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The meaning and origin of the expression: Compassion fatigue

Compassion fatigue

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'Compassion fatigue'?

A weariness of and diminishing public response to frequent requests for charity.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Compassion fatigue'?

This term originated in America in the 1960s. The first reference I can find to it is an article in the Kansas newspaper The Emporia Gazette, April 1961:

Americans who come to Southeast Asia fortify themselves with all sorts of pharmaceutical armor. One disease, however, the intrepid little pills cannot conquer. The disease goes by the name of compassion fatigue or conscience sickness.

In the UK the phrase is associated with Sir Bob Geldof who highlighted the many public appeals he had made himself. In an interview for The Guardian in May 2003 he said:

"Even I'm sick of myself ... I'm that quarter-page Oxfam [advertisement] in the Guardian, always asking for money."

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

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