About a week ago, I was introduced to a web site (don’t even remember where it was referenced from) that discussed the Highly Sensitive Person (or HSP). I honestly was not even aware of this trait before, and have done some research over the last several days to understand it better since I recognized myself in these discussions. I have learned that this is a normal inherent physiologic trait that exists in 15-20% of people world wide (and has been measured in over 100 species besides humans). Those with this trait are more attuned to themselves and things going on around them, including other people. Because of this high sensitivity, they can be easily overstimulated more than most people and therefore need “down time” more frequently in order to allow processing of the data collected from this overstimulation.
It may seem that this is a “bad” pathological problem, but actually, it has been found that this trait is neutral – it has as many equal benefits as disadvantages. Since it is physiological, it is not a “choice” to be sensitive – but it is a trait that exists from birth.
In short, the nervous system is wired differently due to genetics in this 20%, so that our brains react differently to stimuli than the other 80%. This is neither good nor bad – just different. Here’s a few of the characteristics of HSP’s
- Often very sensitive to pain.
- Respond to lower doses of medication.
- Don’t perform well in competitive situations
- Tend to want to retreat to a quiet space or be alone when there is too much noise and activity around them.
- Tend to be uncommonly cautious when facing new situations.
- Often highly conscientious and tend towards perfectionism.
- Difficulty making seemingly (to other people) simple decisions.
- Are more aware than others of subtleties: visual, auditory and smell for example.
- Find it difficult to deal with unplanned changes.
Here is a quick (27 question) test that you can use to see if you have this trait. And here are a couple of links to articles that go into more detail:
- The Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Elaine Aron (she has several books I have ordered)
- The Highly Sensitive Person: An introduction by Denmarkguy
And many more that are referenced from the above. There are also a number of books referenced, but I can’t promote them yet, since I haven’t had a chance to read them! Since this trait can be genetic, I wonder how many of my family have this same trait. Please take a look and lets discuss when we get a chance. Don