Empathy and the Highly Sensitive Person
The popular book "The Sociopath Next Door" paints a detailed picture of sociopaths in society. Author Martha Stout puts forth the theory that there is literally a socipath on each block. It makes you wonder, if 1 in 25 people is a sociopath is it possible that nature has somehow balanced that out with an opposite number?
The first time a friend of mine suggested that I was an empath I wasn't sure whether or not to take her seriously. The more we talked about it, the more I understood what it was she was saying. I tend to form very strong emotional bonds with other people, so much so that there have been times that I knew things that I shouldn't have known.
My children and I are very close, but we didn't know how close until recently. My daughter has been living with her father in Germany to finish out school. One night I awoke from a dead sleep with my daughter on my mind. Even more I could feel her in my heart. It took me awhile to calm down and convince myself that she was okay. I was just being silly after all...
I later discovered that my daughter was in the emergency room with lower abdominal pains very near the time that I woke up thinking of her. We honestly do know when one another is in pain.
There have been times when I swore I could feel the pain of other people as well. Even total strangers.
Empathy - 1. Understanding and entering into another's feelings. 2. Sharing the feelings of others (especially feelings of sorrow or anguish)
When you empathize with another you share their feelings intensely. While there is nothing in the DSM-IV regarding the term empath, many people who describe themselves as empaths feel that they have gone beyond simple empathy and developed a deep form of intuition with regard to the feelings of others. Also described as "deeply sensitive" people or "hypersensitive," they pick up on other people's emotions even at a distance, and experience those feelings as if they were their own.
There are many ideas as to how this happens, but the most likely explanation is that empaths pick up on certain emotional cues from other people that the average person doesn't notice. Empaths are very skilled at reading body language, eye movements, and pick up on the overall energy of another person, allowing them to see things that most people may miss. Empaths could be constantly watching and reading these cues without even realizing it.
For whatever reason empaths tend to know people on a deeper level, often sensing things about the other person before a subject is even discussed. While most relationships with people hover on a superficial level, a relationship with an empath is deep and powerful.
It is very difficult for an empath to be judgmental of another person, because they sense those things below the surface. While the rest of the world may only see the actions of the other person, an empath understands the emotions that underlie each action. Empaths often know when someone is hiding something or not telling the whole story.
Empathy comes from many different sources, but many who experience this deeper connection with other people have suffered abuse in the past, those who have lived in an environment where they have developed a need to be more aware of their surroundings than most people do. Situations such as living with a substance abuser, someone who is chronically ill, or even bipolar, can require you to be constantly on your guard. In some situations developing certain empathic traits can be a survival skill. If you can learn to sense those emotional cues ahead of time, you can be prepared for what comes next.
Life can be difficult for an empath at times, because they not only sense the emotions of others, they often feel them as if they were their own. This doesn't just happen with intimate relationships, it can happen with casual acquaintances and even total strangers. This makes it very difficult for an empath to even be around certain people, especially those whose emotions tend to run high. Those emotions tend to rub off on the empath, leaving the empath tense for no real reason.
Some people just seem naturally drawn to an empath. Deep friendships can develop rather quickly, and can be very emotionally intense. Because they can see below the surface and understand what others might not, empaths make great sounding boards and confidants. They are able and willing to see far deeper than the average person is willing to see.
However, those with a high level of secrecy or guilt in their lives have difficulty with empaths because an empath sees right through them. It is difficult to lie to an empath or hide major personality flaws, and that makes them dangerous to those who seek to hide true intentions. They sense a fraud long before others, and thus shy away from them seemingly without reason.
While an empath may seem like something from the psychic realm, they really aren't. They are just normal people who have a heightened awareness of the world outside of themselves. They cannot tell the future, though they can sometimes sense the past.
Where empathy allows you to feel for another person, being an empath allows you to feel WITH that person.
The empathic person:
Is emotionally sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others.
Is rarely concerned with their own achievements, a quiet leader.
Has little trouble discussing emotional issues.
Is uncomfortable around disharmonious or emotionally intense people.
Is very sensitive to violence and suffering.
Struggles to find a solution when a problem presents itself.
Often can't tolerate violent media.
Struggles to understand the causes of suffering in the world.
Has difficulty justifying harming others even in self-defense.
