Thursday, May 22, 2008

Compassion Fatigue

Compassion fatigue occurs in a variety of helping professions, particularly where workers are continually exposed to suffering and trauma. Over time, a persons capacity for compassionate response is gradually diminished and they can suffer from emotional transference, sharing in the overwhelming feelings of those they are trying to help.

Some of signs of compassion fatigue can include:

  • Feelings of being trapped and helpless
  • Irritability - loss of control/failure in relationships
  • Disillusionment & cynicism - loss of mental & physical energy
  • Blaming the victim

Compassion fatigue can take hold so slowly that it may not be recognisable until too late. I suspect that some of the characteristics may also be 'contagious' in particularly stressful workplaces. Self awareness is a vital component for battling this condition but if you don't feel objective, consider checking with those around you - particularly if you can trust them to be honest with you.

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