Two recent articles in the paper got me worrying about how difficult it can be sometimes to understand someone else’s distress or anguish. You may be someone who generally finds it easy to be sympathetic or empathetic but every one’s experienced occasions when they just don’t understand the distress, Grief or loss that a person else is feeling and have the urge to tell them to pull themselves together. Understanding your own mental pain is just far less difficult.
Now one of the articles I was reading was about the struggle one women had to conceive a second child. It seems there are progressively more women who get pregnant very easily the first time and then for no apparent reason fail to get pregnant a second time. This is whats called secondary fertility and many fertility specialists are at a loss to explain why this happens.
Some women find the strain of not becoming pregnant again almost unbearable and some resort to fertility treatment. Advisor Peter Bowen-Simpkins believes that couples who are unable to have a second child become very distressed particularly as people may say that they should appreciate what they’ve got. He says that in most of couples, Not having conceive a second time is as distressing as if they’d never been able to have a child.
Just after I read this I wanted to scream. How could he compare the pain of not needing a second child to the pain of losing a first one? As a woman who frantically wanted children and hasn’t had one – i am incensed. When I calmed down I realized that I wasn’t being rational. The fact is that I hardly understand the mental anguish of people who can’t have a second child because it’s out of my realm of experience. I only understand the pain I have received not having had a first.
Of course we can sympathise with people when we have never been in the same situation but when it’s a similar situation but with such different outcomes, It certainly makes it challenging.
The second article I was read was published by the marvellous Erin Pizzey, Who for over 40 years has been a family care activist and has saved many battered women’s lives and those of their kids. She is incensed that the Home Secretary Theresa May is looking at whether this is for domestic violence should be broadened to include ‘emotional bullying ‘and coercive control’
Pizzey argues very forcefully that it is wrong to compare women who have had to ‘literally run for their lives’ with an agent who has suffered mental abuse and can walk away. I believe Pizzey, I don’t think there is an assessment – but I disagree that those that are suffering true mental abuse always have the strength or ability to walk away. It’s not unusual for a women in that situation to take their own lives or resort to killing their partner.
I hope that they don’t change the law because I agree with Pizzey that you have a danger of trivialising the horrors of domestic violence and resources being diverted from where it’s really needed. On the other hand, I recognise that any woman who has been brought to the edge of a dysfunction from emotional abuse may disagree.
And thats liable to bring me back to my original argument. Understanding the mental pain or anguish of someone else can sometimes be extremely hard.
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