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increased or decreased empathy?

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increased or decreased empathy?

Postby wingdingsfont » Wed May 16, 2018 2:41 am

hi all!
there are many conflicting studies/opinions on BP and empathy. some say people with bipolar have increased affective empathy and decreased cognitive, others decreased affective and increased/normal cognitive.(affective empathy is really FEELING someone else's pain. cognitive empathy is being able to put yourself in someone's shoes and understand what they're going through).
I never have trouble understanding someone's problems (cognitive), I think because I've been through so much in my own life that it's easy to imagine what they're going through. I end up "playing therapist," whether I have the emotional availability or not, with a lot of people in my life because of this.
when it comes to affective empathy, I certainly experience it when someone I deeply care about it is in pain. that "my heart is LITERALLY aching" feeling where you want to give them a suffocating hug until their hurt goes away. I can't stop worrying about them. if I see them cry I will cry. I would describe it as hyper-empathy. however, for someone I do not know, it's a bit diluted, but there.
during mania/psychosis, my empathy is either way up or way down. but in these states, for example, I feel extreme grief when no one has died, and spend hours trying to figure out who's died because they must have because it feels like they have! and when your own emotions don't make sense, how can someone else's?
I do have a hard time understanding the effects of my actions on those around me sometimes. i think I'm so wrapped up in my own heightened emotions that I may not pick up on how someone else is feeling unless they say something.
I think many people with BP experience emotion far stronger than the average person, unless they block it out to cope (which is valid). we are far from emotionless, and perhaps more capable of empathy because of this. intense feelings combined with intense care can lead to affective empathy that is/almost distressing. we can just get tangled up.
what say you? how do you experience empathy? does your empathy vary between manic, depressed, and baseline moods?
:?: :mrgreen:
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Re: increased or decreased empathy?

Postby voracious_lemon » Wed May 16, 2018 5:35 pm

I don't know, my empathy fluctuates wildly regardless of moods. Some days there is zero cognitive or affective empathy, and some days, although much rarer, it's too much. The past couple days I've been doing well with both, being able to understand and feel other people's emotions but not to such an extent it's overwhelming. It feels weird to me though. I think I have decreased empathy during mood episodes, especially affective empathy--it's just gone most of the time.
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