I really want super powers to be real, and magic (especially magic). Sadly though, I’ve yet to receive my Hogwarts letter and none of the spiders I encounter seem to be radioactive. So in the mean time I’ve made it somewhat of a quest for myself to discover real life super powers. Traits that make some humans extraordinary. Today I came across a scientific study that proved the existence of Empaths. These are people who have a unique ability to sense, and even feel, others emotions. I’ve put together 5 facts about Empaths that I think you’ll want to know.
1. Some Empaths can physically feel the pain of others.
It’s called Mirror Touch Synesthesia (MTS), and only 1-2% of the population experience it. It can be described as an overlapping of the sight and touch senses. Essentially, when someone with MTS sees someone else being touched they also feel it. This could be a light tap on the shoulder, or even a slap across the face. When they see it happen, they feel it as well. Studies have shown that people with MTS also have a heightened awareness to the emotions of others. So much so, that they sometimes have trouble separating themselves from others.
2. There are Visible Differences in the brains of Empaths
Researchers studied the brains of people who respond to others feelings emotionally vs those who respond more logically. The used neuroimaging techniques to observe differences in brain structure. What they found was that those with a more emotional response had a larger amount of grey matter in the insula. The insula plays a large role in our ability to process emotions and regulate emotions. The participants who showed a more logical response had a larger amount of grey matter in the midcingulate cortex. The midcingulate cortex plays a large role in our social behaviors.
3. Empaths process music differently
One of the facts about empaths I found most interesting was that High-Empathy individuals process music differently. Research shows They receive more pleasure from music than people with lower empathy. Individuals with heightened empathy also engage more with music. This study used visually verifiable means as well. Participants listened to music while having an MRI, and researchers determined which portions of the brain were most active. The rewards system of the brain was highly active in those with higher empathy.
4. Introverted Empaths are More Sensitive to Dopamine
Introverted empaths are more sensitive to dopamine. Dopamine is central to our pleasure response. As a result introverted empaths are happier to spend time alone, read, or meditate. Because less dopamine is needed, less stimulation is required to find a state of happiness. This may also be why they tend to get over stimulated in higher stress situations.
5. Empathy is a learned behavior
My favorite of theses facts about empaths, is that we can all develop our empathic behaviors. We are born with a certain level of empathetic behavior. Research shows however, you can learn to develop more empathy. Because we all possess mirror neurons, we are able to mimic and understand the emotions of others. While MTS may not be a learnable, we can train our brains to develop more empathetic behaviors. First of all, this would give the ability to enjoy art and music on a higher level. We could learn to read others more accurately, and even be more content in our alone time.
Will you try and learn to develop your empathy? What do you think this means for other skills humans may be able to develop? What super power do you hope will someday be within your grasp? Let me know in the comments!