The Defy Aging Newsletter

Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness

a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.

Number 126

This issue:

Compassion Fatigue


Know and follow you limit for bad news on TV.


Why do some people rally to help out with disasters like the Tsunami, Florida hurricanes, Katrina, and Rita, and some feel overwhelmed just hearing about “so many disasters” and try to numb themselves?

Part of the problem is that TV fosters compassion fatigue. The first objective of TV news is to gather as big an audience as possible so they can charge more for advertising. They need to get us to care about news items so we will stay tuned. Thus, a child can fall in a well half-way across the country or even the world, and TV news tries to make it an event that merits frequent bulletins. Being bombarded with bad news tends to leave people feeling depressed, vulnerable, and powerless.

When the World Trade Center crumbled on our TV screens, many viewers made a mental “movie” that their mind plays over and over, “vicariously traumatizing” them. Such people are also particularly vulnerable to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) should they experience trauma personally.

There needs to be a balance between our curiosity and need-to-know vs. how upsetting the details are. Just as we need to know our limit with alcohol (and for some people that limit is zero), we need to know our limit for absorbing bad news, especially videos of bad news (as opposed to still pictures, print media, or radio). Compassion fatigue is burnout by being overwhelmed by imagining others’ pain and possibly feeling we are not doing enough to help. Setting limits for what we see on TV can be very helpful in preventing us from being overwhelmed and burning out. By remaining resilient, we can keep perspective on what we can do to help and be OK with not being able to solve all of the world’s problems.

So what’s your limit for TV news?


Compassion is the basis of morality.

~Arnold Schopenhauer

Love and knowledge led upwards to the heavens,
But always pity brought me back to earth;
Cries of pain reverberated in my heart
Of children in famine, of victims tortured And of old people left helpless.
I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot,
And I too suffer.
This has been my life; I found it worth living.

~Bertrand Russell

When there are disasters, the rich write the history, the poor write the songs.

~(source unknown)


I used to watch golf on TV but my doctor told me that I need more exercise. So now I watch tennis.


I received two comments on my last newsletter on pharmacy consultants. One was a that it is a great idea that she will recommend the service to her mother. The other was that $145 is a huge amount of money for someone on a fixed income. I certainly advocate that it would be cost effective to have insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid cover the cost of the consult as the consults are likely to result in more effective use of medications, fewer side effects and health problems, and in some cases fewer medications.

Comments are always welcome. E-mail the to

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