Are you a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)? Do people say things to you like: you’re over-reacting; what are you getting so upset about?; you’re blowing things way out of proportion!; don’t be so sensitive!; stop taking everything so personally!; get over yourself! If so, you’ll know how infuriating such comments can be.
If we are an HSP, it follows that we were also likely to have been a Highly Sensitive Child. Therefore, it is also likely that any childhood trauma we experienced had a greater adverse effect on us than it may have had upon a less vulnerable and more resilient child.
For example, if we experienced significant childhood trauma we are at particular risk of developing a psychiatric condition as a result of it in our adulthood because, as an HSP, we are likely to:
– relive aspects of our trauma in more vivid detail than average
– experience more vivid nightmares associated with our childhood trauma than average
– have felt particularly anxious/fearful etc in response to our traumatic experiences when we were children, which would have put us at especially high risk of psychologically damaged, which, in turn, can seriously adversely affect our adult lives (in the absence of effective therapy).
– ruminate more about our traumatic experiences than average (which, in turn, will make us more likely to suffer from depression as excessive, negative ruminating correlates with the level of depression we experience)
– suffer from a greater level of damaging over-arousal of our nervous systems in response to our traumatic experiences than average
Characteristics Of The Highly Sensitive Person (HSP):
According to Dr. Elaine Aron, HSPs suffer from what she terms sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) and this, she estimates, affects about 15 to 20℅ of the population. Below is a list of some of the characteristics HSPs often possess:
– extreme sensitivity to bright lights
– extreme sensitivity to noise
– extreme sensitivity to touch
– very shy and sensitive in childhood
– easily overwhelmed in demanding situations and feel a need to escape them and find sanctuary (perhaps feeling the need to lie down in a darkened room etc)
– easily startled
– highly affected by other people’s moods
– the rich and complex inner life
The above list is by no means exhaustive, so if you wish to take an online test that will give you an indication of how sensitive you are, click here.