Uncategorized · Upsides

The empathy effect

The empathy effectEmpathy, commonly referred to as ‘putting yourself into another’s shoes’ is a classic bipolar gift. It’s about being in another’s thoughts and in another’s feelings. Since I have experienced the full range of human emotions from the depressive lows to the manic highs – I can imagine being in the shoes of another who is low, or high, or anything in between.

Similarly, my thoughts have mirrored my expansive feelings, and so if a person’s thoughts are racing, for example, then I can usually relate to or imagine their reality. Oh yes, what a beautiful thing it is to be bipolar!

Vulnerable people

The empathy effect has also moved me to action. When I experienced the plight of a vulnerable student in college, I took the time to sit with him; I explained a technical term; and I met up in the evening. When I felt the pain of a sick guy in the Church, I stopped to listen and I gave him a €20 note. I like to welcome the newcomer too, whether in work, at a party, or with my family. I know what it is like to be uniquely different.

Hands open

Bipolar taught me that I needed help in this world. I surrendered my hands and heart to the care of my family; the medical services; and my Church. I did therapy; I set a healthy routine; and I’ve been consistently taking medication. My empathic response is to reach out in a state of interdependency, interconnectedness, and inner beauty.

So, next time you meet someone who needs your help, stop to listen and perhaps buy them a cup of tea. Putting yourself in another’s shoes is deeply satisfying. This is one reason why I love bipolar and I love this world!

4 thoughts on “The empathy effect

  1. Hi, Gavin.

    I am very grateful for your blog, which I think makes a wonderful contribution.

    I wonder if you are familiar with the work of Sean Blackwell and, if so, what you make of his perspective, please?

    The word “normal” appears in your blogs repeatedly in relation to “mental disorders.”

    Whose definitions of normaility do you think we should trust, if any, and why, please?

    With heartfelt thanks,

    Tom Kelly, Escondido, California.


    1. Hi Tom,

      Thank you for your message and I am glad you think my blog is making a contribution. I listened to your recommended video and it brings up lots of questions around mental health difficulties and the grand perspective. I am reminded that good spirituality is one that is gentle, kind and loving. With regard mental health difficulties and normality, Professor Richard Bentall of the University of Sheffield and Professor Tony Morrison of the University of Manchester have something to say here.

      Blessings to you,



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