Is Extreme Empathy A Disorder?

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In this blog, we will cover Extreme or Hyper Empathy Disorder, its signs, symptoms, different types of empathy, causes of extreme empathy, what to do if you have extreme empathy, and also answer frequently asked questions.

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Is Extreme Empathy A Disorder?

Well, extreme empathy is not a medically recognized condition or disorder and there is no official diagnosis that classifies extreme empathy as a disorder. 

However, extreme empathy can be a subtle sign of other underlying issues like Borderline personality disorder and other issues with your mental health.

We will explore that in detail in the further sections. 

What is empathy?

Empathy is an important human trait that enables people to interact with one another as well as identify, comprehend, and share a variety of emotions. Empathy is the ability to picture a situation and respond sympathetically towards what somebody is going through.

When someone is extremely sensitive and tuned in to the feelings of others, they may experience intense empathy, also known as hyper-empathy. In contrast, some people may suffer from empathy deficiency disorder, which implies they are unable to grasp what another individual is going through.

Different types/forms of empathy

Cognitive Empathy

This refers to your ability to put oneself in the shoes of another individual. You can comprehend and relate to their feelings, as well as their point of view and reactions to a given circumstance. Having this capacity permits us to react in an acceptable and respectful manner.

Affective Empathy

This is also associated with emotional empathy, and it occurs when you emotionally understand the experiences of another person. You can be impacted by another person’s emotions and therefore practically become one with them.

Compassionate Empathy

This combines cognitive and emotional empathy by leveraging these two outcomes to make you desire to act and thereby ease the other person’s pain

Extreme Empathy and underlying issues

The intrinsic capacity to be entirely linked and in touch with another’s emotions and, as a result, on high alert for unpleasant sensations is known as hyper-empathy. Borderline personality disorder can be associated with strong, extreme or hyper-empathy.

“Despite the fact that [BPD] is described as a ‘personality disorder,’ it is better understood as a restriction in a person’s capacity to manage emotions.” 

This implies that people with BPD frequently view their emotions as rapidly shifting or going in the wrong direction. These symptoms are accompanied by impulsive identity behaviors and a persistent sensation of inward hollowness

Individuals with BPD are more prone to feel emotional or empathic discomfort because they might associate with hyper-empathy. “People who have a high degree of compassion are better at emotion recognition in others.” 

They do, however, exhibit a ‘bias’ toward negative emotional manifestations, which means they are more aware and sensitive of unpleasant sentiments in others. They may be more prone to ’empathic suffering’ as a result of these proclivities.”

Symptoms of hyper or extreme empathy

So, how can you know whether you’re over-empathizing and experiencing ’empathy reactivity’? 

Let’s know from the points below – 

  • Feeling depleted and fatigued after spending time with others
  • being unable to say no to anyone and putting your own needs last
  • allowing people to be nasty to you because you ‘feel sorry for them’ 
  • out of proportion emotional responses  
  • bodily reactions to the distress of others 
  • Being unable to let go of your emotional reaction to another person’s grief yet being immersed in it for hours, if not days, since you are so overwhelmed that your own life struggles.

Is it just being too sensitive, or is there a problem with your mental health?

It’s true that most of us appear to be more emotional than others. We have such an unique personality that views the world via an emotional filter. We are labeled as ‘extremely sensitive’ from childhood onwards. However, as ‘sensitives, we will learn to moderate our over-empathy. We can turn towards gardening or exercising, or we might be creative, channeling our excess emotion via writing, acting, or painting.

But what if we continuously exhibit hyper or extreme empathy and a proclivity to dwell in our emotions? It may be time to investigate whether this isn’t just a normal predisposition to be emotional, but rather a deeper psychological condition at work. And if there is any empathy at all.

Hyper Empathy and Mental Health-Related Issues

The aforementioned mental health disorders may cause you to emotionally overreact to others around you. 

Inadequate personal boundaries

We may struggle to distinguish our responsibilities from those of others if we do not establish strong boundaries. We spend our entire lives performing things for all the other people because we can’t say no, and we’ll hopefully feel all of their feelings for them.

Codependency

If you are codependent, you will get your feeling of self-worth from caring for and satisfying others. Over-empathising might be one of the strategies you try to ‘earn’ someone’s attention and love. 

Anxious Affection

Have you ever had a caregiver who couldn’t offer you the affection and attention you needed as a child? Striving to love somebody makes you uneasy and hesitant, and you may assume that you must ‘earn’ love, for example, by being extremely sensitive.

Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is caused by fear-based thinking, which sends us into a fight, flight, or freeze mode, with associated cortisol spikes. The hormonal surge of this condition makes you receptive to perceived ‘dangers,’ including the annoyance of others.

You do not care about yourself

Surprisingly, over-empathizing with others might result from a lack of empathy or compassion for oneself. It is related to codependency. We over-empathize with others in order to feel valued.

