My Life as an Empath
Lorraine M. Dorfman, Ph.D.
On Star Trek: The Next Generation, Counselor Deanna Troi was an empath. Unlike Counselor Deanna Troi, I do not have psionic powers.
An empath is someone who is hypersensitive to the energies around him or her, including the feelings of others. This sensitivity goes beyond everyday empathy.
Imagine that you are wearing an itchy, course wool sweater. Unless you put something between your skin and the sweater, you will be sensitive to the coarseness of the wool. Even then, you still might feel the wool prick your skin. That is sort of what it is like to be an empath.
While you are able to remove the wool sweater in order to achieve comfort, it is more difficult to turn off your receptors when you are an empath.
When sitting with another person, it is possible to take in his or her energy. For instance, if the other person is tapping her foot, I will feel that nervous energy. If the other person is drunk, my body may feel heavy. If the other person is angry, I may feel irritable. If the other person is lying, I may start to get a headache. If the other person has poor circulation, I may feel sluggish or tired. If the other person has low self-esteem or is harboring shame, I may start shrinking in my chair. I become a mirror for the other person’s energy.
Now, imagine going into a place where there are many people. Crowded places such as shopping malls, street fairs, or movie theaters bombard the senses with stimuli and can be overwhelming. There are lights, sounds, sensations, smells, and feelings swirling all around. The stimuli come rushing in all at once. I recently had to leave a restaurant in the middle of my meal because the energy around me was so frenetic.
Like everyone else, I have to make sure to take good care of my physical and psychological health. I use a five point checklist: (1) nutrition, (2) sleep, (3) exercise, (4) affirmation, and (5) introspection. I discuss this checklist in the first book of my four-book series.