Amanda Knox and weird empathy

Amanda raises a difficult question, irrespective of her guilt or innocence.

I remember vividly an incident of a robbery from a child’s locker when I was about 8 years old. The teacher or perhaps head-mistress summoned all children to a meeting and asked who was responsible? Now I, as probably most children, did not even know there had been a theft until this meeting. Yet I still recall the guilt, pain and immediate public embarrassment thinking that perhaps it had been me who had done this. There was a strong wish to confess to something of which I had no knowledge! Weird but real.

Was there a psychological explanation? Did I have wishes to steal from others? I don’t think so. Was I tempted to take things? No, neither were the case. However I was a very unsure child – full of self-criticism – combined with an acute sensitivity and ability to identify and empathise. These factors continued into adult life and later incidents of inadvertent connection with wrong-doers caused pain to them and embarrassment to myself.

I wonder how many others have similar experiences where they feel guilt for something which they have not done.


About veritytraveller

My professional personal website is This blog is a more personal set of reflections on life and art, art and life.
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