Is often an idealist, dreaming of ways to make the world a better place.
Can often be found as a volunteer.
Can sense places where bad things have occurred.
Sometimes shares another's physical pain, as well as emotional.
Is often expressive, musically, artistically, or verbally.
Makes an excellent counselor, therapist, or healer.
Is prone to unexplained depression.
Can sometimes sense a loved one's suffering, even at a distance.
Is considered to be "too emotional" or "too sensitive" by many.
Tends to draw others to them.
Is well liked by children and animals.
Is genuinely interested in others.
Is sensitive to what people really feel, rather what they pretend to feel.
Often has difficulty being in large crowds, is easily overwhelmed by too much input.
Is compassionate and understanding.
Is deeply interested in people as a whole.
Can "catch" moods from others.
Tends to feel what is outside more than inside of themselves.
Is non-violent, non-aggressive, and often functions as a peacemaker.
Suffers from tremendous guilt if they harm another person, even unintentionally.
Has difficulty controlling emotions, cries easily.
Finds that others often open up to them without knowing why.
Has a way of making people who have just met them feel they have known each other their whole lives.
It can be difficult being a highly sensitive person in a world that rewards those with high emotional control.
If you suspect you are an empath, then have no fear. There are many books on the subject that can help you cope with the more difficult aspects of being empathic. Being empathic is a gift, you just have to know how to accept it and use it properly.
Graphics: All but the first were created by Boshemia in photoshop using various brushes. The first is a MySpace graphic.
For some this emotional connection to others becomes so powerful that they can no longer bear it, turning to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain, or avoiding people altogether.
Empaths in general are prone to depression, because feeling everything on such an acute level is overwhelming. They often aren't aware that they are empaths, and instead just learn to see the world as a very painful place to be.
Since they aren't aware they are picking up negative things from others, they tend to carry it around and allow it to build up to the point of emotional exhaustion. If an empath spends too much time around a negative person they can build up a layer of negativity themselves. If they don't find a healthy way of cleansing themselves of that negativity, depression and sometimes suicidal thoughts follow.
Sometimes an empathic person has to closely evaluate their relationships and start avoiding certain people for their own good. Learning relaxation, meditation, or even hypnosis and massage are all excellent ways to rid yourself of that negativity. Whatever you do, empath or not, you can't carry that stuff around or it poisons you. Get rid of it however you have to and you will live a much happier life.
Another difficult part of being an empath comes with being in public places, especially in large groups. I have a very hard time with grocery stores, malls, and things of the like. There are too many people, and too many emotions for me to sort out. This is common with empaths, and until they learn to shut down outside influences from strangers they can find public situations overwhelming.
Also, people who know or even suspect that you really can see through them aren't exactly going to like it, especially if they have something to hide. You know things about them they don't want the rest of the world to know. Ignore them the best you can, they can only hurt you if you allow it, so don't.
(Images courtesy http://www.free-clipart-pictures.net)
I'd like to thank...
...the following sites for their link love and kind comments.
- The Empathic Notekeeper
This site will be solely dedicated to all things of an Empathic nature. Since I am learning new things about my Empathic gifts every day, I will be sharing any articles, information & my own personal views on this subject as much as I can. If you
- Recollections Gone Wild!!!
"Hi. I'm Matt. I write stuff and like music."
- Empath Club House | Facebook
Community: Share your experience on Facebook
- United Communities of Spirit
A discussion on my Empath Within Article from Origin.org
- Empathy, Highly Sensitive People and the Sociopath... - iVillage UK Community
IVillage Empath Community
Boshemia -- compelling writer
- Are You a Highly Sensitive Person? The Empath Within | StumbleUpon.com
Stumble Upon - The Empath Within, if you have a moment please share!
Like this lens? Hate it? Let me know!
Firefly on June 01, 2015:
The article says that an empath would be uncomfortable with someone who is emotionally intense. I consider myself to be an empath, but I'm also emotionally intense. Is it possible to be both?
