Empaths – or those with empathic abilities – can feel or sense someone else’s emotions…sometimes as if they themselves owned those emotions.

This depends on the degree of their empathic ability. Strong empaths can absorb the emotions and/or feelings of those around them (or even the residue of someone else’s emotions). Other, not as strong empaths, can usually sense others emotions.

With that being said, I am now going to step up onto my soapbox….

Someone recently sent me some keywords to look up on empathy. I was horrified by some of what I saw!

Some people look at empathic abilities to be linked with mental illness or mental instability!

Okay, I am all for ‘everyone has the right to their own beliefs’ – but this one does not set well with me. First, if you are just investigating the possibility that you are empathic and run across these kinds of statements….ouch!

I am going to explain why else this kind of thinking bothers me.

A mother usually exhibits empathic abilities – in varying degrees – with her child. “Mother’s instinct” is acceptable, and not considered mental instability.

Most pets are empathic. “Picking up” on their owners moods, feelings, emotions seems to be acceptable. I am pretty sure it’s not mental illness.

Soldiers, police/peace officers, etc. are often heard relying on “gut instinct” or “gut feelings” – and it often can save lives. So, when they pick up emotions, feelings, etc. from others, is it that they are mentally unstable?

Come on….

Another angle on this is that perhaps mental instability arises from the fact that empaths – in varying degrees (meaning not every empath) – can sense/feel others emotions so strongly, it may make it difficult for the empath to distinguish between their own feelings and those belonging to someone else.

(Getting down off my soapbox…)

Extremely sensitive empaths may get overwhelmed by too many outside emotions; I will agree with that. Shielding (protection exercise – can see the shielding exercise here) can help reduce the act of absorbing so much of others’ emotions.

But being empathic BECAUSE you’re mentally ill?

Please – be real.

by Jan Toomer
February 18, 2009



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