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Do any other type 4s experience uncontrollable, intense empathy? Or is it just me?

What I mean is, ever since childhood, I've felt bombarded by other people's emotions, to the point I almost felt them as if they were my own. And they could overload me so badly that I couldn't tell what was coming from where, and my brain would just shut off in response to the flood of emotions.

I've gotten better at filtering such things over the years, but I still experience intense, uncontrolled empathy on a regular basis. I have to be very careful who I spend my time around and how long. I can't stand being around people who are even a little tipsy on alcohol, because it makes their boundaries go all woobly and their emotions start flooding the room.

I had a hunch this could be a Four thing, but I wasn't sure. It certainly seems tied in with traits that I associate with being a Four, but I can't explain it real well.
 

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Same. I can usually tell where people are coming from. As such, I almost never hate people, and when I do, it's still mixed with pity.

I actually like being an emotional sounding board for people, in certain contexts, as long as I'm being respected and appreciated. I'm sure the degree to which I plunge in isn't always healthy for me, but I also think it's one of the most admirable traits I have. If you're cast aside by everyone else, I will be there for you. If you feel misunderstood by people, I will do my damnedest to not repeat the pattern.

In a conversation with @knittigan, I referred to these tendencies as being a "misery vulture." I do think it's a 4 thing.
 

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I have felt this at times, but not very often. What I do feel is a desire to see people for who they are, to accept them, to be present while they unravel their most difficult inner spaces.

I imagine empathy occurs when we feel what the other is feeling. The feeling in itself does not belong to either of us, but it may evoke particular memories, traumas, desires in us, even if the feeling primarily came from the other. At times this can be a disturbing experience, but usually I am drawn to such relationships because I know that I can take them.

The literature on the schizoid personality in the psychoanalytic tradition, or the literature on Highly Sensitive Persons writes about some of this. Our boundaries are more porous than they are for other people. Our most influential developmental stage is the symbiotic, relatively boundaryless relationship between mother and baby, rather than the stages of later childhood. Our predominant inclinations are those that enable us to transcend the boundaries of our little self - art and spirituality. I would say many 4s would be this way, perhaps more than other enneagram categories (except 5w4?), but not all.
 

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Yes, I relate to this. I can often "fee" the emotions of others, to an alarming degree, and it took me a long time to learn how to separate my own feelings from everyone else's (still struggle with it). As a kid I would get confused because I would notice my mood or "energy" tended to match that of the social environment around me, or of the individuals I was interacting with (at least with regards to familiar people. With strangers, I was much more likely to shut down to protect myself, though I couldn't help but be hypersensitive to certain strong emotions even in strangers). I would be secretly worried that *I* was the one controlling it. Like, I would assume it was somehow my fault if I felt like someone else was sad, or if an entire room seemed low on energy... or if a team was losing... lol. Later on I realized that no, I just soak up what's around me.


It is less intense as I get older, and now that I've realized what it means to be hypersensitive (and in what ways it was harming me). It's still way too ingrained and a part of me to really shake it, though. Like... I'll still be very ill at ease when someone is upset, or hurting. When I try not to take it upon myself I get antsy and kinda self-loathing for trying not to be so affected. It's weird.
 

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Do any other type 4s experience uncontrollable, intense empathy? Or is it just me?

What I mean is, ever since childhood, I've felt bombarded by other people's emotions, to the point I almost felt them as if they were my own. And they could overload me so badly that I couldn't tell what was coming from where, and my brain would just shut off in response to the flood of emotions.

I've gotten better at filtering such things over the years, but I still experience intense, uncontrolled empathy on a regular basis. I have to be very careful who I spend my time around and how long. I can't stand being around people who are even a little tipsy on alcohol, because it makes their boundaries go all woobly and their emotions start flooding the room.

I had a hunch this could be a Four thing, but I wasn't sure. It certainly seems tied in with traits that I associate with being a Four, but I can't explain it real well.
Wow. Couldnt have said that better myself!

Very much relate.

With studying psychology and becoming a counselor , I've honed my empathy. Ive put myself in very uncomfortable emotionally rough situations just to gain a sense of empathy for what I used to feel so confused/hurt/hateful/disturbed by.
 

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Same. I can usually tell where people are coming from. As such, I almost never hate people, and when I do, it's still mixed with pity.

I actually like being an emotional sounding board for people, in certain contexts, as long as I'm being respected and appreciated. I'm sure the degree to which I plunge in isn't always healthy for me, but I also think it's one of the most admirable traits I have. If you're cast aside by everyone else, I will be there for you. If you feel misunderstood by people, I will do my damnedest to not repeat the pattern.

