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About "the Highly Sensitive Person" And The Name


Kabuto

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For those who don't know, "Highly Sensitive People" are people who experience things more deeply. They often feel deeper and richer emotions and sensual sensation, at the cost of feeling often overwhelmed. Elaine Aron wrote a book about it, which I highly recommend.

But seriously, Elaine Aron, wonderful findings, terrible name. Couldn't you have picked something better to call the trait? Unfortunately, the word "sensitive" has a negative connotation in our society. Good luck telling my friends that I'm "highly sensitive." It was even embarrassing to ask my mom to read the book.

I have many friends who I would love to show this book to because they emanate high sensitivity. But it's a very ridiculous title.

But again, I stress: great book, terrible name. I really think that the message of "sensitive" or as I prefer "hyper attuned" individuals needs to get out there. Desperately. If people understand the trait, we can make huge progress in helping those who possess it.

I suppose you may ask what this has to do with the depression forums, but highly sensitive individuals are often prone to depression. It is so important to help those with highly sensitive traits, especially the guys who are far more reluctant to accept these innate characteristics about themselves and share these feelings with others. How can we get this out there?

Because I may be a sensitive guy, but I'm also a badass. I want to show that people can possess those characteristics simultaneously.

Edited by Kabuto
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Yes, I agree, the title makes the person sound all weepy when that isn't always the case. The emotions can go quite strongly in other directions as well. The emotions just tend to be stronger than what other people feel. I didn't realize there was such a thing until I came here and started to read up more on depression. I very much fit the profile though I am a quite girly so I would not have the stigma quite as much as a man. I will check out the book.

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I have to say that, for me, the word "sensitive" is more accurate. The author makes the point that in many cultures, sensitivity is valued and respected. Only in our modern western world is sensitivity associated with weakness. Sensitivity can be a great strength, although when combined with anxiety and depression I think it's a bit deadly. :ermm:

Agreed in certain regards to accuracy. But it poses a major problem, when I want to recommend the book to a friend in a social context. How many "normal" people (both HSP and non-HSP) are actually willing to understand that fact and read the book? It's as difficult as introducing feminism to people- perhaps a good deal more so.

Example: I have multiple male friends (many in fact), who are anxious, shy, and have many attributes of an HSP. Because they probably are HSP's. However, it's hard for me to say: "Read this book, I bet you're sensitive!" It takes a long time for a man to come to terms with his sensitivity.

The same example goes for me. When I get overwhelmed, it's difficult to tell my workmates, roommates, or friends that I'm a highly sensitive person, especially as a guy. It's a phrase that doesn't click with people, in my opinion. (unfortunately)

Edited by Kabuto
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Well, I'm skeptical, Kabuto. You may well be an "HSP". People do have different levels of sensitivity after all, but please keep in mind that this is not a DSM recognized diagnosis, and not taken seriously by the majority of mental health professionals. It may eventually prove to be true, but as yet almost all the information seems to be coming from a single souce, the author of this book and her disciple.

The screening test to determine if you're also an HSP has more holes than a gopher-infested golf course and so generic it could apply to almost anyone. It even said *I* was an HSP, which pretty much confirmed my suspicions about it. Sure, I'd love to believe I was Highly Sensitive instead of Neurotic and Depressed, but I'm also a realist. I'm really not that sensitive, to be honest, which is propably evident from this post. Sorry. Just be careful, that's all I'm saying.


Edited by Vivian2014
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I read up a lot about this topic and believe I may fall into the category.

Vivian does bring up some valid points. I read a lot online though and just use the phrase to have a better understanding of myself. Never use it as a legitimate diagnosis but does help in explain part of my personality.

If it helps you have a better understanding of yourself and others, then learn more about it. I tend to feel things more deeply in a way I cannot explain. I do think it could be part of the PTSD I have and I'm always on edge to protect myself.

In my opinion, I think we know ourselves the best and know how we feel. The effectiveness of the DSM depends on the doctor.

I read more articles about the topic and a lot of it would be hard to describe or confirm but I do think it is an interesting topic for others to look at. I also read about a similar term "empath" and they talked about shielding energy.

Vivian, I'm partially skeptical about it for reasons you stated. I just have a lot of moments where I feel differently that I couldn't explain to anyone else. At the same time I think they could stem from PTSD.

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I know for a fact, I'm absurdly sensitive to everything, and I've always been that way, before depression EVER even entered the picture of my life. And I can tell for sure the difference when somebody is sensitive and when somebody is not.

You can take a look at children and see the vast difference between the nature of the sensitive ones vs the more outgoing ones. It is evident to me, as a teacher of children.

We're all very different. The Myers Briggs test also has validity, and proves that 10% of the population has very different results from other people through statistics.

Sensitivity has caused me depression because many jobs are not geared towards the trait, and therefore after work, I am completely drained. This is isolating. Plus, the whole culture of gender stereotypes and aggression, which is a big issue, even if you don't believe in the trait.

