One of A Kind: The Neuropsychology Behind An Empath


I always had problems for being who I am. I grew up being told I was too sensitive, a hothouse flower. I grew up assuming there was something wrong with me and yet with the certainty that I could perceive things others couldn’t. I knew the way my dad or mom yelled wasn’t “how it was supposed to be” as I also knew it was wrong when kids bullied each other at school in a very subjective way. Back then, I didn’t know the way I was being raised would bring me attachment problems and I also didn’t know there was something known in Psychology as “indirect or psychological bullying”.

Empaths find little resonance in their environment when they grow up around disconnected adults and in a society that primes superficial values or in which wrong doing is justified in the name of survival. What are empaths, nonetheless? Empaths are individuals with very high levels of empathy. They are said to be more sensitive than the so called “highly sensitive people” but I personally believe they are one and the same, differing only on the extent to which they have developed their sensitivity to subtler energies. This means empaths feel in their body and mind what other people are feeling. They are wired in such a way they can tap into your own emotions even when you don’t know yet what you are feeling.

Being an empath is both a curse and a gift. In a society where extravagant behaviour is seen as “cool” and “desirable”, enjoying quietness and solitude is seen as “weird” and “boring”. Moreover, knowing other people’s feelings and intentions can become extremely draining and cause a lot of overwhelm. It often becomes difficult for an empath to know to whom the emotions belong to in the first place. Why does this happen though? Here are three neuropsychological facts that explain how empaths are wired differently:

Hiperactivation of Mirror Neurons

Empaths show greater activation of mirror neurons, the nervous cells that allows us to be compassionated, empathic, and literally put ourselves in another person’s shoes. If you are happy, we are happy. If you are sad, we are sad. We aren’t just compassionated and moved by your experience, we are effectively feeling what you are feeling.

Sensitivity to Subtler Energy

Empaths are very sensitive to electromagnetic fields. This means we can tune into the electromagnetic fields of the earth and other human beings. Depending on the quality of those fields, we can either feel energised or drained.

Greater Sensitivity to Dopamine

Introverted Empaths are more sensitive to dopamine than extraverts. Thus, empaths usually prefer to spend time on their own and doing activities that are quieter in nature such as meditation or yoga. This kind of activities generate less dopamine, while partying and social gatherings are preferred by extroverts since they are more resistant to the effect of dopamine.

15 thoughts on “One of A Kind: The Neuropsychology Behind An Empath

  1. “I grew up assuming there was something wrong with me and yet with the certainty that I could perceive things others couldn’t.” This was me. This is me! I was so sensitive and easy to emotion that I turned it off using starvation as a method of dulling my ‘negative’ emotions. Problem is that once you do that, you dull all the emotions and forget how to deal with them.

    Now I am left stranded, in recovery and completely confused about what I am feeling, is it even a feeling and what can I do about it?

    I have come to think lately that I am an empath, and from reading this I am sure of it.

    Thank you for sharing!

    – Nyxie

    https://www.nyxiesnook.com/3-key-types-of-therapy-in-recovery/

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey beautiful, I can relate, thank you for sharing your experience ❤ I find myself on the other extreme and it's hard to dismantle but not impossible. I would have to know more about your situation to recommend anything more adequate to you, but the first thing to do if you are unable to 'feel' anything at all at the moment is to focus on healing the heart chakra/heart energy so that you can first revive your emotional system. Remember that just because you're not feeling now doesn't mean you can't revert it. I would recommend revisiting any significant emotional events around loss, grief, abuse, or any other sort of trauma that you can identify. It could have been a big event or a series of smaller ones, adding up to the blockage. Once this is identified, we need to heal our relationship with the past via the heart, not just the mind, so we can then work on what's happening in the present. If this makes any sense or you feel like you need more input, feel free to message xx sending lots of love to you! Each step counts and you're doing amazingly by not giving up ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have what my therapist calls Alexithymia, wherein I am unable to recognise or experience my emotions fully. It’s meant to go away when you’re into recovery, but mine has just unleashed a flury of emotions on me that I don’t know how to handle.

        I have looked into healing my heart, was working on it and then my grandfather and grandmother became very ill (both are terminal) so I’ve put myself and my own wellbeing behind me for them.

        I would love to message you for more advice on this as I don’t know the first thing about healing myself.

        Thank you for the response!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I completely understand what it feels like. It’s like all your emotions are muted. I have found there are triggers that will restore the full depth of emotion, but that’s not always a good thing. It’s like waking up when you are already awake. Everything suddenly becomes more vivid. For me it is wonderful as long as I am not around people. As soon as I have to be around people it becomes overwhelming and I shut it down. The problem.. like you have experienced is that in order to shut it down you also shut yourself down. You can still recognize that you are haveing an emotion, but you dont feel it. It’s like reading the word “happy” you recognize and understand the word but it doesn’t make you feel happy. Know that you are not alone in this, there are others of us out there. Best of luck.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahhh, you’ve beaten me to this post! 😂 So spot on for me and you’re absolutely right about empaths being able to not only feel others emotions; and carry them, but we often can discern when others cannot that things aren’t what they appear to be. Wears me completely out. But once I’m able to regroup, I’m the bull in the China shop. That’s the Aries in me. Love this…♥️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe, totally feel you. I’d love to read a post of yours about this too. That important small detail used to stress me a lot as well. I’m an Aries too, so I’m opting to slowly learn to manage the fire and be more like water to avoid unnecessary stress 😀 ♥️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent post, I was just thinking about this the other day as I would say I am an empath, I feel others sadness and always wish I could make it easier for them and take away their pain. It’s difficult to live in a wild and crazy world and get the moments of peace and quiet i crave being an introvert. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly that, it’s hard to keep 100% functional as an introvert in a frenetic world 😊 I would say that’s probably my top struggle. It has taken a lot of effort to deal with the sadness and the need of taking other people’s pain away too, but I believe it’s necessary to work on that and find an equilibrium. We have a tendency to keep giving from our already empty cup 😅

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Empath here. Always have been but finally accepting and learning about my abilities rather then ignore. I use to think as a curse too but now I think it’s really cool. It helps me and I like to call it my spidey senses. Lol! Yes, I’m a loner but I think that is what a lot of empaths need so they don’t get overloaded.

    Like

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