psychological coverage: [noun] (sí·kò·LO·jî·kel KUV·rej) – the extent to which an individual ‘gets’ another person; the capacity to build accurate internal mental models of another person’s character, mannerisms and personality.
Background: To what extent can you jump into another’s skin – to see with their eyes, to think with their mind, to taste the air they breathe and understand the world through their filters and prejudices?
The moment I meet somebody, a part of my mind goes into ‘high receive’ mode – guzzling in data points and filing it away for future analysis. If we’d met in a social setting or eaten together more than once - chances are, I’ll remember if you’re left-handed. Beyond simple yes/no toggle flags, a part of me instinctively draws in details of everything said (and left unsaid) around me in even while engaging in idle chatter. It’s a spooky power that has unnerved not a few people when they find out I can quote entire blocks of conversations I was only tangentially involved in.
In a different life, I am certain I’d have been an outstanding covert operative or spy.
Socially, having strong psychological coverage allows me to blend, chameleon-like, into dozens of disparate worlds and subcultures without a ripple. Unlike my sneering atheist friends who wear their contempt for religion on their sleeves, I can have engaging conversations with evangelical pastors on eschatology; though I remain an unconverted skeptic, I feel my world is richer for those moments.
The downsides of freakishly high empathy are harder to articulate – but chief among them is the strange brand of loneliness that comes with the asymmetrical relationship I have with most people: for every ten bits of data I instinctively pick up from a conversation with someone, they’d struggle (through no fault of their own) to remember one or two in return.
Usage: “Mark’s otherwise high psychological coverage has a blind spot; his dogmatic opinions about the second amendment make him unable to relate to gun-control advocates.”
“Don’t get me wrong – I really like this new girl and honestly wish we could stay together, but I figured out by the second month that our mutual psychological coverage gap is far too extensive to survive anything long-term.”