Are you an empath?

July 21, 2014


After studying empathy and emotions for four decades, I’ve developed a very simple and accurate way to tell if you’re an empath.

Are you ready to find out?

Karla McLaren’s Amazingly Accurate Quiz for Empaths


Question 1: Are you breathing? Yes/No (choose one)

Yes? You’re an empath.

No? Take a breath and start over at Question 1. (spoiler alert)

Congratulations! You’re an empath!

That’s a joke, and yet I’m also being serious. Empathy isn’t a magical skill that only special people possess. Empathy is a central feature of human intelligence and communication.

Empathy is the social and emotional glue that helps us understand each other. It’s a skill and a trait that we all possess to varying degrees – and it’s a trait that’s shared by many of our animal friends as well.

In The Art of Empathy, I define empathy in this way:

Empathy is a social and emotional skill that helps us feel and understand the emotions, circumstances, intentions, thoughts, and needs of others, such that we can offer sensitive, perceptive, and appropriate communication and support.

We’re all empathic; we have to be in order to navigate our way through the social world. We all read emotions, intentions, nuance, and so forth – because empathy is a part of our capacity to connect to, interact with, and understand others and social situations.

We all have empathic skills, and we’re all empaths to varying degrees. Some of us miss social cues or misidentify emotions, and some of us are so hyper-empathic that we can feel overwhelmed by the emotions and situations of others, but we’re all empaths.

There’s a longer quiz at the bottom of this page, but we’ve gotten the most important part out of the way: Yes, you’re an empath.

What is an empath? And what’s a hyper-empath?

An empath is someone who is aware that he or she reads emotions, nuance, subtext, undercurrent, intentions, thoughts, social space, interactions, relational behaviors, body language, and gestural language. A hyper-empath is someone who reads these things to a greater degree than is deemed normal.

For me as a lifelong hyper-empath, emotions, nuance, subtext, and so forth are the things I notice first in any situation. Words are interesting, but in many cases, they tend to hide and obscure the more subtle aspects of communication and social interaction.

For me, there’s a wonderfully surprising world that exists in the space between words, and it’s the space where my attention is nearly always drawn. But that’s not true for everyone; each of us has our own relationship with our empathic abilities.

There’s also Einfühlung, or your capacity to use your empathic abilities on not just humans, but on animals, art, music, mathematics, dance, movement, nature, systems, ideas, and so forth. Empathy is a skill that can be used in many ways, and the good news is that you can develop (or calm down) your empathic skills at any point in your life.

Introducing the real empathy quiz

I created this quiz to help you assess your current level of empathic abilities — but don’t treat it as the final word!

Your empathic abilities can and do change, and if you observe yourself, you’ll see that your empathy levels can change from day to day, or even in the middle of a single conversation! This quiz is just a snapshot of your current situation; your empathic abilities are malleable, and no matter where you start, you can become more comfortable and skilled with your empathy.

As you’ll learn, there’s a sweet spot with empathic skills – a juuuust right place where your empathy is neither too cold nor too hot. As you answer each of the 43 questions in this quiz, from Less True to More True, remember that you can modify your empathy if it’s not working for you (or for others). Empathy is a pliable skill.

How Empathic Are You?

The 43 questions in this quiz will help you identify your current level of empathic ability. Remember that your score is a snapshot of the current moment; you can change, increase, or calm down your empathic abilities at any point in your life.




Cat July 22, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Hi Karla, I just took your empathy quiz and scored very high, like you said, it feels like a double edged sword at times. Is there an easy way to tell if emotions I am feeling at times are mine or if they belong to someone else? Is there a good process for checking in with myself? Thank you!

Karla July 23, 2014 at 10:09 am

Thanks Marjorie and Trish!

Hello Cat, yes, there are good processes for checking in with your own emotional state so that you can articulate between your feeling state and the states of others. The Five Empathic Mindfulness skills in The Art of Empathy include Grounding and Focusing, Defining Your Boundaries, and a Rejuvenation practice so that you can make clear (but not rigid) separations between yourself and others. There are also the skills of Resourcing and Thresholding, which can really help hyper-empaths reset themselves on a moment-to-moment basis.

On pages 128 to 131 in the book, I’ve got a section called How to Tell if an Emotion is Yours or Someone Else’s, and I start off by asking the reader about the health of his or her boundaries. But I also point out that Emotion Contagion is a normal and necessary occurrence. It’s totally okay to share emotions, and in fact, we pay people a lot of money to share emotions with them, and we throw numerous international festivals every year to reward these professional hyper-empaths: The Grammys, the Emmys, the Academy Awards, the Baftas, the Cannes Film Festival … we love Emotion Contagion.

So the question then becomes: Do you have a practice for each emotion? If you do, then picking up emotions from others isn’t an issue — you can choose to share the emotions or not. But if you don’t have a practice for specific emotions, then picking them up from others may throw you into difficulty, not because Emotion Contagion is a problem, but because those are emotions you struggle with anyway. So that’s a simple question, but it has an involved answer because our emotional education tends to be so incomplete. I hope that helps!

Marjorie Donnelly July 23, 2014 at 5:28 am

Enjoyed the quiz. Thanks for your excellent work.

Colleen July 23, 2014 at 1:16 pm

My many parents (Dad married multiple times.), teachers, and family members labeled me overly sensitive, too sensitive, cry baby (heard this often). This felt like, and I certainly embraced this meaning (every one of neurons is insulated not by the myelin-sheath, but by a belief of inadequacy), that my ability to overly feel was (is) something ‘bad’, less than, definitely something I should feel shame about. Now, I live this and experience this attribute, secretly, quietly – In my own private internal world. And, when my feeling sense seeps out I feel guilty, I feel something bad will happen, I will be alienated, I will be misunderstood, most importantly, no one will like me. During those times I wish it away, I wish I was different, more like those that don’t feel. Simultaneously, I’ll regard my ‘self’ as special (weird, I know). I think, wow Colleen given your history how lucky you are to ‘feel’. Needless to say, I feel a bit ‘crazy’.

My Master’s thesis topic addressed emotion regulation (lack of) and the impact(s) on learning. I didn’t finish, I didn’t complete the last two chapters. Which is upsetting, to say the least, because those chapters were (are) the easiest – Chapters 4 and 5 are the creative piece (all of it is I know). The last two chapters demonstrate via a creative medium of your choice, your work, your idea(s) that teachers, parents, or school administrators could utilize if they chose to. Anyway, what I want to say is that had I known the importance of my need to ‘talk’ out my ideas (that is the question that hit home, smack in my heart), more importantly, felt confident and courageous enough to ask for my need, I may have finished my work and received a bonafide Master’s degree. Not following through has impacted me. I don’t feel good about ‘finding a positive’, ‘looking on the bright side’, actually, positive psychology often feels ‘false’, although thinking ‘positively’ is as important as accountability.

