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3/09/08 / Dorf

6:35 PM On physical suffering of the ill and its perception by the healthy, Thomas Mann writes in The Magic Mountain (italics below mine):

The sympathy that the healthy person felt for someone who was ill, which could intensify to the point of awe, since he was unable to imagine how he could ever bear such suffering himself – such sympathy was utterly exaggerated. The sick person had no right to it. It was based on a misperception, a failure of imagination, because the healthy person was attributing his own mode of experience to the sick person, making of him, so to speak, a healthy person who had to bear the torments of sickness – a totally erroneous idea. The sick person was just that, sick, both by nature and in his mode of experience. Illness battered its victim until they got along with one another: the senses were diminished, there were lapses in consciousness, a merciful self-narcosis set in – all means by which nature allowed the organism to find relief, to adapt mentally and morally to its condition, and which the healthy person naively forgot to take into account. A perfect example was this tubercular pack up here, with their frivolity, stupidity, depravity, their aversion to becoming healthy again. In short, if the sympathetic or awestruck healthy person were to become sick himself, to lose his health, he would soon see that illness is a state in and of itself, though certainly not an honorable one, and that he had been taking it all too seriously.

Pg. 534

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