After trying unsuccessfully to convey in a tweet, one directed at ME/CFS patients, an idea about empathy, James C. Coyne writes at length in a blog post titled"The illusion you will be able-bodied forever and the limits of empathy." I gather that this comes in response to the anger that erupted in the ME/CFS community this week.
There is probably some point in your life where you were quite healthy and never anticipated being struck down by the illness. You had the illusion of being fully able-bodied forever. You probably lacked empathy with people who complained of impairment from illnesses you couldn’t see. You may even have thought that their reports were illegitimate and self-serving. They were faking it to get sympathy or to get out of doing things, maybe. Beyond that, you might’ve been threatened by the confrontation sick and disabled people provided you with the possibility that you could ever be in their shape. Maybe you could’ve mustered up some dislike and intolerance
You lacked the empathy that goes with the illusion of being fully able-bodied forever. Now that is different.
But you are in constant contact with seemingly able-bodied people who couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like to have your life destroyed by an invisible, poorly understood illness, that some deny even exists and other say is only in your attitude. They may try to be sympathetic, claim they understand, but they really can’t. If you are going to get along with them, you may need to understand they can’t understand. . . .