The Disease of Sympathy is a social disorder that is characterized by a driving need to live the pains that others suffer. While many good people feel genuine sympathy for their friends and compassion over the plight of strangers, those afflicted by the disease are predisposed to take the role of their brother’s keeper to such an extent that they may fall victim to the manipulations of unscrupulous persons.
There are thought to be one or more environmental variables not yet understood that cause this malady to express itself in adulthood. However, there are tendencies of the disease that can be observed. Children who are repeatedly struck by the need to minister to small dying creatures should be considered susceptible. This may develop in teenagers who take a part-time job in a veterinary clinic. The disease does not seem to be contagious.
Sufferers of this disease are commonly referred to as “bleeding hearts” in the vernacular. While Florence Nightingale Syndrome would have been a more descriptive and eponymous term, researchers found that it was already taken.
If sufferers of this disease are to be of benefit to society, they should be encouraged to the professions of medicine and psychology. However, the innate empathy that the afflicted exhibit may cause extreme job-related stress. Since an underlying symptom seems to be de-valued self worth, strengthening exercises or soy may be prescribed. Advanced training in sarcasm is under clinical trials for mild cases.