DECODING THE EMPATH

Ex­perts ex­plain why em­pa­thy is in de­mand and how ex­ces­sive em­pa­thy can harm you

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - HT City | Lifestyle - Ab­hi­nav Verma ab­hi­nav.verma@htlive.com ■

Ev­ery now and then, the In­ter­net comes up with new words or phrases that take over the so­cial me­dia. The lat­est ‘it’ word that has made its way into the ur­ban dic­tio­nary is ‘empath’. From Tin­der pro­files to Face­book sta­tuses, ev­ery­one is now de­scrib­ing them­selves as a self-pro­claimed empath.

Who is an empath? Ac­cord­ing to Google, the word is de­rived from em­pa­thy and is de­fined as a per­son who has the abil­ity to per­ceive the men­tal or emo­tional state of an­other in­di­vid­ual. The pop­u­lar­ity of the term has grown to the ex­tent that a char­ac­ter named Man­tis in the film The Guardians Of The Gal­axy Vol. 2, has been re­ferred to as an empath. The Guardian re­cently did an ar­ti­cle on how peo­ple in Los An­ge­les, US, are hir­ing em­paths for $200 (`12,946) an hour to help peo­ple deal with their own emo­tions. In a tetee-tete, ex­perts Pulkit Sharma, psy­chol­o­gist, and Dr Man­ish Jain, psy­chi­a­trist, ex­plain what an empath is, why is it a cov­eted qual­ity and how ex­ces­sive em­pa­thy can be harm­ful.

DEFIN­ING AN EMPATH

Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, an empath is some­one who is able to feel and ab­sorb other peo­ple’s feel­ings and emo­tions. They are able to do that be­cause they are highly sen­si­tive. Em­paths have a ten­dency to per­ceive the world through emo­tions and in­tu­itions and usu­ally have trou­ble in­tel­lec­tu­al­is­ing their feel­ings.

WHY EM­PA­THY IS IN DE­MAND

Ex­perts be­lieve that the dom­i­nant so­cial me­dia cul­ture has made peo­ple in­creas­ingly self-ab­sorbed and nar­cis­sis­tic. Con­stant con­tact with phones has led to an in­for­ma­tion over­load, re­sult­ing in peo­ple be­ing per­pet­u­ally oc­cu­pied. Ex­perts also state that com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills have de­clined as in­di­vid­u­als now fo­cus only on their own point of view. Con­ver­sa­tions have be­come one-sided with peo­ple not lis­ten­ing to oth­ers’ per­spec­tive. As a re­sult, most peo­ple feel mis­un­der­stood. The Guardian re­ported that peo­ple are now look­ing to con­nect with in­di­vid­u­als who can em­pathise with them and give a pa­tient hear­ing to their is­sues. Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, with­out em­pa­thy, be­ing happy, and main­tain­ing healthy re­la­tion­ships with any­one is not pos­si­ble. Em­pa­thy al­lows us to con­nect emo­tion­ally with each other. How­ever, ex­perts also ad­vise cau­tion against ex­ces­sive em­pa­thy, as it can be detri­men­tal.

French ac­tor Pom Kle­men­ti­eff played the role of an empath in The Guardians Of The Gal­axy Vol. 2

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