A surfeit of research confirms that people activate personal, affective, and conceptual representations when perceiving the states of others. However, researchers continue to debate the role of self–other overlap in empathy due to a failure to dissociate neural overlap, subjective resonance, and personal distress. A perception–action view posits that neural-level overlap is necessary during early processing for all social understanding, but need not be conscious or aversive. This neural overlap can subsequently produce a variety of states depending on the context and degree of common experience and emotionality. We outline a framework for understanding the interrelationship between neural and subjective overlap, and among empathic states, through a dynamic-systems view of how information is processed in the brain and body.