I came across some more research that gave more insight into us empaths. Dr. Elaine Aron has found in her studies that fifteen to twenty percent of the population can be labeled "Highly Sensitive." What is that? you ask. Basically, it is the tendency to feel overwhelmed by stimuli (noises, lights, smells, etc.) that most people find only mildly stimulating. It is the ability to be aware of moods or other subtle cues that most people miss. It is marked by the need to be alone and/or be in a nature setting in order to "detox" from the day. It is shown by the need to focus on one thing at a time, rather than multi-tasking. Highly sensitive people find music and art to be a richly rewarding experience. They find that tight deadlines are extremely stressful. Does this description fit you or someone you know? If you'd like to take Dr. Aron's test to see if you are highly sensitive, click here.
What else has been discovered about highly sensitive people? For starters, they have more blood flow in the right hemisphere of their brain, indicating that they are more internally, rather than externally, focused. It would also predispose them to be more imaginative and artistic. Second, they have a tendency to have lower serotonin levels, due to the stress of repeated episodes of over-arousal. Third, they may have a highly sensitive body as well, showing up in allergies and a very sensitive nervous system. Last, both men and women may have this trait; it is not gender specific.
Next time, we'll explore whether empaths are highly sensitive, or if all highly sensitive people are empaths.