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 Why do we get compassion fatigue

GS Paper 4

Syllabus: Human Values: Compassion


Source: Indian Express


Context: Images of traumatic events online, insensitive news, pandemics, etc. have attributed to the rising instances of compassion fatigue in recent years.


About Compassion Fatigue:

  • Compassion fatigue is a state of emotional exhaustion and burnout that can result from continuously caring for and empathizing with others who are experiencing pain or suffering.
  • It causes us to lose our capacity to react and help those in need.


Instances of how compassion fatigue develops:

  • Violence in digital media formats like video games and films can desensitize people’s responses to suffering or violence in real life.
  • The consequence of seeing violent images is that you become numb to them and you think violence is no big deal.
  • Soldiers: Being in war – develops compassion fatigue.
  • Doctors and Nurses


Why Compassion fatigue occurs:

  • Compassion fatigue is a form of emotional protection
  • The psychological mechanism behind compassion fatigue is desensitization.
  • Desensitization to violence and trauma can be an important adaptive strategy for people whose work involves frequent exposure to traumatic events, like soldiers, aid workers, and doctors.


Example: Research shows how the conflict in Israel and Palestine escalates violence in children.


How to reverse compassion fatigue:

  • Use social media to create empathy and compassion among people
  • Take care of yourself: Self-care is essential to avoid burnout.
  • Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness meditation
  • Seek support
  • Take time off