In a conversation with @knittigan, I referred to these tendencies as being a "misery vulture." I do think it's a 4 thing.

couldnt have said it better myself
 

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I'm considering 4 as my core type, but this isn't something I can personally relate to.

I do know that Helen Palmer talks about the attentional patterns of each type, and the heart center specifically revolves around empathy and being able to "feel", or intuit, others on an emotional level. Other authors have referenced the 4s capacity to be overcome with emotions out of nowhere, to walk into a room and be able to sense someone's sadness, etc. A good description (i.e., not an online adaptation, but actual experts' published work) will almost always list such empathy as a major trait of 4s.

So this stuff is certainly in the mainstream literature--it's not just you. The 4s' role in this world is to explore emotions and guide others through hard times. It is their gift (and / or burden).
 

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Do any other type 4s experience uncontrollable, intense empathy? Or is it just me?

What I mean is, ever since childhood, I've felt bombarded by other people's emotions, to the point I almost felt them as if they were my own. And they could overload me so badly that I couldn't tell what was coming from where, and my brain would just shut off in response to the flood of emotions.

I've gotten better at filtering such things over the years, but I still experience intense, uncontrolled empathy on a regular basis. I have to be very careful who I spend my time around and how long. I can't stand being around people who are even a little tipsy on alcohol, because it makes their boundaries go all woobly and their emotions start flooding the room.

I had a hunch this could be a Four thing, but I wasn't sure. It certainly seems tied in with traits that I associate with being a Four, but I can't explain it real well.
I used to experience this a lot when I was very young and it drove me absolutely insane. I was overwhelmed by emotional bombardment constantly, and the fact that my friends at the time at pretty severe problems already, it was just that much worse. It seems though that natural empathy has worked its way out of me. I'm not sure what it is, but whatever connection that was there in my younger years seems to have been severed. I still care for people, but I no longer feel affected by their emotions or lives in the way I once did.
 

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I'm like that. I take on the emotions of whoever is around me, usually only the negative emotions, so I hate being around stressed people. I also used to feel like if there was a bad vibe in the room, it was always my fault because I must be doing something wrong. Then I read that that's a Four trait, and I was like alright, you're not responsible. I like that I'm so empathic, though, because I can see all sides of an argument, and I like acting as a mediator because I can be pretty good at it.
 

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I used to be empathetic to a fault; I would feel whatever I imagined someone else was feeling very intensely and experience a compulsion to fix what was wrong. Starting around high school, however, I stopped feeling much empathy towards others. It was like there was a blockade between my emotions and everyone elses'. Now I'm more empathetic, but not nearly as much as I used to be.
 

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I feel more empathy for non-humans than I do for humans. I hold people to higher standards. People are responsible for so much damage to the world and other individuals, sometimes it's hard for me to feel compassion. Often I feel like people should know better.
 

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Do any other type 4s experience uncontrollable, intense empathy? Or is it just me?

What I mean is, ever since childhood, I've felt bombarded by other people's emotions, to the point I almost felt them as if they were my own. And they could overload me so badly that I couldn't tell what was coming from where, and my brain would just shut off in response to the flood of emotions.

I've gotten better at filtering such things over the years, but I still experience intense, uncontrolled empathy on a regular basis. I have to be very careful who I spend my time around and how long. I can't stand being around people who are even a little tipsy on alcohol, because it makes their boundaries go all woobly and their emotions start flooding the room.

I had a hunch this could be a Four thing, but I wasn't sure. It certainly seems tied in with traits that I associate with being a Four, but I can't explain it real well.
Does that also mean you just know whether someone likes you or not? Or is trustworthy? Whether someone has good or bad intentions?

That would be very handy in deciding whether to invest time and emotions in someone or not.

When you feel this in, for instance, a crowded place, you can't tell who this is coming from, which makes "empath" (feeling into) perhaps not the correct word for it. The difference I think between "emotional contagion" and "empathy" would be, that with the latter you are able to feel "past" this "wall of stress", or "guard" when people hide their true feelings, and of course being able to distinct them from personal emotion. The way you talk about even it sounds closer to "intoxication". And when one assumes this is what people truly feel, he may get a wrong, unbalanced overall picture, which I could imagine may easily reinforce social anxiety.

I believe we can sense "vibrations", just like I think animals can, or like predators can smell fear. Some may be more aware of that than others. We may have an instinctual response to it. Also something some may be more aware of than others.

I could feel those vibes too, from a young age. At the same time I could be completely unaware of the fact that a girl fancied me, or whether people liked me or not, had good intentions, or how much someone felt hurt by something I did. For that I was simply too self-absorbed to be emphatic.
 

