Joel Salinas, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital can literally feel the emotional and physical feelings of his patients. Salinas has mirror-touch synaesthesia, a neurological characteristic that affects two out of 100 people.
"Someone is doing compressions ... and as this is going on, I'm feeling the compressions on my chest as if it were happening on my body. As he died, I felt this kind of hollow slipping sensation ... and after that I ran to the bathroom and threw up," Salinas was quoted as saying by CNN.
"It's essentially a glitch in my brain's wiring where I feel physically on my body what I see other people feeling. For example, if you are gasping for air, I feel like I'm gasping for air. If you're having a panic attack, I feel like I'm having a panic attack," he said.
The first ever case of mirror-touch synaesthesia was reported in 2005. While growing up, Salinas always felt that he was a little special and could feel the emotional and physical sensations of others as child.
"I remember watching cartoons as a kid. ... I'd watch Wile E. Coyote, and if he got hit by a truck, I got hit by a truck," he said. "Even in high school, I saw a lot of fights, and that was tough."
It was only when he reached his first year of medical school that he learnt about synaesthesia. Later, he was tested for mirror-touch and established that he had it.
"He is very much in tune with how you're feeling and how those feelings change over time. When I was in his office for the first time, he said, 'How are you?' and I said, 'I'm OK, but I'm anxious.' His response was, 'I know,' " Bob McGrath, Salinas' patients recalled.
Salinas said he uses mindfulness to stay attentive especially around patients who are suffering from their own wounds and disorders.
He has also published his experiences in a new book, "Mirror Touch: Notes from a Doctor Who Can Feel Your Pain".