The power of feeling what someone else feels

The power of feeling what someone else feels July 29, 2015

Empathy is an important virtue–“rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15)–but there is also a neurological condition in which individuals actually do feel what those around them feel.  It’s called “mirror touch synesthesia.”   This is the first I’ve heard of it, coming across the article excerpted after the jump, but supposedly 1%-2% of the population has it.

Which means that out of every hundred people, one or two people have this power.  Which means that of you readers, who number in the thousands, there are lots and lots of you who can do this.  If any of you have mirror touch synesthesia, please tell us about it.

Another curious thought is that this is also reportedly the percentage of people who have same sex attraction (2%)!  So there are as many people with mirror touch synesthesia as are gay!  And yet I’ve never heard of it.  My impulse is to be skeptical, but it is apparently legit.  Here is the Wikipedia article on this mysterious yet common super power.

From Boston Neurologist Can Feel Patients’ Pain « CBS Boston:

You’ve heard the expression, “I feel your pain,” but some people actually do, including a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who is able to connect with his patients on a level most can’t.

Dr. Joel Salinas is not your average doctor.

“When I see people, I have the sensation of whatever touches their body on my own body as well and it’s kind of reflected as a mirror,” he told WBZ-TV.

It’s called mirror touch synesthesia.

He’s had this trait for as long as he can remember. In fact, he thought everyone had it.

“When I was a kid, having these experiences where if I would see someone hug I would feel the hug on myself or if I would see someone get hit, I felt the sensation on me as well,” explains Dr. Salinas.

He doesn’t really feel it as pain, per se, but says the sensations can still be unsettling.

He recounted an experience in medical school.

“I remember one patient who unfortunately had an amputation of the arm from an accident. I remember feeling as though my arm was dismembered and I could feel the blood.”

Somewhere between one-percent and two-percent of the population have mirror touch synesthesia.


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