3 Types of Empaths: Find Out Who You Are

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Do you believe you're an empath but aren't quite sure which type? You're in the right place for the 411 on the different types of empaths plus links to popular empath detector quizzes I've used myself.

My friends say I have “Spidey senses” since I can sense their mood and spot dishonesty from a mile away. Experts described it as being “highly intuitive.” Mind you, I knew nothing about empaths and empathy until about three years ago.

I actually stumbled across the concepts while researching narcissistic abuse and discovered that empaths are magnets for narcissists.

As you continue reading, you'll learn what being an empath means and the various types. Next, you can take one or more quizzes to know what type you are. I made certain to share my quiz results and included tips on protecting yourself from those who target highly empathic people.

What Is an Empath?

Can you feel other people's feelings and emotions or sense when something is wrong or “off”? You may be an empath if you can, compared to individuals who are disconnected from the feelings of those around them.

According to Board-Certified psychiatrist, Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, M.D., this means you're highly sensitive or attuned to the emotions and feelings of those around you. You listen well, can put yourself in the other person's shoes, and understand how they're feeling.

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Physical empathy is when you can pick up, absorb, and feel the physical symptoms other people are feeling in their bodies.

Not only that, “An empath does not simply understand someone else’s pain, they sense and feel the emotions and feelings of their loved ones as part of their own experience.” That's according to a licensed clinical social worker, Amanda Fialk.

Since empaths have trouble drawing a line between their own feelings and the feelings of others, they automatically take on other people's psychological distress. This puts them at an increased risk of stress, anxiety, compassion fatigue, and depression.

Before discovering I may be an empath, I never understood why the pain and suffering of others made me cry. I just wanted to take away the pain of loved ones–and the pain of everyone else in the world. It didn't matter whether it was an injured adult, a missing child, people living in poverty, or the homeless. Have you experienced this?

Do Empaths Really Exist?

If there was any doubt that empaths exist, a 2007 study published in Nature Neuroscience suggested that they do. While research has found that 20 percent of the population displays empathetic qualities, the 2007 study concluded that only one to two percent of the population consists of true empaths.

The researchers found participants who showed more “mirror neurons” than others may have “heightened empathic ability.” They made the conclusion by measuring empathic abilities using what is called “mirror-touch synesthesia.” They concluded that those who felt as if they were touched once they saw someone else being touched are physical empaths.

The researchers used self-reported information from participants and correlated it with brain scans to make their conclusion.

Note that some people are considered both physical and emotional empaths.

Being an Empath vs Being Empathetic

Being an empath is not regarded as a personality type and is also different from showing empathy (being empathetic). Psychiatrist and author of The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People, Judith Orloff, M.D., pointed out the difference in her book.

According to Orloff, if you can relate to what someone is feeling, but you don't experience their emotions in your body, then that's being empathetic. It doesn't make you an empath, specifically because you're capable of separating people's experiences from yours.

According to Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, a true empath would go out of their way and try to comfort or help, even if they feel overwhelmed, exhausted, or emotionally drained.

How Do I Know if I'm an Empath?

It appears that everyone has some degree of empathy, which ranges on a scale from narcissists and sociopaths (dark empaths) to super empaths. While narcissists and sociopaths may understand how others feel, they are unable to connect on a deeper level the way empaths do.

Besides, true empaths have traits that go beyond the ability to sense and connect to other people's emotions and feelings. You'll come to appreciate this later on when I go into details on the types of empaths. Some are perceived to have near-psychic abilities!

For now, I'd like you to ask yourself all of the questions below as the first step to knowing if you're an empath. Most of the questions concern how people relate to you and how you feel about them.

  • Do your friends and loved ones refer to you as an empath?
  • Do they tend to gravitate toward you to vent about their problems?
  • Do you feel like a “sponge” that absorbs people's feelings?
  • Do you take on other people's distress and feel drained afterward?
  • Have strangers told you you've accurately figured them out?
  • Are you able to tell when the energy in the room shifts?
  • Are crowds or cluttered spaces too overwhelming for you?
  • Do others say you're overly sensitive, kind, or compassionate?
  • Do you often feel like you don't fit in?
  • Do you live mostly withdrawn from social life but still feel energized, healthy, and happy?

If you answered “yes” to most or all of those questions, you may very well be an empath!

Are You an Empath? Empathy Quizzes

I truly believe I'm an empath based on the definitions and list of traits; yet, I never took the quiz. I decided to take multiple quizzes for the purpose of today's discussion on the types of empaths.

To make things easier for you, I've included six of those “Am I an empath?” quizzes found on different empathy experts' websites. Some will tell you what type of empath you are.

Some of the tests use an algorithm to identify types of empaths. You might even get tips on how to improve your empathy skills.

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Being an emotional empath means you easily pick up on people's emotions.

As you can see, different quizzes ask different questions. Furthermore, there is no scientific model to determine who fits the criteria of an empath or accurately and objectively measure empathy. As of now, the traits, abilities, and sensitivities are self-reported and answers to the quiz questions are subjective.

The 3 Types of Empaths

Scientific research on types of empaths is limited. Many empathy experts rely on Dr. Orloff's explanations of the different types. Orloff suggests three types, in her book “The Empath’s Guide To Survival: Life Strategies For Sensitive People.”

