“Highly Sensitive Person”
A lot of people have no idea this is an actual term. Even less people know that about 15 to 20% of the population can be called highly sensitive. And it is an inherited trait. If you are highly sensitive chances are that at least one of your parents is also highly sensitive.
To avoid further confusion I would like to say that the term “Highly Sensitive People” originated in science and is not related to or synonymous for the New Age term “indigo children” etc. It is an interesting theory in itself, however this is not a blog about that. So if you are here hoping to find an esoteric background I will have to disappoint you. On this blog I would like to present you with scientific research about HSP. And how it has influenced my life. Highly Sensitive People is a term first coined by Dr. Elaine Aron Phd in clinical depth psychology. The scientific term “sensory processing sensitivity” is used as well to describe this trait.
Research supported by grants from
the National Science Foundation and the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Brain Imaging Center in 2013 concluded based on fMRI brain scans, that there are very clear differences in the working of the central nervous system of people with the sensory processing sensitivity trait, and those who don’t possess the trait. If you would like to read more about this below there is a link to further research.
Below is an excerpt from Dr. Aron’s website:
“If you find you are highly sensitive, or your child is, I’d like you to know 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 in over 100 species (and probably there are many more) from fruit flies, birds, 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’. To learn more about this, see Research.
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 extroverts, 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.”
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HSP AND AUTISM?
Sensory processing sensitivity is a personality trait found in up to 20% of the population therefore it is too high of a percentage to be a disorder or a condition. It is simply a misunderstood personality trait. On top of that it is found in over a hundred species of animals, it is innate and serves a purpose. Variety in personality is a good quality for any species to guarantee the survival of the species. This has just not been thoroughly researched. If you would like to read more about the difference between HSP and autism please click the link below.
For more research reading material I would like to refer you to Dr. Aron’s website where she links to several PDFs of written material by her and her collaborators.