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Experiencing too much empathy and sensory overload around babies/children or animals

Turbocks

Well-Known Member
There is something I have so far not shared with the people on this forum but it's something I have experienced several times during my daily life because of the fact I just experience too much empathy especially over cartoons/animated movies especially movies such as An american tail because not only does that movie have some gut wrenching moments made all the more effective because the main character is a small mouse child having to go through all kinds of horrible trials to reach his goal and the song "Somewhere out there" just plain broke me and at one point I felt like crying which is something I don't usually do or come close to doing when watching movies animated or not
and I did feel the pain he was going through in that movie.

As somebody with high functioning autism like many others I also experience sensory overload but I also have a theory about how it works together with too much empathy ,for example what tends to happen when I hear sounds of distress especially when it comes to children or animals particularly with rabbits and the horrible screaming sounds they make when they are in intense pain dying or both is that I will instantly stop what ever I am doing even if it's from far away and I always feel a sense of dread and fear whenever that happens and one of the reasons I always react strongly to the screaming sounds from rabbits is that one day I heard the cries of a baby bunny in the backyard of my apartment and what I saw from my balcony mortified and angered me because I saw several seagulls at least 4 of them dragging the poor rabbit by one of it's hind legs and picking at it and I just rushed down outside to my apartment in only sandals and I started furiously running and yelling at the top of my lungs towards the seagulls to leave it alone which scared them away and thankfully the little bunny was mostly ok except for that it was limping but otherwise able to run as normal and I did not see any visible injuries on it's limping hind leg and I hope it turned out fine.

The other horrible event that happened not long ago was that I heard this same type of scream only this time it was an adult bunny that was dying from some type of illness probably myxomatosis which I could see on it's eyes. I put it behind a bush as it was dying to give it a final resting place and also to avoid any bypassers especially the children and families living there and playing in the nearby playground area becoming frightened or saddened and what made this one hit me hard was that I now keep a rabbit of my own in my apartment whom I love dearly and have cared for for some time now and hearing that sound instantly makes me worried something might have happened to him and I don't want anything bad to happen to him ever .

Heck I have actually been personally affected a few times even by something as simple as accidentally crushing a snail which did at one point make me feel depressed and remorseful for several hours afterwards and as a result I always put away snails I see on the road into a safe spot so they won't be trampled on by me or others and I frequently watch where I step even often checking under my shoes to make sure I did not accidentally step on one if it sounds even slightly like that and I know it sounds kind of dumb to be affected by that but it's true that I am just too soft to even do something as simple as swatting a fly or any other insects that will not harm even the so called creepy ones like daddy long legs except mosquitoes because those guys can buzz off(pun totally intended).

What I have also noticed is that I tend to experience what could only be described as a mix of auditorial sensory overload and the again mentioned excesss empathy when I hear the sound of children crying especially infants and babies because what tends to happen is that I become overwhelmed with emotions myself but I tend to not show it but I still feel it intensely when around others in public on the other hand when nobody else notices I can indeed become highly emotional maybe even to the point of feeling like crying myself because although I am well aware that in infants it's their way of getting their needs met to me it still makes me feel sad and it makes me feel like something must be wrong even if there is nothing wrong and this may or may not be the case but I also suspect this could be a case of paternal instincts kicking in in the same way women and mothers instinctly react to that but I could of course also be wrong.

I am sure there are at least some that can relate to this in some way.
 

Luca

charm & chaos
V.I.P Member
I have been told many times that I feel “too much” empathy. I cry *at least* twice a day, for probably really stupid reasons.

I can’t watch movies where dogs get hurt, sick, go missing, get separated from their owners, or die. It traumatizes me. I also feel an overwhelming amount of empathy especially for dogs and cats, and children.

People being mean to each other and bullying each other and being trolls makes me unbelievably sad but also overwhelmingly furious and enraged. I see posts on here from time to time that make me extremely sad but also angry. I do usually report them.

But I can’t usually report things in real life, even though some interactions I have with people irl are so horrible that I cry about it for a while afterwards.

I don’t think I’ve ever admitted to this on here either :/
 

Suzanne

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I would say it is being a decent human being!

I recently had my baby Milly cat in my arms and felt under her belly a slimy sensation and pulled out a tiny slug. My first thought was: ah, food for our ducks. But, as I was walking towards them, I could not help staring at the slugs eyes, which are so amusing and in the end, gently lay it on a leaf and felt a sigh of relief.

