This blog is dedicated to exploring how emotion shapes extraordinary sensitivity. Over the course of the last several years, readers have explored the way that individual differences in emotional biology play out in conditions ranging from PTSD and alexithymia to synesthesia, autism, and savantism. We’ve explored the salience of emotion to the development of child prodigies, to children who seem to remember past lives and, even more esoteric, to individuals who seem to possess psychical sensitivity. More recently, this blog has explored the parallels in emotional biology between human beings and non-human animals. We’ve considered how emotional bonds between individuals – even across species – shed light on uncanny occurrences and how the ability to feel and express feeling may undergird spirituality in general.
In this new series, we will take up a touchy subject: death. While it would seem to represent the end of sensitivity (since a dead animal is manifestly non-sensate), the phenomenon actually conjures up a fascinating range of accounts and experiences that are highly relevant to sensitivity, not just in humans but in many other animals. Death seems to be something of a trigger mechanism for emotion-laden sensitivity. In order to shed light on the many curious anecdotes attending death in human beings, it will be useful to explore what death seems to mean for certain other species – how they react to it and what forms of sensitivity are evidently prompted. We shall see that emotion is paramount but does not always require a keen connection between two individuals. Sometimes, sensitivity can seemingly be triggered by the undercurrents of emotion itself.
We’ll start by looking at a few intriguing examples involving two highly perceptive and social species: elephants and dolphins.