What is the difference between Sympathy, Apathy and Empathy ??
Sympathy = with feeling for someone/something
Empathy = sharing someone's feelings/situation by imagining what it would be like to be in the same situation.
Apathy = lacking concern.
All have as root the Greek word = pathos [feeling]
prefix syn- = with
prefix em- = in
prefix a- = without
Bravo everyone!(As that's a plural, should it be Bravi [don't answer, I know; a female singer isnt a *soprana, and when she sings well people don't shout *brava.]) I especially like Banderas's "Empathy= the ability to share someone else's feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in their situation?" Empathy is what Keats felt when he saw a sparrow on his windowsill and imagined what it would be like to be a sparrow.
Sadly, the meaning of 'sympathy' has had the edge taken off it by repeated usage, so that people have started to use 'empathize' as somehow reinforcing 'sympathize', and say things like 'I don't just sympathize, I empathize' (which may have several meanings). This confusion may have led to a mixture of contextual usages that sparked off the original post.
In sympathy, you tend to understand the other and also end up agreeing with them. Thatís why you feed a beggar.
In apathy, you donít want to agree with the other, and hence you donít even attempt to understand them. Thatís why you donít even turn to look at a beggar.
In empathy, you seek to understand the other and make an independent choice on whether you want to agree with them or not. You can feel with the hunger of the beggar, but you donít agree that begging is the solution. He could always take up work.
Sympathy weakens you, but saves the relationship. Apathy may not weaken you, but will destroy the relationship. Empathy makes both you and the relationship stronger.