I wish that ‘hyper-empaths’ were the norm, yet, having said that, would those that ‘feel less’ feel (or think themselves) as less than or foreign as I think my ‘self’?

Karla July 24, 2014 at 11:01 am

Hello Colleen. I’m sorry you were born into exile, and that you got ganged up on. I also heard that constant refrain about being too sensitive, and it took me until my early thirties to turn around and say, “No, I’m exactly as sensitive as I need to be. What’s your deal?”

I agree with you about positive psychology. If you look at the grouping of 17 emotions I work with, the happinesses (happiness, contentment, and joy) only make up 17.6% of the emotions we have. That leaves a heck of a lot of emotions out in the cold. Positive psychology was an interesting approach, because they shifted the study of emotions from treating them as problems and character flaws into looking at emotions as something a person might want! But they’re still heavily focused on which ones are good and which ones are bad. People with normal amounts of empathic ability can probably tolerate that truncated approach to emotions. They tend not to develop skills in the alleged “negative” emotions, and they often need help sorting through their emotional lives, but they can manage.

But hyper-empaths, who feel emotions intensely, can get shoved into the shadows by simplistic, good/bad approaches to emotions. You’re not alone in being treated badly because you feel things more deeply than others are willing or able to do. We hyper-empaths need to stick together!

I’m finishing my thesis in education this coming semester, and mine is on autism and hyper-empathy, and ways to support autistic students’ neurology and treat them with dignity. There’s a huge need for awake and agency-respecting information on emotion regulation and learning. Is there a way to go back and finish your thesis?

Carla Pole September 10, 2016 at 9:16 am

I’m a childhood trauma survivor, and thanks to your “Emotional Genius” book, I am still here… I have felt such an outcast, a failure, a really, really vile person, for the longest time. I’m starting to see light at the end of what’s been a very long, lonely, and very scary tunnel – and I wanted to say – Thank you. So very, very much. I would love to have the courage to go to school, and have my pain and trauma mean something. A dream I’m working towards.
I am still in the throws of healing – lots of kicking and screaming and pain, and another dramatic life change/move. This time I’m hoping it will be my last, and there is so much light in my life! I have wanted to understand for so long, and be understood more importantly it feels, sometimes. Thank you so very, very much. Your work is life-saving. I’m still here because of your book. Thank you.

Karla September 13, 2016 at 8:03 pm

Hello Carla, and welcome. I’m glad you survived, and I wish you a smooth journey out of the tunnel and into a life you really treasure.

I just read a book you might like, though I warn you that it’s a little harrowing. It’s called The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog by child psychiatrist Bruce Perry. He writes about traumatized children and how their development was disturbed by trauma. And then he talks about how they can heal. It’s very hopeful even though it is focused on some really intense traumas, and it made me think a lot about my own development, and the development of other trauma survivors I know. I think it may be worthwhile for you to look at.

Barbara Sauve July 24, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Thanks for this quiz Karla. Like Colleen in the letter above, I was also criticized for being overly sensitive and a cry baby as a young girl. Now, in my 60’s, I’m having to really work in therapy sessions to clear away all the stuff — other people’s despair, depression, grief etc.– that “got into me” during my years as a Registered Nurse. This, first of all, was not my choice of profession. It was my mother’s unrealized dream for herself which got pushed onto me and I was too sensitive and fragile, and too afraid of hurting her feelings, to fight back.

In my training as an RN there was absolutely nothing about emotions — ours or the patients — even though we were thrown into tragic, sometimes life and death situations and we were dealing with pain and grief and anger, not to mention the frustration of the powerlessness that goes along with nursing. We were taught procedures and techniques and drugs and how to do dressings. We learned how to follow Doctor’s orders. In hospitals we were given caseloads that were so large and so task oriented that we had no time or energy to really be with the patient, or ourselves. So here I am, at 63 years old, still feeling (and thankfully releasing in therapy) the pain and fear and distress of patients that I looked after up to 40 years ago.

I’m amazed how vividly I’m remembering patients (and all their details) that I connected with even as early as my student nurse days. It just shows how all of this emotional stuff can sit in our bodies until we learn how to consciously remember, feel and release it.

I really appreciate having connected with your work Karla. It is helping me feel more supported and understood.

Karla July 24, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Hello and welcome, Barbara. Thank you for the work you did as a nurse, and yes, it’s an amazingly difficult profession. My husband is a nurse, and he and I are planning empathy and self-care courses for nurses and other health care professionals. It’s really needed!

I’m glad you’ve found a therapist to help you unwind from years of hyper-empathic emotion work! I’m also glad that you’re finding my work helpful. Here’s to the too sensitive crybabies and hyper-empaths. The world doesn’t really know how to recognize us (unless we’re artists), so we are beginning to recognize ourselves. Gabba gabba we accept you, we accept you, one of us!

Barbara Sauve July 25, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Thanks for your lovely response Karla. I’m really happy and excited to hear that you and your husband will be offering this important work to nurses. Nurses are right there on the front lines and, given the time and the tools for taking care of themselves and others on an emotional level, nurses can make a huge difference in helping people recover and/or find peace and healing, whatever their medical situation may be.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story — it was very cathartic to do that, and very encouraging to know that I don’t have to feel alone in this anymore. The truth is, I think the world needs us “sensitive folks” to come out of our shells and bring balance to a sometimes (or often!) insensitive world.

Karla July 26, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Thank you Barbara!

Amy July 26, 2014 at 7:00 am

Hi Karla,

You mentioned resourcing and thresholding in an earlier post and I am wondering what these skills are?

Karla July 26, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Hi Amy. Resourcing and threshold are both in The Art of Empathy. Resourcing is a skill that comes from somatic therapy, and it’s a very healing self-soothing process. Thresholding is a physical boundary-making process that can be helpful for hyper-empathic people.

Sian July 28, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Dear Karla, I have just come across your book, The Language of Emotions and want to say such a big thank you. Reading it is like a breath of fresh air, a conversation with a very kind friend. After many years of searching in the spiritual and psychological realms i can see pieces of my life fitting together in understandable ways which brings such relief.

I worked as a doctor for 30 years and had to take early retirement really for burn out (i wonder if this is more common in very empathic people) and now look to use my skills and gifts as a spiritual counsellor and teacher. The added wisdom which you impart in the emotional realm will be hugely valuable in supporting my work (and me in it).

Big blessings,

Karla July 29, 2014 at 10:14 am

Hello Sian; yes, empathic people do tend to burn out when they don’t realize that they’re doing heavy emotion work! Learning to work around and with hyper-empathy in what can be a fairly insensitive (or trained-to-be-insensitive) world is the practice of a lifetime, I must say!

