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Thread: Extreme empaths

  1. #51
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiltyred View Post
    People who actually have to be in those situations cannot be but so empathic, or they could not get their work done.
    No, this helps them do their work, it motivates them to continue doing their work. Being immune and unmoved is a symptom of burnout, not a precipitating factor that moves things along.

    I bring this up because whenever this topic comes up on the forum, I see people saying what strongly empathetic beings they are. And I hope every time I read responses to get something meaty and substantial about what people are experiencing, triggers, reactions, how the cope, and nothing.

    For my job, I work with that delve deeply into situations and topics that trigger these responses and people aren't saying I'm empathetic because I watch a movie and I cry or it scares me. People are saying I'm a social worker and I've been assigned a case load that's breaking me in half, and I have to make home visits and I see the squalor and dysfunction that surrounds families and I'm afraid to drop a case because the one I drop may be the one where I get a call someone is hospitalized or dead.

    The weight of the situations are just different to me. I've wondered are highly empathetic people more likely to go towards these intense caring professions or away from them. I wonder what type of person puts themselves through the wringer like this every day and still can say they love what they do. I wonder why turnover is so high. I wonder does detachment make them better at what they do or less inclined to care.

    It helps that they cannot feel every little twitch of their patients. I am useless in those situations because I faint when I see blood, for example. And most people find my reactions to movies and real life situations over sensitive and abnormal. So yes, I'd say extreme empathy is a neurological disorder.

    I can't help feeling a bit set up when someone asks a question and I offer anecdotal or personal experience for what it's worth, and it's turned around as if to say I'm bragging, or that experience I offer is trivialized all to hell.
    I don't want you to construe what I'm asking as needling. I purposely didn't quote anyone so that no one person would feel like I was directing my comment at them. Yeah, it is hard when people use personal anecdotes as proof because basically that ties your hands from asking any further questions because they feel attacked for relating experiences if you have a differing opinion. What can you do? Just smile and agree a person is what they say they are? I ask to understand, not to trivialize. I can make all types of claims and assertions about myself and they don't have to be true. I think when you question things like this, it's often perceived as questioning a person's goodness and everybody thinks they're basically a good person. I say this neutrally so once again, I'm not trying to attack what you experience.

    I can watch pretty intense movies and feel OK, blood and guts don't bother me, I'm not particularly squeamish. But if I am those things, do I become empathetic? If I can look at something unflinchingly, does that mean I'm unmoved? Is empathy directly related to how big of a basket case you become in high stress/emotional situations or if you maintain functionality are you not particularly empathetic? Because that's what some people are offering up as proof as their empathy: that they can't be in the presence of something disturbing or they go into meltdown.

    Empathy is just as much about positive emotion as negative...are people just as inclined to feel the happiness and joy of others or is it specifically negative and painful emotion?
    Relationships have normal ebbs and flows. They do not automatically get better and better when the participants learn more and more about each other. Instead, the participants have to work through the tensions of the relationship (the dialectic) while they learn and group themselves and a parties in a relationships. At times the relationships is very open and sharing. Other time, one or both parties to the relationship need their space, or have other concerns, and the relationship is less open. The theory posits that these cycles occur throughout the life of the relationship as the persons try to balance their needs for privacy and open relationship.
    Interpersonal Communication Theories and Concepts
    Social Penetration Theory 1
    Social Penetration Theory 2
    Social Penetration Theory 3

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    Twerking & Lurking ayoitsStepho's Avatar
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    Hmm...
    Personally, I literally feel whats going on. Yes, I get sick when watching films or things that really happen, but I actually feel the pain.

    For example, today I was watching a tv show where one of the characters gets shot in the throat with an arrow. My stomach turned and I felt a sharp little pain in my throat. They kept replying that same scene over and over again. I just started crying, it was too much and I had to shut it off.

    I think my issue is that I see something happen, I imagine myself in that place w/out control over doing so, and I feel the pain (at least in my mind I suppose). That's why I don't watch a lot of tv anymore. It hurts too much or it stresses me out.

    It's not just physical hurt either, it goes for emotional things as well. I feel what you feel.
    It's come to a point where I can't have anyone in my family show me cuts or anything because I get this electric shock feeling that runs up the back of my legs. I think I'm just way too sensitive to the people around me/ people I see.
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    Well, I have a few opinions about this.

    1) Horror films are fiction. The world news makes me feel much more pain than slasher flicks. I'm much more disturbed by realistic dramas than horror, and I think that people who freak out over horror movies are just extremely imaginative, not empathetic. I think empathy is actually aware of REAL feelings.

