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Author Topic: Pity  (Read 691 times)

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Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Pity
« on: May 09, 2011, 05:09:33 PM »
I uttered a sentence today and once it was out of my mouth, it lingered.

"I don't want pity."

Now what is wrong with being pitied?

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pity
. pl. pit·ies
1. Sympathy and sorrow aroused by the misfortune or suffering of another.
2. A matter of regret: It's a pity she can't attend the reception.
v. pit·ied, pit·y·ing, pit·ies
v.tr.
To feel pity for.
v.intr.
To feel pity.
Idiom:
have/take pity on
To show compassion for.
[Middle English pite, from Old French, from Latin piets, piety, compassion, from pius, dutiful.]
pity·ing·ly adv.
Synonyms: pity, compassion, commiseration, sympathy, condolence, empathy
These nouns signify kindly concern aroused by the misfortune, affliction, or suffering of another. Pity often implies a feeling of sorrow that inclines one to help or to show mercy: felt pity for the outcast.
Compassion denotes deep awareness of the suffering of another and the wish to relieve it: "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism" (Hubert H. Humphrey).
Commiseration signifies the expression of pity or sorrow: expressed their commiseration over the failure of the experiment.
Sympathy denotes the act of or capacity for sharing in the sorrows or troubles of another: "They had little sympathy to spare for their unfortunate enemies" (William Hickling Prescott).
Condolence is a formal, conventional expression of pity, usually to relatives upon a death: extending condolences to the bereaved family.
Empathy is an identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives: Having changed schools several times as a child, I feel empathy for the transfer students.

pity [ˈpɪtɪ]
n pl pities
1. sympathy or sorrow felt for the sufferings of another
have (or take) pity on to have sympathy or show mercy for
3. something that causes regret or pity
4. an unfortunate chance what a pity you can't come
more's the pity it is highly regrettable (that)
vb pities, pitying, pitied
(tr) to feel pity for
[from Old French pité, from Latin pietās duty]
pitying  adj

-----------------

After reading this, I ask you - what is wrong with being pitied? Is it not a well meant feeling? If I feel pity myself toward someone, is that a bad thing? But my spinal reflex is clear. I. Do. Not. Want. Pity.        ...Why?

Being in a pitiful state isn't unknown to me. Until not so long ago my meds were wrong, and I passed much of this winter in a numb negative mental state; deep depression. My mental health nurse's eyes were visibly filled with pity. It was hard to deal with. And until a couple of years ago when I had an operation, I was VERY fat and was anything but easy on anyone's eyes. But you don't get pity for that until your gut scrapes the ground. So of course, noone wants to be in a situation where they qualify for pity. But if you are, what is wrong with a little human compassion?

Let's try again. How is pity given? Imagine a hobo on the street. People pass him by. They will mostly ignore him completely, but a few might look at him briefly with.... pity. For a more personal variation, imagine going on a visit to a sick relative. He is in sick bed maybe, looking pale and uncomfortable. Now you look at him in pity, and then you say... "Wow, you look pretty bad! Poor you." He knew that already, and now he feels a little worse for having that feeling reinforced. And I HATE getting that kind of attention. Now if I am in that sick bed and the person instead asks if there is something she can do, like getting me a book or a cup of coffee or some newspapers it feels a lot better. Why don't I mind getting THAT sort of pity?

I'm nowhere nearer an answer, and that is why I post this here. Can someone tell me what is wrong with pity; why don't I want to be sympathezised with when I don't see anything wrong in giving it to others? Perhaps I can understand this spinal reflex with the help of other opinions.


Offline Shjade

Re: Pity
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2011, 05:18:17 PM »
The only thing that comes to mind:

Being pitied means you're in a position deserving of pity. Who'd want to be in such a position? By extension, then, who would want pity? Being pitied reminds you of that situation you're in.

Offline Xandi

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Re: Pity
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2011, 05:30:39 PM »
pit·i·a·ble (pt--bl)
adj.
1. Arousing or deserving of pity or compassion; lamentable.
2. Arousing disdainful pity. See Synonyms at pathetic.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

pitiable [ˈpɪtɪəbəl]
adj
exciting or deserving pity or contempt
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
pitiable, pitiful - pitiable means "able to be pitied," and pitiful most often means "insignificant; below contempt."
See also related terms for insignificant.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
pitiable
adjective: pathetic, distressing, miserable, poor, sorry, sad, dismal, harrowing, grievous, woeful, deplorable, mournful, lamentable, gut-wrenching, wretched, doleful.


Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002



I have put in bold  some of the negative connotations that are related to pity. No one wants to be viewed as 1.pathetic 2. with contempt 3. insignificant 4. deplorable. These are all words associated with Pity or being pitiable. They are negative in nature and thus most people view them negatively.

I have the same knee jerk reaction when pity is given to me. I think it is because of these negative things associated with it. I have no trouble feeling pity for someone but that is because I know how I mean it to be, to come across and where it comes from inside me. When someone shows pity toward me I have no way of knowing where that feeling is coming from or how they mean it. I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt but it is difficult when a word or emotion has such negative things associated with it to find something good in it.

I'm not sure if I have helped but this is how I see the emotion. I hope you find the answers you are looking for Captain.

Hugs

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Pity
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2011, 05:50:06 PM »
There's a taint attached to pity or being pitied that does equate to pathetic.  Someone who might wish to put you down can utter the words "I pity you" to try to make you feel among the lowest of the low.

Offline Assallya

Re: Pity
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2011, 07:05:15 PM »
It's important to remember, Maltese, is that pity can be used to harm or to heal.  My parents used pity as a means to remind me that it wasn't my fault, I was just weak and pathetic.  (Which ties into what Beguile's Mistress was saying)  If you have an instinctive negative gut reaction it could be that, or as ShJade wisely said, a reminder of your own situation that you don't want to acknowledge.

The important thing is to clear your mind and trace the your reaction to the source which evoked it.  Introspection is key to understanding why you choose to feel what you do and provides the power to overcome the self.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Pity
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2011, 08:31:17 PM »
I think you may have touched on it towards the end:
Quote
{I}magine going on a visit to a sick relative. He is in sick bed maybe, looking pale and uncomfortable. Now you look at him in pity, and then you say... "Wow, you look pretty bad! Poor you." He knew that already, and now he feels a little worse for having that feeling reinforced. And I HATE getting that kind of attention. Now if I am in that sick bed and the person instead asks if there is something she can do, like getting me a book or a cup of coffee or some newspapers it feels a lot better. Why don't I mind getting THAT sort of pity?

The first visitor offers 'pity'.  No action, just 'Poor you'.  The second visitor offers help.  When we're in a bad situation, we would much rather have that help than someone just feeling bad for us.

Offline OddRose

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Re: Pity
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2011, 02:10:55 PM »
While I agree with with both Xandi & Oniya, I do have something to add that occurred to me as I read. Perhaps the reason that you do not want to accept pity is the stigma attached to being thought of as pitiful.

Quote
pit·i·ful/ˈpitifəl/Adjective
1. Deserving or arousing pity.
2. Very small or poor; inadequate

pathetic: inspiring mixed contempt and pity; "their efforts were pathetic"; "pitiable lack of character"; "pitiful exhibition of cowardice"

deplorable: bad; unfortunate; "my finances were in a pitiful state";

You have to admit, being thought of as deserving pity, when referred to in the above stated manor, is certainly NOT a good thing. I suppose, over time, pity has morphed into a negative aspect. Sympathy, empathy, compassion, all acceptable. Pity, however well meant, is not. Perhaps it is because while caring for someone, and feeling bad for the predicament they are in is well meant, while looking down your nose at their misfortune is not.

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Pity
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2011, 03:29:06 PM »
When I see someone putting themselves in a situation that would offer them up to ridicule or derision I try to help.  When that help is rejected because the person feels they don't need it I pity them.  I pity the one who is so arrogant they think they are above the fray and not in any need of assistance or advice.  I pity the person who thinks they are better than everyone else when they really aren't.  I pity those who for whatever reason feel the need to strike first lest they be hurt and for that reason cut themselves off from anything that is good in life. 

It's not pitiful to be in need and I don't see people that way.  I don't recall ever coming across anyone here on E that I truly pitied.  Even when we're at our lowest emotionally we come here and express that and take the comfort that is offered.