Caveat: I know hyper empathy syndrome isn't an official diagnostic category right now although it is sometimes mentioned in the scientific literature. It is still very clear that "hyper empathy" exists, and that it causes impairment in some people who have it, so the term "hyper empathy syndrome" seems to make sense.
So, I was wondering what the signs and symptoms of hyper empathy syndrome in other people are, how you can recognize that you are dealing with someone who has hyper empathy syndrome. After reading how much pain it causes to people who have it, I would just like to know how I can avoid adding to that if I meet someone who has hyper empathy syndrome, if that makes sense?
Those here who have hyper empathy syndrome, could you share what the signs and symptoms are for you, how you think other people can know you have it?
I think you might be able to recognize hyper empathy syndrome by noticing that a person is highly sensitive to your feelings. For example, when you're angry but trying to hide it, they'll ask you: "Hey, what's up? What's upset you?" The same goes for different feelings, like sadness, anxiousness, happiness, you name it. They can crawl right into your emotional life.
I don't know how else you would recognize it. It may even feel a little intrusive when someone always seems to be able to know how you are doing, as well. I think I would feel unpleasantly surprised if someone I didn't know well had this ability.
That is a very interesting question, because most of the things written about this subject (the signs and symptoms of hyper empathy disorder or being an empath) are self-diagnostic lists meant for people who think they have hyper empathy disorder, not for others.
I'll list some of those signs, in case they help answer your question:
- People notice that the person is "oversensitive" or "highly emotional" and comment on it
- A strong intuition, being able to feel the mood in a location or the mood of a person
- Actually feeling what other people are feeling
- Physical symptoms of stress, such as stomach aches and headaches
Here's my two cents. It might not be a popular two cents, but there you go.
I frequent a number of forums, and I think they can be a great way to share information and connect with people. I've also noticed a tendency for this exact kind of thing. "Does my mother have narcissistic personality disorder?" "Is my husband autistic?" "Does my neighbor have an eating disorder?"
The thing is, whether you're talking about diagnosing hyper empathy syndrome or anything else, that you can't just do that from talking to the person. You can say: "This person seems very sensitive and has a lot of empathy." That's as far as it goes, though. Only mental health professionals can make diagnoses like this.
I didn't understand this thread in that light at all. It's less about armchair diagnosing someone with something, perhaps even for malicious purposes, than about understanding what characteristics someone with hyper empathy syndrome might show so that we can better understand their needs and be a better friend to them, or whatever.
For example: You have a friend who always runs to meet you as soon as you feel sad. Even if you know they are busy or stressed themselves. Maybe what your friend really needs is for you to say that you can deal with this alone. Understanding that they are inclined to meet your needs while ignoring their own helps you help them.
I agree with the need to refrain from sticking mental health labels on other people without being a psychologist or psychiatrist, but I also think having an idea of what another person is feeling is good both for the other person and for you/me/whatever.
Spiderman's list is quite helpful. Perhaps there are other signs as well, however. The type of person who puts other people's needs before their own, who appears to do things for others to their own detriment, who seems to live for other people rather than themselves, they might have hyper empathy syndrome. Perhaps normal empathy isn't enough to realize when this crosses over into hyper empathy syndrome, because I would assume people who have hyper empathy syndrome are quite good at hiding their own pain because they don't want to hurt others?
I have seen a few different empathy quotient quizzes online, and even taken some. They are quite useful, and if you're close with someone you suspect of having extreme empathy, it might be an idea to ask them to take the test for fun, even just by sharing it on social media. If you're really close, you can even take an empathy test together and compare results.
This should be a good conversation starter and should allow you to get a better idea of where your friend or relative falls on the empathy scale, if you don't already know.
Two of those signs of hyper empathy syndrome would be quite hard to recognize in another person, unless they told you they were feeling those things. My bet is they might learn to keep that to themselves, because it might freak other people out?
Your post did inspire me to do some more searching, and I found a blog that had something about "15 things your empath friend wants you to know".
The bits I found most interesting:
- They can be perceived as shy or introverted because they dislike small talk as it feels inauthentic to them.
- They will always stand up for weaker people.
- Social situations make them anxious.
- They crave human interaction perhaps more than others.