Synesthesia is a phenomenon where your body processes your senses in multiple brain areas. People with this condition are called neurodivergent, meaning they process sensory information in different ways. With synesthesia, there are normally two effects when processing sensory information. The primary effect is how a neurotypical person should process this sensory information. An example of this is your brain processing music as sound. Then, there is a secondary effect along with this. The secondary effect may be one of your five senses, sight, smell, taste, touch or hearing. The specific secondary effect that individuals with mirror touch synesthesia have is touch.
Mirror touch synesthesia is a rare condition, only affecting 1.6-2.5% of the population. This occurs when you physically feel something that is happening to someone. People with mirror touch synesthesia process events by seeing the action, but feeling it as well. These may be small actions, like feeling a tingle on your hand after someone shakes another individual's hand. This sensation is similar to wincing when someone trips, almost like you felt it too. Individuals with this condition may be more empathetic due to the fact that they feel others' pain physically.
Mirror touch synesthesia can also be linked to autism spectrum disorder or after losing a limb from amputation. Although, most of the time people are born with synesthesia. This form of synesthesia is normally noticed in younger kids because the brain is not fully developed. But because the brain develops with age, there is a much smaller percentage of adults with mirror touch synesthesia. This condition can also run in families, but the form can vary from person to person.
It is important to know that synesthesia of all types does not need any treatment, and the condition cannot be prevented. Regardless of the challenges that come with mirror touch synesthesia, neurodivergent people are more than capable of flourishing in many aspects. People with Synthesia tend to be more creative, imaginative, empathetic. These traits show that neurodivergent people can utilize synesthesia to their advantages.
Synesthesia - Cleveland clinic, Last edited 5/3/23
Is Mirror Touch Synesthesia a real thing? - Rachel Nall, 1/13/20
Your brain on music - University of central Florida magazine
Mirror touch Synesthesia - Author unknown, Last edited 9/23/23
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