So… Trevor Zinck has “compassion fatigue.” His problem is not that he defrauded taxpayers of $9,000 by stealing money destined for charities, and sponsorships, and poured it down the bottomless drain of casino gambling.
Nor is his problem that he suffers from an all-too-commonplace gambling addiction, which he needs to acknowledge and seek treatment for.
No, Trevor Zinck’s real problem is that he… cares too much.
“It’s not malarkey,” Zinck insisted last week after his lawyer managed to put off the former MLA’s day of legal reckoning one more time by raising the red compassion-fatigue flag of convenience.
“I can’t tell you what it is,” Lyle Howe acknowledged. “I’m not an expert. [But] it’s something that Trevor feels like is relevant and that he wants to explore with an expert.”
It’s been a month and a half since Zinck knee-capped his promise of a vigorous defence of the criminal case against him by copping to charges of fraud and breach of trust instead. He’s apparently been using that time to scour the Internet for ways to avoid and evade responsibility.
Enter compassion fatigue.
“Go on the websites… go in and type ‘compassion fatigue,’” Zinck instructed skeptical reporters.
Wikipedia says compassion fatigue, which has been diagnosed since the 1950s, involves “a gradual lessening of compassion over time,” particularly among “persons who are overly conscientious, perfectionists, and self-giving.”
As self-description at least, that shoe fits Zinck.
The syndrome is most “common among individuals that work directly with trauma victims such as nurses, psychologists, and first responders.” Politicians? While the designation of those who may suffer from the condition has broadened over the years to include other “caring” professions, politicians — perhaps not surprisingly — have yet to make the cut.
Zinck is not deterred. And he can even explain why he is only now discovering this self-serving explanation for his self-destructive behavior.
“Part of the diagnosis,” he explains, “is that you put off taking care of yourself.”
In other words, Trevor Zinck didn’t realize he was suffering from compassion fatigue because he was too busy being compassionate.
Whatever deeper explanations there may be for his behavior — and there may well be — Trevor Zinck has to begin by acknowledging he has a problem, not just a condition.