As I have elaborated upon in my book, The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion, sensitivity has a biological and physiological aspect but also an emotional and energetic one.  In human beings, all these aspects are intertwined.  A person who is highly sensitive to her or his feelings – and to others’ feelings – is likely to be extra sensitive to her or his environment.  This can include changes in the weather, changes in the emotional atmosphere of a place, and changes in the ambient electromagnetics.  A similar encompassing sensitivity is likely to occur in at least some non-human animals – beginning with other mammals, whose bodies and brains are constituted quite similarly to those of human beings.

Consider the “strong feeling of energy” felt by naturalist Carl Safina’s friend when she went snorkeling in Hawaii and met up with several orcas.  “It went right through me,” she said.  “A wave of energy, like transmitting.” (Safina, p. 353)  This is but one of numerous accounts that certain people – particularly women – are apt to present.  Sometimes the occasion comes out of the blue; other times the person views it as characteristic of who she is.  Below is a case in point.  The woman who provided me with this account recognizes her sensitivity very well:

"I've been overly sensitive for as long as I can remember….If someone walked into the room with a headache, I would get a headache. If they pulled their back, mine would begin aching the minute I made eye contact…I was definitely more in tune with my environment and the feelings of others than almost everyone else I knew….

"I continue to be sensitive to the pain levels of others, including pets. I give all new meaning to the term "I feel your pain."  I am also able to pick up the energies of my surroundings.  For example, when we were looking for a new home, we found a great fixer upper that we really liked, but the moment I set foot inside, I could sense a heavy/angry atmosphere that practically took my breath away…Sure enough, when we went down to the basement, the walls were peppered with fist-holes.  I can also pick up on the vibes of places that have very happy or particularly peaceful atmospheres.

This person also suspected that she was sensitive to electricity. During a period when her symptoms flared up, she told me, “I was unable to touch a lamp without bursting the bulb and had been in three different buildings where the generators blew up in my presence within a two-week period.”

Connections between purported sensitivity to electricity and sensitivity to emotions were explored in a fascinating book by Michael Shallis, then a professor at Oxford University, in the 1980s. Shallis invited the readers of two dozen different magazines to share any accounts of electrical sensitivity. He received hundreds of replies – 80% of them from women. He subsequently interviewed many of the respondents, gathering much evidence linking electrical anomalies to strong and distressing feelings. One woman said that her problems with electricity began after her father had died. Another stated that her bedroom light glowed, even when it was not turned on, during a time of great emotional upheaval.  An especially striking anecdote (literally) involved a woman who said she'd walked out of her front door after an intense emotional experience, at which point a lightning bolt struck the pathway at her feet. Remarkably, 23% of Shallis’ respondents claimed to have been struck by lightning. (Shallis, pp. 32-3)

Electrical sensitivity among human beings is a highly controversial topic. For himself, Shallis acknowledges that we don’t know what we don’t know.  Electromagnetism, he concluded – "the physical force most apparent to us at the level at which we perceive the material world" – may be the vehicle for life forces that, at present, we simply do not comprehend. (Shallis, p. 263)


Jawer, Michael, with Marc S. Micozzi. The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion. Rochester, Vermont: Park Street Press, 2009.

Safina, Carl. Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2015.

Shallis, Michael. The Electric Connection: Its Effects on Mind and Body. New York: New Amsterdam Books, 1988. 

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Feeling Too Much

Unimagined Sensitivities, Part 7

Sensitivity is biological and physiological but also emotional and energetic.

Unimagined Sensitivities, Part 6

Many animals could derive emotionally salient warnings of danger or disaster.

Unimagined Sensitivities, Part 5

Infrasound could be an 'early warning system' for elephants and other mammals.