Compassion – A Verb, not a Noun

Compassion should be considered a verb and not a noun.  That is, I do not buy that people are inherently compassionate.  There will always be exceptions to their alignment, and, often, the misfits of society need not apply for such compassion.  However, compassion is a conscious choice.  The person showing compassion is making an effort to give mercy where the situation need not demand it.  Everyone is capable of compassion, but many choose not to show it.  I propose that the healthy individual cull those that refuse to act compassionately.  What gain is there to be had in associating with an individual that refuses to help another in need?  Eventually they will choose not to help you in your time of trial as well.  As I meditate and become more interconnected with those around me, I am making difficult decisions regarding those that I keep in close proximity.  My emotional bonds may be non-existent at the moment, but I certainly do not wish to keep those in my life that will not be there for me when I need it.  As the proximity to oneself increases, the bar to be cleared by those in such proximity must be made higher.

Nearly everyone is guilty of placing people into circles that they are unworthy of.  We want to assume the best from those in our lives, and then are shocked when those that never had the goods fail us miserably.  No one is entitled to belong to anyone’s inner circle.  For those with closest proximity, there must be a heightened set of expectations lest they get pushed away.  People need to cut more people out of their lives than they keep, for most will never amount to anything more than lip-service to a person that deserves much more than that.  Those that are unwilling to provide manna during a time of lost wandering are unworthy of the healthy person’s time or energy.  May such parasites find other prey.

I suspect most will not heed these words.  We are conditioned as a species to find the best in people, to the point that we make ourselves vulnerable to the whims of those composed of only the worst of mankind.  Compassion, in particular, is a learned skill that separates the wheat from the chaff.  If we surround ourselves that refuse to learn that skill, then we set ourselves up for utter devastation when our own time of need comes.  No one is entitled to anything, especially an interpersonal relationship whose ground is shifting.  Cut those from your life that will never be there.  It is better to be alone than to be abandoned during your greatest time of need.

The Gospel of Self-Determination


  1. Rrose says

    Pyscho ramble bullshit like this is all distorted truth. You need to stop fucking posing wolf. Acutely say something. “Guess what I never said I was worthy, I told you it’s your fault” cowards can’t have integrity, and guess what? I’ll never, ever be devowered. Jessica can’t anything inside that could be more valuable to offer, so she is incapable of discarding her own mask. But this blog was nothing before I showed up. And im not coming back so enjoy the crumbs psychos.

    • says

      $10 says you’ll respond in rage to a comment later today.

      That said, “pscyho” refers only to psychotic.

      Also, you really should learn something: I don’t write this blog. I’m just a long-time reader/commenter.

  2. Blili says

    It’s so interesting to read this because it clearly illustrates how cold and selfish a psychopath is. Compassion is a natural reaction for normal people. We can’t just “turn it on and off.” It happens on it’s own. “Learned compassion,” now that’s something. I think you meant “pretend compassion” because that’s what psychopaths do, but aren’t really great at because eventually the inability to genuinely care shows itself.

    Reading this, I do feel compassion for you. How absolutely awful it must be not to be able to feel. I imagine it to be a gray world. Flatlined emotionally, you’re just pretending. How sad.

    Why would anyone heed your advice? It’s nonsense.

    • Jessica Kelly says

      That’s a very shallow point of view. Do you mock amputees for walking on prosthetic limbs? The argument would be the same.

    • MA32 says

      1. People learn compassion when they’re kids, you know? It’s not like you’re born full opf it. lol

      2. What psychopaths learn is to act compassionately. They may do it just to keep their friendships, for instance and not be ill intended while acting this way. A next step would be to do it also for the sake of the other person.

    • says

      Studies actually show that the more “normal” a person is, the less likely they are to actually help someone in need. Normal people have no problem acting without compassion, and it very much is a switch they turn on and off.

  3. says

    This is a fascinating post Jessica. I’m a new reader here, and I believe I have some ideas related to compassion that you haven’t considered. I’m also interested in the specifics of what you and your readers feel related to different situations that would trigger compassion in a most people.

    Your post feels like it was written by someone who can’t relate to compassion on an emotional level (for obvious reasons), but you certainly seem smart enough to put the pieces together with logic.

    Compassion itself is essentially chemical, in my opinion. A person’s response to the chemical reaction is what a psychopath is able to copy – if that decision is made. It sounds like you won’t ever feel the chemical response though, so your “action/verb” only happens though a conscious decision based on knowing you should react.

    Let me pose an example. If I saw an emaciated horse being beaten, I would feel sadness, anger, and rage (at the abuser). I would grab the whip & yell at the abuser, and try to save the horse. Compassion is not simply sadness. It’s usually a combination of chemicals that inspire action (your verb). If you saw a similar situation with an animal or child being abused, would you feel any of those emotions I described above? Or would you act only from knowing you should, if you acted at all?