Sian July 29, 2014 at 10:51 am

Thank you Karla. Yes, i think my family of origin ridiculed my sensitivity…
a training of sorts! And the medical profession encouraged a tough and emotionally repressive approach. I am happy that the practice of the rest of my lifetime can at least be with some enhanced understanding and really effective practices. A reminder on my bathroom mirror of ‘grounding, boundaries, burn contracts’ may well be necessary!!

Sian July 29, 2014 at 10:52 am

PS i love the permission to consciously complain!

Susan Bernaix August 21, 2014 at 4:29 am

Hello. I’ve only recently learned of being an Empath. Another nurse explained it to me. It’s almost shocking to finally realize this! The best way I can explain it would be, I’m now able to put together the puzzle of me. I must purchase your book so I can learn how to deal with this. One huge question I have is how do you tell your spouse (or any other close person), about being an empath? I myself had to get past the idea that I might be dabbling in the dark side, so just imagine what others are going to think? I also struggle with my religion, like, how can I possibly be a Christian and still have Empath abilities? Part of me wants to dive right in and get a grip on this Empath stuff, but part of me worries that I’m going to be practicing magic, voo-doo, booga-booga stuff……..haha….sorry for my poor explanation, but it’s all I have at the moment. But first and foremost is how to tell my spouse, without him thinking I’ve lost my mind? Lol. Thank you, Susan Bernaix, RN

Karla August 21, 2014 at 9:20 am

Hello Susan, and welcome! Everyone is an empath to some degree — whew! It’s not in any way a paranormal skill, though it’s easy to think that it is.

I think that this is because of our generally poor emotional education, and because we tend to hide emotional information from ourselves and from others. People who are very empathic can look psychic, because they’re reading what others think they’re hiding. Being a strong empath is unusual, but it’s not bizarre or otherworldly. Empathy is a human skill, and it’s a skill that many animals possess as well — for instance, horses and dogs are very good at cross species empathy with us.

There certainly are people who portray empathy as a psychic skill. Before 2003, I was one of them. But I realized my mistake, ended my earlier career, and went back to school to study the social sciences — particularly sociology and anthropology, where wonderful information about the unwritten rules of the social world are everyday knowledge.

If you’d like to understand your current level of empathic ability, you can take this test, and then have your husband take it. You guys can compare scores and make empathy a regular thing between you instead of a spooky thing. Empathy isn’t spooky; it’s not paranormal, and it’s not metaphysical. Empathy is a normal human trait, and everyone is an empath to some extent. Welcome!

Oh, and nursing is a great place to find empaths, and it’s also a place to see a lot of empathic burnout, because empathy is poorly understood, and people don’t tend to know how to care for themselves in the face of very strong empathic abilities. My husband Tino is a hospice nurse, and he and I are working on an empathy and self-care curriculum for nurses and health care workers. We’re really looking forward to helping people in healthcare create healthier workplace environments that support highly empathic people!

Susan Bernaix August 29, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Thank you so much for the reply! I am taking your advice and am going to have my hubby take the test as well. I too believe that we all have the Empath abilities to a certain extent, but that the greater percentage do not acknowledge it…maybe because they only have a tad bit and just figure that things are coincidental.

Karla, why do you suppose I am just now realizing what I am? Not just because a friend told me about it, but the fact that everything I have ever felt, said or done in regard to empathy, now fits into place? !!! Do you suppose it is because I retired from nursing and have gotten away from the drama, or maybe because I am older now and it becomes more prevalent, you know, like things get better with age? (I’m 56). lol There are so many things I could tell you, but it would take hours, but to name a few: I can’t watch TV. If I try to watch a movie, I can’t stay in the room when the exciting part starts. Abuse of any type issues send me into a tizzy. Being around arrogance and ignorance just rips at my inner being and I want to scream and educate, but I hold it in. When I am with my grandchildren I do not feel turmoil, just warm fuzzy comforting feelings and from my standpoint, the view is crystal clear. (it’s very weird for me to try and explain these things).

I started canning and making breads last year and the whole process, from looking for the perfect recipe to labeling the goods when they are finished, is sort of like I am connected to some other element or realm. This will sound crazy, but it is almost as if the fruits and vegetables are just as happy to be there as I am. haha. With the vegetables and fruits being in season right now, I am in Heaven…lol. I mean literally…I find such beauty and comfort when I look at and smell these things. It is almost like intoxicating for me. (it is not like this in the canned good isles in the grocery stores, lol).

Now as for attracting downtrodden people…it’s like I am a magnet! This is a whole other book that I won’t even go into now. lol. I will say though, that it blows my mind, when I take on these challenges, how well everything turns out and how everything just falls into its perspective place. However, when this happens, it is few and far between before I commit to something like that again……because it literally sucks the life out of me in the end.

I am very creative in almost everything I attempt and people ask me if I can do these things for them. I know I could, but for some reason I don’t want to do these things for other people. I can’t explain it, yet it is one of the few things that I can say “NO” to, without having guilt.

I want to add….I have diagnosed OCD. I’m not talking about hand-washing and color-coding my clothes on the hangers, it’s way deeper than that, but I have control over the rituals that one with OCD might perform. (only someone that has studied psych will understand what I am talking about and know that it is not a psychotic issue). Now with that mentioned, do Empaths have a tendency to have OCD?

Now, as I re-read my words, I think it looks as if I am bragging on myself. I can only tell you that I am not. It’s just that I have never felt like I could tell people these things, until now!!!! There is so much more to my story, but you get my drift. Hopefully, just as others did for me, maybe my stories can help others understand a little bit more about themselves.
Susan Bernaix, RN

PS……I do realize now, that I can be a Christian and an Empath, because you have helped me realize that this is not a paranormal phenomenon, but that it is something that humans have, just some more strongly than others. Thank you again Karla!!!!!!!

Karla August 30, 2014 at 11:49 am

Hello Susan,

I’m glad you’ve been able to embrace your empathic nature; that’s cool! I don’t know about a link with OCD — I haven’t seen it, though I have seen that highly sensitive people might tend to need more ritual and structure in their lives in order to set boundaries for themselves.

Your experience with the fruits and baking — it’s a perfect example of Einfühlung! You might like to read about it here.

I’m glad you’re able to identify your empathic abilities — and no, it’s not unusual for people to not realize they’re hyper-empaths. This intense sensitivity gets called almost everything else, and the idea that an empath is a psychic is something that really keeps people from understanding what’s going on. Welcome to the clan of the hyper-empaths!

Susan Bernaix August 30, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Thank you again Karla. Now I need to read more about it so I can understand better.

Bless you, Susan

Marcey September 6, 2014 at 2:29 am

Thanks Karla for this quiz, I learned a lot about myself. I scored high and I think it’s because of what I am experiencing with a friendship right now. I would love to take it again when I have resolved my issues. I would love to order the books you talked about.

