Swimmer asked for the definition of Empathogasm

Commenter ‘swimmer’ has asked that I explain or define my term empathogasm, stating it had been lost when a hard drive corrupted or something.

I am flattered that someone would take the time to record the explanation of a term that I probably made up on the spot the first time I needed it. Personally I like the term because it, like The Lift, fits perfectly as a description of the motive for certain behaviors. It is certainly not clinical, but it is efficacious in making succinct what I posit is an inner drive women have that I suggest is loosely analogous to the male sex drive.

The description, if I recall, was built from an example. The epiphany hit me one day a few years ago while seated around the neighborhood pool with my wife and youngest daughter. The pool attracts mostly moms and kids. The moms are in the back half of their 30’s as is typical for parents of kids 7 and under. We, however, have a late child whose birth came when my wife was 40 and I was 43. So we have a decade between us and the parents of our youngest daughters cohorts.

My wife as as prone to seek empathogasms as any woman, so I was fascinated that as she and some of the moms shared small talk, the communicating pairs were really straining to reach the climax, the empatholgasm. I’ve witnessed my wife and her friends or new acquaintances score one with minimal effort, yet this day the frustration was evident (for he with eyes to see).

When men meet we exchange facts. Birthplace, work, how many kids, maybe whether we like to fish or golf or hunt. We may get to the point where we are exchanging opinions. But we exchange them for informational purposes until we develop (unfairly) a first impression of who we are and where and if we fit. Acquaintances, buddies, friends? Decorum will dictate then whether we stay banal and discuss sports, get more ideological and talk politics, get personal but with reserve and talk faith or spirituality, or we open up and really share stuff. Not gonna happen very often in a first meeting.

Women however are exchanging facts along with opinions and value judgements until they sense there is something they can peel layers from and get deeper. For example:

“Oh your daughter goes to Maple Elementary?…Mine too” (this is where the metaphorical touching turns to heavy petting, there is a shot at an empathogasm here)

A careful often passive discussion about some value judgements regarding the school may ensue until one or the other expresses a feeling about some aspect of the school, a teacher, a policy, etc.

Sometimes they leave the topic frustrated as the petting was clearly leading nowhere. So they start another topic and exchange opinions about that. Could be diet, discipline of kids, something about the neighborhood, whatever things inform women’s initial conversations. Usually not deeply personal things like husbands or a particular child of theirs, so forth.

They will cast about sometimes rapidly firing off test facts and opinions seeking a spark that signals “willing partner”. As they narrow down to that topic they move very obviously to a place where one expresses a feeling about something and the other lights up as if the pleasure center in the brain took a surge and says, “you feel X about Y……I KNOW EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL!”

That is the empathogasm. The whole dynamic is a little  bit like a man trolling a bar and finding the girl he thinks he may have a shot at for sex. Not a sure thing, but the exchange of information and the initial light conversation signals something or it doesn’t. Same for these women.

If a woman can end-cap a conversation with “I know exactly how you feel”, in the case of a newly met person the woman will leave the encounter saying she thinks she and that woman can be fast friends. No empathogasm, …eh, she thinks,….”she was ok”. Its the same for women who are long time friends. If they have a phone call that doesn’t yield an empathogasm about something, it will end sooner and be far less satisfying than especially the ones there they achieve the apogee of communication titillation, the multiple empathogasm.

Some have temporarily lost their vision after one-a-those.

Now consider how this empathogasm craving impacts the communication dynamics between wives and husbands. Take the empathogasm as backdrop for understanding the whole “I dont want to have my issue fixed, I want you to listen”…and it makes sense. Consider the Joel and Kathy nonsense about how if a man doesn’t literally KNOW his wife’s heart (something I only can understand in empathogasm terms, otherwise its meaning is lost on me) he is a failure as a husband. Those are all strongly worded things if they were not about something that finds a literal drive for some kind of climax as the motive.

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5 thoughts on “Swimmer asked for the definition of Empathogasm

  1. @Empath

    They will cast about sometimes rapidly firing off test facts and opinions seeking a spark that signals “willing partner”. As they narrow down to that topic they move very obviously to a place where one expresses a feeling about something and the other lights up as if the pleasure center in the brain took a surge and says, “you feel X about Y……I KNOW EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL!”