I would even argue that "depression" doesn't necessarily exist, and is a mere combination of many factors, including family love, personal satisfaction in work, economic security, and health (diet/sleep/air breathed/sunlight). But that might be a good deal of a more debatable thesis than the 'highly sensitive person' one, which I'd say is pretty much fact. This is extremely accurate from personal experience.

Edited by Kabuto
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. Sure, I'd love to believe I was Highly Sensitive instead of Neurotic and Depressed, but I'm also a realist. I'm really not that sensitive, to be honest, which is propably evident from this post. Sorry. Just be careful, that's all I'm saying.

Vivian, you are very forthright in everything I've read from you. I like that. It was probably not meant that way, and I mean no offense, but this made me chuckle.

Kabuto, I haven't read the book but I think it may have value for some people even if HSP isn't recognized as yet. I'm uhm, older, yet I still remember being called "highly sensitive" as a child.

I'm horrible at multi-quotes so I'm pasteing (<so this is wrong but pasting just looks wrong to me---or maybe not since I just found a lot of links spelled with the "e") from Icarus: "I also read about a similar term "empath" and they talked about shielding energy."<<<This. If I were to have to give myself a label so others might understand it would be Empath. It drove me nuts for years having feelings that I couldn't figure out where they came from. (Grammar police, I have no idea how to write that sentence right.) I don't remember what age I was when I figured out that I absorbed the emotions of others---crowds were/are still ridiculously hard for me because I'm bombarded with so many different emotions. I can be having a great day and go to the grocery with a bunch of grumps and lo and behold I'm grumpy when I'm done. Living with a negative person is pure H E double toothpicks!!!! I never realized how bad it had gotten until he left and I found laughter again. Still working to shake off some of the negativity though.

Yes, there are ways an Empath can shield. I was so grateful when I learned how. It may be "hocus-pocus" to others but it works for me when I remember to do it---which is where my problem is. In societies that had/have Medicine Men and Women they would pick the children exhibiting these traits to train within the Medicine lines. I could cite chapter and verse about it but I just don't have that kind of time to spend on it.

I will say that depression and anxiety can make even the least sensitive person more sensitive or susceptible to reacting to things others might not react to. It would be great if there were some kind of toolbox of tools that everyone could use to overcome each of these, but unfortunately it's kind of like screwdrivers---some projects require phillips head, some hexhead, some standard, and some have some really strange fittings---so we have to find what's right for us.

Alright, I'm procrastinating now, but I've been meaning to say something here since I first read the post.

Oh yeah, before I go, as far as recommending the book to others maybe something like "Eh, the title stinks, but hey this book does have some good information." Just a thought. :)

Best Wishes to Everyone.

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Kabuto, I agree with both you and Lauryn. I do think its probably an accurate description and it shouldnt be something to be ashamed of but like you say it is very not OK in our society. In fact I think the other interpretation would be that we are being neurotic by thinking we fit. I like your alternative terms.I dont think its possible for the present term to not be misunderstood by most.

And I do think Vivian is right in some ways. I dont think we should take it too seriously and do think a very wide range of people probably relate to the term. Some who would fit more under the empath side of things, others who are not at all sensitive to others and still others who are highly sensitive.

Lets say someone has had anxiety for a long time and tends to react intensely to people being harsh with them etc. It can be related to them having a fragile ego and just having anxiety. They would find noise and people too much. They are sensitive in social interaction (even though they may be terribly insensitive to others) and it would look like they would fit into this catagory when they really don't. But I think those of us who do know we do.

I dont think DSM is the be all and end all and is only the best bet concept that we can come too. Diagnoses are constructs rather than facts. But it is of course wise to treat it flexibly when something hasnt been put through the wringer properly as a concept.

Like Icarus I use it lightly and I think most do. I think it can be useful to understanding our reactions. Like Onmyown I have found advise for empaths very useful to being able to manage my environment despite that being a contentious concept. I am very fact led but greatly identify with what comes with the Empath.

I can also see how someone not being this way inclined would make them super skeptical about it all though!

Kabuto, I'm not sure if you are familiar with the High Sensation Seeking scale that is related. I fall very high on that too. I am extremely adventurous naturally under all the other stuff.

Edited by Fizzle
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One of the things I was trying to say before is that some people would look over that list and relate to aspects of it even though they are not what is meant by HSP.

It is not nuerotism, it isn't depression and it isnt introversion. Thats one thing I think you got wrong Vivian and I think that you did links into what Kabuto has been saying. It also isn't a trauma effect as that can produce quite a few of those criteria such as a need to be away activity, overstimulation and reactions to noise. It is also not being easily offended by other people.

Also just to note that the theory says that those who are HSP are no more prone to anxiety than anyone else. On the whole when they are exposed to an emotionally neglectful environment growing up or more significant things then they are more effected. So it isn't a direct effect but an indirect one. The attempts to association HSP with depression where apparently very inconsistent. I think they theorise that those this way inclined that are nurtured the right way are more resilient than others. Also introversion is not associated with HSP. Really we just process everything more deeply and thoroughly and that takes a lot if energy. And have very good and active mirror neurons (see empathy).and I guess that has a lot of other potential repercussions.

Edited by Fizzle
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