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Social Anxiety Linked to Empathy

A new study recently published in PubMed has indicated that people who suffer from anxiety and social phobias are extra sensitive to the states of mind of other people.  The more socially anxious a person is, the more likely he or she is to be able to discern the mental states of the people around him or her more accurately.  The study stated, “Results support the hypothesis that high socially anxious individuals may demonstrate a unique social-cognitive abilities profile with elevated cognitive empathy tendencies and high accuracy in affective mental state attributions.”

Defintion of An Empath

In the study, the researchers were looking to find any hidden links between social anxiety and being an empath.  While the extrasensory skill of being an empath is still widely considered the work of science fiction, there is some evidence to suggest that some people can go above and beyond the idea of simply being strongly empathetic.  An empath is generally considered to be those who are highly sensitive to the emotions of the life that exists around them.  This study used scientific testing methods to determine the levels of empathy within a group of subjects.  The subjects who tested high for empathic skill also demonstrated high levels of social anxiety.

What The Study Proves

The researchers on this study assessed 21 people who demonstrated high social anxiety levels and 22 people who had low social anxiety levels.  The first group exhibited off the charts empathic tendencies and could more accurately indicate the mental states of other people.  The people who exhibited lower levels of social anxiety exhibited corresponding levels of empathy.  The team is planning larger scale research in order to confirm their current findings and look into some other matters that could be associated.

Some are saying that this could mean big things for people who suffer from social anxieties.  If the abilities of people who suffer from social anxieties are actually a result of a different kind of condition than the treatment approach could be different.  Some scholars from the realm of metaphysical studies intend to use this evidence to convince society that these people have a gift rather than an illness.  One group issued a statement saying, “They possess a rare gift of empathy, which makes them able to feel the emotional experiences of people around them. But this flood of emotions and energy is so devastating that the brain causes those disturbing symptoms in the body in order to avoid and protect itself from this “emotional pollution”.”

Differing Opinions In The Field of Psychology

Traditional academics and metaphysical academics agree that people who suffer from social anxiety have higher levels of empathetic ability than people who do not suffer from social anxiety, but these academics do not agree about what this means.  Traditionalists believe that social anxiety is simply a mental illness that needs the proper treatment in order to be maintained.

Some scientists from both camps also agree that social anxiety and empathic ability can be controlled by being mindful of the environment in which you put yourself, making changes in your lifestyle to be able to control the amount of “emotional pollution” that you are taking on, and being careful to surround yourself with people who you trust.  You may be able to deal with much of your condition in this way, but there are always options should you choose to seek treatment or support.

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