    The emotional response I feel (compassion) is correlated to how vulnerable the victim is. I’ve always been a person who would take on bullies to defend people or animals who could not defend themselves.

    I can’t turn compassion on or off, but I feel different chemicals/emotions, depending on the situation. If I see a bird fly into a window, I feel sadness and concern (empathy), but obviously not anger or rage. The “action/verb” there would be to see if the bird is alive and could be helped.

    I can feel compassion, then decide not to intervene (for a variety) of reasons, but the compassion was still felt.

    Do psychopaths feel the urge to help or protect animals or people in any situations? Maybe maybe it’s a more dull version of what I feel?

    By the way, compassion has lead me to end the suffering of a few animals that were mortally wounded & suffering. That wasn’t easy, but it’s a part of compassion too.

    I’d love to hear what part of this (if any) a psychopath can feel and/or relate to.

    • Jessica Kelly says

      This is an excellent comment. The point I am trying to make in my writings (many of them, anyway) is that the etiology of good behavior and the etiology of bad behavior is mixed and clouded at best. Many with empathy do horrible things and some without manage to live in a prosocial fashion. Yes, on average, those with empathy behave better than those without, but we all have free will. As a result, the etiology of compassion does not matter. It is the impact that it has on others that can be measured and we must not assume it will come automatically for those with affective empathy, nor must we assume that it cannot manifest in those without affective empathy. We will always have free will.

      • says

        Thank you Jessica. I think this is the key to understanding emotions and how they trigger behaviors in most people, without being able to feel those emotions/chemistry personally. You are absolutely correct that many terrible things have been done by people who have empathy and compassion. Typically, it’s another emotion that blocks or counteracts the original emotions felt due to compassion. It’s not a calculated decision either.

        For example, let’s consider the people who have been displaced by war in Syria. The average person would likely feel compassion and empathy, but the “action” – ie wanting some of those people to be accepted into his/her country would be blocked by other conflicting emotions like fear (of terrorism), self preservation (they will steal tax money and opportunites), and even jealously/envy (why should they have anything for free). I believe jealousy/envy is a common reason that the action side of compassion gets blocked. Of course the other factor that blocks compassion in people is a belief that his/her God would want a certain response that goes against compassion. This one gets tricky though, because people use God as an excuse to condone or support behaviors that have a basis in fear, disgust, jealousy/envy, and a few other emotions. Sometimes they do this without realizing it. There is a never ending cycle of religion blocking the action side of compassion or being the excuse for cruelty.

        I’m sure you have considered this, but the other reason people act due to the chemical side of compassion/empathy, is because inaction usually results in regret and shame. For example, on the most basic level, if I kill a spider I could have simply taken outside, I feel regret and shame, which is chemical. If I walk away from abuse of an animal or vulnerable person, I have emotions/chemistry that tell me I made a bad decision. This reminds me to make a different decision the next time. Decisions that lead to severe regret and shame become haunting memories in most people. That’s essentially a memory that triggers regret and shame every time you remember the event.

        Regret and shame can be blocked or greatly lessened by the same emotions that prevented a normal response/action due to compassion. I’ll use the Syria example again. If a person’s fear, jealously, envy, or instinct for self preservation, blocks a man/woman from wanting his/her country to accept refugees, there will be little to no regret or shame related to the decision.

        I’ll throw one more example in. If I have a chance to bring a spider outside, instead of killing it – but that spider happens to be a black widow, my feelings of compassion might be blocked by fear or concern. That would also lessen any regret or shame I might feel from killing the spider.

        I think most human behaviors are triggered by emotion rather than logic though. That’s definitely what creates the cavern between psychopaths and most people. You may see the logic of some situations better, but your emotions are unbalanced since you are essentially unable to feel compassion, empathy, shame, and regret, which are the emotions that control most behaviors.

        I think you can download some of these thoughts though. Even if you can’t feel them, you can use your own ability to reason and make logical decisions, knowing that these are the pieces of the puzzle that are missing.

    • beneficii says

      I was diagnosed with conduct disorder as a child and had severe antisocial behaviors up to age 14, for which I received extensive treatment as well as support from my parents. I have never been diagnosed with ASPD or psychopathy so take this with a grain of salt, but I can definitely see the similarities (officially, I am diagnosed with either schizotypal personality disorder or autism spectrum disorder).

      I can have a strong sense of justice at times, often for myself, but at times for others. There is a desire to jump in and teach the offender a lesson. Sometimes, I will act on this sense impulsively.

      As for the confirmed psychopaths here, I do not know what their experience with this is.

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