Karla September 6, 2014 at 9:57 am

Hello Marcey — excellent point about empathy changing with changing circumstances! It will be interesting to see what your score is when your circumstances are different.

Carrie Ann Dye September 23, 2014 at 8:46 pm

I just scored 125 on your empathy quiz. Now what? How do I protect myself and create boundaries? I was also accused of being overly sensitive. Message: Don’t be who you are! So I wasn’t myself. Now I want to acknowledge my authentic self. But part of me is now quite cynical about people and their motives. I see so much that others don’t see. It is exasperating.

Karla September 24, 2014 at 9:58 am

Hello Carrie Ann, and welcome! Being hyper-empathic in a not so very empathically welcoming world can be, as you know, pretty uncomfortable. But it can also be cool once you understand your empathic nature and surround yourself with supportive people and supportive environments. The Art of Empathy is all about that, and includes the Empathic Mindfulness skills I’ve developed (and simplified, simplified, simplified) over forty years of practice. Welcome to the Empath Clan! (we have cake)

Melinda October 30, 2014 at 3:01 am

Hi Karla,

Thank you for your work! I’ve been following you around for years 🙂 I took your quiz and it is helpful to revisit the health of my boundaries. Currently I teach at a (quite toxic) school. While I love teaching, I am constantly bogged down emotionally by other elements of my job. I find my self swirling about every day in a place I am often times disappointed with while advocating for my sensitive children, advocating for my craft, and doing a million tasks in between. It takes a lot of work in my exhaustion to not take everything to heart and not be frustrated every day. I want to be more available for my students, partner, and myself. I am checking into The Art of Empathy now!

Karla October 30, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Hello Melinda and welcome!

I think you’ll like the sections in the book on Thresholding, which is a way to create physical boundaries in a difficult workplace, and on Resourcing, which is a very portable self-soothing skill that comes from somatic psychology.

I’m sorry that you’re in a toxic workplace. Thank you for the work that you do as an educator, and I hope that The Art of Empathy will give you many good ideas for self-care!

Melinda October 31, 2014 at 9:40 am

Thank you Karla!

I am listening to The Art of Empathy Training Course now. I’m wondering if there is information on Thresholding and Resourcing here? If so, is there a “Table of Contents” that supplements the audiobook? I’m also wondering how the book and audiobook differ.

What I really enjoy about your voice (I am a big fan of Energetic Boundaries) is your soothing lightness. Looking at my my emotions, I have a tendency to be self-serious and tense. Your ‘bounce’ in your voice invites me to lighten up and relax. Phew, I already feel better!

Karla October 31, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Hi Melinda — yes, they’re both in there, and yes, there should be a track list with your audio. Do you not have one? On the audio CD set, they’re on Disk 4, tracks 9 and 10.

Melinda November 1, 2014 at 1:18 am

Hi Karla, I have the downloaded audiobook from Sounds True (I currently live in Italy). I figured out how to download the Table of Contents from my account with Sounds True.
Thank you!

Matt November 25, 2014 at 3:35 am

How do I turn it off? I don’t want to be an empath. It has caused me pain during my entire life.

Karla November 25, 2014 at 10:32 am

Hello Matt, and welcome to the empath clan. We have cake.

I’m sorry that your experience of (hyper?)empathy has been so painful for so long. You are not alone in this; my early experience of hyper-empathy was a stone drag (as it is for many hyper-empaths), and my work is focused on helping people become comfortable with being sensitive and emotionally awake in what is often an insensitive and emotionally chaotic world.

You do have choices with your empathy, and you can do many, many things to make it more manageable. It can even become a fun and worthwhile asset. That’s what The Art of Empathy is all about.

Here are some specific posts that may be supportive for you:

The difference between empathy and enmeshment
The difference between healthy empathy and martyrdom
How to Ignore People (!)

Empathy is a part of being human, and it exists in a continuum — some have more skills and capacity in empathy, and some have less. As you know, men tend not to be recognized or supported in their empathy, unless they are in the arts. That’s a secret place for male empaths to go and be witnessed, though it’s not always healthy or safe, because what is? Luckily, art is available for free to everyone, and as a specific and focused empathic healing practice, art can be magical.

The Magical Healing Powers of Art

When you develop your empathic skills, you will be able to turn your empathy on and off in healthy, ethical, and intentional ways. It’s a learning process, but it’s definitely doable. Welcome to the clan, Matt.

anas November 27, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Hi..karla thnx u have been a great help.
Scored pretty high on your test. I’ve got an issue that even when i know an emotion is not mine still i’m so overwhelmed with it specially if it is an emotion of grief that i act under its effect as if it is purely mine….and so in situations like these i’m unable to help them rather I feel helpless my self….looking for a suggestion.

Karla December 1, 2014 at 10:47 am

Hello Anas,

There is work in The Art of Empathy that focuses on helping hyper-empaths learn how to perform healthy Perspective Taking. What you’re describing is a very strong capacity for Emotion Contagion that hasn’t yet caught up with your other skills. There are a lot of posts here on the site that would be helpful for you, but probably the book or the audio learning program would be the most effective. They’re here.

Look at this post:

Hyper-empathy is a gift, and it can be a problem. My work was created by a hyper-empath for hyper-empaths, so welcome!

Dan December 8, 2014 at 7:21 pm

I am 53 years old and learned of the word “empath” only two days ago. Finally my whole life is beginning to make sense to me. I scored 123 (my favorite number) on your test and I’m sort of crying tears of joy as I write this. Thank you for your enlightening work, Karla.

Karla December 8, 2014 at 11:13 pm

Welcome Dan! 123 is an awesome score, and 12:34 is my favorite time! I’m glad you learned about empaths. Welcome!

Ali December 19, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Thanks so much, Karla, and to all of you who have commented here – it is lovely to feel I am not a lone “sook” or “too sensitive” type. I imagine we could share other similar stories with that cake. Like being told “it’s JUST a movie”, avoiding things that we know tear our hearts apart (best way I can describe the feeling I have when I see images of animal abuse or environmental destruction) and a multitude of experiences. I look forward to reading your work, Karla. Most of all I look forward to allowing myself to learn how to manage my empathy so I can use it for good, to align with my values, rather than having it control me and feeling as though I am on a downward spiral avoiding, etc. more with each passing year. Thank you!

Karla December 19, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Welcome Ali! More cake for you!

Khaoula January 23, 2015 at 1:12 pm

Hi Karla
thank you so much for the article. Up to 2 days ago, I did not know there was a name for who I am. Finding out there are many people who are very sensitive to many events and things around them has been comforting.

I have been tired and drained of energy over the past year and I realized that work must be a big portion of it. I want to get the right tools to deal with this and not just survive it but thrive as an empath. what’s the best of your books that you would recommend I get? as well, I do acupuncture and somatic therapy, are there any alternative healing methods that you would suggest? million thanks

Karla January 23, 2015 at 2:08 pm

Hello Khaoula and welcome to the clan!

