Journal Article

Shielding Yourself From the Perils of Empathy: The Case of Sign Language Interpreters

Michael A. Harvey

in The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

Volume 8, issue 2, pages 207-213
Published in print April 2003 | ISSN: 1081-4159
Published online April 2003 | e-ISSN: 1465-7325 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/deafed/eng004
Shielding Yourself From the Perils of Empathy: The Case of Sign Language Interpreters

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Cross-cultural exchanges between deaf and hearing persons are replete with unintentional misunderstandings and even purposeful acts of oppression. Sign language interpreters routinely bear witness to the negative emotional fallout of these dynamics on the Deaf consumer. It is largely inevitable—a psychological reflex—to experience some degree of empathic pain. One must achieve a healthy balance of empathizing enough while shielding oneself from its perils. I describe the psychological effects of juxtaposed extremes of affect, projective identification, and the dual nature of empathy.

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Subjects: Education ; Linguistics ; Teaching of Specific Groups and Special Educational Needs

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