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Highly Sensitive People

See also the Highly Sensitive People Compendium, which has lots more information and resources.

A genetic trait which occurs in 15 to 20 percent of humans and other higher mammals, high sensitivity is characterized by a nervous system which processes information more subtly. The brains of highly sensitive people (HSPs) are stellar at deeply processing input and information. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. The HSP’s rich inner life and abilities in the realms of making connections and noticing subtleties in the environment are positive indeed, but all that information and stimulation can result in a feeling of being overwhelmed.

Psychologist Elaine Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You, first published in 1996, was based on her extensive research about HSPs. In the book, she describes the trait of high sensitivity, offers many stories and examples, and provides tools and encouragement for HSPs. Although Elaine did not discover the trait, her books and advocacy have been instrumental in popularizing awareness of high sensitivity. She went on to publish several more books about HSPs (see the Resources page), including a books about highly sensitive children and highly sensitive people in love. Elaine’s books and website include her self-test for high sensitivity, along with much additional valuable information.

Elaine is not the only person to have written easily accessible books about high sensitivity, though she made the first big splash. Other authors have published books on a variety of different HSP-specific topics. See the Highly Sensitive People Compendium for further resources and information.

This page last updated on 17 May 2009.