The best books for right now would be The Art of Empathy by me, and The Emotional Life of Your Brain by Richard Davidson.

Somatic therapy would also be awesome! I always include somatic work in my retreats and workshops, and I have a somatic practice in The Art of Empathy called Resourcing. It’s very helpful for hyper-sensitive people, and I think you’d enjoy it. Welcome!

Marie February 15, 2015 at 10:18 am

Wow, that quiz was a real eye opener. I have always felt that I needed to take care of animals and children.

My husband doesn’t understand why I can’t watch the nature stories where something gets killed. I worry about the birds and animals everywhere I go. I can’t drive by an animal that’s been struck on the road without turning my head the other way.

I’d rather be around animals because they don’t tax me as much as people do. I think I need to read more about this to see about the coping skills. Thanks for the quiz!

Karla February 15, 2015 at 11:02 am

Welcome Marie! Yes about animals — I spent most of my childhood with animals because so many people were just astonishingly unable to work with their emotions.

People were painful for me to be around! Now I’m fine — the skills really work.

Brian Henke February 16, 2015 at 10:41 am

I have known for many years now how empathic I am and learned many years ago how to protect myself too.
For me, the answer has been to channel all that emotion and the beauty of Nature into my music. I think that without that, I may well have been lost.

I can remember that when I was younger, I used to get physically ill when in a crowd of people and start running a high fever. There was too much coming at me and into me to be able to cope with it.

I have never purposely turned this empathic ability on. It’s just always been there. At the age of nearly 60 years old though I can say that I can either channel, block, or even better yet, change the energies coming in to protect myself and to help others. It’s not as simple as taking someones frown and turning it upside down, but the idea is the same.

I can’t say that I’m always successful in doing this, but being aware of it and having learned through experience has helped a lot…….

Karla February 16, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Hello Brian and welcome to the empath clan! You have found one of the specific healing and protection practices for highly empathic people: Art!

I notice that another one is being with or working with animals, because animals don’t have the human tendency to be truly awful at emotions. ; )

You might like this post, which I wrote one day after my brain woke me up singing “Round Midnight” on a continual loop: The Magical Healing Powers of Art

Jenna March 20, 2015 at 1:37 am

Thank you for the test. I never knew what a empath was untill a lady said to me one day that I’m senstive as well & when I have the time to read up on empath. I have taken numerous test to see if I am & each one I have scored quite high? I’m starting to realise little things. For instance some of my dreams would be like dejavu. If I’m around certain people/place I would get so physically drained or feel real uncomfortable like I could sense something? Complete strangers would be happy to open up to me & so much more it’s kind of crazy! Now that I’m reading more about empath the more I feel like everything is starting to make sense! But even though this is still all new to me, I feel like I need to learn so much more so I can get a better understanding about myself, any help will be much apperciated 🙂

Many Thanks

Karla March 21, 2015 at 7:39 am

Hello Jenna and welcome to the empath clan. We have cake!

This site is full of info about how to live as a healthy, happy, and intentional empath. Look at the Featured Topics page and you’ll find a great deal of supportive information!


Gavin April 4, 2015 at 6:19 pm

Hello Karla.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this special topic. I just took your empathy quiz and scored very high. I really have to explore your web site for additional information. I wish if there was an easy way to STOP, TURN OFF, CANCEL this ability. It is so stressful.

Karla April 6, 2015 at 3:17 pm

Hello Gavin, and welcome to the empath clan! Yeah, hyper-empathy can be a stone drag until you learn how to manage it. Don’t turn it off — there’s enough of that going on, gah.

When you learn to work with and manage hyper-empathy — and especially when you surround yourself with other healthy empathic people, it can be so much fun!

These two posts are the place to start:

The Difference between Empathy and Enmeshment

The Difference between Healthy Empathy and Martyrdom

Marcia Lara April 7, 2015 at 9:59 am

I am a licensed counselor and believe I may have hyperempathy. I tood the quiz and scored 115, 89%. I have a story to share that has been baffling to me, and I wonder if anyone else has experienced something similar. I went to my nephew’s funeral last summer with my family. I loved my nephew, however did not have the opportunity to spend much time with him. His father is my brother and I love he and is wife very much. After the showing the night before the funeral, I was ok while in the funeral home, but after returning home I started to develop intense vomiting and diarrhea, dizziness. I just wanted to curl up in my bed and stay away from people, especially people who coped by talking happily and laughing. It was just too much. I stayed very ill until we were about 2 hours away from his burial site. Then the symptoms cleared up immediately. I know it could have been something I ate, but I wonder?

Karla April 10, 2015 at 11:29 am

Hello Marcia! I like the way you frame hyper-empathy as a thing you have. Like an accessory!

“Would you like your meal with hyper-empathy, or without?”

When I was a child, I would have definitely ordered the meal without!! But now, it’s fun.

About your story — yes, many hyper-empathic people will react physically to emotional repression in others. I like to say that when an emotion is in a room full of repressers, and a hyper-empath is there, the emotion will go and hang out with the hyper-empath just so it won’t be lonely!

Your story could be about something you ate, and it could also be your system reacting to the emotional troubles in the people around you. Or both! If it happens a lot, I’d look at the skills involved in Emotion Regulation, so that the emotions of others don’t have such a drastic effect on your own equilibrium.

2 posts:
Emotion Regulation
The Difference between Empathy and Enmeshment

And because you’re an emotion worker:
Understanding Your Emotion Work

Margaret May 25, 2015 at 4:16 am

Hi Karla, I’m so glad I found your book. It is a big piece of my puzzle. I think I’ve always been an empathy, since a young child. I remember my mother telling my I expressed extreme distress for a girl who developed polio in kindergarten. And as a teenager, I remember I was in a five and dime with my mom. Something about the older woman cashier hit me like a ton of bricks, and I began to weep uncontrollably in the shopping mall. My poor mother didn’t know how to console me. I didn’t know what was going on either, but I know how I felt something very strong about that woman.

Now that I’m introduced to your work, I see how much my empathy has spun me out of control. In my family no one was allowed to express feelings. Mine were so over the top, so I buried, and have dealt with life long depression, worry, shame, blah, blah. It peaked a few years ago, and I’m well on the way to recovery. I guess I figured that everyone could pick up what I did, but that I was ‘too sensitive’ – after all, that’s what I was told by my family (and ex-spouse).

Your work is fascinating. I look forward to learning more from your resources. THANK YOU!!!

Karla May 26, 2015 at 12:38 pm

Hello Margaret, and welcome to the clan. I think you’ll enjoy the Empathic Mindfulness practices.

They’re the first practices that work intentionally and directly with emotions so that people can become more comfortable with them and more empathically skilled. Welcome!

