Mirror Neurons: how important are they really in our day to day life?

Today’s blog is by Evette Rose, co-founder of Reference Point Therapy. Evette is currently working full-time on the editing of her forthcoming book, Metaphysical Anatomy. In today’s article Evette shares some important research for the possible future treatment of depression and autism.

Today I’d like to share with you a concept which most of you won’t have heard of before: mirror neurons.

Some scientists consider mirror neurons one of the most important recent discoveries in neuroscience.  However, most alternative practitioners haven’t paid attention to it. When I read about the concept a few months ago it sounded like a new ground breaking scientific discovery.  I only then realized that the concept has been around for quite some time, we just never gave it the importance and value that it deserved. [For scientific background see this Wikipedia article.]

Mirror neurons help us to facilitate our moods, shift of feelings and body language.  We see what others are feeling.  We have a certain degree of understanding about how we respond to other people and how they respond to us.  Each of these experiences becomes a basis for learning and foundation for future interactions with others.  This means we memorise other people’s behaviour for possible future interaction.

Your mirror neurons allow you to watch someone do something and then give you the illusion that you feel like you are doing it yourself.  For example: if you see someone trying to balance 5 full glasses on a tray with one hand, you can almost feel the concentration that it takes, you also feel the possibility of the tray slipping and falling over.

We see others do, say and feel certain emotions and we mirror those same movements and emotions to explore our own ability to move and express ourselves.  Then when you see others doing the same expressions and movements you are sharing the experience, it’s almost like being a part of a different kind of community where we share a different kind of relationship without actually needing words.

Mirror neurons enable us to hold emotions and to project that outward into our surroundings.  It’s easier to respond to someone or to a game if you are present with it and understand it (due to previous interactions), as well as choose to be a part of it.

This also begs the question, are you reacting in a manner that has been solely chosen by you, or a reaction that you have copied from others?

Since discovering this topic I have been quite keen to explore this phenomenal part in our brain and to see how it fits in with our day to day life.  Some of our students allowed me to intuitively scan them to see what these mirror neurons do.

I observed that people who are depressed have stopped using their mirror neurons!

Their willingness to interact with others and their surrounding has stopped.  I couldn’t see the same activity in a person that was emotionally healthy compared to someone that was suffering from depression.  Their mirror neurons are not responding in the healthy manner it was designed to due to emotional suppression and disconnection from their passion in life.  Ultimately the client stopped interacting with others and responding to people and their emotions.

What caused the depression is another story entirely on its own.  It could have been inherited. (I noticed in people that even though the depression was there when they were born the mirror neurons still worked perfectly fine, until the client made a conscious decision to withdraw themselves from society and people close to them due some sort of incident in their live.)

The longer these mirror neurons are kept dormant or only partially working the harder it can be for the client to learn how to correspond and respond in society.  It makes it even harder to be aware of the condition and the extra problems at hand that it can create.  The average human being can watch a football game can get involved with the tension and competitiveness and have a really great time; they are surrounded by others that are expressing the same emotions and feelings.

However, if you place a depressed individual in the same crowd you will find a completely different response from them.  They will look at others reactions and watch them having a great time filled with laughter, however they will not feel the same emotions, the other people’s responses and interaction with each other should actually prompt the depressed individual to respond in the same manner, however it doesn’t.  Their mirror neurons have stopped responding to their environment, the information that their mirror neurons are receiving is meaningless.

Even watching a sad movie where the main character passed away in the end is not even enough to strike a sense of sadness and loss, whereas others watching the same movie with active mirror neurons could show signs of sadness, empathy or even grief.  Mirror neurons help us tune into each other’s feelings which enable us to feel empathy.  The healthier our mirror neurons are the more progress we make in our lives and the more intelligent our actions and reactions become because we learn from everyone that we meet on a daily basis.

I suspect that sociopaths and psychopaths have dormant mirror neurons, they either could have been born with them being dormant or they could have been shut down due to severe trauma (I do acknowledge that people who suffer from these mentioned conditions have more than just mirror neuron issues.)

Someone with healthy mirror neurons can copy someone else’s facial expression and feel the emotions that the person was trying to project.  However someone who is severely depressed can copy those same facial expressions and not feel or experience any emotion or reaction whilst doing so.

In addition to the above example of depression, I also noticed that autistic children appear to have mirror neurons that are dormant (turned off).  This could account for why autistic children cannot make eye contact with you and have difficulty responding to contact from others.