MissRubyStars on July 13, 2013:
I liked it...my thoughts after reading this is I think I could very well be an empath deep down but over the years I think I have learned to be quite tough and find a nice medium.
blestman lm on May 29, 2013:
Thank you for this lens. It is personable as well as informative. I believe I am an empathy but I developed a thick skin to protect my gift
anonymous on March 31, 2013:
the abusive home, substance abuse, crowds, people gravitating toward me, confiding in me, avoiding some people, tense for no reason, drugs and alcohol to quiet it, crying at certain times that don't require it, prone to depression, knowing what someone is feeling, all of these things are there. all of them. i can honestly say that this is the best description of me I can think of. I want to know more about how to control some of these things and how to be better prepared to deal with negative energy. i am almost done with nursing school and want to be a better healer, of myself and others.
anonymous on January 01, 2013:
Thank you for this wonderful page about empaths/highly sensitive people. I have included a link for it in a recent blog entry of mine. (Darn it... I wanted to include a link to show you where I'd posted it, but I got a note telling me my post looked like spam, so I've removed my attempted link. If you'd like to look it up yourself, my blog is called Holy Sheepdip Blogspot, and the entry which includes a link to your site is from December 30, 2012, entitled "They Who Feel Too Much".
The Falcon Press from Los Angeles, California on October 27, 2012:
The distinction between those of us who feel empathy and those among us who are empaths is enlightening. My natural empathetic response has always been extreme. I've been this way since the day I was born and, although my employers have praised my unusual and accurate read of others to be a valuable asset during negotiations, I've been teased for years by family and friends over my difficulty with things like grocery stores, malls, witnessing violence (whether it's fictional, or not) cruelty to anyone or anything, etc. Your lens helped to clarify why my keen sensitivities go beyond the ability to feel empathy. I'm clearly an empath! Thanks for your insights and for helping me to understand myself better, and for showing us there's a whole community of empaths out there.
anonymous on October 26, 2012:
omg thank you im 40 n i thought i was crazy ...now i have a name to my craziness im an empathy one who heals.. i thank god for this day the day i get my life back with a new understanding of what was happening to me...i have my third eye im a empathy
anonymous on October 14, 2012:
I've been an Empath for years now not knowing it was a legitimate term. All animals and children seem to be drawn to me, quick to engage in conversation or for animals even jump up onto me when friends have told me they are incredibly shy or 'don't like anyone' the same with people, however it's simultaneously exhausting because I feel as though like Atlas I bear the weight of the world's suffering on my shoulders. I suppose it's both a gift and a curse.
TamaraG LM on August 02, 2012:
I can honestly say I never considered I was an empath but now after reading a couple of Lenses I feel like a door has opened for me. It really explains so much about feelings that hit me like a tidal wave and I don't know where they come from.
anonymous on July 23, 2012:
@anonymous: I have read this article several times and keep coming back to it for strength and self knowledge. I believe I am an empath with an open heart that definitely feels too much. i live life with a helpful and kind attitude and fortunately it had been for the most part appreciated and reciprocated. Until recently. Over the past few years I have found myself in a vulnerable & lonely position( having moved to a new small town with no social support other than my family & leaving work to take care of my children) and thus became the target of several sociopaths who weaseled their way into my life using the guise of freindship and support. I never saw them coming - I believed they acted out of goodness and thought their actions were genuine. WRONG. Somehow I managed to battle through them... only to come out the other side to realize that the one friend who supported me through everything was the mack daddy sociopath of them all. His mask came off with a smirk and my heart broke. But I soldier on - i will try to avoid him but it is difficult in this small town as he is extremely well respected and holds a prominent position of power. I have been made an outcast here already and my kids bullied. i am not sure what more damage he hopes to inflict - but I now say bring it on - I've nothing left to loose and am ready fight. Hopefully he just forgets about me now that he has revealed himself but his sadistic tendencies may prove too strong. To own, humiliate and destroy my goodness is his ultimate fantasy. I know - I feel it. On some level I still try to understand and connect with him. I am sure this is a mistake as I believe he is using mind control techniques and other abusive and manipulative tools on me. He is insidious, subtle and good at what he does - evil. But I think I am better at what I do - Good. Wish me luck.
anonymous on July 21, 2012:
@checkyourvibe: so this is where all my anxiety is coming from...and here i am thinking there is something wrong with me!
anonymous on July 20, 2012:
@anonymous: EXACTLY. Gawd, I feel like I just found people from my "tribe". Wow.
anonymous on July 20, 2012:
After endless years of therapy (beginning with becoming a mother... I couldn't bear to put upon my children, what was put upon me) never have I felt truly understood, until I read this. And now, I am in tears at the relief I feel in knowing "what's 'wrong' with" me. All of my life I have had my empathic side used against me, as a negative. At times the world has felt too painful to bear, leading to emotional exhaustion. I have been told I "feel too much" by a therapist, who prescribed Effexor. I had started abusing alcohol, just to escape caring so much. (didn't work!)... Thank you. Thank you for this. I feel I can go forward in life, feeling less "defective", with this new self-awareness of who I am. I can begin to investigate resources to learn to cope with the negative side, and step into the positive with pride.
