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Altruism

 

Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Altruism

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

  

Description

Avoid your own pains by concentrating on the pains of others. Maybe you can heal yourself and feel good by healing them and helping them to feel good.

Example

A self-made millionaire who grew up in poverty sets up a charitable foundation and gains great pleasure from how it helps others get out of the poverty trap. She receives social accolade and public recognition for her good deeds, which she carefully and modestly grateful.

Discussion

Altruism and other pro-social action may seem rather strange as a 'coping' behavior. According to the dictionary it is 'unselfish concern for the welfare of others'. Yet beneath the surface we all have our ills and seek to cope with them as best we can. If we have strong values about being unselfish and putting others first, altruism is a perfect mechanism for avoiding, and perhaps even curing our own problems.

Direct altruism may be found when a person seeks to help others with the same problem that the person has, thus seeking an indirect way of effecting a direct cure on oneself. Altruism may also be less direct and aimed at helping others in a range of circumstances. This may appear when the more direct approach would still be too painful.

So what?

So if you have been hurt in the past, help others in the same situation rather than taking revenge on those who hurt you or falling into worse dysfunction.

Likewise, you can help others choose altruism over more destructive coping mechanisms.

See also

Sublimation

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