Mirror touch synesthesia

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.

4 thoughts on “Mirror touch synesthesia

  1. This is evidence, strong evidence, that there are no mirror neurons as some like to claim. As they emulate the experience they see to understand it they are feeling it as if it were real, to them it is real. The rest of us don’t have the follow through where we feel it as if it is real. Like dreams where we experience but our bodies do not react we empathize with others. These poor folk have no shut off valve, they feel it not just understand it. The true definition of an empath.


  2. So, what drew you to this particular blog entry? I had never heard of this idea before I listened to the radio program. And honestly it sounded like the woman Amanda had abandoned her children a couple of times, which is against societal norms. The idea of a genetic link sounded intriguing. She said that her brother also has mirror touch synesthesia. Talk back.


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