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March 23, 2020

BehindTheMedspeak: Mirror Touch Synesthesia


Joel Salinas has mirror touch synesthesia, which I'd never heard of till I read his book.

From healthline:

Mirror touch synesthesia (MTS) is a condition that causes a person to feel a sensation of touch when they see someone else being touched.

The word "mirror" refers to the fact that a person mirrors the sensations they see when someone else is touched.

Thus, when they see a person touched on the left, they feel the touch on the right.

According to scientists at the University of Delaware, an estimated 2 in 100 people have this condition.

Doctors and scientists use the term "synesthetes" to describe those who experience mirror touch synesthesia.

They associate the condition with structural differences in the brain that cause such people to process sensory information differently than others, according to an article in the journal Cognitive Neuroscience.

Some researchers theorize that MTS may be the result of an overactive sensory system.

A lot of the research surrounding MTS focuses on the concept that people with this condition are more empathetic than those who don't have the condition.

In a study published in the journal Cognitive Neuropsychology, people with MTS were shown a picture of a person's face and were better able to recognize emotions compared with people without the condition.

Researchers theorized that people with mirror touch synesthesia have enhanced sensations of social and cognitive recognition compared with others.

One study in the journal PLOS One found that a percentage of people who reported having MTS also reported having some form of autism spectrum condition.

Signs and Symptoms

MTS is one type of synesthesia.

Another is when a person sees colors in response to certain sensations, such as sound.

For example, singers Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel have reported they experience music as a sensation of colors.

According to an article in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, researchers have identified two main subtypes of touch synesthesia.

The first is mirror, where a person experiences a sensation of touch on the opposite side of their body as another person is touched, as described above.

The second is an "anatomical" subtype where a person experiences a sensation of touch on the same side.

The mirror type is the most common.

Some of the condition's symptoms include:

  • feeling pain in the opposite side of the body when another person feels pain
  • feeling a sensation of touch when seeing another person being touched
  • experiencing different sensations of touch when another person is touched, such as:
    • itching
    • tingling
    • pressure
    • pain
  • sensations varying in severity from a mild touch to a deep, stabbing pain

Most people with the condition report having it since childhood.


Doctors haven’t identified specific tests that can diagnose mirror touch synesthesia.

Most people self-report symptoms.

The condition doesn't currently appear in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) that psychiatrists use to diagnose disorders such as anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and others.

For this reason, there are no specific diagnostic criteria.

It can be difficult to closely experience the touch sensations of others.

Some people may view the condition as beneficial because they're better able to relate to others.

Some find it negative because they experience strong, negative emotions — sometimes pain — because of what they see and feel.

Some may benefit from therapy to try to better process their sensations.

Some people with mirror touch synesthesia may also benefit from prescription medications that help navigate the emotions evoked by the condition, such as anxiety and depression.

Doctors generally treat MTS as a sensory processing disorder.

Read the opening pages of the book here.


Your wish is my demand.

This video

about Carolyn Hart, who has mirror touch synesthesia, has been viewed over 1.6 million times in the three years since it was posted on YouTube.

March 23, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Through a glass brightly

March 23, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

What is it?

Not even close

Answer here this time tomorrow.

Hint: bigger than a bread box.

Another: located in the U.S. (lower 48).

March 23, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


Screen Shot 2020-03-23 at 9.29.06 AM

A reader sent me this earlier today.

Maimonides said, "He who saves one life, saves the world."

OK then.

March 23, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Pocket Hole Puncher

Screen Shot 2020-03-19 at 10.11.38 AM

Sometimes it's hard to tell twee from kawaii.

But I digress.

From the website:

• Keep all your documents neatly filed with this hole-punching crocodile

Screen Shot 2020-03-19 at 10.11.43 AM

• 2.7" x 0.8" x 0.7"

• Plastic and metal

Screen Shot 2020-03-19 at 10.11.36 AM


March 23, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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