  1. Physical empaths
  2. Emotional empaths
  3. Intuitive empaths

Intuitive empathy is further divided into several subtypes.

Physical Empath

Physical empathy is when you can pick up, absorb, and feel the physical symptoms other people are feeling in their bodies. The ability to do so is more than laughing or yawning when someone does. This type of empath can soak up pain or headache from someone in their presence and sense it as theirs. If your test results defined you as a physical empath, that means you literally take on other people's pain!

Orloff recommends breathing out symptoms as soon as you sense them in order to rebalance your energy. Let's say you're hanging out with a friend who complains of a headache and you begin to feel it. Remain calm, take a few deep breaths, then exhale. Focus on the fact that you're trying to release their pain from your system. Repeat until the symptoms are gone.

The upside of heightened physical sensitivity is that it allows you to sense and absorb positive energy, such as happiness. So don't be shy to surround yourself with people who have stable moods and energetic vibes.

Emotional Empath

If your quiz or assessment suggested you're an emotional empath, it means you easily pick up on people's emotions. You're happy when they're happy and sad when they are. You're more than likely not one of those who feel envy or jealousy when a friend, for example, finally gets pregnant or receives a job promotion. How lovely is it to be able to connect with others this way? The attribute enables you to willingly provide support and words of encouragement to others.

One main downside of being an emotional empath is how vulnerable you are to manipulation by narcissists and other energy vampires. These people are hard to deal with or are always complaining to you about their many problems.

Have you noticed how quickly they deplete your energy? As soon as they drain you, they disappear until they need to suck up your energy again. They don't even ask you about your own welfare or needs. Honestly, I get angry and resentful because I feel used.

How do you handle this aspect of being an empath? Orloff has a remedy. The psychiatrist recommends saying, “Return to sender” to channel their unpleasant energy out of your body and back to them.

Intuitive Empath

There's a good chance you're this type of empath if you notice you can quickly pick up on what people are thinking or feeling. Not only that. You absorb the negative energy within your surroundings.

Emotional empathy also involves high intuition, hence the term emotionally intuitive empathy. However, intuitive empathy enables you to sense people's thoughts. Has anyone asked you if you're a mind reader?

That trait distinguishes emotional and physical empaths from intuitive ones. Some experts refer to it as “claircognizance,” where you're almost psychically attuned to people's minds.

Although intuitive empaths are perceived to have some kind of “superpower,” they run the risk of connecting to stress or toxic energy and need to shield themselves. Orloff recommends imagining a protective shield of pink or white light around your body.

What Is Your Level of Empathy?

Well, first, what type of empath are you? Can you guess mine? How high is your empathy?

I'm an Emotional Empath according to the Marriage.com quiz. I do feel emotions for kids and adults, even those who are complete strangers. The results at Empath Connection reveal that I'm an Awakening Empath. Mind's Journal identified me as a Gifted Empath.

According to Greater Good Magazine, I possess a “high level of empathy,” or a dimension of empathy known as “affective empathy.” I scored “high on empathy” at Psychologia, although not high enough to struggle with anxiety or insomnia.

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Intuitive empathy enables you to sense people's thoughts.

If you scored very high on empathy, friends and loved ones seek you out whenever they have a problem. You may find it hurtful that some of them drain your energy, but are usually never there for you when you need a shoulder to cry on.

As empaths, we feel burdened from being both caretakers of others and ourselves. At the same time, we feel compelled to help others feel better, even if it's just friendly advice. Unfortunately, those who don't believe empaths exist have categorized us as merely co-dependents” and “enablers.”

Types of Intuitive Empaths

If you've been identified as an intuitive empath, this type is further divided into the following four subtypes, as explained by Healthline:

  • Highly intuitive empaths
  • Claircognizant intuitive empaths
  • Emotional intuitive empaths
  • Animal and plant intuitive empaths

You may also hear about “super empaths” and “Heyoka empaths.” It can be fun reading about all the different types apart from the primary ones.

Speaking of plant empaths. I grow plants. I name them and speak to them to help them bloom. Late last year, this huge oak tree at the back of my home suddenly broke and fell. I was emotionally torn for months. I still miss that big ole' tree every time I look at the tree stump left behind. Do you have similar emotions for plants?

How to Protect Yourself as an Empath

Empathy is not something you can simply turn off. Being highly sensitive or attuned to the well-being of others is a gift to be embraced. However, your empathic traits can interfere with your well-being. These tips can work to shield you from negative energy and help you channel your empathy to the right people:

  • Beware of toxic people and energy vampires! You're a magnet for them.
  • Learn to differentiate and separate other people's emotions from yours.
  • Take frequent breaks to meditate and maintain emotional balance.
  • Maximize self-care to replenish and keep your energy levels up.
  • Surround yourself with positive, uplifting, and supportive people.
  • Protect your energy and mental health with mindful awareness.

Final Thoughts on Types of Empaths

Many people believe there's no such thing as an empath. Others think it's too complicated to define or explain, since being an empath can mean different things to different people. Deep down inside, you know there's a special power within you that positively impacts the lives of others.

The most important thing is harnessing and using it for the good of those who truly need your kindness, love, compassion, and intuitive guidance. Wanna learn more about empaths? How about 11 Good Movies about Empathy & Showing Compassion?

Finally, if you want to identify YOUR personality type, then take one of these 11 personality tests to better understand what makes you tick.

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