Not an easy word to wrap your head around. How do you empathise with what you do not understand?
Could we think of why we do not understand something?
- I don’t want to understand something.
- I don’t know how to understand something
- I don’t want to learn
- I cannot learn
- I will not learn
- I will not imagine
- I cannot imagine
A lot of very kind somethings seem to start with – ‘Though I cannot imagine what it must be like, here’s this in any case”. This being a placeholder for anything one might offer up in support.
Can I really support something without understanding what it is? Is what I offer as support meaningful in anyway if I do not understand – in explicit consequence – what it will and can do?
I’m using this question to prime a discussion on how we look at and deal with mental illness. I have been living with Schizoaffective Disorder for over three decades now, half of which was spent undiagnosed and half of the half with a bunch of tentative and erroneous diagnoses.
I’m not very sure I have anything to offer that might really help. But that’s the thing – I’m not sure. The only way – at least for me – to find out is to move a bit along this trajectory and see what emerges.
A lovely philosophical essay by Thomas Nagel out to set the picture up:
It’s an old classic. There have been some counterpoints to it over the years. But it sets the problem up in sharp relief.