Cathy Slaght from St. Petersburg, Fl on July 06, 2012:
In my practice I work with people who suffer from extreme anxiety because they are empaths- once that awareness comes forward, they can then work with those 'weird feelings" they didn't undertand. After all, they are gifted healers!
Very good lens-
anonymous on June 21, 2012:
I am definitely an empath and am finally on a road of healing all the exhaustion and depression I've been carrying for years. Thank you for this set of essays and this one in particular. I have a difficult time with some folks due to being an empath. A lot of people I know are all about "love and light" but I don't feel that or see it that easily at times. I think it is because I sense the dark underbelly of some and have recently ejected from my life in the past year - two narcissists and one sociopath. I thought I could help or at least understand as I see and feel how they got there, but the evil of it was too much for me. Their lack of empathy. For those kinds of people, I can be dangerous to be around, but their defenses are so deep they only see me as an enemy. I have had to protect my energy. It has not been an easy trip so far being an empath. I want to see all good, but I often sense the manipulations, lies, and ego games and I get caught up in my reaction to it. I am working on that now. Not taking things personally.
Starfruitseed on June 04, 2012:
I suspect this is me....
anonymous on June 03, 2012:
I am sitting here alone after a conversation with my husband and kids, who have always commented on my hypersensitivity. So I decided to see if I could find information online about such a "condition",and what I could do about it. The "checklist" in this article is so spot on I got goosebumps! But at least now I know it's a definable condition, not necessarily fatal, and definitely approachable. I already do a lot of the suggested things to distance myself from overstimulation (avoiding friends and coworkers who are intense, avoiding crowds, yoga, meditation, etc). In my case, I'm more distracted and affected by the vibes of strangers I see, absorbing their sadness, hostility, intensity, anger, and even joy. If I go into a public restroom or up to a cash register to pay for a purchase, I'll find myself engaged in a longer-than-appropriate personal conversation with a stranger (this my husband has learned to expect and has to help me extract myself from the situation). Anyway, thanks for shedding some light on being overly sensitive. I could go on. I teach Kindergarten and am a middle aged mother of 3 college aged girls, two of whom are twins. I am married to my second husband, who (unlike me) is of east indian decent.
anonymous on May 08, 2012:
I read this just after nearly ripping my hair out with my kids. I have always had a bit of a 6th sense with other things but I have also wondered about empathy as well especially after having kids.
For me that is the biggest problem since kids especially toddlers, etc are so emotional. I have noticed that when one of them is tense or agitated (which is quite often) being a good agitated or bad, I become agitated and stressed for no real reason even if the kid is being quiet. As soon as they calm down, I calm down and it is like nothing happened. Needless to say, I struggle every day with this.
Thanks for posting this lens, it is wonderful and it helped me understand more about why and some of the stuff I have dealt with in the past!
Crystal A Murray from Corydon, Indiana, USA on May 08, 2012:
Boshemia, this is a fantastic lens. I have always been drawn to people's inner emotions, and people have always been drawn to me and surprised at my lack of both fear and judgment, but as you say in the article, it has also meant a lot of pain and being drained from the troubles of others. It certainly explains why I have to get away from people if they keep seeking my constant help and never try to change themselves or at least feel grateful. I have a very low tolerance for arrogance and lying as well.
I am an adult child of an alcoholic and endured abuse from childhood, marriage, and even an emotionally abusive religion, and I have rarely felt that people truly understood me. I get on people's nerves because I try to fix things or at least have answers for things, but when someone truly needs help, they are glad I'm around. I am also, as you said, a quiet leader and volunteer. I lead my Christian writer's group and spend more time helping others get their writing where it should be than working on my own.
