The empath senses your itchy sweater

I’ve promised a magic friend to write a story about her.

That’s not the kind of story she wanted, but here it is.

Empath experiences archive

This post is part of my archive of strange experiences that border on the psychic. I’m not sure what I believe about them, and am not pushing any opinion on anyone. But I’ve decided to start writing them down for documentation, and to perhaps over time see patterns and arrive at a feeling for what’s going on.

Above all, to stop this stuff from flooding and disrupting me, as it still often does. Example follows.

The itchy sweater

So, here’s the story.

A few days back, my magic transatlantic friend and me were text-chatting about philosophical stuff; since she’s energy-sensitive, too (more than me, I believe), we landed on discussing scientific and non-scientific ideas on what the New Age term “energy” denotes.

Nothing out of the ordinary was happening.

When at some point in the discussion, I noticed in myself some vague, rough, raw, almost physical growing sense of irritation – hard to tell.

At just that point, another friend called, and I was relieved to leave that conversation and chatter about other philosophical pilpuls, as my yeshivebucher friend calls them in yiddish. I actually complained to him about how irritated I am; and started looking for reasons for that in the conversation; looking for stupid or annoying things my other friend had said, etc., but somehow the reason for my by then intense irritation remained vague and unconvincing.

After perhaps half an hour I hung up and went back to my magic friend.

Still feeling off, and not really getting why, I decided to tell her.

Here is the copy-paste from the chat:

also got a bit irritated before, think it can mean overwhelm …

Whereupon she responded:

it’s funny I was / am feeling overwhelmed myself, was about to say I am going for a walk
She had been getting irritated and overstimulated (autism spectrum) due to interruptions.
However, having had this person (seemingly) read my mind countless times (her mum’s a psychic), and me having devoted the last year or so to learning to distinguish my own feelings from those I empathically receive from others (see Do you literally feel others’ feelings?), I sniffed something weird here. So I decided to describe the feeling as best I could:
i actually wondered if I felt you, not me

cause it was just a “scratchy” feeling

and I couldn’t find the reason
like wearing a scratchy itchy sweater
so was it you?
and I couldn’t find the reason
like wearing a scratchy itchy sweater
so was it you?

LOL yeah my energy started dancing in a very chaotic way, I actually had to take off my sweater because it was too itchy


Now, she’s not complaining about itchy sweaters daily; I’m not sure that word has been mentioned in previous conversation. I knew she’s sensitive to uncomfortable clothes (as am I, both being on the autism spectrum, her officially, me presumably), but that hadn’t been a conversation topic beyond a brief mention years ago.

And that day, as said, the text chat was on energy and science, no mentions of anything else – emotions, interruptions, sweaters.

So ya, admittedly I was baffled. Again. Even though this had happened before – especially with this friend – for example me receiving visions (while walking outdoors) of a very specific, radiant colour she dreamt about at exactly the same time. Again, that colour not having any context – not something we discussed, or whatever.

There are many more examples.

Each of them taken alone could be written off as coincidence, but this is a pattern.

That’s why I’ve decided to document them (you can find more stories here, from when I was messing around testing this stuff with random strangers over the web).

Empathic overwhelm

When I first stumbled across the concept that some people literally feel others’ feelings as their own (like in this story), I thought – well of course, isn’t that obvious? It took a long, long time to convince me that most people don’t.

I also learnt that those who do often experience quite specific overwhelm symptoms – and yes, I’d been essentially paralysed by issues from this family for the last years (facing people, even in the street, made me incredibly exhausted).

I thought, if this could be the reason for the constant overstimulation that’s starting to wreck me, it’s worth learning about – and the only way I found to do so was to expose my scientifically trained and logically inclined self to the New Age crowd.

There I learnt that this is considered psychic, and people do it deliberately, calling it “psychic readings”. Or they even train themselves in it – while I’ve been desperately trying to switch this constant inflow of foreign emotions and sensations off.

Psychic or neurodivergent?

I wasn’t convinced it’s psychic – in fact, as a neuroscientist, I could come up with enough other explanations first. Some of those have recently been described in the book Mirror Touch – written by a neurologist who understands these sensations in terms of a form of synaesthesia – mirror touch synaesthesia, to be precise.

Synaesthesia is when receiving impressions through one sense automatically activates another, e.g. when someone sees colours in their inner eye or even space when hearing music, or senses the texture of things when looking at them. This is an established and relatively well-researched neurodivergence occurring in about 4% of the population (that book says).

Quantum New Age pseudo science

So far so good.

But then I learnt that those who believed it’s psychic claimed it works over distance, too. At least for some people. And actually, I’d had experienced a few episodes that could be interpreted as that, but I had never dared to go there – I felt I’m definitely already crazy enough.

I wasn’t convinced, but heck, curiosity killed the cat – I tried it out; and then went through a lengthy crisis of faith and worldview when, well, yes, I did receive plenty of impressions over distance – and they appeared veridical.

So ya, I’m still in the middle of getting a grip on all of this.

PS. If you have similar experiences, or think you might, you may be interested in my early article compilation specifically related to getting a grip on yourself when stuff of this kind – whether you regard it as psychic or neurodivergent – floods you. I’m updating this, but here’s the old version.

Please feel free to comment or inbox me, too.

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