Empathy is the ability to put oneself in the place of another, to feel what they feel, or at least relate to what they feel, and to have pity for them, as for ourselves, and want to relieve any physical or emotional pain they’re experiencing. The same way we want our own suffering pitied and ended. That’s normal human empathy. Do unto others as you’d have done unto you, as the saying goes. This comes from deserved love for ourselves which extends to love for others, including animals. But with people, that love is reserved only for those others who have not earned our revulsion by their cruel, harmful acts.
Sadistic people are also highly empathic, but without the pity, with the exact opposite of pity. They’re highly attuned to the feelings of others and they get a thrill by witnessing their suffering, especially when they themselves cause that suffering, since they feel powerful as well in those cases. The sadistic thrill is born from hatred of innocent others. That hatred is born from self-hatred, which in turn is born from their having been despised and severely beaten, physically and/or emotionally and mentally, especially by those assumed to be close, protective and loving towards them when they were small, innocent children. That of course does terrible emotional damage to a child.
What turns a naturally compassionate, loving human being into a sadistic abuser?
We’re all born innocent, and most are born to loving and protective parents who do their best to make life good for us. But some are products of parents and/or extended family or friends (or enemies or strangers) who damage them severely in a wide variety of possible ways. But all such abuse shares the same roots. Abusers are, almost 100% of the time, former victims of severe abuse, either real or at times imagined. Many of us can mature and transcend this damage to become good, kind, trustworthy people. But this is about all those who do not, in the extreme.
Two primary ways of dealing with such an upbringing are:
1) He/she can identify with the abuser(s) and emulate them in a way meant to rage against but also to justify the abuse and to “empower” the abused as in, “I’m in the power position now, stupid weakling!” This is meant to please their abuser(s) as well, as in imitation being flattery. Stockholm Syndrome is a form of identifying with and dealing with abusers in a sick but self-preserving way, serving to somehow “empower” the victim. In any case, the resulting young bully and/or animal abuser often continues on the same path to commit violent crimes against people as an adult.
2) Or the child can rebel and rise above the abuser and do everything in his/her power to be the opposite, to properly rage against the abuse and the injustice of it, and to truly empower his or her self. To become a strong and morally sound, compassionate human being, refusing to be destroyed by the abuser(s). That’s of course the well-meaning empath who feels terrible for the suffering of others and who strives to relieve suffering in the world. This is also a type of person who is hated intensely for being so “emotional” and they’re often mentally abused by their opposites above.
The sadists’ emulators are those seen posting images or videos of themselves “happily” torturing innocent, helpless animals. They’re the same cowardly people who will do the same to helpless people such as the disabled in care homes, but in the interest of self-preservation usually won’t broadcast those acts due to fear of punishment.
I believe sadists enjoy mentally torturing victim sympathizers even more than they enjoy the suffering of their direct victims. They’re intensely angry that no such people ever came to their defense and rescued them when they were victims of hideous abuse. So, jealousy of those who ARE protected and rescued and loved is the key to their vicious acts against those they see as innocent, like they once were.
The main reason we have animal abuse is because we have child abuse.
Very few people are actually naturally evil from birth where no amount of loving nurturing parenting will allow them to develop into kind, loving people. A child is made evil by abuse, plain and simple. But as with the other example above, most abused children rebel and develop their own sense of empathy and compassion despite the abuse they endured. That takes real strength; mental and emotional strength that the other extreme are severely or entirely lacking. So those toxic “caretakers” or other abusers not only turned them evil, but rendered them extremely weak in character as well.
Wish I had some concrete ones, new and effective. But whenever we witness a child or animal (or anyone else) being seriously abused, we need to act against it or report it to those in authority who will take decisive action to deal with it and get it ended, and get the victim to safety. And that includes what is considered legal and acceptable! Make no mistake, legalized evil is nothing but highly destructive to us all.
So very much abuse is overlooked as with people being intimidated or wanting to mind their own business and such. But this is ALL of our business, as it’s our world and we must live in it and be subject to its dangers. There are so very many, and being victimized by other human beings should not be one of them.
We get to the root of this huge problem only by facing the hard truth about ourselves as a species and putting an end to all of our excuse making and blathering about “necessary evils” as in making “inferior” others suffer for our supposed “benefits.” Such thinking only destroys our humanity and our natural sense of empathy.