Are telepathy and empathy connected?

16th January 2021. Reading Time: 6 minutes Paranormal Theories, General. 1635 page views. 0 comments.

What is the difference between telepathy and empathy? Are they one and the same? Are they paranormal or a more 'normal' psychological function?

Often if a person feels an emotional response that they do not feel is connected to them, they are feeling something on an empathetic level.  If they can feel this emotion psychically, it means that in some way the feeling must be sent to them.  This is where telepathy comes in.  It means there has to be a connection between telepathy and empathy in order for it to work.  What if they are one and the same?  If they are, does it mean it is not as 'paranormal' as we think it may be?


Telepathy is one of the more well-known areas of research within parapsychology.  Also known as extrasensory perception (ESP), it is the supposed communication of information using means that are outside of the usual intuitive senses.  One of the most common ways to communicate this information is said to be done by mentally transmitting a thought.  The existence of this ability is highly debated, however, parapsychology trials during the years have yielded results that indicate there could be something to this ability.  

The word telepathy was developed by psychical researcher Fredric Myers who used the term to replace words such as thought transference.   

“Telepathy may thus exist between two men in the same room as truly as between one main in England and another in Australia, or between one still living on Earth and another long since deceased”
F.W.H. Myers

Dr. Mario Varvoglis of the Institut Metapsychique International in Paris feels that telepathy can only occur when conditions are correct.  Using a Galvanic Skin Response Detector which measures physiological changes to the skin, Varvoglis noted that during experiments, the GSR levels were higher in people ‘receiving’ messages when a ‘sender was trying to send a message.  He also observed that the GSR levels are higher in the receiver when no attempt is being made.  What is intriguing is that all results are happening on an unconscious level in that the receiver is unaware a message is attempting to be sent.  He likens telepathy at times to being received as more an unconscious feeling such as suddenly feeling anxious rather than receiving a visual image which is what people generally attribute telepathy to be.  So if telepathy is more an unconscious feeling, does that mean the person on the receiving end has more sensitive empathetic abilities?

Empaths/Clairsentience (clear feeling)

Clairsentience is one of the main intuitive senses.  Some people can see the future.  Some people can hear messages.  A person who clairsentient can physically feel and sense the emotions of energy including pain. Usually, a person will describe themselves as an empath. As well as feeling spirit emotions and energy, they can also feel human emotions as well. We all have empathy on a certain level. When our friend cries, we often cry. If our children are hurting, we feel every tear regardless of if we are an empath or not. We have some element of empathy programmed into us. It is just more sensitive or dialed up in some than others. It is with this in mind that it would make sense that people can feel the emotions of a spirit. How many times have you been on an investigation and someone will suddenly become very emotional or upset? You ask them what is wrong? They can't explain it. They feel sad, they feel grief, and may even shed physical tears. All they can tell you is that it is not their grief. It is like they are picking it up from someone else. It is referred to as emotional transference.

If you would like to know more about what empaths feel on a spiritual level, this is an article written by Amanda APS - The Raw Paranormal Writer on her experiences on being an empath

What if what empaths are feeling is really someone on the receiving end of an act of telepathy?  Maybe telepathy and empathy are one and the same?

Are telepathy and empathy the same?

In 1998, J M Donovan published Reinterpreting telepathy as unusual experiences of empathy and charisma where he theorized that telepathy is "nothing more than empathy and charisma and is reducible to these sociopsychological constructs."

Telepathy, empathy, and charisma, all being forms of nonsensory communication, may be genetically related.  One possibility is that the experience called "telepathy" is interpretable as extraordinarily impressive events of charisma and empathy.  From this perspective, the metaphor of a communication distance suggests that agent and percipient "reach" perceptually toward one another, with charisma and empathy respectively.  If the partners "touch" one another across this gap, the result is termed "telepathy".  Once a connection is made, emotional states are the information most easily communicated through the established link. 

Reinterpreting telepathy as unusual experiences of empathy and charisma. J M Donovan 1998

Is it a form of emotional projection?

What if the reason we are connecting on an emotional level to a spirit or one another is that we are unknowingly projecting our emotions in a form of psychic projection? Poltergeist activity for example is said by some to be related to a projection of emotions - most common in hormonal teens. Think back to your teens and how much of an emotional time it was. Your body is changing, hormones are making you feel all these weird emotions you have never felt before and you are learning the responsibilities of life. Is this why Poltergeist activity is most common in a household where a teen (usually female) is going through puberty? It also seems that in a lot of private cases, when someone reaches out for help and believes they have a negative spirit in their home, there always seems to be a lot of negative things happening in their life. Is it that they are really being haunted by a spirit, or are they actually projecting their emotions causing the negative energy?

In her book on the transmission of affect (across distance), for example, Teresa Brennan casts the problem this way: 'Is there anyone who has not, at least once, walked into a room and "felt the atmosphere"? Brennan argues that too little work has been conducted into how it is that people feel the affects of others, as expressed in notions such as 'atmosphere'.  For her, the transmission of affect is simultaneously social, psychological in origin, but they have body-altering effects in the biochemistry and neurology of the individual (or group).  The transmission of affects occurs in two ways:  first through projection and second, through chemical stimuli.

The term projection is taken from psychoanalysis and may be broadly seen analogous to cinema projection.  Thus if Teresa walks into a room with a sense of apprehension, then the atmosphere she experiences will like be one associated with her apprehension.  Similarly, others will also be projecting their affects onto the room.  Not all of these affects will, however become part of the atmosphere of the room: some will be ignored, but some will be recognised, and identified with, by the assembled people.  It is out of a kind of tacit sympathising that the atmosphere of a room is built.

Distant feelings: telepathy and the problem of affect transfer over distance
Steve Pile 2012

With taking all of the above into consideration, perhaps our perceptions of telepathy and empathy need to be redefined.  Maybe they are not as paranormal as they are perceived to be but more normal acts of the psyche?  As Donovan states, telepathy seems to be defined as empathy when the circumstances are less fantastical.  Does it mean that telepathy is potentially more common than we care to admit?  Certainly gives us a lot to 'think' about!


Reinterpreting telepathy as unusual experiences of empathy and charisma. J M Donovan 1998

Distant feelings: telepathy and the problem of affect transfer over distance
Steve Pile 2012

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