A difference between depressed people and those who are or were autistic children is that the depressed adult has previously learned and developed skills for social interaction and survival.  Even though they are depressed they don’t lose these learned skills (even if they cannot develop new interaction and survival skills). The autistic child has never learned these necessary skills.

In my new book, Metaphysical Anatomy, I describe these conditions in more detail and suggest complementary treatments.

One important thing that I did learn from this is that human beings were created or evolved to be together; without each other we stop learning and possibly stop evolving. On this note, I thank each and every one of you that I have interacted with as you have assisted me in my own personal growth and I acknowledge you for that vital contribution!

All the best,

Evette Rose

I am not a psychologies nor a scientist, I am merely sharing this with you from an intuitive point of view. The link between mirror neurons and depression or autism has not been proven by neuroscience.

© Evette Rose 2010

August 14, 2010 in RPT theory and teachings, Thoughts For the Day
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16 Responses

  1. Excellent work Evette~

    Really looking forward to your book to be published…any chance to make it faster? LOL~



    Evette Reply:

    Hi Kryon,

    Wonderful to hear from you! Lol yes I am full steam ahead with the book :-)

    Evette Rose


  2. Thanks Evette!
    This blog-post is right down my alley :) I love mirror-neurons, they’re so fascinating.
    V.S. Ramachandran is one of the scientist that has made mirror neurons accesable for the public – here’s one of his lectures on TED


    Ramachandran call mirror neurons “empathy neurons” or “Ghandi neurons” :-D . He has actually figured out how to use mirror neurons to “heal” phantom limbs! Another fascinating topic that he talks about in many of his lectures is synesthesia.
    He has longer lectures at “The Science Network” – http://thesciencenetwork.org/search?speakers=V.S.+Ramachandran

    The idea that (defect) mirror-neurons and autism are linked has been around for some time, and while some studies point towards there are also studies that disprove the mirror neuron hypothesis of autism http://tinyurl.com/22p2ukv

    Thanks again for this blog-post Evette :)



    Thank you Evette and Jorgen for this thread…

    I just had the time to finally listen to the TED talk by Vilayanur Ramachandran about the mirror neurons that he terms the “Ghandi” neurons in his talk: The neurons that shaped civilization: http://blog.ted.com/2010/01/04/the_neurons_tha/

    In his talk, he calls these MIRROR NEURONS – “GHANDI NEURONS” because they establish in neuroscience that essentially there is no distinction between you and me. And the growth of these neurons, literally allowed human culture and civilization to develop rapidly about 75, 000 years ago. Like a huge explosion of culture, tool and firemaking and shelter building that passed horizontally and vertically through human culture.

    He says they are a subset of Motor command neurons: Our brains fire not only when we perform a task but also fire by simply watching another perform a task. It’s our ability to read and interpret and emulate others actions that led to this explosion of human culture.

    In bringing this into inquiry with RPT, the piece that jumps out at me is this. We don’t have to “watch it” with our eyes to have the experience. Our emphathy, being in the other’s POV, goes beyond motor control skills.

    I’m curious if we can say that when we are “pretending” to be our client or an ancestor at the POI, then our mirror neurons fire in the same way as if we were “seeing” them literally and we feel the feelings and body sensations. So when we are aware of and acknowledge our/their Beingness, their brains come into coherence with ours. Are their mirror neurons firing? It that neuroscience giving us another part of the puzzle? ?

    I’m just sitting with this as this names the body/mind/awareness experience I have of healings, especially after I was onto epigenetic “markers” right after our 2009 Level 3. I’ve become more aware of the actual sensations physicalized in my brain. For sure my frontal lobe extends out from my physical body as I do the work. And the Motor control neurons/mirror neurons are located in the front of the frontal lobe according to the talk. This is one part of the physical experience I have of “coherence”.

    It seems this might be another part of brain science that also affirms our oneness which is what allows healing to occur.

    Thank you both for this inquiry. Any further thoughts or discoveries? I’d love to continue the discussion.

    And I also await the book, Evette with great anticipation.

    Lina Shanklin


  3. Hi Evette,

    Having the experience of working with addiction and drug users, I do see most long term users either opiate drugs or the amphetamines groups of drugs such as ecstacy or ice displaying the mirror neuron switched-off effect as described above. Maybe it’s worth including drug use history in the case history of our client. By drug use I mean any type of medication that has its implication on the state of consciousness or regulate mood.



