There are two kinds of pity. One, the weak-minded, sentimental sort, is really just the heart’s impatience to rid itself as quickly as possible of the painful experience of being moved by another person’s suffering. It is not the case of real sympathy, of feeling with the sufferer, but a way of defending yourself against someone else’s pain. The other kind, the only one that counts, is unsentimental but creative. It knows its own mind, and is determined to stand by the sufferer, patiently suffering too, to the last of its strength and even beyond.
Beware of Pity, Stefan Zweig.