    2) Same thing with fainting at the sight of blood. That isn't empathetic - it's a visceral aversion to blood. Empathy would involve helping the bleeding person, I would assume.

    3) That being said, I'm extremely sensitive to real life violence, reports of animal violence, and can cry when other people are crying, or get angry when other people are being picked on or abused. I feel a need to defend others sometimes.

    I don't know if this makes me an "extreme empath" but I am sensitive.

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    Twerking & Lurking ayoitsStepho's Avatar
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    Yeah, same here. I'm extremely sensitive to those around me. I think that's my issue. I don't know if I'm really an extreme empath.
    Quote Originally Posted by MacGuffin View Post
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    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ayoitsStepho View Post
    Hmm...
    Personally, I literally feel whats going on. Yes, I get sick when watching films or things that really happen, but I actually feel the pain.

    For example, today I was watching a tv show where one of the characters gets shot in the throat with an arrow. My stomach turned and I felt a sharp little pain in my throat. They kept replying that same scene over and over again. I just started crying, it was too much and I had to shut it off.

    I think my issue is that I see something happen, I imagine myself in that place w/out control over doing so, and I feel the pain (at least in my mind I suppose). That's why I don't watch a lot of tv anymore. It hurts too much or it stresses me out.

    It's not just physical hurt either, it goes for emotional things as well. I feel what you feel.
    It's come to a point where I can't have anyone in my family show me cuts or anything because I get this electric shock feeling that runs up the back of my legs. I think I'm just way too sensitive to the people around me/ people I see.
    ayoits, I'm not picking on you. Using the same criteria, would a surgeon who can slice and dice a body like you've never seen without batting an eye be less empathetic because they can do this?

    I'm really not understanding why this is an indicator of empathy.

    Quote Originally Posted by marmalade.sunrise View Post
    Well, I have a few opinions about this.

    1) Horror films are fiction. The world news makes me feel much more pain than slasher flicks. I'm much more disturbed by realistic dramas than horror, and I think that people who freak out over horror movies are just extremely imaginative, not empathetic. I think empathy is actually aware of REAL feelings.

    2) Same thing with fainting at the sight of blood. That isn't empathetic - it's a visceral aversion to blood. Empathy would involve helping the bleeding person, I would assume.

    3) That being said, I'm extremely sensitive to real life violence, reports of animal violence, and can cry when other people are crying, or get angry when other people are being picked on or abused. I feel a need to defend others sometimes.

    I don't know if this makes me an "extreme empath" but I am sensitive.
    GTFOUT!! I think you and I are in agreement!
    Relationships have normal ebbs and flows. They do not automatically get better and better when the participants learn more and more about each other. Instead, the participants have to work through the tensions of the relationship (the dialectic) while they learn and group themselves and a parties in a relationships. At times the relationships is very open and sharing. Other time, one or both parties to the relationship need their space, or have other concerns, and the relationship is less open. The theory posits that these cycles occur throughout the life of the relationship as the persons try to balance their needs for privacy and open relationship.
    Interpersonal Communication Theories and Concepts
    Social Penetration Theory 1
    Social Penetration Theory 2
    Social Penetration Theory 3

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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    Empathy is just as much about positive emotion as negative...are people just as inclined to feel the happiness and joy of others[...]?


    This is the flipside/upside.

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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post

    GTFOUT!! I think you and I are in agreement!


    Awesome!

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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    Empathy is just as much about positive emotion as negative...are people just as inclined to feel the happiness and joy of others or is it specifically negative and painful emotion?
    Yes, it definitely applies to positive emotions as well. That's why I don't think about the negative emotions I get from people as something extreme that must be avoided because I know that all of that is balanced out with positive emotions. That's what makes it all worth it.

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    Twerking & Lurking ayoitsStepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    ayoits, I'm not picking on you. Using the same criteria, would a surgeon who can slice and dice a body like you've never seen without batting an eye be less empathetic because they can do this?

    I'm really not understanding why this is an indicator of empathy.
    Heh, of course not. You don't have to be sick in the stomach to be empathetic. I'm just using the criteria that I thought the OP was talking about, the whole literally feeling pain. In fact, I don't really think it has anything to do with empathy, I'm just extremely sensitive to hurting of any kind.

    In fact, saying that, a thought just came to mind. Does empathy only come to light when there's hurting or does empathy play out for all things. Like, if someone was extremely happy because they made it on the soccer team, wouldn't empathy cause someone to experience that happiness too? (or something like that).

