Are Lawyers Jerks? Or Is It 'Compassion Fatigue?'
What Is Compassion Fatigue?Repeated exposure to trauma, even secondhand, takes a toll on a professional's mental state. Also known as "secondary traumatic stress" and "vicarious trauma," compassion fatigue is a common condition among lawyers as well as members of other professions who are exposed to traumatic situations. Although they can manifest in similar ways, compassion fatigue is different from burnout.
How to Spot Compassion FatigueCompassion fatigue can rear its head in many ways, many of which will sound familiar to those of the bench and bar. It can start with feeling overwhelmed and physically/emotionally exhausted. Someone suffering from compassion fatigue might also begin viewing the world as inherently dangerous, feeling the need to be hyper-vigilant about personal and family safety. According to the ABA, other symptoms of compassion fatigue include:
- Becoming pessimistic, cynical, irritable, and prone to anger
- Feeling emotionally detached or numb
- Withdrawing socially
- Avoiding certain clients
- Having disturbing images from cases intrude on thoughts or dreams
- Solo Sanity: 3 Mental Health Tips For Solo Practitioners (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Clients Making You Miserable? You're Not Alone (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Leaving Your Lawyer At Work (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
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