What Being a ‘Highly Sensitive Person’ Actually Means


I really like cozy sweaters, however the tiniest little bit of wool can really feel like sandpaper on my pores and skin. The second I hear ambulance sirens or loud music, my head begins spinning. Different folks’s feelings and ~energies~ can even ship me reeling. And I’m not the one one who’s so simply affected by their surroundings and the folks in it: Search #highlysensitiveperson on TikTok and also you’ll see a group of movies with greater than 62 million views, a few of which present folks crying or hiding below a pillow when life turns into an excessive amount of.

The time period extremely delicate individual (HSP) was coined in 1997 by psychologist Elaine Aron, PhD, who (alongside together with her fellow-psychologist husband Arthur Aron) developed a scale for measuring sensory processing sensitivity (SPS)—a character trait characterized by “better depth of processing, cognizance of subtleties within the surroundings, being simply overstimulated, having stronger emotional responses, and empathy to others’ affective cues.”

Analysis on this character trait is restricted general—and, it’s necessary to notice, not all psychological well being professionals subscribe to the label—however Dr. Aron’s findings have since impressed other psychologists to look into sensory sensitivity and the mixture of genetic and environmental factors that may contribute to it. To be clear, SPS isn’t a dysfunction or a kind of psychological sickness. It’s, nonetheless, a really actual expertise for round 20% of individuals, in accordance with a 2014 study co-authored by Dr. Aron, who identifies as an HSP herself.

“A extremely delicate individual is somebody whose nervous system is extra affected by and extra reactive to their surroundings,” Jadzia Jagiellowicz, PhD, a psychologist who researches excessive sensitivity and a contributing creator to The Highly Sensitive Brain: Research, Assessment, and Treatment of Sensory Processing Sensitivity, tells SELF. Dr. Jagiellowicz, who studied below Dr. Aron, explains that HSPs additionally are typically extremely empathetic and really feel each constructive and unfavorable feelings extra intensely than individuals who don’t have this trait. In different phrases, in the event you determine with this character kind, that’s not a dangerous factor.

How have you learnt in the event you’re a “extremely delicate individual”?

Excessive sensitivity may be difficult to determine, Dr. Jagiellowicz says, partly as a result of it shares similarities with some psychological well being points. Nervousness, for instance, can even trigger folks to have robust emotional reactions or want downtime to get well from a very social weekend. Trauma, too, could cause excessive emotional arousal and make folks hyper-aware of their surroundings. And other people with ADHD or autism spectrum dysfunction (ASD) may discover indicators of sensory sensitivity. Nonetheless, in contrast to clinical anxiety, ADHD, ASD, and post-traumatic stress disorder, you may’t be recognized with excessive sensitivity.

However in the event you take into account your self an HSP or suppose you is likely to be within the membership, there are some common standards to look to. (Dr. Aron’s self-test is one place to start out.) And no matter whether or not you finally determine with the HSP label, noticing the methods in which you’ll be able to be particularly delicate may enable you to develop self-care methods to make day by day life much less overwhelming, in accordance with the specialists we talked to. Listed here are a couple of indicators to contemplate.

1. You’re very conscious of what’s occurring in and round you.

HSPs “are typically extra reactive to” their environments, Dr. Jagiellowicz says, whether or not that’s their dwelling, office, or the folks round them. The important thing phrase right here is overstimulation, she says—you don’t simply discover no matter’s occurring round you, but it surely simply overwhelms you. For instance, you would possibly instantly clock harsh lighting once you stroll right into a room and have hassle specializing in anything due to it, or, in my case, a loud and crowded morning commute could put you on excessive alert from the second you permit your own home till you arrive at work, making you need to crawl again below your covers.

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