Mirror-touch Synaesthesia Is A Unique But Troubling Condition

Mirror-touch synaesthesia is a rare condition in which a person experiences tactile sensations in response to seeing someone else being touched. For example, if someone sees another person being poked in the arm, they may feel a similar sensation in their own arm. Mirror-touch synaesthetes can also feel more complex emotions, such as empathy, in response to seeing others experience them.

How Does Mirror-touch Synaesthesia Affect You?

Symptoms can vary from person to person, but mirror-touch synesthesia may include feeling a sensation of pressure or pain when seeing someone else being touched or feeling as though one’s own body is being touched when seeing someone else being touched.

History Of Mirror-touch Synaesthesia

In 2003, a cognitive neuroscientist at University College London, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, discovered mirror-touch synesthesia. Although the exact prevalence of mirror-touch synaesthesia is unknown, it is thought to be relatively rare, affecting less than 1% of the population. There are several different theories about how mirror-touch synaesthesia develops. Still, it is generally agreed that it is caused by heightened connectivity between the regions of the brain responsible for processing touch and vision.

What Causes It?

Mirror-touch synaesthesia is relatively rare, affecting around 1 in 25,000 people. While the exact cause of mirror-touch synaesthesia is unknown, it is thought to be related to abnormalities in how the brain processes visual information. Mirror-touch synaesthesia is usually first diagnosed in childhood or adolescence and is more common in women than men. 

What Are The Symptoms?

People with this condition often report feeling like they are being touched when they see someone else being touched, even if the touch is not directed at them. For example, if they see someone being slapped, they may feel a burning sensation on their own cheek. While the exact prevalence of mirror-touch synaesthesia is not known, it is considered relatively rare. The symptoms of mirror-touch synaesthesia can vary from person to person and may be mild or severe. In some cases, the symptoms may be so mild that they are barely noticeable. In other cases, the symptoms may be more pronounced and interfere with everyday activities. 

How Does It Affect Your Life?

While this may sound like a superpower, it can be pretty stressful and overwhelming for those who have it. People with mirror-touch synaesthesia often have difficulty processing what they see, as they also feel the sensations themselves. This can lead to anxiety, social isolation, and difficulties in school and work.

What Are The Treatments?

Although the condition is not well understood, it is thought to be caused by an over-connectivity between brain regions that are responsible for touch and vision. There are currently no specific treatments for mirror-touch synaesthesia, but some interventions that have been trialed include sensory attenuation therapy and mirror exposure therapy. Sensory attenuation therapy involves using sunglasses or earplugs to reduce the amount of visual and auditory input in the hope that this will reduce the intensity of mirrored touch sensations. Mirror exposure therapy involves repeatedly confronting oneself with images of people being touched to desensitize oneself to the phenomenon. These interventions may help to reduce the strength of tactile feelings experienced in response to seeing others being touched.

How To Live With It?

If you have mirror-touch synaesthesia, you can do a few things to manage your condition. First, it is vital to understand your triggers. Identify situations that are likely to lead to an intense reaction, and avoid them if possible. If you cannot avoid a triggering situation, take steps to redirect your focus and ground yourself in the present moment. This may involve deep breathing exercises or listening to calming music. It is also essential to build a support network of friends or family members who understand your condition and can offer emotional support. With these strategies in place, you can learn to live with mirror-touch synaesthesia and find ways to make it work for you.


If you are experiencing some of the symptoms we’ve discussed, or if you think something just doesn’t feel right, please consult a doctor. Mirror-touch synaesthesia is still a relatively unknown and underdiagnosed condition, so don’t hesitate to get help if you think you may have it. And remember, there is no shame in seeking professional help–many people with this condition lead perfectly everyday lives. We hope this article has been informative and helpful.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2022 by Lucas Berg


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