From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
The Telepathic and Empathic Review Agency, commonly referred to as TERA, is one of the leading scientific agencies in Paragon City when it comes to the theoretical study of thought and emotive activity in the human, humanoid, and human-mutant mind. Their scientist and psychologists occasionally take the time to write up reviews of their current theoretical studies, for publication in various scientific magazines throughout the United States and the world as a whole.
The Fragility of the Emotive Human Mind
Generally speaking, there are five different types of emotion existing in the human species. These types have been referred to as conceptions, sensations, reflexes, involuntary expressions, and voluntary expressions. With these types in mind it can be argued that emotion is the unavoidable foundation of all reason, action, and thought. Without control over one's emotions, physical and mental chaos is certain.
Most telepaths work on the idea of creating new memory, forcing the conscious mind to bend to their will, with the rare exception of one that can push farther and manipulate the subconscious directly.
Empaths, however, work on an almost entirely different level. Their abilities are almost primal, and almost always focus on manipulation of emotion and feeling. As such, their abilities are often a direct reflection of their own emotional state and level of self control.
Most Empaths are typed as Receptive. A Receptive Empath is one that can 'hear' and internalize the emotion of others, with only minor sending abilities. Another type, not nearly as prevalent, is known as Broadcast. Broadcast Empaths are, as can be expected, the near-opposite of Receptives, with ability heavily seated in sending out emotional signals to others. As a rule of thumb, Receptives are classified as support-based while Broadcasters are classified as assault-based. This may seem like a rather clean-cut line at first glance, but one must take into consideration that Receptive and Broadcast Empathy are not exclusive. Both types tend to bleed into one another; in fact, most subjects labeled as Broadcast Empaths are over half to 70% Receptive, and as such are not true Broadcasters.
In the rare case of a True Broadcast Empath, which would require that 15% or less of the empathic ability be considered Receptive and/or markedly chaotic and underdeveloped, one could surmise that the sheer level of empathic output could reach levels that have yet to be charted. However, one might also suggest that to reach those levels of power, a True Broadcast Empath would have to sacrifice themselves and their sanity in the process.
Over the course of these sixty-some years following the confirmation of the first case by the scientific community, only a handful of subjects have been available to further the study of True Broadcast Empathy(TBE) in any meaningful way. This is largely due to the strict criterion used to define TBE, as many individuals show extremely similar ability, with only a Receptive percentage difference of two to five points.
One such subject, with a Receptive percentage of 18% - three points over the accepted level of 15%, was discovered in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1986. This subject, only twelve years old at the time, showed an amazing amount of control over memory recall directly related to emotions such as fear and pain in others when in direct contact. To a lesser extent, he was also able to manipulate and maintain emotional content in a radius of one to three feet around himself, measurable by the increased brain activity in the centers of the brain devoted to emotional response in both himself as well as others within that range. At the time of this study both parents of the boy as well as willing relatives on both sides of his family tree were tested for similar ability with some interesting but mostly results, leading one to surmise that empathic ability of this nature is not necessarily hereditary, but a random mutation. Further studies were planned, but after frequent uncontrollable emotional outbursts from the boy as well as two scientists working on the case complaining of disturbing nightmares after working directly with the subject, the boy was classified as unstable and released from the program.
With that particular study in mind, where an 18% Receptive individual was still able to project a more than significant level of empathic content into others, it becomes easier to see why anyone exhibiting actual TBE signs could prove to be not only fascinating, but highly dangerous. Stability is always an issue with Empaths, and this problem seems to be magnified many times over when the thrust of any individual's power leads to a focus on emotional output as opposed to emotional intake.
Efforts to find stable Empaths for TBE research are still ongoing, and one can only hope that more light can be shed on the subject soon.