Lack emotional empathy, but have intense physical empathy

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Rorberyllium
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26 Sep 2012, 6:57 pm

Anyone else experience this? When it comes to reading or understanding emotions, I'm terrible. They have to share directly how they're feeling and even then I have difficulty grasping or understanding it. I'm horrible at dealing with or understanding the emotions of others.

However, when it comes to physical sensations, I'm extremely empathetic. If someone says "I have a headache" my head starts hurting. if someone says "that feels good" then I feel good too. It makes me occasionally very open to the powers of persuasion, and I've had people play with it before (saying things like "my left leg itches" or "my elbow feels hollow").

Anyone else deal with this?



redrobin62
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26 Sep 2012, 7:25 pm

If someone says they have a headache then you get a headache, too? Fascinating. I've never heard of that. Make sure you keep your distance from an ER. Lots of pain there.



eric76
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26 Sep 2012, 8:33 pm

redrobin62 wrote:
If someone says they have a headache then you get a headache, too? Fascinating. I've never heard of that. Make sure you keep your distance from an ER. Lots of pain there.


I've heard of some husbands having labor pains when their wives were pregnant.



Callista
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26 Sep 2012, 9:45 pm

redrobin62 wrote:
If someone says they have a headache then you get a headache, too? Fascinating. I've never heard of that. Make sure you keep your distance from an ER. Lots of pain there.
It's probably a manifestation of mirror-touch synesthesia. Some people have this so intensely that they cannot watch a movie where an actor is hurt, because they will feel the pain themselves.

Re. your emotional empathy, do you feel a desire to help someone whom you know is hurting, even though it causes you no distress? For example--if you knew your friend was sad, would you try to support them, cheer them up, or fix whatever was making them sad? If so, then you do indeed have empathy--it's just the "emotional contagion" part that you're missing.


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btbnnyr
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26 Sep 2012, 9:48 pm

I watched a documentary about a girl with cystic fibrosis, and her labored breathing caused me to develop labored breathing for the rest of the day, and it didn't go away until I went to sleep and woke up the next day, but the next day, I watched a trailer for another documentary about cystic fibrosis, and I had difficulty breathing for the rest of that day too. I was sitting in bed watching these videos, and I felt like I couldn't catch my breath the whole time.

I also watched a documentary about a man who had lost his sense of touch and prioception below the neck, and a few minutes into it, I couldn't feel my legs either. I had to move them around and look at them in order to make sure that they were still there.



Rorberyllium
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26 Sep 2012, 11:57 pm

Callista wrote:
Re. your emotional empathy, do you feel a desire to help someone whom you know is hurting, even though it causes you no distress? For example--if you knew your friend was sad, would you try to support them, cheer them up, or fix whatever was making them sad? If so, then you do indeed have empathy--it's just the "emotional contagion" part that you're missing.


I mean, I try. I don't really grasp why they're sad, but I can understand that they're sad, so long as they tell me. They can tell me about their situation/scenario and i can deduct from the facts given that it is in fact a sad one. I help as best as I can but I'm not very good at emotional support.

Regarding the mirror-touch synesthesia, that's very interesting. Doesn't fit completely, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.

Also I generally don't get it from movies, except particularly graphic torture scenes and such, especially if they're vocally describing how things feel. But mostly it only happens when dealing with real life, when people vocally express feelings, but sometimes physically expressing as well (such as groaning and reaching for their back, my back starts to hurt)



Filipendula
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27 Sep 2012, 3:13 am

Is this an exaggeration of something most people experience in a more subtle way? E.g. if you have to listen to someone talking and they have a frog in their throat or they're really hoarse, it makes you want to cough? At least, I assumed everyone felt this way (including NTs), but maybe it's just me.

Either way, it's a really interesting concept.


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Ganondox
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27 Sep 2012, 4:14 am

It doesn't mean you lack emotional empathy, it means you just have problems with emotions in general.


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27 Sep 2012, 4:55 am

Wrong Planet is weird - sometimes people here write that NTs lack emotional empathy, other times it's Aspies who lack it. Which is true?

Personally I think most people lack emotional empathy. A confident extroverted NT doesn't give a f**k how much humiliation hurts for a person who is timid introverted like me.


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Rorberyllium
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27 Sep 2012, 11:04 am

Ganondox wrote:
It doesn't mean you lack emotional empathy, it means you just have problems with emotions in general.


Thanks. That actually makes me feel a lot better about things.