Could You Be a Super-Empath?

by Ilana Strauss

“Super-empaths” can’t distinguish between themselves and other people.

Have you ever noticed someone scratching themselves and felt itchy yourself? Something like 30 percent of the population can feel other people’s pain; it’s fascinating, but pretty normal. What’s more unusual is feeling other people being touched.

new study found that 1-2 percent of people are “super-empaths” who experience “mirror-pain synaesthesia.” That means that, when they see someone else being touched, they feel it themselves. People have reported being super-empaths for a while, but this is one of the first studies that backs up this observation. Scientists still don’t understand how it works.

In the study, the scientists tapped participants on the cheek while letting them watch someone being tapped on the other cheek. Most people could tell the difference between whether they were being tapped or watching others get tapped … Except for these super-empaths.

“The idea being that if you have mirror-sense synaesthesia you’re more likely to believe you’re being tapped on both sides of the face,” said Dr. Natalie Bowling, one of the scientists who worked on the study. “These people are going to find it really hard to focus on what they’re actually feeling, and they’re going to get confused and make more errors and be slower to answer about whether they’re being touched.”

Lots of people didn’t even know they had this sixth sense.

“Your brain is integrating everything,” Bowling went on. “You’ve got your heartbeat, stomach, touch receptors on your skin, but it’s all put together holistically in your brain. We don’t think about it, really – it’s all going on in the background.”

Knowing these super-empaths exist is fun, but it also made me rethink people in my life. My Mom, for instance, suffers when she sees someone suffering on television. My Dad and I used to joke about it, but now I can’t help wondering if she might just posess an extra ability to literally feel the pain of others. I’m not saying she’s a super-empath or anything … Just that this supposed weakness of empathy might be a strength, one more real than we imagined.

And it makes me wonder about people who seem to feel the pain of other species. I think a lot of treehuggers feel a visceral kind of pain when they see someone chop down a tree. When I hear about species going extinct, it doesn’t just bother me on a “Oh no, we are losing scientific biodiversity” level. I also imagine being a member of the disappearing species.

What do you think? Do environmentalists feel less of a distinction between themselves and other life forms?

Related at Care2

Image via Getty

45 comments

Tabot T
Tabot T9 days ago

Thanks

SEND
Peggy B
Peggy B10 days ago

I think many of the people on care2 are empaths to some degree.

SEND
Sophie A
Sophie A12 days ago

tyfs

SEND
Sharonsick R
Sharonaway R17 days ago

I am a highly sensitive person. And do feel more. Thanks.

SEND
heather g
heather g24 days ago

It's not easy feeling the pain of Yemenis or the Rohingya as they continue to be pounded by bombs. I don't understand how people can be callous about the suffering of people, animals and our natural environment. How can people be unmoved about the beached whale found with 1,000 pieces of plastic or 6kg of plastic waste in its gut?

SEND
Lisa M
Lisa M25 days ago

Thanks.

SEND
Lisa M
Lisa M25 days ago

Thanks.

SEND
Rita Delfing
Rita Delfing28 days ago

The answer is yes empaths have to keep rationalizing the horrors they see as it hits the soul like it's happening to them. It's not easy to cope in the world at times, my friends and family don't get me sometimes why I can't eat meat anymore, I don't care the argument, all I see is the life that was. I do not watch the news it's too much at the best of times. Sigh, sometimes I wish I wouldn't have opened this 3rd eye it would be better to be ignorant to the suffering out there.

SEND
Diane Wayne
Past Member 28 days ago

When I was 7 or 8 I consciously decided I wanted to be an empath that I saw on Star Trek.

SEND
Sophie A
Sophie A28 days ago

thank you for posting

SEND