Kristy May 26, 2015 at 2:15 pm

Yes yes yes my soul can fly through this canyon called life. But I want pie. Thank you Karla for showing me the room with my wings waiting . K

Kara August 13, 2015 at 7:59 am

Hi I’m kara
Age 17 almost 18 and I scored 113 on your quiz
You could say I’m still skeptical and a little freaked and overwhelmed
Any advice my bf is the one who suggested that I am empathic
All the quizes I have taken I score at least an 80%. I am in high school and as you can guess it’s hard when there’s so many people around in general I’m a very happy person but when I’m around alot of people it’s like I’m going insane I suffer from migraines I’m from rural kentucky the bible belt and as a Christian it’s very well scary to believe I am empath

Karla August 13, 2015 at 9:52 am

Hello Kara, and welcome to the empath clan!

I’m glad you landed here, because I once believed that hyper-empathy was a psychic skill, whoops! It can certainly look like one, but it’s absolutely not.

It’s perfectly normal to be an empath — in fact, everybody is. You can’t actually function without empathic skills — you couldn’t talk to people, you couldn’t drive (you have to read emotions and intentions in other drivers in order to drive) … you couldn’t even walk down the street. Empathy is absolutely normal, and it’s shared by our animal friends.

Like any skill, some people have higher trait empathy than others, and it’s usually higher in their ability to pick up emotions, intentions, undercurrent, and nuance (etc.) from others. I call these people hyper-empaths, and it can be uncomfortable if you don’t have skills like grounding, setting boundaries, and self-soothing. But once you master those skills, hyper-empathy is very manageable and even fun.

That’s what The Art of Empathy is all about. Welcome!

Lee September 4, 2015 at 11:07 am

I just scored 123. I can even do this with photographs and strangers and some people don’t like it!

Karla September 9, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Hi Lee — yes, disliking can impede empathy, but for people with high trait empathy, it tends not to. This is actually a good thing, because disliking can lead people to dehumanize others. Better to still feel and be empathic than to shut off!

Lee September 11, 2015 at 7:41 am

Hello Karla, thank you so much for the reply, but I meant the people who I have interactions with and say things about. for example, people show me photographs of couples and ask if they will be together for long and I say yes or no. they don’t like it. [even though I am mostly right!]. great site btw.

Karla September 12, 2015 at 12:38 pm

A picture can be worth a thousand words to a hyper-empath!

Lee September 14, 2015 at 10:42 am

I am only just realising what it is all about, but it’s quite a skill. sometimes it takes people an age to catch up to what I say about them.

Kathleen September 13, 2015 at 8:44 am

When my brother died my parents and myself were devastated. I know that I tried to assume their sorrow onto my own shoulders. It was an awful load. Don’t know why I assumed that by me feeling for them it would help them. Everyone needs to work through their own feelings. I guess I worried I might lose them, perhaps. Still don’t know.

Karla September 14, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Kathleen, I’m sorry for your loss. But you have a good point. It really doesn’t help people when we try to take over their feelings for them. I’m sorry you had to learn it in such a painful way. May your brother’s memory be a blessing.

Tea October 15, 2015 at 1:16 am

Hey Karla, I am a 15 year old girl who passed your quiz with a 82.17% I have taken many, many other quizzes just to see if I was an empath. And I guess I am. I passed every single test. Most of them were saying that I am a beginner and need more practice. Learn how to control it better. Because honestly, I have not been able to really tell what I am truly feeling. I thought I was going crazy. I just want to know how to control it and other useful things. I know I’m young, but I want to know the truth about me. I want to know if I’m not alone.

Karla October 15, 2015 at 9:08 pm

Hello Tea, and welcome!

It’s good to know early about who you are so that you can develop skills as you grow. You can work with your empathy, and there are many things you can do to make it more manageable. It can even become a fun and worthwhile asset. That’s what The Art of Empathy is all about.

Empathy is a part of being human, and it exists in a continuum — some people have more capacity for empathy, and some have less, but we can all learn to work more skillfully with our empathy. If you’re naturally very empathic, it’s nothing to worry about, but it is something to be aware of — just like a high level of awareness in any area is. If you had extremely sensitive hearing, you’d know not to be in loud places. And now that you know you’re emotionally sensitive, you’ll be able to choose environments where your sensitive nature is respected. It’s a learning curve, but you’ll get the hang of it.

Here are some good posts to start with:

The difference between empathy and enmeshment
The difference between healthy empathy and martyrdom
What is emotion work?

Tea October 16, 2015 at 1:05 am

Thank you karla that really helped a lot

Rei November 11, 2015 at 1:20 pm

Hi Karla,
I just did your test and I scored pretty highly so I guess I’m quite the hyper empath too! I’ve always had a slight suspicion about being one because I just feel so much at times… people around me always say that I “think too much” because of that, and it’s been something I’ve been somewhat struggling with for a long time. So thank you for having this, that I know I’m not just some weird kid who is like this!

I do have a question though, do empaths necessarily understand why people are feeling something? It’s quite hard to explain what I mean, but I can pick up on emotions pretty easily, and those underlying ones too, but I don’t understand why they are feeling that way? I just know that they do… so this has been quite problematic since I have a bit of an anxious personality as well and sometimes I can sense they are upset and think it’s directed at me … so I was just wondering if you had any suggestions on how to deal with that?


Karla November 12, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Hello Rei, and welcome to the empath clan!

Yes, you can become more knowledgeable about why emotions arise — I write about it in The Language of Emotions and in The Art of Empathy. When you know why emotions arise, you can more easily discern whether they have anything to do with you or not!

On my Featured Topics page, I’ve got an alphabetized list of posts about emotions, and you can go through them and see what each emotion is doing when it arises. I think that will be helpful!

Lindsay November 16, 2015 at 5:04 am

I scored 120 out of 129. Very, very high. Karla, thank you so much for this test and of course all that you have written and researched. I’m autistic, hyper empathic, and very, very sensitive. All the stereotypes about people on the autism spectrum being cold and unfeeling never felt right at all to me – growing up, I was always accused of being way too sensitive! (And like others have said here, “crybaby” was something I was called all. The. Time.)

I cannot thank you enough for being such a wonderful ally to those of us on the autism spectrum. Thank you for believing in us, for letting us SPEAK! When I first started reading your book after checking it out of the library, I immediately checked the index for any mentioning of autism, and imagine my intense relief and validation to see what you had said about us. What we knew all along. What we’ve been trying so hard to say.

From myself and all others on the spectrum, thank you. For everything.

Karla November 16, 2015 at 11:48 am

Thank you Lindsay and welcome! Slowly, slowly, people are realizing how wrong they’ve been about autism and autistic people. Have you seen the new book NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman yet? It’s a wonderful history of autism that explains how things got so frakked up.

