Empaths and the Prefrontal Cortex

I came across a post from a distraught Empath looking for advice to be able to function at school. She was experiencing unmanageable anxiety and feeling physically ill being trapped in a little room full of students.

I can relate to this all too well.

Most people in the forum responded with various grounding and visualization techniques. However, one person had a rather demeaning view on Empaths that I feel needs addressing because this person was spewing data like s/he knew what s/he was talking about. Clearly, I have taken the comment a little personal. I'm not even sure why this person was in this forum except to troll us. The poster said: 

"It's funny how in the New Age community people label mental illness pretty names like Empath or Indigo.

I guess I'm not ruling out the possibility that it's just a matter of perspective, but while thinking you're an Empath is romantic the reality is what you are is hyper sensitive.

It means your nervous system and brain have not properly developed most especially the pre frontal cortex.

It could mean a bit of autism, or ADD, or whatever I guess there's really no need for a label the reason is the same.

Many many things can interfere with a child's development, vaccines, genetics, chemicals, fluoride, stress, trauma, abandonment, not being nurtured properly.

In our particular society we have really really bad child rearing practices and this causes most kids pre frontals to not optimally develop.

The pre frontal [sic] cortex is responsible for empathy, internal emotional regulation, creativity, logic, imagination and so on.

When someone has not developed properly and in the case of the so called Empath it's like being born with no skin.

A healthy human should be able to limit stimuli that comes in to only what's relevant, should have the ability to be a somewhat contained entity within themself and not be extremely affected by the outer world.

It is literally like being born with no skin, a healthy human has skin so if someone bumps into you, you don't writhe in pain and shock.

So for the myriads of underdeveloped humans and the endless symptoms the thing to do is realize OK I'm not developed how do I become developed?

The answer lies in how intelligence works, intelligence goes forward when there is a safe stable environment to do so.

In this world we are kept at a survival place and so it's next to impossible to feel safe and secure and calm enough for the brain and body to go forward developing.

So realizing this creates stability and safety for yourself, MEDITATION is a magic bullet if you want to mature and develop your brain, you can literally go from 0 to 60 with meditation, intelligence always wants to go forward but it can't when we have to defend ourselves.

In that state the reptillion [sic] survival part of the brain develops more and we become less human more greedy, fearful, opportunistic.

Anyway there are many ways to develop it just takes realizing what's going on and doing what it takes to mature within yourself.

You are no longer a child you can create the type of environment that is nurturing and then bit by bit you will find you are starting to grow skin and that's a good thing."

A couple thoughts:

  • Empath is a romantic word for being mentally ill? Nice. Sound the incorrect answer buzzer please, EH-ERRR! 
  • Maybe we're just autistic, have ADD, or whatever? How helpful. EH-ERRR!
  • We are hyper sensitive. Correct. DING! 1 point for our emotionally negligent commenter.
  • Our nervous system and our brains haven't developed properly in our prefrontal cortex? EH-ERRR! An underdeveloped prefrontal cortex is associated with stereotypical teenage behavior such as impulsive decision-making, the inability to recognize the emotions of others, and/or having NO empathy. 
  • We need to mature within ourselves? Huh? I'm confused as to how being empathic makes us immature. Because we have anxiety attacks? Meditating is the magic bullet to maturity?? 
  • You are no longer a child you can create the type of environment that is nurturing. Please, please enlighten me as to how a degree seeking student can create a nurturing environment inside the classroom. Thanks. 
  • Bit by bit you will grow skin and that's a good thing? This is the equivalent of telling us to toughen up. Classic example of old school thinking.

Feeling empathy, first requires recognizing what someone else is feeling. I'm afraid this commenter failed to feel any kind of empathy for the person in distress. 

Empathizing with others involves activating the same brain structures that would be active if you yourself were experiencing the pain another person is experiencing. 

Your amygdala are essential to your ability to feel certain emotions and to perceive them in other people.

Perhaps our poster here is suffering from an underdeveloped amygdala. DING!

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