In 1909, Edward Titchener, a psychologist, translated the German word Einfühlung, meaning “feeling into,” into English. The word he created was Empathy. Empathy can be defined as a person’s ability to share the emotions of another person or sentient being. It enables us to share the experiences others have in this life.
Empathy is routinely confused with sympathy, pity, and compassion, which are reactions to the plights of others. Pity is the feeling of discomfort at the distress of another sentient being and has serious condescending implications.
Sympathy is defined as feeling concern or care for others. Sympathy does not involve shared emotions the way that empathy does. You can’t sympathize with a dove that has a broken wing, but you can empathize with it.