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Compassion Failure: A New Paradigm

written by Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD March 4, 2019
Compassion Failure: A New Paradigm

I recently attended a psychology conference where the word compassion was spoken every few minutes. The speakers nodded to science, but their emphasis was on critiquing society’s lack of compassion.

The compassion paradigm has come to dominate the field of psychology.

It lures you in by invoking science and the greater good. After investing most of my life in this mindset, its flaws have become obvious to me. The compassion paradigm treats every mental health problem as a symptom of society’s failures. It presupposes that these problems will dissolve with “progressive” social change. But the compassion paradigm disempowers those it purports to help. It stifles dissent. It promotes greed. If you have aspirations about the greater good, this damage is worth a closer look.

The Compassion Paradigm

1. Disempowers those it purports to help.

You are condemned as lacking in compassion if you hold people responsible for the consequences of their actions. You are expected to see people as powerless victims of social injustice whose only hope is to participate in progressive politics. But the habit of blaming frustrations on society deprives you of the chance to learn from consequences.

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