Many doctors throughout my life have treated me as a hypochondriac. And for the most part that is true, I guess. The pain I feel is psychosomatic. Just because the tests come back negative. The debilitating physical pain is my brain’s reaction to anxiety.
I have never been content to just accept that my brain is doing these strange things to me. I know I should and if I did I would just be able to live normally. Medicated, but normal.
Today’s research involved empathy. I know I feel intense empathy. I often say I wish I could take pain away from those suffering. It has always been very easy to empathize with everything. I cry at the thought of others crying. Feel intense embarrassment for others (rarely for myself until waaaay too late). I can’t look at accident scenes but yet the sight of blood doesn’t make me sick. I can get shots or give blood, but I can’t watch others have that done.
I thought that the empathy I felt was the cause of my psychosomatic reactions. My husband’s back hurts, my back hurts. My daughter gets a cold, I feel run down. My coworker gets a headache…I do. My favorite is labor pains when my daughter had her babies.
I decided to read about empathy and discovered synesthesia. Specifically mirror touch. I can’t say that I experience the sensation of being touched when I see someone being touched, but I do feel a watered down version of pain people feel. I know that after someone has been hurt, say by a burn, I feel an aching myself where the person was burned, but not a burning sensation per se. I presumed it was a memory of having burned myself and empathizing with that person, but the ache/pain lingers. I also identified with the color for words and numbers (grapheme) and personification synesthesia – sounds and objects occasionally have male/female characteristics. Ok…at this point you have started the serious eye rolling, but the grapheme and personification synesthesia are not extremely rare. Mirror touch is a bit more rare, although not uncommon in highly empathetic people.
I know better than to research on my own. My brain takes a seed and expolodes it into that giant beanstalk Jack climbed up. For example, one article stated “Now scientists find these synesthetes possess an unusually strong ability to empathize with others. Further research into this condition might shed light on the roots of empathy, which could help better understand autism, schizophrenia, psychopathy and other disorders linked with empathy.” That quote made my psychosomatic, hypochondriac mind explode. Am I autistic? A psychopath? Schizophrenic? Aaaaarrrrggggghhhh.
But in all seriousness, our minds are so fascinating and the power it contains is unbelievable.