compassion fatigue

(googled defn while re re re reading utopia of rules): indifference to charitable appeals on behalf of those who are suffering, experienced as a result of the frequency or number of such appeals.

above defn seemed fitting to what david graeber was referring to in his 2nd element of interpretive labor


could it be possible to develop a general theory of interp labor? 2 critical elements:

1\ process of imaginative id as a form of knowledge.. the fact that w/in relations of domination, it is generally the subordinates who are effectively relegated the work of understanding how the social relations in question really work

it’s those who do not have the power to hire/fire who are left w the work of figuring out what actually did go wrong so as to make sure it doesn’t happen again

2\ resultant pattern of sympathetic id.. ‘compassion fatigue’.. human beings he (adam smith) proposed are normally inclined not only to imaginatively id w their fellows, but as a result…. to spontaneously feel one another’s joys/sorrows.. the poor, however, are so consistently miserable that otherwise sympathetic observers are simply overwhelmed, and are forced, w/o realizing it, to blot out their existence entirely..

see this so often – helps explain (away anyway) how good people could seem to be missing it

but not so fitting when reading wikipedia on compassion fatigue.. and with *note i added to bottom of interpretive labor from bs jobs:

[start of *note]


on the social level duct taping has traditionally been women’s work.. throughout history, prominent men have wandered about oblivious to half of what’s going on around them, treading on a thousand toes; it was typically their wives, sisters, mothers, or daughters who were left w the responsibility of performing the emotional labor of soothing egos, calming nerves, and negotiating solutions to the problems they created

dang resonation

wondering about introvert ness (rather crowd anxiety) coming form the overwhelming ness of having to interp labor for all the people.. often feel that too much ness .. perhaps extroverts (even though i don’t see intro and extro as legit binary) aren’t as anal about that interp labor element.. so easier to take it all in.. or.. rather.. to be w people and not take it all in

probably why the ‘do you even see the people right in front of you’ is so unsettling.. it’s like ‘yeah.. that’s the problem.. i see them too much’

[end of *note]

looking into this further.. thinking a closer defn david is getting at here might be compassion fade ..which i found at bottom of wikipedia page for compassion fatigue

seeing difference as: fatigue (exhaustion) from people doing the care/labor; fade from people ignoring/not-doing the care/labor


Compassion fatigue is a condition characterized by emotional and physical exhaustion leading to a diminished ability to empathize or feel compassion for others, often described as the negative cost of caring. It is sometimes referred to as secondary traumatic stress (STS)

Compassion fatigue is considered to be the result of working directly with victims of disasters, trauma, or illness, especially in the health care industry. Individuals working in other helping professions are also at risk for experiencing compassion fatigue. These include child protection workers, veterinarians, teachers, social workers, palliative care workers, journalists, police officers, firefighters, animal welfare workers, public librarians, health unit coordinators, and Student Affairs professionals. Non-professionals, such as family members and other informal caregivers of people who have a chronic illness, may also experience compassion fatigue. The term was first coined in 1992 by Carla Joinson to describe the negative impact hospital nurses were experiencing as a result of their repeated, daily exposure to patient emergencies.

People who experience compassion fatigue may exhibit a variety of symptoms including lowered concentration, numbness or feelings of helplessness, irritability, lack of self-satisfaction, withdrawal, aches and pains, or work absenteeism.

Journalism analysts argue that news media have caused widespread compassion fatigue in society by saturating newspapers and news shows with decontextualized images and stories of tragedy and suffering. This has caused the public to become desensitized or resistant to helping people who are suffering.

last bit sounds more like googled defn and perhaps how david is referring to it most in ie: utopia of rules as stated above.. also with section at end of wikipedia page:

Compassion fade

Main article: Compassion fade

The difference between compassion fatigue and compassion fade is that compassion fatigue is more about the people the individual works and interacts with often, whereas compassion fade is the individual’s attitude towards helping certain amounts of people they don’t know or as aid needed in the world rises. Compassion fade is when the need and tragedy in the world go up, the amount of desire to help goes down. For example, a person is more likely to donate more money, time, or other types of assistance to a single person suffering than to disaster aid or when the population suffering is larger. It is a type of cognitive bias that helps people make their decision to help.

compassion fade