` The article went on to explore the differences in her brain compared with other people's, as well as the brains of schizophrenics, who have a different set of self/other issues when they perceive themselves as being controlled by aliens, etc.
` I thought the whole thing was just strange - a person who can feel the blows when they watch someone else get beaten up? Lou then brought up a very good point; "Gee, I wonder what it's like for her to watch porn?"
` Anyway, I just came across this Nature News article (Ouch, I saw that) all about this condition - apparently it has a name; mirror-touch synethesia!
` I guess this is opposed to 'regular' synethesia, where any number of senses could get mixed up so that, for example, numbers and letters each have their distinctive colors, music has flavor, or smells have shape.
` Here's some of the article:
...Jamie Ward of University College London (UCL) coined the term mirror-touch synaesthesia to describe a different type of sensory mix-up — when people confuse the brain's signal for sensing touch with the 'mirror system' signal that is triggered when watching others being touched.` What an amazing chance-discovery! But how well is it backed by evidence? There have been some experiments;
"We first came across the mirror-touch synaesthesia by chance," says Ward. The sensation of touch was being discussed at a UCL neuroscience seminar, and someone suggested, as a thought experiment, imagining that people felt what they saw. A colleague of Ward's objected, vigorously insisting that everyone does, in fact, feel what they see. It was the first time Ward had realised such a condition could exist.....
A brain-imaging study two years ago showed that, for one subject, the brain areas normally activated when someone is physically touched were hyperactivated when the subject watched someone else being touched1.` Similarly, other types of synesthestes (or synaesthetes, whatever) can't imagine life without, say, tasting or hearing colors, and wonder how other people put up with such a lack of stimulation!
...Compared to controls, mirror-touch synaesthetes were faster to detect actual touch when it was applied to the same bodily location as the observed touch. They were also more likely to mistake observed touch for real touch. "These are the types of error one would expect if the synaesthetes really are feeling the touches they see," says Ward. The results are reported in Nature Neuroscience2.
...It's hard for others to imagine what it must be like to feel every touch seen — in the subway, in a horror film, at a dance. It's equally baffling for the synaesthetes to imagine not feeling it. "I've never been able to understand how people can enjoy looking at bloodthirsty films, or laugh at the painful misfortunes of others," said one of Ward's subjects.
Those affected do not think of their condition as a problem. "I consider this to be a positive thing, because I believe it makes me more considerate about the feelings of others," said one.
Interestingly, the synaesthetes scored higher than normal for emotional empathy (agreeing strongly with statements such as "When I see someone crying, I feel sad") but not for rational empathy (statements such as "When I'm upset with someone, I try to put myself in their shoes").` I just had an idea... hyperactivate these same areas of the brain in people who have a habit of abusing other people. That way, when they hurt other people, they would also hurt themselves!
` Mua ha ha ha ha ha haaaa... mua ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaa!
` I'll get right on it....