Sense and Sensitivity | Psychology Today

They tear up at phone commercials. They brood for days over a gentle ribbing. They know what you’re feeling before you do. Their nerve cells are actually hyperreactive. Say hello to the Highly Sensitive Person

Source: Sense and Sensitivity | Psychology Today

Here’s another great article on understanding HSP’s “make”. As I’ve tested positive for many of the traits and characteristics that makes HSPs, I find it important and greatly supportive to read (and share) articles that will hopefully help the “other 80 percent” to make room inside themselves for understanding HSPs in general – and hopefully even more those they may have in their inner circle. (there’s actually a chance at least one out of five people close to you will be an HSP).

This one above is a bit of a longish read. There is a condensed version of it following this link. Whichever one you choose to familiarize yourself with, I truly hope it will give you some insight and ideally compassion with folks of our ilk and the many challenges we have to face and somehow manage in addition to everything everyone else is also dealing with.


Radikale Akzeptanz: Ich schaffe das! | ZEIT ONLINE (ZEIT Online article on Marsha Linehan and her Conception of CBT – trigger warning)

Eine Patientin hasst und verletzt sich selbst. Ihre unglaubliche Geschichte führt die Psychologie auf neue Wege. Wie die radikale Akzeptanz uns hilft, Krisen zu überwinden.

Source: Radikale Akzeptanz: Ich schaffe das! | ZEIT ONLINE

Again, this is an article which unfortunately appeared in a German newspaper publication. Maybe Google’s Translation bot can make good enough sense of it. It talks about Marsha Linehan and how she came up with the concept of radical acceptance as a starting point for change and personal transformation even after the most grave of human travesties. Trigger warning.

Suckerpunch! The Harvard Second Generation Grant and Glueck Study

Grant and Glueck Study Performed at the Laboratory of Adult Development

Source: Harvard Second Generation Grant and Glueck Study

Wow! This hit me in the groin-ole-area there! Why? Because the finding document in writing what I’ve been sensing all along: I fell out of character, out of shape in 2007 – four years after my divorce had been completed – from no longer getting by on my own. When I say “get by”, I don’t mean mundane things like e.g. knowing how to provide for yourself or anything along those lines. As a matter of fact, I held a fairly high paid position during the years of my divorce and the years leading up to it. I “reinvented” myself twice after deciding to switch careers in 2003. I had planned to migrate to Canada in 2007 and everything was set and ready to go – and my frail health let me down on it as I could not adjust to the different climate in Vancouver, B.C. (but loved the area and the people there!). So I returned to Germany, where a job offer as editor for a well to do Mac publication was waiting for me. And things went south from there in a matter of a few months.

So, this it then? We need a meaningful relationship with a significant other to be well and happy in life. Sounds mundane, but is far from it where I’m concerned. Everyone who’s known me from High School attested to my all out positive transformation when my ex-wife and I had become an item and eventually got married. I felt at home with myself and my life for the first time ever. Anyway. I’m not going to make this another elaborate moment of whining. Just saying: Reading this article leaves me with a feeling as if someone had sucked all air right out of me.

Hopefully, reading the article has a better effect on you. (consider above paragraphs a trigger warning… 😇 )

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Hochsensibilität: So läuft es besser in der Beziehung ›

HSP, Hochsensibilitaet
Selbst, wenn wir nicht zu den Empfindsamen gehören: Die Wahrscheinlichkeit, dass wir irgendwann eine*n von ihnen lieben, ist groß. Foto: Larm Rmah / Unsplash CC license

Source: Hochsensibilität: So läuft es besser in der Beziehung ›

Another excellent article, this time on highly sensitive persons (again, unfortunately only in German, try the big Google machine for translation, should provide at least a gist of its contents). In a nutshell and to summarize it: This article points to some of the common issues and challenges in a highly sensitive person with particular regard to finding a life partner.( I prefer to call them “hypersensory”, there’s less of a potentially judgemental connotation in that wording IMHO ). Self compassion, self care, energy management in regards to one’s own needs may be mentioned as some of the stronger tenets as provided in above text.

As for myself, I’d rate myself a sceptic when it comes to the hypothesis of HSP being a genetic trait as posited by Elain Aron. In my view, being easily overwhelmed by external stimuli and the missing filtering system in an HSP could very well be traced back to unresolved material from one’s past, be it (developmental) trauma, shock trauma (trauma type I) and|or subsequent loss of identity due to needing to compartmentalize the outcomes of trauma and|or a blend of both (and potentially further aspects that I’m missing). In my experience and analysis as well as personal research, there seem to be strong indications that link a small window of tolerance to one or more traumatic events early into one’s biography. In other words and to explain in a bit more detail: I find it very likely and almost common sense that a need to discern incoming stimuli in terms of their potential existential threat due to previous trauma creates a stress level per se that is higher as in any other person. (with equanimity being a rare experience for people dealing with the outcomes of trauma; I can say from experience that I haven’t experienced anything like it – i.e. equinimity – until very late into my adult life. In particular, I remember an itinerary in 2007 that took me to some of the deserts in the US – and how surprised I was to have the experience of being completely relaxed and feeling safe and sound within my own skin for what felt like the first time ever – and being aware of that state of being as it happened..).

Valley of Fire, NV, USA, 4/2007
Worshipping the late afternoon sun at Valley of Fire, NV, USA in April of 2007. ©W. Nieke, CC 3.0

So profound and new seemed this experience that I knew I had discovered a resource and source of self care. But without digressing too quickly again and in coming back to the subject at hand (HSPs): I am not aware of any scientific studies that have examined a different stimuli-response-processing pattern in HSPs vs. non-HSPs/people in general and I’d assume the former to be the core assumption to test when coining a category like Elain Aron did. Her own research appears a bit incomplete in my view and I’d find it a lot more convincing, if there was research that e.g. tested and – ideally – corroborated a neurologically different response to any sensory stimuli in HSPs vs. the general population – and put some numbers to the findings. Maybe I’ve lost track of the status of research in this area (in which case feel free to fill me in) as I’ve looked into a number of phenomena over the past 10-12 years in hopes of tracing back my own losses in the past and the former in an attempt to better identify exactly what I’d need help with and where to find it.

Whether or not I’m overgeneralizing from my own findings here I have to leave to the inclined reader. In any case and with all due respect: I’m not all convinced yet by Ms. Aron’s findings. But again: Those would be my spare 2 cents (if anyone needed them, that is 😏)

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