not hurtful, physically I mean. Just scary and traumatizing. Just. Till this date, I have no idea whether I can say with assurity that I was violated. I felt violated, that is for sure. But was I violated? I don’t know. Why am I unsure? Let’s see, so she was a woman, a doctor and the last person I should have to lie to or hide facts from. Yet, I felt that I was judged, manhandled, humiliated and insulted. What deductions do I make? The only thing which seem to have rubbed her the wrong way was me having sex before marriage.

Now, hear me out. I am a girl, judgement and bias is nothing new for me. People have been biased AGAINST me a lot of times. I have expected it and handled it. Maybe even given it back to them then and there, whenever situation allowed me. So yeah, I am not timid. I know how orthodox mentality works. Still, I could not tell her how wrong she is. Because her stature caused me to doubt myself. What shook me and has me still shook is that she is educated, knowledgeable and her job is to treat me WITHOUT bias or judgement. The same is the condition with a lot gynaecologists in india and if being at such responsible job cannot make them understand, with what hope do I expect the ‘mohole wali’ aunty to be non judgemental?

I want to be hopeful and I want to understand where her judgments come from but my empathy is failing me here and I am not sure what to do about that.