Are You a Physical Empath?


Are you a physical empath? To learn coping skills, get my PDF “Life Strategies for Sensitive People” here.

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Are You a Physical Empath?

Empathic illnesses are those in which you manifest symptoms that are not your own. Physical empathy doesn’t have to overwhelm you. Now that I can center myself and refrain from taking on other people’s pain, empathy has made my life more compassionate, insightful, and richer. 

To determine whether you’re a physical empath take the following quiz.


Have I been labeled as overly sensitive or a hypochondriac?YesNo
Have I ever sat next to someone who seemed nice but suddenly my eyelids got heavy and I felt like taking a nap?YesNo
Do I feel uneasy, tired, or sick in crowds and avoid them?YesNo
Do I feel someone else’s anxiety or physical pain in my body?YesNo
Do I feel exhausted by angry or hostile people?YesNo
Do I run from doctor to doctor for medical tests, but I’m told “You’re fine.”YesNo
Am I chronically tired or have many unexplained symptoms?YesNo
Do I frequently feel overwhelmed by the world and want to stay home?YesNo

To calculate your results:

  • If you answered “yes” to 1-3 questions you are at least part physical empath.
  • Responding yes to 4 to 5 questions indicates you have moderate degree of physical empath.
  • Answering 6 to 8 “yeses” indicates you have a certified physical empath.

This quiz is from The Empath’s Survival Guide by Judith Orloff MD

Many patients have come to me labeled “agoraphobic” with panic disorders, chronic depression, fatigue, pain, or mysterious ailments that respond only partially to medications or psychotherapy. Some were nearly housebound or ill for years. They’d all say, “I dread being in crowds. Other people’s anger, stress, and pain drain me, and I need a lot of alone time to refuel my energy.” When I took a close history of all these patients I found that they were what I call “physical empaths:” people whose bodies are so porous they absorb the symptoms of others. I relate because I am one. Physical empaths do not have the defenses that others have to screen things out. As a psychiatrist, knowing this significantly changed how I treated these patients. My job became teaching them to center and protect themselves, set healthy boundaries, and let go of energy they picked up from others. Discovering that you are a physical empath can be a revelation. Rest assured: You are not crazy. You are not a malingerer or hypochondriac. You are not imagining things, though your doctor might treat you like a nuisance. You are a sensitive person with a gift that you must develop and successfully manage.

Judith Orloff, MD is a New York Times bestselling author with the upcoming book The Genius of Empathy: Practical Skills to Heal Yourself, Your Relationships and the World (Foreword by the Dalai Lama). She has also written The Empath’s Survival Guide and Thriving as an Empath, which offers daily self-care tools for sensitive people. She integrates the pearls of conventional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, empathy, energy medicine, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice and online internationally. Her work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, Oprah Magazine, the New York Times and USA Today. Dr. Orloff has spoken at Google-LA, TEDx U.S. and TEDx Asia. More information about Dr. Orloff’s Empathy Training Programs for businesses, The Empath Survival Guide Online Course and speaking schedule at

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