Okay, I am not real familiar with the use of "empath" as a label, from what I have read here, it seems to be refering to what I personally have
refered to as "highly sensitive
I have some suspicions that it is something that we either develop to more or lesser extent, depending upon our education and experiences.
Though I have seen some theories connecting it with a biological and genetic trait.
But in trying to understand this (as I experience it myself) I found what seems to be a correlation with life experience- people who had reason, as
children, to develop their "antenna" to picking up the emotions and physiological states of others.
Like having a parent with an illness like diabetes or epilepsy, depression or schizophrenia, alcoholism or violence, in which the child's survival
instinct calls for him/her to get very tuned in to subtle changes in their body and emotions that give signs of impending crises.
This seems to just develop a highly sensitive reception that continues through life to recieve so much information from the environment and others
that it can be overwhelming in some circumstances.
Now, I separate that ability from a "power"- to be able to pick up such subtle information is one thing.....
(it can even be a serious handicap)
To be able to USE that information consciously towards any intents and goals, is another!
That is where I like to refer to "emotional intelligence
"; not as something one is born with (as we tend to think of IQ) but as something we
learn and develop- to master emotion.
To master ones emotions is to become able to master emotions of others around us, as we are all influenced by the physiological states of beings
around us, whether we are aware of it or not!
'To Master" something does not mean "to oppress" it. We are talking the ability to canalize and focus and change.
I found the practice of horsemanship a valuable path for developing this, as horses are very sensitive animals, and do not repress the emotional
changes that happen in them- they can be a bio-feedback machine of sorts!
They will reflect the emotional changes you cause within yourself in real time.
Humans pick up the same physiologically, but their intellect is able to deny and oppress, or sublimate the emotions to make them less obvious.
Standing next to someone with inner rage can make them pick it up (hormonal production which mirrors heart rate and blood pressure changes, for
example) and instead of just immediately acting that out, they will intellectualize and rationalize- look around for something to be mad about and
claim to be the cause of the emotion.
When you become highly aware of your own emotional changes, you can watch your own influence upon others and watch them do this type of thing.
Can that be used for negative intents? It could. I have known some who manipulate others this way, but most times it is not with conscious awareness.
Those I've met who are on a path of conscious awareness of this usually find ways to use it that are more beneficial- in healing, leadership, group
cooperation and diplomacy, communication across languages and cultures, for example......
edit on 31-8-2012 by Bluesma because: (no reason