    Evette Reply:

    Hi Cornelius,

    Thank you for your reply.

    Yes, I have noticed that the neurons are suppressed in the addicts, their brain focuses and different areas when they are under the influence, the neurons purpose almost stops to exist when they are in that state and after long term use of drugs it could even have a permanent effect, from what I understand.

    Evette Rose


  4. Mirror Neurons are new to me and your explanation of them makes me very interested. Both depression and autism are disorders that have touched my life and I am always open to seeing them in a more holistic way. Thank you for your insights, Evette.




  5. Lindsey Johnson

    Hello Evette, this subject interests me as I have Aspergers Syndrome. I have evolved out of most of the characteristics of Aspergers over the years, thru meditation and alternative healing modalities. But I could never pin point what it was that made it easier for me to make eye contact or to be able to understand peoples social behavior. I still dont always connect with people in movies. Everyone else will be laughing except for me. And sometimes its that I just dont find funny what others do, but other times Ill find it funny but I feel it on the inside and it doesnt translate to my outer expression. Is that also a mirror neuron issue.


    Evette Reply:

    Hi Lindsey,

    Thank you for your email. I am not a doctor however what you described does sound like a MN issue. I also feel that your brain processes information on a more intellectual level (it almost has a no nonsense or mocking around approach) rather than accessing a variety of emotions, your brain is looking more for something that it can learn from rather than interacting. It’s almost like the priorities of your neurons are different and focused on fact based concepts and that is not necessarily a negative point! I could be wrong; however this is what I am sensing from your question.

    Many Blessings,
    Evette Rose


    Lindsey Johnson Reply:

    Your absolutley right Evette, its primarily concerned with gathering information. And I do however have a very emotional side, but I seem to be able to compartmentalize things very well. So I can turn it on and off when I feel appropriate. Thanks for all your hard work!!


  6. Hi Evette,
    thank you for the good Article.
    I agree, but I think this is one too physical perspective. Is it rather just a symptom instead of the origin?
    For me, the level of consciousness influences the brain. For example the neural-connectedness patterns or brain chemistry.



    Evette Reply:

    Hi Peter,

    Thank you for your great reply.

    Yes you are right, however if we didn’t have physical perspectives on different situations then we won’t always know how to heal and deal with certain situations in life. Like with the MN that wrote about, yes it an consciousness issue, however there are physical aspects to it, like in my case used Vitamin A that helped me with my neuron issue, so not only did I do a healing on it, I actually did a scan on myself and released physical intervention was needed for me and my healing process. We should always have a balanced perspective and that is why there are people like you who can look at it from a different angle, which brings great balance in the world :-)

    Many blessings
    Evette Rose


  7. Hi Evette,
    Good article!I had read about mirror neurons only in passing awhile back, but,no, didn’t pay it the attention it deserved.
    After having read your article, I wondered if the opposite could also exist,that being, overactive mirror neurons.There was very little that i could find on google,except for a forum,with what seemed supposition,but no hard data.
    So,my question:is there such a thing as over active mirror neurons & if so,what are the implications/expressions of this.

    Thanks for time.


  8. Hi Tom,

    Excellent question! I have seen in people with PTSD that the MN are quite active discharging many many signals, I also sensed a heightened level of intuition and psychic abilities along with that. People who have overactive MN can also be excellent mind readers and should be quite good at reading body language skills! I am still researching this topic so if I have any more info on it then I will let you know, at this stage this is only my 2 cents and not yet solid facts.

    Many Blessings,
    Evette Rose


  9. Gloria Elphinstone

    Hi Evette,

    I’m finding it very interesting reading the new information put forward by yourself and Simon. In my research for effective and real healing I am finding that we have only touched on the surface of what is ‘out there’ for us to use and create, heal, and have more meaningful lives, of which was intended for us in the beginning of time and that it has been lost along the way over many generations. The result being stress and illness of which now is becoming too much in our everyday lives.

    I’m also finding that all the creators of intuitive healings are on the same tract but using slightly different modalities and it is going deeper and deeper, getting to the core of our true reality. Once one starts researching and wanting to know more, one cannot stop because there is so much to learn.

    All the best


  10. hi evette
    interesting stuff. just wondered what your thoughts are on the opposite to this. i mean where a persons mirror neurons are fired and overactive 24/7. This seems to be my predicament.have you come across this before?


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