The terms “empaths” and “highly sensitive people” refer to people with an exceptionally high sensitivity to the various types of input and stimuli they receive from their environment. Because of the way their brains and nervous systems work, they perceive the world around them very intensely and notice subtle nuances that people who aren’t highly sensitive rarely notice. They tend to think a lot and process the information in a very complex way.
From a scientific point of view, high sensitivity is an innate personality trait that is completely neutral in itself and is shared by about 20 percent of the population.
When it comes to high sensitivity, a new category or, perhaps better said, a subcategory is created in practice. It refers to a certain percentage of highly sensitive people, and the most common name for them is “empaths.”
Although empaths share most of the characteristics of highly sensitive people (heightened sensory perception), they also have heightened extrasensory perception (beyond the basic senses). Therefore, they can perceive even more subtle nuances and energies in their environment.
In addition, empaths tend to not only sense the emotions of those around them but also literally absorb the emotions of others and experience them as if they were their own emotions. Sometimes empaths find it difficult to distinguish between their own emotions and those of others. Also, various other subtle energies are automatically “absorbed” by empaths and felt as part of their personal energy.
Also, most highly sensitive people are introverts, while this isn’t the case with empaths, who can often be ambivalent and extroverted.
So all empaths are highly sensitive people, but not all highly sensitive people are empaths.
My experience with highly sensitive people clearly confirms the accuracy of the data used in researching the phenomenon of high sensitivity. However, practice shows me beyond any doubt that there is indeed a smaller percentage of people who, in addition to the usual characteristics of highly sensitive people, have visibly heightened extrasensory perception. It’s only a matter of time before technology is developed to the point where empaths become the subject of scientific research. I believe that empaths make up about one-fifth of the category of “highly sensitive people.”
To better understand the concept of high sensitivity and classify empaths and highly sensitive people, imagine a hypothetical sensitivity scale with values from 1 to 100. The number 1 represents the highest value and the highest sensitivity, and the number 100 represents the lowest value and the lowest sensitivity.
On this scale, about the first 4 percent of the highest values are occupied by empaths. They are the most sensitive group and have an exceptionally reactive neurological system and heightened sensory and extrasensory perception.
The next 16 values are occupied by other highly sensitive people. The next 20 percent of the values are occupied by “sensitive people” (these are mostly people who are considered very empathic), followed by “moderately sensitive people” (people who can be empathic if they make an effort ), “less sensitive people” (people, who are empathic only in exceptional circumstances), and at the lower end of the scale are narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths, and various other types of “paths” (people for whom it’s questionable whether they can be empathic at all and who care little about how others feel).
This is an imaginary scale that I use only to describe the different degrees of sensitivity a bit more vividly and to categorize empaths and highly sensitive people more categorically in relation to other people who aren’t highly sensitive.
High sensitivity is a genetic trait and something you either have or you don’t have – either we have it in us, or we don’t – and a person who isn’t naturally highly sensitive can only become highly sensitive in exceptional situations in a short period of time.