Feel and understand other people's feelings and emotions.
Empathy is the ability to feel and understand other people's feelings and emotions. A user of this ability can feel exactly what another person is feeling, and for the same reasons, without direct contact with them.
- Discover other people's true intents, desires and hint towards secrets that they are trying to hide.
- Verify a person's existence by sensing their emotions.
- Sense the emotions of animals.
- Be alerted to nearby disasters by picking up on the volume of the victims' emotions and pain.
- Hear emotionally charged discussions by feeling the heightened emotions behind the words.
The most basic form of Empathy involves actively channeling other people's feelings and emotions — by concentrating on them — in order to feel exactly what another person is feeling, and for the same reasons. Often times, this is followed up by correctly interpreting the reason(s) or truth behind an emotion. Other than the emotional, it can also involve feeling the physical sense, i.e. touch, medical effect, etc.
Cupids possess only the most basic form of empathy; their empathy is limited to human beings. Whitelighters on the other hand possess an even weaker form of the power; they are connected to their charges on a physical level, and will automatically feel what their charges feel, but only when a charge is hurt and is in pain.
More advanced Empathy — bestowed solely upon Empaths— involves channeling emotions from any being that can produce emotions: for example; magical and non-magical beings, animals and ghosts. Empathy at this level also involves channeling emotions across great distances and being able to experience verbal feedback when channeling heightened emotions across those distances, allowing the user to psychically hear the being(s) they are channeling speak.
Phoebe possess the enhanced form of Empathy. This initially causes considerable problems, as after encountering the emotions of others she would sometimes act on their whims. Although initially Phoebe exhibited little control over her ability, her proficiency has noticeably increased over time.
She can now interpret and understand each emotion without being overwhelmed. As such, beings with malevolent intent are usually worried when they are around her, afraid she will find out any secrets that they are trying to keep hidden. Phoebe can sometimes channel emotion across a city wide distance and in between dimensions.
One memorable user of this power was Mitzy Stillman. Mitzy gained this ability temporarily when she stole Phoebe's identity and powers. Mitzy's empathy power let her realize how much Mabel hated both her and her younger sister, however, the power also gave her headaches.
Another memorable user of this power was Prue Halliwell. She gained the power for a few hours in 2001 when the spell she casted to remove the power from Vinceres backfired and made her an empath. Her empathic ability allowed her to channel emotions from miles away and listen in on the arguments people were having all over the city by picking up on the intense emotion behind the angry words people were shouting at each other.
Branches of Empathy
Empathy is capable of manipulating emotions and various elements connected to emotions. However, empaths, who are the main receivers of this gift, are the only beings capable of using empathy in this manner. It should be noted that, whilst so far no empath has ever demonstrated empathy in it's totality, certain empaths can control more than one branch.
Empathic Channeling and Replicating
Arguably the two most powerful extensions of Empathy. Due to the fact that all magical powers are tied to the user's emotions, both work by feeling the same emotion that others feel. The only example of this is Phoebe Halliwell, because Phoebe can feel the emotions of others, her empathy allows her to counteract and replicate the powers of other beings.
Empathic Power Resistance
A branch of Empathy which protects the user from magical injury; however, this branch only works in combination with Power Channeling and Replication: for example, channeling the power of another makes one resistant to said power, when it is used against them. In Phoebe Halliwell's case, her body's resilience is extended to an even greater degree, allowing her to withstand the powers she replicates from others, when they are used against her.
A branch of Empathy which is concerned with augmenting the user's powers. Augmentation can also happen automatically if the user cannot control their empathy power. As all magical powers are connected with emotions, the more emotions they channel in, the more powerful they become. But if the user cannot control their power of empathy, their enhanced powers can be destructive and dangerous to oneself and others. The only known Empath to have ever used this aspect of empathy was Prue Halliwell. She was only able to do this during her brief time as an empath.
Empathic Power Granting
The possessor can transfer their power into another being through a touch. Depending on the receiver: for example; a demon, this power can act as a curse, forcing the demon to feel the pain he or she inflicts.
The only known Empath to have ever done this was Father Thomas. In 1996, when he was attacked by the demon Vinceres, he placed his hands on the demon's chest and transferred his empathy powers to him. Father Thomas knew the power would make the demon insane and unable to set one foot outside and thus not being able to kill.
A branch of Empathy that is centered around manipulating other people's emotions. A practitioner of superior psychic abilities, such as Phoebe Halliwell, can channel other people's emotions — whether it be their enemy's, their enemy's victims or a mixture of both — and project, reflect or amplify those same emotions through the hands in the form of two tiny electricity bolts.
A branch of Empathy that is centered around guiding mortals—for example, someone who practices this aspect can ease human suffering by using their intimate knowledge of what the other person is feeling or has gone through, and then offering them advice and comfort— and healing emotional wounds, akin to Whitelighters healing physical wounds.
Phoebe, as an advice columnist, uses her gift to help the people who write to her. She answers their letters through her column, giving them helpful advice. Aside from counseling, Father Thomas also healed the emotional anguish of his parishioners. It should be noted that, he channeled his power through his hands.
Empathy and Different Planes/Realities
Empathy is one of the very few powers that is capable of stretching through different planes of existence and alternate realities. Phoebe first revealed this while in one of Gith's emotion/desire fueled realities and used her power to tap into Piper's emotions, sensing her sister's fear even though she was in a different reality. Once this connection was made, Phoebe and Paige were able to use their combined desires in order to shift themselves through Gith's realities and transport themselves to Piper.
Phoebe later showed this aspect of her power again when Piper and Leo were trapped in The Ghostly Plane. Phoebe was able to sense Piper's presence and even feel her pain when she was injured. Since Piper is the common denominator in both these examples, it is possible that Phoebe's power was amplified in both cases by the strength of her sisterly love.
Insanity and Demons
The power of Empathy can drive a being insane if they are not destined to have it, however, demons can never gain this power naturally, due to the fact that they cannot handle human emotions. It would destroy them or drive them insane, as it drove the demon Vinceres almost insane, but shortly after it was taken away, he returned to normal.
Prue accidentally took this power from Vinceres through the use of a spell. Although she was fine with it at first, eventually, as its range expanded, she was unable to control it developing to the point where she was constantly taking in the emotions of the entire city of San Francisco. However, with Father Thomas help she was able to the power. The power left her immediately after she destroyed Vinceres with it as she was never meant to have it.
List of beings who use(d) Empathy
Through spell, power granting, etc.
- Phoebe claimed that her Empathy could be an advancement of her Premonition power. This was a logical conclusion, since she could often feel what the people in her visions felt, and all her powers share a connection.
- Empathy is the first formidable power Phoebe developed, Psychic Reflection being the second.
- Empathy can be blocked if the user feels conflicted. It happened when Phoebe tried to read Enola and possibly when she tried to read Cal Greene. This type of blockage is common with psychic powers as it also happens with a power like Premonition.
- Two sound effects were used for Phoebe's Empathy. A light jingle sound was usually used, however, in Used Karma, a much louder ringing sound is used when she uses it to channel powers.
- Phoebe has been unable to read just four beings; Mordaunt, an evil sorcerer, Jinny, a genie (she found a way to not only trick Phoebe but the Book of Shadows as well), Cal Greene, when she first met him, and Paige, when her spirit was separated from her body.
- Chris revealed that there is a potion that can block an Empath from reading people's emotions. The effects of the potion is temporary, and is hard to make, since it requires a Kotochul Egg, which can only be found in Swamp Land.
- A witch can use a spell to extract Empathy power from someone: To Relinquish an Empath's Power.