General Question

ftp901's avatar

Are a vulnerability & a weakness the same thing?

Asked by ftp901 (1318points) May 1st, 2010

This question got me thinking about my vulnerabilities:

I do not show them often and I know that’s a problem. I admire people who do show them. So, I was just sitting down to write out a list of my own vulnerabilities and it made me wonder, what EXACTLY is a vulnerability? is it the same thing as a weakness? I can write out a list of my weaknesses (both character & job skill weaknesses) but to me that doesn’t seem the same as a vulnerability. Isn’t a vulnerability a thing that makes you more susceptible to attack by others?

So, how would you describe a vulnerability from your own experience (not a dictionary)?

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5 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

I have a weakness in my lower back do to congential abnormalities.

I am vulnerable to friends asking for financial loans (when I know they will not repay me).

I am vulnerable to cats and dogs. I spend a lot of time petting dogs who appear in town.

I am about to remove two wasps who flew inside (by paper cup and lid and release them back into the outdoors).

LostInParadise's avatar

I think the main difference is in the way the two words are used. Vulnerability emphasizes outside influences that can cause harm. “The plant was vulnerable to blight.” Weakness places emphasis on the person or thing that may perform poorly. “The plant had a weak root structure.”

chamelopotamus's avatar

A weakness could make you vulnerable. Other times it takes strength to allow yourself to be vulnerable to someone else. Or just trust, in them.

thriftymaid's avatar

No. A weakness is a lack of strength regarding something. A vulnerability is a hole in your defense to something making it easy to be wounded.

wundayatta's avatar

I am told it takes strength to be vulnerable in public. I suppose the corollary is that hiding vulnerabilities betrays weakness.

How could this work? Well only a person who was very secure about who he was and about his strength to deal with criticism would be able to publicize his vulnerabilities without fear it would harm him. People who are uncertain about themselves attempt to hide their vulnerabilities. They don’t want anyone to catch on, because if they did, they could exploit that vulnerability.

If we exchange each instance of vulnerability for weakness and vice versa, I don’t think there’s any change in meaning. A vulnerability isn’t necessarily about something that makes you vulnerable to attack. It shows something that others could take advantage of, should they so desire. Of course, a person who displays their vulnerabilities probably does not fear anyone taking advantage of them, since he knows he has other resources to protect himself with.

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