Don't Sympathize Too Much

After working in Tanzania, a British doctor reflects on the pitfalls of expressing excessive amounts of sympathy, even in the face of abject poverty.

After working in Tanzania, a British doctor reflects on the pitfalls of expressing excessive amounts of sympathy, even in the face of abject poverty. "A man able to commiserate only with himself would surely be neither admirable nor attractive. But every virtue can become deformed by excess, insincerity, or loose thinking into an opposing vice," writes Doctor Theodore Dalrymple. "Sympathy, when excessive, moves toward sentimental condescension and eventually disdain; when insincere, it becomes unctuously hypocritical; and when associated with loose thinking, it is a bad guide to policy and frequently has disastrous results."

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