Empathic Synaesthesia is a medical condition where the brain confuses or links the empathic senses to one or more regular senses, leading to seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling or tasting the emotions of others. It is a passive form of empathy and cannot be deactivated by the user.
Like normal telepaths and empaths, signals emitted by the psionic field are received by the telepathic centre in the brain. In empathically synaesthesic individuals these signals are not directly perceived, but diverted to the areas that deal with the other senses. The result of this is a view that is dependant both on the subject and the observer's unique perception and way of thinking. Common traits, however, seem to follow a general 'theme', presumably derived from the society the observer was raised in eg. anger is a 'hot' sensation or colour. Stronger emotions have stronger impacts.
The most common form is of visual synaesthesia and most people with this condition describe their view of the world as having a semi-transparent layer 'laid on top' of their normal vision, though the view of it is blocked by solid objects such as walls and bodies. Despite the two 'layers' looking as if they interact the light sources are separate, meaning that in dark situations the emotions will look the same as when fully lit, but cast no light on their surroundings, which can be useful but severely disorientating.
In some cases the psionic field (generated by their subconscious) has left the body entirely, such as when Walker was 'pulled' from his by a spectre similar to the grim reaper. This separation can reveal some aspects of the person normally hidden from view, such as Ehlanii's glowing core.
- Birth defect
- Denial of strong gift
- Training (Investigation needed)
Auras and Signatures
The emotions of a subject will normally be perceived as a general aura around the person if the observer does not know them well and is standardised with respect to their species, for example Terrans have scarves/ribbons of varying colours close around their heads and bodies whereas Betazoids are normally signified by scent. While in this form each person's Aura is still unique, but it is not possible to explain how. It is simply 'different', supporting the theory of an empathic 'Signature' that simply cannot be seen at the time, such as in the case of the Kolk's, where Cara could identify the Alternate Kolk from their own, but only recognised their different cloud-like signatures several months after.
When an individual is understood to a greater level there is often a 'sharpening' of perception and a shape/shapes made out within the Aura, forming the subject's unique empathic signature. It is not necessarily just a clearing of sight but an entire change in the way someone is perceived, for example Benjamin Walker is covered in flame with most of the emotions felt as different kinds of heat. The experiences of the person also have a great effect, Admiral Anassasi's emotional form being completely altered by the mutation she underwent, forming a cat-like beast.
- Benjamin Walker - Human-shaped flame. Colour, length, direction and heat changes.
- Karynn Ehlanii - Wide scarves orbiting torso for different emotions. Glowing core inside body.
- Jackford Kolk - Clouds, weather changes with mood. Sometimes whirlwind inside through length of body.
- Sidney Riley - Magpie/crow, normally on shoulder. Inside of body translucent, almost jelly-like.
Investigation into whether this is nature or nurture is ongoing. Presently it seems nature in the general trend and nurture in the more specific cases.
- Terrans - Primarily visual, thin scarves.
- Betazoid - Primarily scent, surrounding cloud.
- Andorian - Primarily temperature, normally accompanied by a mild snowstorm.
- Vulcan - Normally inside skin and non-visible. When visible, plain colour.
- Ullian - Water-like, ripples occasionally form brief images.
- Sya-Negan - Sparkling, gem-based.
- Spathis/Energy beings - Made entirely of current emotion.
- Anger - Red, hot.
- Fear - Blue, icy.
- Greed - Oily, slimy.
- Happiness - Light colours (usually yellow).
- Surprise/shock - Pattern/form scatters.
- Enlightenment - Glow/burst of sensation.
- Lust - 'Heavy' warmth/scent.
- Attention/Anxiety - Motion towards/around object of attention.
- Trust/protection - When strong, auras can link/touch.
- Drunk - Dizzying mess.
Those with the condition have little/no control over the intensity of the signals, meaning that they can be overwhelmed by the emotions around them. When there are particularly strong emotions around their own can be modified by them, though normally the subjects are used to situations like this and concentrate on remaining as they were, though with difficulty. Fear is a particularly contagious emotion and can cause panic attacks if not carefully handled.
Normally overexposure results in an empathic headache where the brain fires off seemingly random signals, normally resulting in seeing emotions from non-living objects such as the ship. When an empathic headache headache occurs the only way to ease it seems to be sleeping or finding a VERY quiet room, though if the sufferer doesn't do this they will collapse anyway. It is possible to delay it by a short period of meditation but the effect will be more vicious later.
It seems that the period of collapse is actually a safety measure, taking the conscious mind deep into the subconscious in order to shelter it from the onslaught of emotions that may otherwise drive the sufferer insane. When in this state the sufferer appears to be asleep, though on closer inspection will be colder than normal and will not wake until they are ready to. Their mental activity will be either that of an unconscious person or incredibly high.
Someone with this condition cannot see their own empathic signature under normal conditions, as it needs to be clear to allow them to see others. Some extra-ordinary conditions are: When inside another signature (their own acts like a negative), when inside their own mind and they already know what theirs looks like/there's a mirror, when seeing themselves from another's perspective.
As their own is transparent physically trying to block their ears doesn't have much effect. Meditation does help calm emotions and imagining a shield around the user works like a psychological version of a placebo to block out some emotions. In the same way if they don't want to understand or only glance quickly, their perception can be skewed.
In darkness there appears to be cutouts in fully surrounding signatures.
In places that continually act as a focus of strong emotion of belief traces of emotion may build up and effectively give a place semi-sentience in an emotional way. A church had angels and a feeling of a benign overarching presence, though as the observer was verging on an empathic headache at the time it's difficult to tell whether this was remnants of other emotions or true semi-sentience.