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yes, i often feel like I just feel everyone else's emotions emanating from them.

i used to always want to merge with their pain and also "fix" the problem. probably also selfishly b/c I didn't want to feel their emotion anymore.

now i just keep myself at a balanced remove from people who are aggressively negative about humanity or other people, or aggressively judgemental, etc, if I feel that I can't really make a difference in the moment.

mostly these days I feel like a "cold" person. i'm self-interested. the warmth is more hidden.
 

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Do any other type 4s experience uncontrollable, intense empathy? Or is it just me?

What I mean is, ever since childhood, I've felt bombarded by other people's emotions, to the point I almost felt them as if they were my own. And they could overload me so badly that I couldn't tell what was coming from where, and my brain would just shut off in response to the flood of emotions.

I've gotten better at filtering such things over the years, but I still experience intense, uncontrolled empathy on a regular basis. I have to be very careful who I spend my time around and how long. I can't stand being around people who are even a little tipsy on alcohol, because it makes their boundaries go all woobly and their emotions start flooding the room.

I had a hunch this could be a Four thing, but I wasn't sure. It certainly seems tied in with traits that I associate with being a Four, but I can't explain it real well.
I have run into several people I believe to be 4's who say similar things. They are all very bright. They are all Fi. They struggle mightily with it, and turn to occupations to hide from it.

I am most interested in N people, so the ones I spent the most time with are INFP's, and a couple of ENFP's.

I would imagine it would be really tough to be an extrovert and have that level of empathy and stay sane.
 
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Same. I can usually tell where people are coming from. As such, I almost never hate people, and when I do, it's still mixed with pity.


I actually like being an emotional sounding board for people, in certain contexts, as long as I'm being respected and appreciated. I'm sure the degree to which I plunge in isn't always healthy for me, but I also think it's one of the most admirable traits I have. If you're cast aside by everyone else, I will be there for you. If you feel misunderstood by people, I will do my damnedest to not repeat the pattern.

In a conversation with @knittigan, I referred to these tendencies as being a "misery vulture." I do think it's a 4 thing.

@chimeric This phrase "misery vulture" is amusingly spot-on. I've found myself using it in a number of conversations since I read this thread.
 

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It could be my INFJ side, but I tend to "sync" with people that "let" me, if that makes sense?
I'll say something, and then they'll say something along the lines of, "I was just thinking that!" Or sometimes, we'll both say something in unison.
It doesn't even have to be someone I'm fond of.

Not sure if it's legit empathy, though, as I'm pretty apathetic.
 
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EchoesofNowhere -- I can absolutely relate to this. Thanks so much for posting.

I know what it's like to embody emotions that are not your own -- it seems like for my whole life, there's always been a melancholic cloud following me around. It can be as subtle as a hint of sadness upon waking in the morning to as manic as wanting to bawl for no apparent reason during a "fun" outing with friends.

Have you ever tried energy shielding, or meditation? These techniques will help you to reflect negative emotions as well as determine whether or not said emotions are your own or someone else's. I wrote a little bit about these things in a recent post I made if you want to hear about how I helped myself take hold of empathy & depression :) : http://personalitycafe.com/infj-for...-thought-letting-go-general.html#post10806098

As I wrote in that post, I also discovered that I'm an empathic healer -- and there's a good chance you are too. Not only do I/we empathize with others but we actually take the pain away from others -- taking empathy to a whole new level. For years I didn't know how to understand or disperse this pain -- I always identified with it and asked, "what's wrong with me?" -- but after doing much soul searching, I've begun to understand my apparent role.

And heck, we might even be buffering the entire world's energy for all we know. It's a blessing or a curse depending on your perception of it! :)
 

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Do any other type 4s experience uncontrollable, intense empathy? Or is it just me?

What I mean is, ever since childhood, I've felt bombarded by other people's emotions, to the point I almost felt them as if they were my own. And they could overload me so badly that I couldn't tell what was coming from where, and my brain would just shut off in response to the flood of emotions.

I've gotten better at filtering such things over the years, but I still experience intense, uncontrolled empathy on a regular basis. I have to be very careful who I spend my time around and how long. I can't stand being around people who are even a little tipsy on alcohol, because it makes their boundaries go all woobly and their emotions start flooding the room.

I had a hunch this could be a Four thing, but I wasn't sure. It certainly seems tied in with traits that I associate with being a Four, but I can't explain it real well.
Same, but on the surface, I seem a bit unemotional, because I internalize things. Maybe that is why I don't like being around drunk people because of the unpredictable emotions. By the way I am an INFP 4w5
 

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I don't consider myself an empathetic person, it never occurred to me that I could feel what someone else was feeling, probably because I'm quite self-centered... I do try to take a guess at other people's emotions when I need to and I'm usually right, and there are indeed people I get better than other because I feel they are more similar to me, but I don't have much empathy at all
 
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