Another wonderful book (if you haven’t already read it) is Songs of the Gorilla Nation by Dawn Prince-Hughes. Lovely!

Lindsay November 16, 2015 at 1:30 pm

I haven’t had a chance to check out Neurotribes yet, but have heard a lot of great things about it. I’ll definitely give it a read soon. I hadn’t heard about the second book you mentioned, but will look into it!

Thanks again!

Christina Marrie Madden November 26, 2015 at 9:40 pm

I am a hyperactive empathic person i definitely need how to control my hyperactive empathic abilities before at some point i end up losing my mind completely due i guess being a super empathic person with an extremely high empathic ability

Karla December 3, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Hello Christina, and welcome. Yes, it’s time to develop some skills to support yourself! The five Empathic Mindfulness skills in the books were created to help hyper-empathic and sensitive people feel more comfortable. Look at the Empathic Skills column on the Featured Topics page to get some ideas, and take care! We need more healthy and intentional empaths in this world.

Marie B. November 27, 2015 at 6:31 pm

Thank you for your wonderful website — I’ve just been introduced to your blog and took the Empathy Quiz. I scored very high and very much understand how this “ability” can be a double-edged sword. For years I have felt emotionally spent after time in busy public spaces, waiting in the long lines at the polls to vote, or crowded stores — after turning each corner it was as if one walked into lingering clouds of vibrant emotions. It has been a challenge to explain to some potential partners that I really do need quiet time to recenter and recharge my soul, and value my “alone time” — no reflection on our relationship. It is so reassuring to find others understand and deal with this phenomenon. Thanks so much!

Karla December 3, 2015 at 5:09 pm

Hello Marie, and welcome! I’m so glad that you’ve found ways to recharge yourself, and I hope that the skills in the books are supportive for you as well!

Linda December 3, 2015 at 6:53 am

Thank you. I am beginning a road to recovery after a foundational betrayal. I am definitely an emotional person but never realized how to live with that. I have been ruled by them, judging good and bad or simply repressing when I felt or was told I was out of control. I am excited about reclaiming the gift that is mine…to live deeply, openly, safely, gently in an enchanted world. So much is coming together as I walk out my pain. I am excited to have been to you and your work. I have hope today.

Karla December 3, 2015 at 5:07 pm

Welcome, Linda, to the wonderful world of emotions and empathy! I’m glad you have hope!

Valeska January 3, 2016 at 3:06 am

Took your test scored 107 points….all I can say is I’m very lost and very confused my head is a whirlwind…I keep having a strange thought that almost doesn’t seem like my own telling me I need to get my chakras cleansed and have a complete reading done whatever that means and have no idea what’s going on or where I need to turn…so there it is.

Karla January 3, 2016 at 2:21 pm

Hello Valeska, and welcome! High empathy is fun when you have skills and a supportive group of people around you. I didn’t find the chakra idea to be helpful in the long run, and I let it go in 2003 in order to focus on things that actually do work.

Developing self-soothing skills, learning to work with emotions, and creating a supportive life for yourself — these are things that make empathy healthy, intentional, and fun. That’s the art of empathy!

CGG March 5, 2016 at 3:05 pm

I scored a 129 on the test and feel as if I may have hyper-empathy. I feel others’ emotions exponentially greater than others which kinda stinks but I can also read anyone anytime. Is there a way to detach from someone else’s feelings, for example if I know someone is really sad about something, is there a way to not feel sad myself? Sometimes I can’t stop replaying an event that happened and feeling the same thing over and over again even though I didn’t even have a role in.

Karla March 7, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Hello CGG. The answers are in learning Emotion Regulation skills and self-care skills.

There is a lot of information here on this site as well, on the Featured Topics page.

This post on self-care may be helpful!

Sebastian August 7, 2016 at 9:23 am

I got to your blog while looking for information on empathy and autism coinciding, and took this quiz on a lark… I got 119, and I know it’s a lower score than it might otherwise be because I was honest about some things being dulled by chronic depression. I didn’t even figure this out and start researching it more thoroughly until this year (and coincidentally, I might not have if it weren’t for a piece of fiction that is very important to me). The lament of always having been told that you’re “too sensitive” yadda yadda is a familiar one to me, and it’s really sad and frustrating that so many of us took it in as self-hate and/or turned it off. On the other hand, I’ve felt like I’m getting back in touch with something… inherent and important, as though I’m more myself than I’ve been in a while. I’ve been seeing a new therapist since January as well, and she’s fabulous, but I keep trying to figure out how to explain that YES, this is very painful, but no, I don’t want to turn it off again! lol. Thank you — I am very much enjoying reading your work thus far.

Karla August 9, 2016 at 7:33 pm

Thank you Sebastian, and welcome! I’m glad you’re awakening in a way that works for you, pain and all.

Thank you for bringing more empathy and emotional sensitivity into a world that needs it.

Rania August 28, 2016 at 11:45 pm

Hi! I’m 14 going into highschool and I’ve always been called “over sensitive” by my parents and some friends. I seem to get really emotional over tiny things, and I don’t really feel like I belong anywhere. Sometimes I just drift off and find my self alone with my feelings, and I get really overwhelmed in places like malls and movie theatres with my friends. Is it possible that I’m an empath, or am I just weird? I can tell when people are thinking about me, and I’ve used the word “vibes” enough times in the past week to explode every chill vibe loving pineapple on the planet. I have no idea what I am and I’m so confused. Nothing makes sense and I’m always confused and exhausted. Please help me?

Karla August 29, 2016 at 12:15 am

Oh hi Rania, and welcome to the hyper-empath clan. We have cake!

You might like The Art of Empathy; it’s written by a fellow hyper-empathic weirdo. tldr; you can develop skills and become much more comfortable as a sensitive person in an often insensitive, loud, and blustery world.

I am now calling hyper-empaths “interaction organisms,” because they deeply interact with the world. A big boost for people like us is to find the things we want to interact with, and to find plenty of artistic activities so that we can express as much as we receive.

This post may help: The Magical Healing Powers of Art

There are a lot of people like us; you’re not alone. And you can definitely become more comfortable!

Kim September 5, 2016 at 4:21 pm

Hi Karla,

Found your page to be helpful! I took the quiz and scored 100.

I am just now beginning to realize the “why” so many people, even complete strangers, will seek me out and tell me the most intimate things about themselves and their lives. I generally can read a person’s character after meeting them for the first time, and am usually spot on??? My husband is constantly asking me “why” people do that to me? This enlightenment came about because my 3 yr old granddaughter, apparently, has the ability to see and communicate with people that have passed. Therefore, in researching on how to handle her situation, I have discovered quite a treasure trove of information about myself and FINALLY some explanation on why I experience many of the things that I do.

Thank you for the information. It answered many of my questions. Need to work on the protection process.