Finally, even with animals, I remember crying the day my kitties got fixed, not so much because of their pain but because I was worried about their waking up from the fog of anesthesia and not understanding it since no one could explain it like they do to humans. All of this even explains why I get so exhausted in Walmart where it seems the people are needy and the staff uncaring. I have prayed about not being so sensitive and felt a very distinct answer that this is what I'm meant to be. With the answers you have give here, maybe I can learn to channel it into the characters I'm playing with in my working novels. Thank you so much.
anonymous on April 22, 2012:
@anonymous: I also constantly work out, and try to learn as much self defense techniques as possible as if to prepare myself so hopefully if I have to defend my self I can do it precisely and effectively or maybe even help someone else. I always try to change people to be compassionate and try to get people to respect others and encourage them to be strong in any situation.
anonymous on April 22, 2012:
I am an empath but im different, I do not like hostile people with bad intentions and I do my best to remain neutral but at the same time I am ready to conflict with them if they try to attack me. I don't fight over words, only if im being attacked.
Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on April 12, 2012:
This sounds like one of my nieces.
Ladyeaglefeather on March 15, 2012:
Great lens. My father, could feel, the pain of those he love. You could see the pain in his face, from the pain of someone he loved.
Timothy Arends from Chicago area on March 04, 2012:
I wonder why having empathy for others has been conflated in books like The Highly Sensitive Person with having extrasensory perception? To me, they are two totally different traits. One can be a highly empathic person without having ESP. I am not even sure ESP exists.
ara-bella on March 01, 2012:
your intro picture is so strong! i hope it makes more people think about what's right ...
PamelaU on February 29, 2012:
Interesting idea, but I don't think you can lump a load of disparate but perfectly normal human characteristics under one umbrella. We are all empathic to some degree,unless very disordered indeed.
anonymous on February 18, 2012:
I recently came into a relationship with a person I met over the internet, We haven't yet met face to face, though I spend a lot of time on video chat with them. They are probably just as highly sensitive as me, being labeled as ADD, Bipolar, Depressed, and so on with really intense mood swings. I have a hard time explaining to them sometimes why I don't judge them for their past, why I understand not just the words they say but the real meaning behind them, and why when they are low, I tend to become low too, without even being on chat. It's been only a few weeks, yet it feels as if we've known each other for months. We said 'I love you' after only two weeks, and minus the usual hormonal aspect of falling for someone, we are pretty much best friends. It's the quickest time it's ever taken me to get to know someone, and it's a bit scary, knowing how they feel so easily.
victoriuh on January 28, 2012:
I have always thought of myself as highly sensitive and being empathetic. I feel like I am walking around naked sometimes or that people are sucking the life from me. I've never thought of myself as an "empath". I am going to think about it.
Ilona E from Ohio on January 24, 2012:
I think I found a name for something I have wondered about myself for a long time. I know I am an Empath now.
freelotus71 on January 17, 2012:
Thank You we if we can understand that if the first step towards recovery and adaptation.
Katie Harp on January 01, 2012:
blessed by a squid angel :) <3
samsaradakini on September 25, 2011:
Wow. You LEAD with sociopathy [the opposite of HSP] and I have a poll on *my* HSP lens that has 'apathetic' as a choice. So now you have given me a lot to think about. This is an interesting story... This guy in our community seemed to be friendly with everyone. I was pleasant enough but I had this strong sense of him; 180* different than me. i saw people buying his stories and i knew he was lying. i saw people trusting him and i knew he was untrustworthy. people were puzzled why i was unimpressed and kept my distance. eventually his facade was blown and he began a rampage of blackmail & threats upon those who trusted him. to describe this person as sociopathic was standard by the folks he'd victimized. i think of this often and am blessed to have known I was HSP and actually embraced my gift - instead of pretending to be like everyone else - which served greatly to protect me when his tirade came down. Yes, it was exactly like an episode of Desperate Housewives. LoL And thank ypu so much for telling the story of HSP v Sociopathy [Empath vs Apath]...Brilliant! Thumbed way up!
paintingsgalore22 on August 19, 2011:
Love this lens. Very troubling but i know it is true.
JackNimble on July 11, 2011:
This might explain my aversion to large crowds and malls.
anonymous on June 28, 2011:
What a great article.
sociopath-free on June 16, 2011:
Very deep. Going to have to give this 2nd read to get full value. Great stuff.
