Thanks to Recent Research in Developmental Psychology and researchers like Dr. Elaine Aron for the awareness and insight into Sensory processing sensitivity(scientific term). A highly sensitive person (HSP) is a person having the innate trait of high psychological sensitivity (or innate sensitiveness as Carl Jung originally coined it). According to Elaine N. Aron and colleagues as well as other researchers, highly sensitive people, who comprise about a 15-20% of the population, may process sensory data much more deeply and thoroughly due to a biological difference in their nervous systems.
Elaine Aron, a Psychologist and a HSP herself did an outstanding research since 1991 first coined the term “hsp”. In Elaine’s words, If you find you are highly sensitive, or your child is, you need to begin by knowing the following :
Your trait is normal. It is found in 15 to 20% of the population–too many to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority of those around you.
It is innate. In fact, biologists have found it to be in most or all animals, from fruit flies and fish to dogs, cats, horses, and primates. This trait reflects a certain type of survival strategy, being observant before acting. The brains of highly sensitive persons (HSPs) actually work a little differently than others’.
You are more aware than others of subtleties. This is mainly because your brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. So even if you wear glasses, for example, you see more than others by noticing more.
You are also more easily overwhelmed. If you notice everything, you are naturally going to be overstimulated when things are too intense, complex, chaotic, or novel for a long time.
This trait is not a new discovery, but it has been misunderstood. Because HSPs prefer to look before entering new situations, they are often called “shy.” But shyness is learned, not innate. In fact, 30% of HSPs are extraverts, although the trait is often mislabeled as introversion. It has also been called inhibitedness, fearfulness, or neuroticism. Some HSPs behave in these ways, but it is not innate to do so and not the basic trait.
Sensitivity is valued differently in different cultures. In cultures where it is not valued, HSPs tend to have low self-esteem. They are told “don’t be so sensitive” so that they feel abnormal.
Being a highly sensitive person myself ever since I left home for college, I thought I was an Introvert even though I knew I am very sociable. Even at home I always wanted space or privacy sometime alone everyday which I realize later that I actually needed it. Usually they misunderstand HSPs for being shy, introvertive, at extreme cases even neurotic. In the developing countries there ain’t much awareness, even to most neurologists/psychiatrists/psychologists.My classmate had a blank stare when I shared this information to her. I’ve been misconstrued for being snobbish when I’m rather “slow to warm up” in a new environment. Vitally 3yrs ago, It has been quite a breakthrough for me to become this way. To desensitize and to self-analyze myself for adapting to situations especially trauma since my field is Medicine. I don’t need to emphasize on the quagmire I had to overcome just because people don’t understand me. Now that I’m used to it, on the bright side I descry I had a self-discovery. You can’t please everyone. Lets just hope there is much awareness to people about this soon enough so people who are born like me don’t have to writhe through my tussle.
Optimum Happiness Requires both Positive and Negative Emotions & is the balance between them which makes you your wholesome. If you don’t know how to do it, nevertheless you’re sensitive or not, its futile. My point is, even if my personality has its own negative side for being easily affected, stressed & depressed. You can always balance yourself with exercise, yoga and meditation which will help you relieve from your daily stressors. Above all, there is Neuroplasticity. Bottom line : Educate thyself.
American Psychological Association : http://www.apa.org
Mental Health America http: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net