I just listened to a new Milwaukee Public Radio program call Invisibilia which featured stories about how people are subtly influenced by one another. The first story told of a rather bizarre condition mirror touch synesthesia in which people actually feel the emotions and sensations of others around them. The subject of the story was a mother who had chameleon like wrapped herself into the emotions of several people. Amanda had these children but then would disappear from their lives because she became absorbed in someone else. After years of struggling with the condition, she actually got married and began living with her children once more. She was wonderfully talented in many areas but she focused on her art work. Amanda painted wonderfully expressing works that mostly found their way into her oldest daughter’s room.
However, Amanda was largely a hermit because it was the only way she could avoid being absorbed into other people’s emotions. It’s also very likely since this is a genetic condition, her eldest daughter has the condition but she fights it by deliberately exposing herself to other people and partying like any teenager. It’s hard to imagine how to live with such a disabling condition but Amanda and her husband have created a comfortable middle class lifestyle for their children and even expanded their family.
So, if people complain that you seem very cold and unfeeling, you can thank your brain for allowing you to turn off that gray matter that separates you from other people. You’re not an Amanda. You’re probably not even mirroring my emotions.