Karla September 6, 2016 at 7:23 pm

Hello Kim, and welcome!

Yes, grounding, defining boundaries, and having a rejuvenation practice are keys to being a healthy and happy empathic presence in the world!

Everton September 20, 2016 at 1:37 am

You have reached 118 of 129 points, (91.47%)

WOW, I am a male, I’ve been thinking for the longest time, my mind was this way because I was a crazy, started looking into narcissism / disorders, even into empath, but something wasn’t right… I am so social and people are drawn to me, at least I know why it burns when I walk past a homeless man, I stop 8/10 times, ah, I’m relieved haha.

Karla September 20, 2016 at 8:42 pm

Hello Everton, and welcome to the empath clan!

Thank you for stopping for homeless people. I’m seeing a LOT more homelessness in my area, and it’s good to know that there are people who care.

Cristina October 22, 2016 at 4:56 pm

Hi! I think I’m an empath (I got 123/129 in the test and I can identify for the first time completely with what I’ve read on this site) but what I read on the comments is that to many people was said to be really sensible when they were children, but as for me, it’s as if my empathy has evolved through life experience, like when I was little I wasn’t so sensible to other’s feelings, even if when I was 10 more or less I could easily understand my friends’ emotions, which made me a bit more mature than the others… as for now (I’m 19) I’m aware of this “power” since I can sense other’s feelings and personality just by looking at them (I can say to know a person after a 20 minutes talk) and I love analyzing people around me as it’s a way to experience emotions and finding a solution to relationship situations, but even if I’m so good at empathizing with others, it’s difficult for me making new friends, usually I’m too scared of other’s judgements to actually show my true personality, so I act as a perfectly normal person, and when “talking” with a group of people, I usually just observe and laugh when it’s needed, and at school I’m usually alone in an angle (which I hate because I love talking with others having 2 brothers and 2 sisters at home), so I don’t get why even if I like people I can’t interact with them with my unique personality! I know it’s because I’m scared I could be looked at as weird, but why am I so scared? I think it has to do with empathy…

one more thing, in the test one of the question was if I use to change my accent, way of talking to match the person I’m talking with, it’s the first time I see someone who relate to this! I experience it especially when watching tv shows, when there are characters with strange way of talking, or specific movements, I automatically mimic them (after the end of the show)! Also, I can be really happy after watching an happy character and vice-versa, usually this last for an hour, it depends on the situation… it’s not actually a problem, but sometimes I think it’s comic how my personality and gesture can change just because of a tv show!

*I’m Italian, sorry if I made some errors

Karla October 25, 2016 at 3:34 pm

Buon giorno Cristina!

Just to be clear — everyone is an empath, but some people have a higher sensitivity. It’s just like this: Everyone is an artist, but some people are stronger in one form of art or another. So know that you’re not alone. Empathy is everywhere!

I think that if you show who you are to people, then the other highly empathic people in your life will be able to find you. Of course, you should only do this in a safe group, but it may help you find people you can really relate to.


Lily November 19, 2016 at 2:11 pm

Hi Karla!

Two days ago a read about the difference between empathy and being an empath and suddenly I started tying things together. I have some experiences that suggest that I am different from lets say my friends regarding emotions and I scored 103 on your test which is relatively high and yet I don”t cover all the experiences people are talking about in the comments. I would really like to understand if I am an empath or not and be clear on it but I can;t seem to find the answer. It’s like, I can sense things, people feel safe to confess to me, I get overwhelmed when there are too many people but all that happened just some of the time. Mostly when it is about something I feel endangered of /for example to sense when a male has aggression and they are hiding it/. In the rest of the time I feel pretty comfortable around people and I like being in a crowd although I sometimes don;t feel like my place is there, I feel like I am not accepted. Other times when I feel pithy for lets say a homeless man I seem to block it because I can’t stand the feeling and I don;t want to feel it but I don;t help either because I don’t think I can.

I’ve always been accused of being too sensitive, emotional or empathetic but I still can’t understand exactly where I stand. I feel like a big paradox where two different things inhabit the same mind. I scored high on your test but I don’t cover all empath traits.. I am very confused and really need to understand finally is there something wrong with me or I am just some weird sort of empath

Karla November 20, 2016 at 10:35 am

Hi Lily and welcome!

Everyone is an empath! It’s not a special category; it’s a human trait. And everyone’s empathic ability is unique to them.

It’s like artistic ability — everyone is an artist of one kind or another, but their natural skills and interests are unique.

Being emotionally sensitive is a wonderful thing when you find people who understand and value you. The first step toward that is to value yourself for whatever kind of empath you are. I’ve got friends who are highly empathic with math, physics, animals, art, music, history … empathy toward people is just one aspect of the entire skill. And you can work with your empathy throughout your lifetime — it’s not set in stone. You can change it!

See The Art of Empathy for deeper info.


Brian November 29, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Hello Karla. I have been doing some research on empathy as my entire life I’ve always been able to “feel” on a level that seemed to be higher than others around me. I have found a lot of great resources and info thus far. I took your quiz and scored extremely high. The past few years I’ve really been struggling with understanding how to manage and “use” this gift. I am a believer and follower of Jesus Christ and I do believe I’ve been given this level of hyper-empathy for a reason but so far I’m finding it seems to be a more common experience for women. Or maybe it’s more comfortable for women to outwardly express it? Would you be able to give me your thoughts? Thank you!

Karla November 29, 2016 at 11:04 pm

Hello Brian, and welcome. Yes, in our socialization, girls and women are generally allowed to express emotions and show empathy, while boys are generally socialized to repress emotion (or to show mostly anger), and to repress empathy.

But of course, many of us find ways around gender socialization so that our natural gifts can flourish. Women tend to be comfortable being outwardly empathic, but many men find ways around the injunction not to show empathy. For instance, male artists are usually hyper-empaths, as are therapists, counselors, social workers, clergy, and so forth. Male empathy is often hidden, but it’s there. In my book, The Art of Empathy, I call out the exiles of empathy: Men and boys, and autistic people, among others, and welcome them into the fold.

Empathy is a natural human trait, and it’s shared with many animals (think of dogs!). And like other traits, some people’s empathic abilities are stronger than others.

In terms of the gifts of empathy, right now, I’d say that empathic people are needed to bridge the extreme divides that are occurring everywhere!

Donna Falcone January 10, 2017 at 5:13 am

That was really interesting – and what really surprised me is that so many of the items I answered with a 3 are aspects of myself that I feel uncomfortable about. I scored pretty hight, 121. I am in the process of writing an article about Emotional Literacy in young children (which of course has to involve the grown ups who care for and teach them) and stumbled upon your site…. and I use the term “stumbled” very loosely. 🙂 Glad I did! Looking forward to reading more.

Karla January 10, 2017 at 1:59 pm

Hello Donna, and welcome to the empath clan!

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