Milly unwitting saved a beetles's life lol. She was in a corner, which denoted something grabbing her wicked attentions and then I heard a sort of cracking sound and as I got near, much to my suprise, I saw it was a beetle and the poor thing was covered in cobwebs and its little legs were scrabbling. So, gently, I removed the webs and took him or her outside and lay her also on a leaf. She went upside down, so I corrected that and only left, when I could see her or him walking.

We recently had a very sick chicken. She went from "intensive care" to normal ward and her eyes were bright and she CLEARLY loved our attention. Using a container for rincing a mouth, we put bottled water in there and watched her as she avidly drank. She truly looked like she had survived and spent one day, sitting on a bed of straw, in our veranda. My husband moved her to a box, due to Milly and the next day, I went to see her and she had died! I was too upset to cry, but after a minute felt ok, because she died knowing she was cared for.

Consequently, I cannot watch videos on animals which have been mistreated.

The only area where my empathy is too much, is when I feel the pain of the one who is going through something, but doesn't happen a lot.
 
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Tom

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I can relate. But it sounds like you are doing a good job when the time comes. Keep learning more about what you can do in situations where animals or people are injured or in danger. For example is there a place you could bring an injured animal? Find out where it is and have the phone number handy. Pets might go one place and wild animals another. Maybe learn first aid at some point. Take a course, etc. Red cross might offer them there. Often if animals are hurt the only thing you might do is put in in a box/cage with soft bedding and maybe some water and in a protected place. A lot of times they die, but it is at least peacefully. Try not to worry about it before anything happens, and as long as you do what you can when it happens you may have sadness but at least not regret for not doing something, which is much worse.
 

Tom

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Btw some trivia. In the movie making industry (USA) there is an unwritten rule - 'do not kill the dog!' I recently watched a film (Sci-fi - horror) where the opening scene was a ocean scientist killed by an underwater alien thingy. In reading up on the film afterwards I learned the director and originally filmed the scientists pet dog getting killed (all simulated of course) and at the trial screening people were walking out and the producer said 'No, no, you can't do that. Never kill the dog!' The director who was not originally from USA had not known it and re-shot the scene.

Now some break the rule, curse them, and I am looking at you Francis Lawence (I am Legend) and you Jennifer Kent (The Babadook). I stopped watching both the minute I realized the dog was going to pass to the big back yard in the sky. I still haven't seen the endings to either.

Of course it must seem odd to outsiders that it is ok to kill the scientist but not the dog. But there are a lot of people that do react more emotionally to a pet being harmed.

I saw a study recently that established that people react to different things more intensely and found the order of priority/intensity is:

1. Infant
2. Pet/Animal
3. Adult

I've said before if I was in a burning building and could only save my Chihuahuas or some neighbors but not both, I wouldn't want to be the neighbors. ;)
 

Luca

charm & chaos
V.I.P Member
^I definitely agree with that but I still react more in a movie if it's a dog or a cat than if it's an infant lol
I am Legend is one that I could absolutely never watch, and never will, and I watched The Babadook in a film class in college and I only saw part of the dog scene, but I ended up hiding in the bathroom and vomiting for the rest of the movie.
Homeward Bound and Air Bud gave me nightmares. And the dogs and cats didn't even die!

However, I will have the same reaction to people dying in a movie if it's a torture/body horror movie. I can't watch those because they're super triggering for me and destroy my mental health, but occasionally I'll come across a trailer or a synopsis for one which messes me up for weeks afterwards, and also makes me cry and throw up. There are some legitimate personal reasons that those movies mess me up, but part of it is that it would be impossible to not feel empathy for the victims. So most horror movies are just too much for me. No animosity towards people who do enjoy them, I know some people do, but I can't understand how they would be enjoyable or amusing. I have actually lived through stuff like that.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
I seem to experience this too, minus the babies. Something about babies doesn’t trigger my empathy too much for some reason. But, even seeing roadkill or a dead animal in a forest is so upsetting to me, in a way that I don’t usually share with others and I know they would not understand. It is a very physical reaction, starting deep in my gut and then it bothers my mind if I cannot distract myself.

Worse, I have an amazing dog but he is also a hunter and in my attempts to let him have some freedom and play in fields and forests, he has killed animals right in front of me and it is absolutely horrific. (I don’t blame him at all, he is just being a dog). I get so unbelievably angry at myself when this happens. There were screaming bunnies recently, and it was genuinely traumatic.

