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Is sadness relative, or is it a continuum? Can one person's sadness equal another's?

14 Answers
Last Updated: 04/22/2019 at 12:11pm
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Jennifer Fritz, LMSW, PhD

Clinical Social Work/Therapist

Day to day life can be stressful and overwhelming and my strength is assisting my clients in a supportive, empowering and practical manner.

Top Rated Answers
March 1st, 2015 12:13pm
While we can identify sadness in people, the sadness sensation is extremely personal and subjective. Common sense struggles to compare and quantify feelings, but such approach is erroneous and counterproductive. Sadness is an extremely personal - and as such, subjective - state of mind. Being a product of our beliefs and personality, one can't compare it to other's people sadness. Hence, if sadness, as a psychological object, is to be analysed, I would say it is a continuum, given the degrees of freedom of the variables envolved.
June 2nd, 2015 4:10pm
It depends. One person's sadness can never equal another, they may suffer the same loss but never at the same frequency. Everyone handles things differently and I could only hope that it gets better for everyone.
February 28th, 2015 7:02pm
you can't really compare sadness. there are different kinds of miseries. some last long some don't .
April 7th, 2015 4:42pm
Yes. Lets blame this on the Mirror Neurons. Example: You're walking through school and suddenly someone is being bullied. Automatically, you recoil in sympathy. We are, from an evolutionary perspective, programmed to be automatically empathetic towards the problem others are having. We as each one, are none the less, vulnerable but as a group we seem to be stronger, more assertive. We're wired to feel empathy, to "walk In another persons shoes." The sad story of a stranger can bring us memories of similar events that have happened to us previously, or in another case we feel what it is that person could be feeling, we relate, we sympathize.
May 5th, 2015 12:08am
I'd imagine it's on a continuum. And I'd certainly say one person's sadness can equal another's. We are in large part unoriginal in our misery and happiness which I find some strange comfort in.
June 10th, 2015 6:58am
Sadness is something that can't be measured. It's a bit too subjective and varies from person to person. That's why you can't really say someone's sadness is "equal", or perhaps even "similar" to someone else's. Everyone is sad in their own way.
June 23rd, 2015 3:10pm
Everyone feels sadness differently. One person's sadness cannot equal another's, because they both experience it differently. Someone can't say they are more sad than someone else, because you don't know how the other person experiences and feels the sadness. Just be accepting and be there for eachother.
November 10th, 2015 12:45am
sadeness is not something that is really the same in any two people. Some people can be sad about not getting the pizza they want or someone can be sad about being abused and depressed. Sometimes sadness can equal, but take two different people with two very different back rounds, and I think no. One sadness cannot equal another. Maybe in the intensity of the sadness but the reasoning could be what sets them so different.
April 25th, 2016 9:14pm
Everyone feels differently, its impossible to compare what one person calls sadness to what somebody else does. And we are all affected by it differently too.
July 12th, 2016 5:53am
For me, sadness can be both. Relative sadness is situational: you get sad seeing tragedy on the news; you get sad when a friend says something mean; you get sad when you lose a pet. Sadness in a continuum means you might be overall depressed because of the sequence of losses you've experienced.. Like deciding to have an online relationship when you were just 8 only to find out that the man was a pervert and now all your photos are on the internet, then your dad finds out and beats you unconcious which then triggers your mom to report him to the police and consequently ask for a divorce. Now your dad's in jail, your parents are divorced, your mom is depressed and hardly functional, your baby sister has lost both parents and you are now the adult in the family and of course you blame yourself for ruining your pefect family.
August 15th, 2016 9:11am
Everyone feels sadness. Even some people feel sadness without even having any reasons and no one's sadness is equal to others. We all feel sadness based on who we are? Sadness is at its highest when all the feelings buried deep inside comes out.
December 19th, 2016 6:14am
An interesting philosophical question. I would say that sadness is relative, in the sense that there is no real way to account for total sadness. Even if we say something like "I'm really sad today", this comes from an internal scale we all have, and our scale depends on ourselves alone.
May 8th, 2017 4:14am
Sadness is again a state of mind, which comes from a feeling of disappointment or not having achieved something, or such other reason. No one can equate one person's sadness with another's
April 22nd, 2019 12:11pm
HI! That is a very good question and thank you for being brave to ask it. Sadness is a symptom as a result of an action or perceived action. Similarly, sadness is a syndrome of something like an imbalance in biology or a feeling as a result of illness or grief. We as people are born with innate abilities to feel and respond to our environment and social situations. With that, if we can adjust, change, or repair our environment or bodies if necessary we can lessen feelings of sadness. To answer your qeustion sadness can occur naturally and can also be controlled and because people feel innately then we all experience this emotion at times.