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Thread: Extreme empaths

  1. #1
    Minister of Propagandhi ajblaise's Avatar
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    Default Extreme empaths

    What type do you think most 'extreme empaths' are likely to test as? It's an interesting condition.

    We feel your pain: Extreme empaths

    HORROR films are simply a disconcerting watch for the majority of us, but for Jane Barrett they are literally torturous. She writhes in agony whenever the actors on the screen feel pain. "When I see violence in films I have an extreme reaction," she says. "I simply have to close my eyes. I start to feel nauseous and have to breathe deeply."

    She is just one of many people who suffer from a range of disorders that give rise to "extreme empathy". Some of these people, like Barrett, empathise so strongly with others that they experience the same physical feelings - whether it's the tickle of a feather or the cut of a knife. Others, who suffer from a disorder known as echopraxia, just can't help immediately imitating the actions of others, even in inappropriate situations.

    Far from being mere curiosities, understanding these conditions could have many pay-offs for neuroscience, such as illuminating conditions like phantom pain. They may even help answer the age-old question of whether empathy really is linked to compassion.

    There is a general consensus that empathy-linked conditions arise from abnormalities in the common mechanisms for empathy found in all humans: although few of us experience sensations as powerful as Barrett's, we all wince at a brutal foul on the football field and feel compassion for someone experiencing grief. Many studies have suggested that our capacity for empathy arises from a specific group of neurons, labelled mirror neurons. First discovered in macaque monkeys, they are situated in and around the premotor cortex and parietal lobe - regions that span the top of the brain near the middle of the head. These neurons fire both when you perform an action and when you see someone else perform that action.

    Although the challenges inherent in placing electrodes in people's brains have so far made it difficult to prove convincingly that individual neurons also act like this in humans, fMRI scans have supported the idea that certain populations of neurons do seem to behave in this mirroring fashion.

    Put simply, this means that at some level we mentally imitate every action we observe, whether it's a somersault or a look of disgust. The popular theory has it that this imitation allows us to put ourselves in the place of those around us, to better interpret their behaviour. This hypothesis has been consistently supported by numerous tests, with empathy scores strongly correlating with the behaviour of the brain's mirror-circuits. "How empathetic we are seems to be related to how strongly our mirror neuron systems are activated," says Christian Keysers, a neuroscientist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

    Yet if our brains are primed to live out every experience we observe, why is it that we aren't all wandering around manically imitating each other's actions and absorbing their feelings the whole time? It's here that hyper-empathic people, who do exhibit some of these symptoms, enter the picture.
    We feel your pain: Extreme empaths - life - 15 March 2010 - New Scientist

  2. #2
    Boring old fossil Night's Avatar
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    Not sure how this correlates to type, but I can't watch certain films because they leave a painful imprint on my consciousness. Movies like 8mm or Hostel tear at me. When I was watching No Country for Old Men, I literally had to leave the room when the sheriff was being killed in the beginning, because my rage to help was so strong.

    It's a very peculiar reaction to fiction.

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    A passer by yvonne's Avatar
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    that was an interesting article. i also have strong feelings like that... with fiction it's easier, but especially if i watch documentaries with people suffering in them i get sick to my stomach. i have a strong reaction to children crying. it's something i've worked on to control better.

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    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    I'm not sure about type either. There was also a thread about Sensors feeling physical empathy with people which might apply here. I lean in the direction of thinking it could be a Se/Fe thing because that takes in information as it comes.

    I have something of an issue like the one described, although probably not as extreme. It came up once in a noisy restaurant I was in with friends where the waiters seemed anxious. I had to consciously reject the sensation to mirror that anxiety while in that environment. I asked those with me if they felt the sensation also, but they said "no". I avoid groups of people because there are too many signals and it is disorienting to me. I attended a professional meeting once where I felt a lot of subtext which I can't consciously define, but there was a general sensation of a negative undercurrent in which people felt unfairness, thwarted entitlement, and envy, but all buried under a lot of pleasantries. I went home and took a nap completed exhausted.

    I also notice it when I teach one-on-one because the majority of students come into the room with anxiety or some type of emotional baggage from their day. I can generally tell what it is because I feel it also. This makes me skilled at dispelling it in others because I first feel it, then dispel it in myself and them simultaneously. Because of my role, I have to keep mine hidden inside which can accumulate over the course of a day.