    I guess what I'm saying is that I only feel or experience the hurt. I don't necessarily feel or understand when others are happy, joyful, troubled or any other kind of experience. So I really wouldn't say I was all that empathetic.
    Quote Originally Posted by MacGuffin View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    No, this helps them do their work, it motivates them to continue doing their work. Being immune and unmoved is a symptom of burnout, not a precipitating factor that moves things along.

    I bring this up because whenever this topic comes up on the forum, I see people saying what strongly empathetic beings they are. And I hope every time I read responses to get something meaty and substantial about what people are experiencing, triggers, reactions, how the cope, and nothing.

    For my job, I work with that delve deeply into situations and topics that trigger these responses and people aren't saying I'm empathetic because I watch a movie and I cry or it scares me. People are saying I'm a social worker and I've been assigned a case load that's breaking me in half, and I have to make home visits and I see the squalor and dysfunction that surrounds families and I'm afraid to drop a case because the one I drop may be the one where I get a call someone is hospitalized or dead.

    The weight of the situations are just different to me. I've wondered are highly empathetic people more likely to go towards these intense caring professions or away from them. I wonder what type of person puts themselves through the wringer like this every day and still can say they love what they do. I wonder why turnover is so high. I wonder does detachment make them better at what they do or less inclined to care.
    I felt called to be a midwife. I became a nurse to become a midwife only. I was a nurse for one year and I got headaches when I had to go to work, because it just was not a setting I liked being in; the hospital. I did not feel as much empathy in that setting as I was to feel later, in the home birth setting, although sometimes I could get in that space when there was a long stretch of quiet, peaceful non interrupted time. When I later attended homebirth and labored women in their homes, it was so conducive to peace and connecting, that, if I was pregnant myself, I would literally get cramps when the woman would contract, and I know other midwives who had this happen to them as well. Also, I now know it's my intuition, but once I got in 'the zone' with someone, while I was laboring them with no talking going on whatsoever, total peace and quiet; it was easy to tell while breathing with them, touching them, when they did and did not want me to touch them and where and how hard, etc. All nonverbal; no movement, no nothing, not necessarily reading cues, just feeling it, clear as day. Just totally in tune. Since homebirths are usually joyful normal events (or we wouldn't be at home), those empathic feelings were strong, and fatiguing, yet rewarding and good and positive.

    I have kicked around becoming some sort of counselor or child advocate--working with children because I care so much about them and feel that their early development can make or break them, bascially. But I just can't do it, and i know that. I am too sensitive to be able to place myself in those settings for very long. I couldn't hear about a 3 yr old sustaining sexual molestation or my stomach would literally hurt (it almost hurts just thinking about it); so I love them and I would want to do anything to help them, yet the irony is I couldn't or else it would kill me over time; stress me out until I was a basket case myself. I think that kind of work IS best done with someone who is empathic, yet has something in them that can separate out their own physical responses. You are right. Many nurses are SFJs. It's probably kind of like firefighters and their problems with PTSD; in careers where your empathy is on call all the time, you just need breaks or to really replenish yourself when you are in those hard professions, or maybe even counseling from time to time.



    I don't want you to construe what I'm asking as needling. I purposely didn't quote anyone so that no one person would feel like I was directing my comment at them. Yeah, it is hard when people use personal anecdotes as proof because basically that ties your hands from asking any further questions because they feel attacked for relating experiences if you have a differing opinion. What can you do? Just smile and agree a person is what they say they are? I ask to understand, not to trivialize. I can make all types of claims and assertions about myself and they don't have to be true. I think when you question things like this, it's often perceived as questioning a person's goodness and everybody thinks they're basically a good person. I say this neutrally so once again, I'm not trying to attack what you experience.

    I can watch pretty intense movies and feel OK, blood and guts don't bother me, I'm not particularly squeamish. But if I am those things, do I become empathetic? If I can look at something unflinchingly, does that mean I'm unmoved? Is empathy directly related to how big of a basket case you become in high stress/emotional situations or if you maintain functionality are you not particularly empathetic? Because that's what some people are offering up as proof as their empathy: that they can't be in the presence of something disturbing or they go into meltdown.

    Empathy is just as much about positive emotion as negative...are people just as inclined to feel the happiness and joy of others or is it specifically negative and painful emotion?

    I don't think the type of movies one watches matters. Most of my friends don't like horror movies and I love em! But I can't watch murder scenes at all and forget movies with child abuse. I think the state of Hollywood and what they are churning out is just disgusting and really bad for society. I realize they just 'give society what we want to see' and all that. But, I don't watch much of it, and wish our children (i say this collectively) didn't either. It's just not good to see people get offed so realistically. What? Do we not live enough violence and war as it is?
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