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May17-10, 07:44 PM
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Quote Quote by zoobyshoe View Post
The question I have, as I mentioned before, is whether this mirror-touch phenomenon is really synesthesia at all. The word "psychosomatic" comes to mind. Psychosomatic symptoms have been recognized as real and troublesome for quite some time: when a person is convinced they are sick they will experience all the appropriate aches and pains, even when they have none of the germs, or injuries, that actually cause the particular illness.

I am prone to this, myself, in a small way. I may feel perfectly warm, but if someone I'm with complains that they feel cold, I will start to "notice" how cold it actually is, start to feel uncomfortable, and want to go inside. I may even shiver. Before they said anything, I was fine. At the same time I am aware they have essentially "hypnotized" me into feeling cold when I was perfectly fine, I am still now cold. It's a kind of putting myself in their shoes: If I want to hang out with them, I have to be sensitive to their discomforts and react accordingly. To allow myself to stay warm would be a kind of anti-social act. Feeling cold myself helps us to stay on the same page. (Course, there's a limit.)

Additionally, once in a great while, if a particularly "painful' thought occurs to me suddenly, I will experience it as a sharp sudden pain in my body. When this happens I am perfectly aware it's psychosomatic, but it hurts anyway. The pain sensation is very real. I think under the wrong circumstances I could be induced to psychosomatically feel a pain in my own body by the sight of someone elses pain. (It's a thing to be resisted, though, since the non-injured person has to be able to calmly and competently give, or call for, medical help.)

I think your friend's stories are reports of the same thing: empathetic physical sensation of pain in response to someone elses' injury that he became aware of through perfectly ordinary means. In his case the extreme empathy seems limited to close relatives, which sounds pretty normal. The "mirror-touch" synesthete is rather more promiscuous with their empathetic reactions.

So, the important question in my mind, in reaction to this "Mirror-Touch Synesthesia" phenomenon, is where they are going to draw the line between synesthesia and psychosomatic reactions. Maybe the question is whether there is a line, whether all syesthesia isn't caused by the same mechanism that causes psychosomatic reactions: the taste of properly spiced chicken psychosomatically inducing the feeling of points, and so forth.

Fair enough, you have a valid point, so my question to you is, how would you design a "fair test" designed to discriminate between real mirror touch synesthesia and psychosomatic reactions, briefly of course, what tricks, tests would you suggest ?

This was a quote from my previous post #121, maybe hyperactivity is the brain activity that identifies mirror touch synesthesia:
hyperactivity in certain areas of the brain when mirror-touch synesthetes saw someone being touched