Are Empaths Real Or A Myth?

In this article, we examine the question are empaths real or that’s just a myth. Do empaths exist?

You may have come across the term empaths. You could have heard of their psychic abilities and compassion. Their self-sacrificing nature feels like they came straight out of a fairy tale. 

Anyone can identify when a human being is suffering. But only a few can tell when the person is trying their best to hide it. 

Empaths can see right through your mask. They cannot only see depression but feel the soul of that person. 

So Are Empaths Real?

The simple answer to this question is yes, empaths are real. Studies show that there is no specific consensus about the definition of the term “Empath”.

But there has been a developing consensus among psychologists, medical scientists, and others that it encompasses how someone feels, shares, understands and self-differentiates.

Studies show that 1% of people have super empathic powers and feel the interior experiences of others. So, empaths are real in the sense that there are people who feel differently than the rest of the world. 

Who is an Empath? 

According to Dr. Judith Orloff, empaths are individuals whose mirror neuron system is too sensitive. As a result, empaths can absorb the energy of their surroundings.

Not only do they know what you are feeling, but they also absorb the emotions as their own. 

Empaths are recognized by what they do and not what they say. They have great compassion, have high levels of moral compass, and are emotionally connected. 

Talia Bombola, a psychotherapist, describes empaths as people who connect with others in a unique way. They are born to bring oneness to the world.  An empath is a healer to himself and the rest of the world. 

Where did the idea of empaths come from?

The idea of empaths, or people with a heightened ability to understand and share the emotions of others, has been explored in various cultural traditions and belief systems.

In some indigenous cultures, for example, the idea of “empathic healing” or the ability to sense and heal emotional or psychological wounds in others is a well-known concept.

Some cultures and religious beliefs referred to empaths with different names, for example, precognitive empaths as seers.

Overall, the idea of empaths has evolved over time and people have understood how to classify empaths depending on their traits.

Types of Empaths 

Let’s look at the different types of empaths and their defining traits.

Emotional Empaths

These are the most common types of empaths. Emotional empaths have the ability to pick on and absorb other people’s feelings.

With emotional empaths, hiding your real self and what you are truly feeling is next to impossible. Connecting with other people is intimate, so emotional empaths form strong bonds. 

But more often than not, their energies overlap with that of the surrounding. For instance, if an emotional empath sits next to a  depressed person, they are likely to get depressed.

Learning how to build walls and create boundaries is essential for emotional empaths. That way, they can help others without compromising their own emotional state. 

Physical Empaths

If you are a physical empath, you often attune to other people’s physical symptoms and absorb them. You also feel energized by other people’s well-being.  

Physical empaths have the supernatural ability to identify the reason behind people’s physical symptoms. 

For instance, they can tell that a patient is suffering from a migraine because they are undergoing too much stress. Because of this ability, they make great Doctors because their diagnosis is always on point. 

Most physical empaths are also in touch with their own bodies. They know when they need to shed weight, take more water and change their lifestyles. 

Intuitive Empaths 

Intuitive empaths have the ability to read others like books. They not only understand what you are feeling, but they know the reason behind it.

Emotional empathy is a component of intuitive empathy but it’s the defining factor. 

According to Dr. Judith Orloff, intuitive empaths experience extraordinary perceptions. They can pick animal and plant communications. They also have heightened intuition and hear unspoken messages.

Precognitive Empaths 

Precognitive empaths receive visions about the future. This may happen through dreams and in the conscious state. If you are a precognitive empath, you will know when a friend will pass away, get pregnant or fall sick. 

Precognitive empaths receive messages spontaneously. But they can also tune in to get revelations with training.  If you are a precognitive empath, you should always share the received messages with integrity.  

Plant Empaths 

Plant empaths connect with plants and feel their needs. They are compassionate with plants and take care of the saplings. 

They can also feel the emotions of plants and communicate with them. If you are a plant likely, you may not enjoy the succulent from them or destroy them. You are also concerned when people pluck flowers needlessly or harvest trees. 

Animal  Empaths 

An animal empath is someone who understands how an animal feels. An animal empath has a deep connection with animals and can tell if they are sick, happy or feeling down.  

In most cases. Animal empaths can have telepathic communication with animals. They can influence the behavior of animals. 

These empaths can also absorb the energies of humans around them. But they are more attuned to the emotions of animals. Because of this deep connection, animal empaths make great veterinary doctors. 

Earth Empaths 

These are people who are attuned to Mother Nature. They can feel the warmth in the sun, and calm in the sea. If you are an earth empath, you can also feel when the earth is about change. 

Earth empaths are also sensitive to toxicity. Air pollutants can depress them or make them sick. Earth empaths can communicate with the earth and its elements. 

To Earth Empaths, stars, the moon, and the sun are a family.         

Difference Between an Empath and Empathy 

Empathy and empath sound similar, but they are very different. Empathy is the ability to tune in to people’s life experiences and share their feelings.

For example, you are able to understand when someone is grieving and console them. You can also share the excitement when your friend announces their wedding plans. 

Empaths experience empathy on a deeper level. They take other people’s feelings and project them as their own. 

Also, empaths are able to contact and feel unspoken emotions, even for strangers. Empaths experience mood swings depending on the energy that is being emitted by the other person.

Related – 10 Disadvantages Of Being An Empath. 

Traits of An Empath 

As we have seen, empaths have hypersensitivity, hyper-empathy, and high emotional traits. Let’s now take a look at each of these traits individually. 