WhiteOak50 on April 18, 2011:
Very well written!
miaponzo on April 17, 2011:
Love it! Thanks!
careermom on March 31, 2011:
I love it. It would sense that there are ways of nature balancing itself. Good & evil. Comedy & tragedy. For evil action there is an equal but opposite reaction. I had never thought about it in this context but it makes perfect sense.
anonymous on March 21, 2011:
IBELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION
OF THE LIGHT
OF LIFE EVER LASTING
THE DANCE AND ROMANCE AND IN LOVE
GREAT VULTURES IN RUINS
WE NOW SEE MANY THING
OF WANT AND OF COPING
OF TROUBLES IN HOPING
A BEAUTIFUL WORLD
BOTH CHALLENGING AND CHANGING
GIVE HOPE WHERE THERES NONE
AN EAR FULL OF RINGING
TO IMAGINE I AND I
THE Y AND THE SKY
TO GIVE THE STARS NAMES
AND THE URGE NOT TO FLY
OF TRUTH WITHIN LIES
SECRETS THAT HIDE
BURIED WITHIN NOT SIN WE ARE LEARING (BURNING)
I BELIEVE IN DEMOCRACY FREEDOM OF SPEECH
AND GREAT WHEELS A TURNING
AND OUR OLD JUST TO TEACH
TO IMAGINE THE HYPE O CRATES
AND THE DEAD HEADS IN STATE
TIME IS A LINE
UNWRITTEN NO FEAR NO WAIT
I BELIEVE IN THE MANY
NO MONOPLY OF TRUTH
AND THE SELF FISH AND IGNOBLE
HIDE FROM THE PROOF.
1981 MARK ALEXANDER..
empathzone on December 28, 2010:
I just added this lens to < href="http://www.squidoo.com/empath-and-hsp-lenses#modul... and HSP resources
empathzone on December 15, 2010:
Nicely put!! Something interesting about empaths is that when you start developing, other clair abilities unfold and you never know where the path takes you.
Can I add a lil bit of additional information? Most empaths fall in the Jung group of idealists, from the idealists most are counselors (INFJ), and you have some in the other groups (except, maybe, Champions). Counselors are around 2% of the population, teachers are around 2% as well; I donÂ´t have stats for healers... but there might be around the same. Adding up and leaving out some, you could say that around 5% of the population is HSP or empath.
Empaths are not only real, but easy to identify.
Kate Loving Shenk from Lancaster PA on September 21, 2010:
Interesting to think that Squidoo Lensmakers might mostly all be Empaths! Breat job on this lens!!
martialartstraining on August 16, 2010:
Interesting lens. Iâd been thinking about itâ¦ So meaning we are all empaths but only in the lower level? Wow. I'm sure those empaths in a very high level suffers a lot.
anonymous on July 22, 2010:
Have been struggling with this realization for years. Am happy to see the totality of information here so others do not have to construct their empath traits year to year.
Holley Web on May 19, 2010:
I think you and I both know a few of these people :) Excellent information that will hopefully help others understand why some of them disappear from the face of the earth at times. It's not meant to hide from any specific person but from the waves of emotion that threaten to drown them.
libradenise on May 19, 2010:
A close friend of mine fits these descriptions perfectly. She's a wonderful friend, therapist, and healer.
best-intentions on February 06, 2010:
Thank you for this lovely lens. I am at a loss for words. I wish I could write about subjects like this, near and dear to me...but I find my solace in writing about topics that are as far away from "emotional" as I can get. Kudos to you!
Ayngel Overson (author) from Crestone, Co on January 25, 2010:
@anonymous: Not the same category, but rather in the opposite end of the spectrum. I really liked the visual image it gave, but did not mean to offend.
Addy Bell on January 25, 2010:
I don't believe in "empaths" as people with psi abilities, but I certainly believe that some of us are highly sensitive. I'm actually working on a lens about this right now.
anonymous on November 18, 2009:
@KathyMcGraw2: There are people with inner strength, in fact, empaths have more strength than some people realize. They keep in the emotions of several people almost daily and can usually function well. It's all about those who can't find that strength, or lose faith in their strength that turn to drugs for strength. I'm telling you this as a teenage, empath who has gone through a lot, and all without any detrimental supports. We can be strong.
anonymous on October 25, 2009:
Hi. Loved the article... I would like to say that I am uneasy about putting "empaths" into the same category as sociopaths.
