Maybe you have heard about this already but recently I came across a very rare but fascinating human condition called ‘Mirror-touch synesthesia.’ It is commonly known that people with extremely high levels of Emmotional Intelligence (EQ) are sensitive to other people’s moods and feelings but people with Mirror-touch Synesthesia experience this on a completely other level, they actually feel the sensations of others.
Imagine you are in a meeting, observing someone across the table, and you notice them touching their right cheek with their fingers. If you had Mirror-touch Synesthesia, you would feel the touch of fingers on your left cheek (hence ‘Mirror’). And before you think this is superstitious snake oil, let me reassure you it is real. Apparently, what happens is that the brain of a person with Mts makes a direct connection from their eyes to their memory of feelings. i.e. When they see another person experiencing a sensation, their brain searches for a memory of the same feeling and replays it. This means that they experience the exact same feeling as the person they are observing. Of course, what they feel is their brain’s own interpretation but it feels real to them. This means that if they see someone fall off their bicycle and hurt their knee, they too will feel pain in their knee.
The effects of Mirror-touch synesthesia can be so extreme that for many sufferers normal life is impossible. Some manage to learn tricks to make life bearable, such as focusing on a neutral object or an item of clothing when distracted by the sensations of other person.
So maybe, just maybe, the next time you hear someone say “I feel your pain” they might literally be telling the truth!
Have a good week,