Victimhood

If we struggle from shame as a result of anything like childhood abuse, we may grow up with a victim mentality. And, instead of dealing with our own fury and despair, we might project our feelings onto people around us. 

Is a buddy irritated because of a charge dispute at the bank? We conclude that they have been duped and get enraged on their behalf.

Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD can truly cause a lack of cognitive empathy for others. You can’t understand what another person is going through or make broad conclusions of what other folks think and experience. 

Borderline personality disorder, on the other hand, causes you to be extremely emotionally sensitive. As a result, you may find yourself reacting to movies and other stuff you read or watch and become upset about animal welfare or environmental protection.

What should I do if I suffer from extreme empathy? (Tips to help)

If you have a hard time maintaining a good connection because you are hyper empathetic. or to carry out day-to-day operations? It’s time to get help. 

A counselor or psychotherapist may assist you in getting to the base of your difficulties with hyper empathy and finding the balance between being sympathetic and taking care of yourself.

There are some strategies that highly empathetic people may employ to prevent overload and keep their emotions in check.

  • take a deep breath and let go of the stress in your body.
  • Detachment entails clearing your brain of all ideas.
  • Drop your consciousness to your body’s core, right below your navel. Feel your own breathing. This aids in the clearing of the mind.

Select one or two terms that indicate however you want to feel. Curiosity and compassion promote non-reactive empathy.

Give an outlet to your empathy

Other ways super empathetic persons might deal with the drawbacks of having a greater sense of empathy include:

  • Spend time outside in nature. While empaths might feel frustrated in noisy environments and huge people, they find solace in tranquil natural surroundings.
  • Take care of yourself. Because hyper-empathic individuals absorb the difficulties and troubles of others, it is very necessary for them to exercise self-care and take time apart to recharge.
  • Define your boundaries. Empaths may be able to reduce the emotional suffering caused by emotional overload by establishing boundaries and limits.
  • Consult a therapist. A qualified therapist can teach you how to manage hyper-empathy and how to use your particular qualities in a beneficial way.

Why should you take a hyper empathy test?

Although extreme empathy is not a sickness, finding out whether you are an ultrasensitive person may be beneficial. Then you may devise coping mechanisms to deal with it.

According to Judith Orloff MD’s book The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Intuitive People, if you respond “yes” to at least three of the following questions, you may have hyper-empathy:

  • Have you been characterized as overly emotional or sensitive?
  • Do you feel the same way if a buddy is upset?
  • Is it easy for you to get your feelings hurt?
  • Are you emotionally fatigued by crowds and in need of some alone time?
  • Do noise, odors, or excessive talking irritate you?

Ending note on extreme empathy

Extreme empathy may be incurable but it is highly manageable if one gets the right kind of treatment. People who have hyper-empathy feel other people’s feelings nearly as if they had been their own – but they encounter particular obstacles as a result of this rare capacity. 

Whether you have pathological empathy or are just hypersensitive, it is always a good idea to acquire strategies that help you set limits, have greater control with your own thoughts, take proper care of your own needs, and more correctly define your own identities and self.

Don’t forget that extreme empathy does more than only make you feel bad. 

Conclusion

We discussed what extreme empathy is, various forms of empathy, symptoms of extreme empathy, what to do if you are someone who has extreme empathy, hyper empathy, and mental health issues, how to direct your empathy in the right way, and ending notes. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Is Extreme Empathy A Disorder?

What disorder causes too much empathy?

Extreme or Hyper empathy disorder causes too much empathy.

What is an extreme empath?

An extreme Empath may experience intense empathy, also known as hyper-empathy. They have the ability to picture a situation and respond sympathetically to what somebody is going through.

What Are the 3 Main Types of Empaths?

  • Physical Empath. A physical empath is highly attuned to other people’s physical symptoms.
  • Emotional Empath. An emotional empath is sensitive to other people’s emotions. 
  • Intuitive Empath. The realm of the intuitive empath is more spiritual than scientific.

Is empathy a trauma response?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is common in empaths and sensitive persons. This is due, in part, to the fact that they have been on sensory overload for so long that their systems are inundated with adrenaline.

Do empaths struggle with anger?

Empaths are sensitive to emotional emotions, both good and negative. Although many emotions are generally good-natured and so uncomfortable with their wrath, it is a necessary emotion.

Is it hereditary to be an empath?

Scientists now believe that empathy is partly inherited as well as developed via our upbringing and life experiences. For the first time, a study of 46,000 adults discovered evidence that genes have a role in how sympathetic we are. It was also shown that women are typically more empathic than males.

Reference

https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/blog/2020/07/10/what-is-empathy-disorder
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/jun/24/superpower-empaths-paid-read-mind-empathy
https://www.bbc.com/news/health-43343807

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