I used to love watching nature shows when I was small, but as my mind developed, this became more and more impossible because watching prey animals during a chase and realizing how much stress is in an animal’s daily life is often too much for me to handle and it is too upsetting.

I find bugs and insects have taught me much about the fragility and fleeting nature of life, and I avoid killing them at all costs. The only exceptions, for which I have zero empathy, is the murderous mosquito and the terrible tick.
 

Misery

Photo-Negative
V.I.P Member
Yeah, add me to the list of "cant deal with that stuff" when it comes to animals. I cant even accidentally kill a fly without it haunting me for a couple of weeks.

Even as a kid, I was always the odd one who would complain at family members for trying to kill some poor insect or whatever, and then I'd insist on dealing with it myself, by which I meant "capture it somehow and take it outside" even if that was a giant pain to do. I was darned good at it, too.

Dogs or cats though, that's where it's the worst. Cant watch one suffering even in a movie without having some sort of breakdown.


I am Legend is one that I could absolutely never watch

Oh geez I saw this in theaters when it came out, without knowing about THAT scene.

Even with my memory being as bad as it is, that part is still crystal clear. Ugh.
 

Jeepcarpenter

Active Member
I can’t say that I am -as- empathetic as others have stressed in this thread.. flies, yellow jackets, leeches, mosquitos.. I’m not heartfelt towards their demise but as well won’t go out of my way in any case, to eradicate any unless they are causing harm in some way.

Films like Old Yellar, The Incredible Journey (& homeward bound) and others like I am Legend are all very impactful and emotionally wrenching.. Animal abuse, misery and suffering all can drive me to the point of insanity if not able to aid or resolve somehow..

I adore nature programs, and though I have issue when predators take down their own weaker subordinates or their prey, animal suffering in either case; I still have to keep in mind the circle of life at the forefront of my mind.

I was raised a farmer, death has been part of life as far back as I can recall and if I wanted the best for our animals I had to accept that things happen and to keep going. I have had to cull chickens when nothing could be done, had to euthanize animals for the betterment of the herd.. and I still hate to say (and do) that I do harvest them for our families..

That was very hard for me to do but it came from the understanding that the process the farms I’ve worked follow is far better than majority commercial practices in getting from grocery stores.

I avoid and dissuade others, from killing insects unnecessarily, have always done whatever I could for any animal in any situation, even humanely euthanizing for others on the side of the road if there is no hope to be had.

I have always kept up with first-aid training and made sure any animals receives the proper care at various facilities so long as it seems there is a chance of recovery without severe repercussion to quality of life.

I can’t say that I receive the same effect from animations and cartoons, some emotional cues from scripted impactful moments that tug at heartstrings.. but even the brief mentions of rabbits screaming at the threads beginning, resonate through me bringing it to life for me as if I were there experiencing it.

Infants painful cries were very overwhelming for me before having my own.. and though I can’t say every enactment of suffering on TV affects me, say horror movies for example; if my mind can relate it to be actual then I will usually experience it as if it were me.

Emotional moments I always thought was normal to experience and usually the only times I have ever cried, even though having many actual life experiences feeling so distraught that I should be and not, like for aforementioned animals.

But injury, pain and aggression aspects depicted of humans and animals on TV usually directly affect me, as if I were the actual victim of, while simply just watching. This I’m told is mirror-pain synesthesia, and I’ve come to find with the empathy I seem to have for things like that and for animals overall.. I think it’s not actual empathy but logic and what’s best for everything overall or just being a decent human.
 
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AprilR

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I also have so much empathy for animals. If i accidentally come across a dead animal/something about animal cruelty it haunts me for days and i have nightmares about it. I can't relate to people who lack empathy for animals and find them cruel
 

Hannay247

New Member
Wow, I thought I was the only one who got instantly upset about cruelty to animals and won’t kill insects. Found a tiny spider in our bath struggling to get out but just too slippery. So I gave him a ‘ladder’ of toilet paper, and he escaped; it made me so happy!
 

Ken

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Your title to this post indicates that you have too much empathy.

Personally, I don't think so. Perhaps I am prejudice, since I am the same way, but just think how the world wold be if everyone was just like you.

There would be no wars.
There would be no murders.
There would be no cruelty.
There would be no greed.
There would be no poverty.
We would live in a very peaceful world - wildly different from today and any of our history.