Rather, the type of person you have described is a psychologically healthy person and should be the natural state for the vast majority of humans. Culture, Media, Advertising, Commercialization, and other institutional structures in our society compel us to be violent, aggressive, self-centered, callous, etc. When society and it's institutions are no longer sociopathic... Then humans will all be empaths.
anonymous on October 23, 2009:
Highly impressed by the excellent explanation... loved it! We met on twitter when squidoo was down and I said I would check your squidoos and I'm glad I did. Keep it up!
Kathy McGraw from California on September 28, 2009:
I found this very interesting. Hadn't heard this term before, and you explained it quite well. I will have to give this some thought, but it sounds highly likely. I am concerned though about what you said about them turning to drugs and alcohol. Aren't there any with inner strength?
anonymous on September 26, 2009:
Great lens! For me, my fibro got worlds better when I stopped feeling everyone's pain so much. I was in God's business vs my own it seems. A wise man once said, "You cannot save the world, you can only save yourself" and I eventually took that to heart and discovered it to be true. Keep up the good work. With love, Darcie
Heather Burns from Wexford, Ireland on August 20, 2009:
Great lens! 5* Now I get it! LOL
clouda9 lm on July 13, 2009:
The words spoken here went directly to my heart :)
religions7 on June 04, 2009:
Most ways of talking about highly sensitive people is slightly offensive to me - usually sounds like an excuse, or just a mix of interesting symptoms mixed together. But you made a great case :) blessed by a squidangel :)
Sojourn on June 03, 2009:
A beautifully written lens. I remember a character on the Star Trek TNG series was an empath and I thought they always did a good job of demonstrating what a powerful impact the emotions of others could have on her. As I started to read your lens, I could see the clear distinction between being an empath and being empathetic. Very nicely done.
anonymous on June 01, 2009:
Sounds like you are writing from personal experience to me.
Yvonne L B from Covington, LA on May 23, 2009:
Your lens was very informative. I believe that some people have mental abilities that can not be explained in "normal" ways. Perhaps I have some empathic abilities. I have always had an infinity with animals and do get along well with children and I've always been able to "read" people that I have just met with a high degree of accuracy.
Laniann on May 21, 2009:
I've read novels about Empaths and I believed they existed.
I've never considered myself an Empath. But I do have a tendency to stay by myself because I feel much better. I'm much better working at home. I feel good and happy at home but can't work at another place longer than a year - I just don't feel good there.
I had a friend that drained all my energy whenever I was with her. I tried to explain this to someone but they didn't understand. I don't like to hear about people or animals being hurt - it upsets me. I've always been aware that I pick up negative vibrations from others. 5*s
Bambi Watson on May 04, 2009:
Wonderful lens...I am empathic, and it can be very hard...it is one of the reasons I stopped doing tarot card readings in public places. Being in any public place can be very difficult for extremely empatic people, you learn to create an invisible shell to block out all the emotions of others that you almost put on like a jacket every time you even just run to the grocery store for a loaf of bread...with the onset of menopause, I find that I'm in less control of that shell and my own emotional reaction to people...so it's almost like being a teen again and not very fun...it was very confusing as a child, because I am an extreme empath, I actually feel others physical pains as well as emotional energy, so I was always getting the "phantom" pains" as a child until my aunt explained how I needed to imagine barriers...you did a wonderful job explaining a very complex subject...5*
anonymous on April 29, 2009:
I've known I have been an empath for years and as they passed by, became even more aware. In truth I never thought about the word and associated my feelings with empathy. I've often been able to see the real person beneath their own outer layers. I see a great deal of myself in the list above and once more gain immense insight from your work.... thanks for the gift.
anonymous on April 20, 2009:
Wow...I answered the poll as just believing in Empaths...but I know for sure I am one ! guess I never thought about it in relation to humans... I am for animals, every day I read their messages and relay it to those who can not see them like I do...and I also realize that all the years I spent shying away from people was for those reasons. It was like you were talking about me.
Great blog..maybe more people will recognize themselves.