    I have physical reactions to movies including sweaty palms, increased heart rate, and then relieving it in my mind afterwards. If a serious violation or cruelty occurs, I experience it on some level and have sometimes cried hard enough in response that I quit watching. This is especially true if it represents the sort of thing that has occurred in the world. If the movie is poorly made it doesn't have the same impact, and I especially enjoy cheesy horror because I don't feel anything, which is a noticeable reaction for me and makes for a funny relief.
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    Dali
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    Methinks Fi users will dominate this thread.

  6. #6
    The High Priestess Amargith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    I'm not sure about type either. There was also a thread about Sensors feeling physical empathy with people which might apply here. I lean in the direction of thinking it could be a Se/Fe thing because that takes in information as it comes.

    I have something of an issue like the one described, although probably not as extreme. It came up once in a noisy restaurant I was in with friends where the waiters seemed anxious. I had to consciously reject the sensation to mirror that anxiety while in that environment. I asked those with me if they felt the sensation also, but they said "no". I avoid groups of people because there are too many signals and it is disorienting to me. I attended a professional meeting once where I felt a lot of subtext which I can't consciously define, but there was a general sensation of a negative undercurrent in which people felt unfairness, thwarted entitlement, and envy, but all buried under a lot of pleasantries. I went home and took a nap completed exhausted.

    I also notice it when I teach one-on-one because the majority of students come into the room with anxiety or some type of emotional baggage from their day. I can generally tell what it is because I feel it also. This makes me skilled at dispelling it in others because I first feel it, then dispel it in myself and them simultaneously. Because of my role, I have to keep mine hidden inside which can accumulate over the course of a day.

    I have physical reactions to movies including sweaty palms, increased heart rate, and then relieving it in my mind afterwards. If a serious violation or cruelty occurs, I experience it on some level and have sometimes cried hard enough in response that I quit watching. This is especially true if it represents the sort of thing that has occurred in the world. If the movie is poorly made it doesn't have the same impact, and I especially enjoy cheesy horror because I don't feel anything, which is a noticeable reaction for me and makes for a funny relief.
    +1

    My most clear example is someone who's experiencing heartbreak. Especially if I'm close to them. I remember talking to a friend who'd just been through a particularly rocky break-up and feeling nauseous, feeling cramps near my heart and having a small head-ache all of a sudden. I asked him if he felt ok, he reported the same symptoms. And this was online, on msn. Hugging him irl made me wanna vomit on my shoes and felt like my heart was being torn out of my chest, followed by a wall of numbness.

    The more information you get, the worse it is. Backstory of what happened, your personal history with the person, talking to them irl, and especially touching them, all contribute to the feeling. Touching someone magnifies what they're feeling and flooding you with tenfold, if not more.


    I would actually be interested to see how this is experienced by people of different types..could be interesting to see what's universal and what's type-related and how.
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  7. #7
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lohengrin View Post
    Methinks Fi users will dominate this thread.
    Why?
    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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    And not just F either.

    (I think as far as perceiving functions, N is an empathy function and S a sympathy function; N can project into a situation without having experienced it, making connections with other experiences, whereas S will resonate more easily with situations that have been experienced previously.)

    T/F just cover how someone chooses to process the event, but it does not at all state how it will initially be experienced or perceived.


    Here's an interesting difference though: I've noticed that a lot of my INFx friends cannot handle personal violence in movies easily, they identify very much with the person being hurt and cannot tolerate the experience, it's traumatic.

    With me, I still feel the event very strongly (I can literally feel physical sensations sometimes, for example like watching someone get cut up on the screen such as in a movie like Hostel), but for some reason it doesn't make me need to turn it off or pull out... instead, it is a sensation to be understood, so I can fully understand what is happening in the story, and I'm immersed in it even if the feeling is very negative. It's a matter of processing, even if the stimulation is the same.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

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    Boring old fossil Night's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    (I think as far as perceiving functions, N is an empathy function and S a sympathy function; N can project into a situation without having experienced it, making connections with other experiences, whereas S will resonate more easily with situations that have been experienced previously.)
    Interesting. Can you explain this further?

  10. #10
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    And not just F either.

    (I think as far as perceiving functions, N is an empathy function and S a sympathy function; N can project into a situation without having experienced it, making connections with other experiences, whereas S will resonate more easily with situations that have been experienced previously.)
    I agree with most of what you have said, but I don't see that as the case either.

    Can you appease my S and give me example on how this can be so?

    I can give you two situations to work with: a family member addicted to drugs and a loved with dying of cancer. I'm not quite sure I understand how S/N will affect sympathy and empathy.

    I can tell you for a fact that nurses (which is a SFJ bastion) routinely suffer from compassion fatigue and empathetic burnout. Wouldn't their S interfere with this?
    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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