High Sensitivity.

Research shows that around 20% of the world’s population has high sensory processing sensitivity (HSPS). Sensory processing sensitivity is a biological trait.

People with HSPS have increased awareness of their surroundings. They process stimuli more deeply than others. According to Dr. Elaine Aron’s scale, some markers of a highly sensitive person include;

  • A constant need to withdraw
  • Being overwhelmed by strong smells, bright light, and other stimuli
  • Feeling annoyed when under pressure
  • Being nervous when performing a task 

High Sensory processing sensitivity is not a disorder but an innate trait. HSPS is not a sensory processing disorder whereby the brain struggles to organize sensory stimuli. 

Instead, people with HSPS have increased awareness and deep processing of stimuli. 

Hyper Empathy

Human beings range from having no empathy to experiencing hyper empathy. Below are the three degrees of empathy.

1. People with No degree of Empathy

People with no empathy fall under two different categories, psychopaths and sociopaths. 

Psychopaths are people who have no moral conscience. Berkley reported that psychopaths have low levels of neural activity in parts of the brain responsible for empathy. 

They are brilliant and can feel other people’s emotions with great accuracy. But they use this knowledge to manipulate the victims. 

As a result, psychopaths are cold, calculating people whose only concern is themselves. They tend to be violent in their quest to meet their desires. 

Sociopaths have a weak moral conscience. They are also hot-tempered and impulsive. 

Did you know that sociopaths are unable to feel remorseful or guilty? They take advantage of people without thinking about the consequences. You may be left wondering if a person has no conscience but in reality, that’s who they are. 

2. People With Normal Empathy 

People with normal empathy can understand another person’s emotional state. They can understand and sympathize with what caused other people’s feelings.

The empathizer can separate their emotions from what the other person is feeling. People in this category have average to high emotional intelligence. 

Sometimes people with normal empathy can be emotionally shut down or unavailable. This condition is a result of traumatizing experiences, especially during childhood. 

Emotionally unavailable people block emotions. In their subconscious, they fear expressing feelings can lead to more hurt. 

But the good thing is that people who have emotional shutdowns can learn to feel again. 

People who are emotionally available express emotions. They are also aware of the emotional expression at the moment. These people have high emotional intelligence and can take charge of their feelings. 

3. Hyper Empathic People

For you to experience empathy, you must be able to understand their feelings. But you should also be able to separate these feelings from your own. 

This ability to separate feelings is referred to self-other discrimination. But people with hyper-empathy can’t distinguish their emotions from those of others. 

These people have a condition known as Motor Touch Synesthesia (MTS). MTS occurs when normally distinct senses blur together. Some people can hear colors, taste words, and see sounds. 

In the case of mirror-touch synesthesia, sight and touch overlap. These people can see someone touch a face and feel it on their face. 

People with Motor Touch Synthesis have high levels of emotional reactivity. 

Hyper empathy may either be conscious or subconscious. Unconscious hyper-empathy blurs an empath’s feelings with those of others. 

People with hyper-empathy have challenges distinguishing between themselves and other people. They unconsciously pick up other people’s feelings and interpret them as their own. 

People with conscious hyper-empathy know that they are picking other people’s emotions. But they still have levels of difficulty in separating these feelings from their own. 

Is Mirror Touch Synesthesia Real? 

Mirror touch synthesis is a real phenomenon. A Research study at the University of Delaware reported that 45 out of 2000 participants had mirror-touch synesthesia.

Some participants reported sensations on the hand the subjects touched on the screen. 

These sensations happened even though they were in opposite postures. Doctors associate synesthetes with an overactive sensory system, which reacts to sight. 

Empaths and Emotional Contagion.

Have you ever looked at someone smiling and began smiling? You did not know the reason for their good mood, but you had a lift of your mood. 

You had experienced emotional contagion. Gerald Schoenewolf described emotional contagion as the process by which a person influences another person’s behavior.

The influence may be through conscious or subconscious induction of behavioral attitudes. 

It is a social contagion involving spreading emotions and related behaviors. The copier then exhibits the same feelings as made by the original person.

Emotional contagion spreads through posture, facial expression, and voice mimicking. When a copier experiences emotional contagion, they also go through emotional arousal. 

They experience heartbeat, skin color, and breathing changes. 

Empaths experience unregulated emotional contagion. They act as if they are an emotional sponge. Sometimes they become so overwhelmed by the emotions of others. 

These sensory overloads could render them incapable of providing support to that person. 

Can I Learn How To Be An Empath?

You can learn empathy, but you cannot learn how to be an empath. For instance, if you have an emotional shutdown, you can learn how to feel again. But high sensitivity traits are innate that one cannot learn. 

What Is The Difference Between Empathy And Compassion? 

Empathy is the ability to feel other people’s emotions. Sometimes empathic people may go further and join in other people’s sufferings.

Compassion is when your conscience moves you to step and help the suffering person. Empathy is a feeling, whereas compassion is a conscious action. 

Related – 11 Benefits Of Being An Empath

Final Thoughts on Are empaths Real

Empaths are real, empaths have the ability to sense, understand and feel the emotion of others, they are highly sensitive and exhibit high empathy. Empaths are believed to be born with this gift.

There is no scientific evidence to show that empaths exist. But psychologists agree that empaths exist and even classify them into different types.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash.

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