While being present with the pain of the man who stays alone in his room, a reflexlike barrier of thoughts would develop in the mind of any therapist of anyone else who was with him, (..) but this barrier is unstable: it naturally breaks down – one becomes identified with the other’s pain.
The problem is that those barriers of who-is-ill and who-is-not-ill closes one off to a true experience of empathy. It can come to feel like one’s “heart” is blocked to the patient, that in the presence of him you feel slightly cold, or unfeeling of your body or somehow impenetrable.(..)
There is nothing magical or pathological about this kind of opening to another person. It is part of our natural equipment to have experiences where we are unified with the environment where we do not carve ourselves out from it as separate and different.(…)
by “Recovering Sanity”
of Edward M. Podvoll
Shambhala Publications – November 2003