    That is the empathogasm. The whole dynamic is a little bit like a man trolling a bar and finding the girl he thinks he may have a shot at for sex. Not a sure thing, but the exchange of information and the initial light conversation signals something or it doesn’t. Same for these women.

    Superb.

  2. Allow me to offer some clinical data to back up your idea, starting with your point here:

    …and it makes sense. Consider the Joel and Kathy nonsense about how if a man doesn’t literlly KNOW his wife’s heart (something I only can understand in empathogasm terms, otherwise its meaning is lost on me) he is a failure as a husband

    I don’t do much marriage counseling, but I have done some. One distinct trend I noticed when I was doing it more had to do with what men and women say when asked what they want/need from the other. It usually goes like this:

    Man: I want to be respected and admired. I work very hard at my profession, and it provides us with a good life. I don’t get the feeling she appreciates that.

    Woman: I want to be known. I know his favorite color, his favorite sex position, his favorite sport. He doesn’t know me.

  3. I wondered about your opinion on this because I am clearly not able to pick this kind of thing apart clinically.
    I find that I use things like this to describe what I see in a dynamic, even knowing that I am certainly guessing but trying to be illustrative.
    I try adding some wit and sarcasm but try not to ascribe outright maladaptive motives, there there are behaviors especially when women rationalize frivorce that are best described using maladaptive behaviors as descriptions.

    Could be I have an empathobsession.

    On knowing the woman. Its cliche, and its true. What you see ain’t what you get….by the minute. My wife would argue that its me who is moody…..yet I’m not referring to moodiness when I say she is unknowable in the way she can sometimes be unknowable. A very interesting dynamic is that my 9 year old girl (who is quite clever, more clever it seems than the others were when they were 9 maybe because of the presence of much older siblings) often playfully shows my wife her contradictions if she (the little one) senses me being mildly persecuted for something that the day before would have been the wife’s preference.

  4. What’s interesting about empathy is the literature and experience tell us that empathy is (like most things as it turns out) a genetic trait that develops at a predictable stage–like the ability to experience ambivalence and other sophisticated psychological/emotional concepts.

    Psychopaths never develop empathy, but they can mimic it.

    The ones I have worked with, I would try a very nuts and bolts experiment with them like, “imagine a time when you were scared. It could have been fear that you might lose a job, fear that someone was about to hit you, maybe you had a close call car accident. The person you were about to do X to was scared, just like you were in that moment.”

    For many-not just psychopaths- this is an eye opening experience. Kind of sad when adults hear this and its the first time they ever tried to put themselves in someone elses shoes.

    But empathy that does not lead to doing something–or for the sake of itself–is something I see as a distinctly feminine trait. It’s why they watch Oprah, etc. The “connection” with no other drive to do anything is enough.

    It seems the empathogasm is just another form of seeking out this connection without any other purpose behind it.

  5. Agreed, Scott, with your summation at the end. I cannot recall the book, I have it in my Kindle account, it is somewhat scholarly and has a chapter on empathy. It taught me that the word didn’t exist in English until (if I recall) 100 years ago +/-. It came from a German word that was used in describing works of art. The German word meant “to feel in”. Its a specious etymology for a word that we place such huge and increasing emphasis on.

    The writer of the book makes a very compelling case that empathy as we use the word now has a self fulfilling definition in that A.) we cannot possibly truly know how someone else feels and B.) we get some kind of good feelings by the mere claim that we are empathetic.

    He offers examples to support A. He sold me. He would claim that we may know in very general terms how someone may feel under certain circumstances but its so basic and widely applicable to anyone in those circumstances that it fails to rise to the level of what we call empathy today. Your example of the one who lacks empathy recalling fear then applying that to a victim is a perfect example. Its generic. Fear. But the complexity of feelings belays the knowing of them in others because they are not in isolation from all the other crap in the persons emotions at that time.

    The empathogasm usually is about feelings that could be described as emotionally derived and emotionally buttressed opinions which can almost describe a woman’s settled worldview as evidenced by the trope endlessly repeated by women who pop up at Dalrock and elsewhere.

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