Not only do I believe you have exactly the right amount of empathy, I think most of the people in the world is tragically deficient in empathy.

Yes, having a strong sense of empathy is very painful, but it is a pain that everyone should feel. If everyone felt that pain, there would be a lot less cruelty and suffering to feel the pain of empathy for.
 

Matthias

Well-Known Member
Your title to this post indicates that you have too much empathy.

Personally, I don't think so. Perhaps I am prejudice, since I am the same way, but just think how the world wold be if everyone was just like you.

There would be no wars.
There would be no murders.
There would be no cruelty.
There would be no greed.
There would be no poverty.
We would live in a very peaceful world - wildly different from today and any of our history.

Not only do I believe you have exactly the right amount of empathy, I think most of the people in the world is tragically deficient in empathy.

Yes, having a strong sense of empathy is very painful, but it is a pain that everyone should feel. If everyone felt that pain, there would be a lot less cruelty and suffering to feel the pain of empathy for.

The impression I got is that the above-average empathy @Turbocks @Luca @Suzanne @Tom @Misery @Rodafina @AprilR and others experience is limited to children or animals. I don't know what they think about adults but I wonder whether their above-average empathy for children or animals is accompanied by a below-average empathy for adults.
 

Luca

charm & chaos
V.I.P Member
The impression I got is that the above-average empathy @Turbocks @Luca @Suzanne @Tom @Misery @Rodafina @AprilR and others experience is limited to children or animals. I don't know what they think about adults but I wonder whether their above-average empathy for children or animals is accompanied by a below-average empathy for adults.

I can’t speak for others but I have above-average empathy for everyone. Even more so for people I know personally, regardless of age.
I think how I interact with others on here shows that.
 

AprilR

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I don't think i have above average empathy for people in general, but I have a lot of empathy for sick, disabled or elderly people, people who live under unfortunate circumstances.

I think most people can empathize better with people that are similar to them. And having low empathy doesn't indicate someone is a criminal or a bad person so idc either way.
 

ZebraAspie

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I do emphasis with babies and small children better then anyone else. I think they have more pureness and evil to the,.
 

Storm Hess

Permanent Spaceman
I panic when I hear children cry...I've run out the door many times upon hearing the next door children cry. I panic when I hear my youngest son cry. Not sure why this happens, all I know is that it does.
 

Foggy

Member
I can relate. I've been told I'm very empathetic, and I guess it's true. I relate to animals a lot more than I do to people and can't stand to see one in pain or upset. However, my empathy is not limited to animals. Or babies/children, though I have a soft spot for them too. I just don't want bad things to happen to people. I also get upset during books, movies, videos, podcasts, etc when even something mildly bad happens to someone, or if something bad is alluded to. I struggle to comprehend injustice in the real world. I can't watch the news, it's too upsetting. I try to keep up with the current events but I have to be very mindful in the way I consume news or I'll get overwhelmed. I guess that's slightly off topic, but I thought I'd share because it is empathy related I suppose. Anyway, OP you're not alone. Thank you for doing right by those bunnies. I have a rabbit too and I love him dearly.
 

Turbocks

Well-Known Member
I can relate. I've been told I'm very empathetic, and I guess it's true. I relate to animals a lot more than I do to people and can't stand to see one in pain or upset. However, my empathy is not limited to animals. Or babies/children, though I have a soft spot for them too. I just don't want bad things to happen to people. I also get upset during books, movies, videos, podcasts, etc when even something mildly bad happens to someone, or if something bad is alluded to. I struggle to comprehend injustice in the real world. I can't watch the news, it's too upsetting. I try to keep up with the current events but I have to be very mindful in the way I consume news or I'll get overwhelmed. I guess that's slightly off topic, but I thought I'd share because it is empathy related I suppose. Anyway, OP you're not alone. Thank you for doing right by those bunnies. I have a rabbit too and I love him dearly.
Sadly my rabbit had now passed away as well very recently possibly because of an unknown illness as everything looked completely normal and he showed no signs of sickness when I saw him alive for the last time the days before and I am now heartbroken and will probably not get one ever again most likely I am gonna focus on getting a large aquarium so I can keep some oscar fish. He was only like 6-7 months old at the time of his death and I am certain he must have passed away sometime during the night when I was asleep as I found him dead in his cage in the morning. He absolutely loved me and would always lick me when held to show his affection and I made sure he was cared for well even during his short life on earth.
 

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