It’s like people with hyper-empathy syndrome have long antennae that pick up on every emotion that vibrates around them.
But in the end they lose themselves in the needs of other people. Because they poison themselves with too much compassion. They even feel guilty for the pain others experience. It’s painful and exhausting.
You may be surprised that this is a “syndrome”. Are we going too far if we label seemingly “normal” behaviors as pathological?
The answer is no. And there is an explanation for that. If the DSM-V defines hyper-empathy as a characteristic of personality disorders, then there’s a good reason for it.
Any behavior that makes it harder to interact with other people, that causes suffering, and that prevents you from living a normal life needs a diagnosis and some treatment.
People with too much empathy or hyper-empathy, who display a persistent pattern of misery and inability to function in their social, personal, and professional lives, show signs of a personality disorder.
Now it is important to clarify that there is a difference between being really sensitive and having the hyper-empathy syndrome.
In her interesting book Women Who Love Psychopaths , Sandra L. Brown discusses how many women not only understand their partner’s psychopathic behavior but sometimes even justify it.
In other words, their excessive empathy prevents them from clearly seeing the predator in front of them. They actually even use incredibly sophisticated and clever ways to defend their partner’s violent acts. This is clear evidence that hyper-empathy syndrome is a disorder. That also means that this syndrome is worth thinking about and discussing.
Empathy and hyper-empathy, a fine line between balance and pathology
Empathy is a positive, helpful, and desirable trait. You might think there’s nothing wrong with having “too much” empathy. But as with everything in life, too much is never good. Because the best thing is that you have a healthy balance.
Hyper-empathy syndrome affects your ability to distinguish yourself from other people. Empathy means putting yourself in someone else’s place. But it’s important that we emphasize here that you should never stop being yourself when you do this.
In addition, it is important to recognize the different types of empathy that you may experience. Which species are healthy and which are already prone to pathology?
- Emotional empathy: This has to do with the ability to experience the emotions and feelings that someone else is going through. You sympathize with them. You feel how they feel.
- Cognitive empathy: This gives you a more complete and precise knowledge of the content of another person’s thoughts. You know and understand what they feel.
- Excessive empathy or hyper-empathy: This means that you are a mirror and a sponge at the same time. Because you don’t just feel what the other person feels. You suffer too. It is a physical pain that causes anxiety. You submit to their needs. The result is that you no longer see where you are and where they begin.
What is it like to have hyper-empathy syndrome?
Here we describe the characteristics of people with hyper-empathy syndrome. It will help you to distinguish between emotional sensitivity and pathological hypersensitivity. In addition, we show you how the DSM-V distinguishes these behaviours.
- First, these people experience a breakdown in their identity and social skills.
- It is also common for them to develop other disorders associated with compulsive acts and psychosis.
- They often have mood swings. This can range from a deep depression to an exaggerated and unbridled feeling of happiness.
- These people are patient and dependent. They want to solve everyone’s problems. The reason is that they want to reinforce the image that they are valuable and needed. They need constant interaction. Their self-esteem depends on the favors they render to others. If someone tries to set boundaries for them, they feel hurt and rejected.
- They are also overprotective and undermine other people’s autonomy.
- Because they are overly empathetic, they have serious problems being productive at work. In addition, they feel that no one understands their altruism and their need to support and help others.
- A final but no less important feature is that you often see them go from exaggerated empathy to resentment. For they have been through so many disappointments that they eventually isolate themselves and plunge into anger and despondency.
What can you do if you have too much empathy?
At this point, most of you are probably wondering what causes someone to suffer so much from taking on other people’s emotions. Well, a lot of progress has been made on this subject in recent years. Because researchers are now discovering the genetic and neurochemical basis of hyper-empathy.
Because they learn a lot from the so-called empathy spectrum disorders. Examples include Asperger’s syndrome, hyper-empathy syndrome and borderline personality disorder. It is an interesting topic that will provide meaningful answers and better treatment methods in the years to come.
If you suffer from too much empathy, we can only give you one answer right now. And our advice couldn’t be simpler: seek professional help.
Whether you’re on the pathological end of empathy or you’re just oversensitive, it’s always a good idea to learn some techniques. Because they can help you set boundaries, have more control over your own thoughts, take better care of your own needs, and more accurately determine your own identity and self-worth.
Remember, over-empathy doesn’t just discourage you. It also isolates you from the rest of the world.
It really isn’t worth clinging to a world of constant emptiness and torment. Take the first step now!