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Highly Sensitive People

This is a discussion on Highly Sensitive People within the Other Challenges forums, part of the Life's Other Challenges category; I'm curious as to how many of you have heard of highly sensitive people (HSPs). Even though I have never ...

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Old 09-20-08, 06:58 PM   #1
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Default Highly Sensitive People

I'm curious as to how many of you have heard of highly sensitive people (HSPs). Even though I have never had a professional deem me as a HSP, I have the hunch I am one of these folks. Even though I don't seem to have some of the traits that many HSPs have--such as food allergies, aversions to strong-tasting foods, repulsion towards violent movies and games and graphic images, sensitivity to pain--I definitely have other traits that HSPs are said to have:

*I'm bothered by many noises that others aren't. I hate noises that are "disorganized." I've always felt tense whenever I am in a noisy auditorium or cafeteria. And part of the reason why I hate night clubs is that it's hard to discern different noises, and there never seems to be a moment of silence that would allow me to "relax" my ears. I can't stand trying to sleep with the T.V. on or with music playing; I find myself unable to relax and drift to sleep. And I don't like it when people play their radios or T.V.s loudly; the sound becomes overwhelming.

*Certain smells are very overpowering. I sneeze like crazy when someone puts on a ton of perfume or uses air freshener heavily. I feel a bit nauseous after being in a Bath & Body Works, Yankee Candle Shop, or any perfume store for a prolonged period of time. The smell of fresh asphalt, burning brakes, wet dogs, or bacon easily gives me a headache. And, usually, if I'm in a group, I'll be the first person to detect a smell. On the other hand, "earthy" smells that many people dislike are quite pleasant to me.

*I'm incredibly intuitive. Often, I can figure out what someone is going to say next in a conversation or I can figure out how someone is going to react in a given situation. And if I'm given enough time to familiarize myself with a certain environment, I can easily spot patterns and ways in which things are arranged.

*I seem to be a "conductor" of others emotions. My mood seems largely affected by the moods of those around me. For example, if I'm surrounded by folks who are stressing out about something, then I start to feel stressed out, too...and it can get to the point that I feel incredibly overwhelmed, and wish for everyone else to calm down.

*I can't stay inside for too long. On days in which I've been inside for a long time, I start to feel anxious and my judgment becomes cloudy, and sometimes, I feel a tad headachy. I find that these "symptoms" seem more drastic when I'm in windowless rooms as opposed to rooms with windows.

*I have problems with Seasonal Affective Disorder. I definitely find myself becoming depressed during the winter months, and I know it's not due to the cold or snow. (I like both of those things!--Thank goodness I don't seem to have SAD during the summer...The heat makes me cranky as it is.)

*I dread performing tasks when I'm being observed. I become incredibly nervous when someone is actively watching me do something, regardless if it's something I do well or not. In these instances, if I must do whatever I doing (and I'm not allowed to stop whatever I'm doing until I'm no longer being watched), I tend to do whatever I do poorly.

*I can't stand having a lot going on at once. I'm not one of those people who thrives on stress or drama, and I rather take my time doing something, or else I'll be incredibly unpleased with the end result (irregardless of any praise I may receive). I find that I seem to need more time to rest than other folks after doing something physically and/or emotionally taxing.

*I need a lot of time to myself. If I'm around people constantly, I feel drained. For that matter, I often times feel more alone when I'm in a group than when I'm by myself.

*I have a great appreciation for the arts. Even though I'm pursing a profession in science, I greatly enjoy the arts. I love going to art museums and spending hours in them. I also like going to plays. Whenever I'm listing to music with complex arrangements, I enjoy "dissecting" the different layers of the compositions and listening for particular harmonies or instruments. (I've never understood my friends who say that classical music puts them to sleep--and not in a negative way, either. I'm way too busy listening to all of the different parts of the music to fall asleep! :D ) I like listening to music that has meaningful lyrics, not necessarily to music that is "catchy" or "fun."

*I am conscientious. I don't like to jump into things without mulling them over first. I try to be careful for the most part. Though, most of all, I'm very thorough.


Even though the concept and existence of HSPs are still being contested, it bothers me how there are folks who see traits that are associated with HSPs as being problematic, psychopathological, and something in need of eradication or treatment. (And on a semi-related subject, it bothers me how introverts are seen as being flawed by the general public.) I get tired of people thinking how everyone should fit a certain mold...no wonder why folks with these symptoms are prone to depression and anxiety!
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Old 09-22-08, 12:04 AM   #2
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i like this post. nicely done. wish i could organize like that.

look into asperge autism, and general anxiety disorder (GAD) before you do anymore research on HSP; then compare.
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Old 09-22-08, 01:02 AM   #3
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Default Re: Highly Sensitive People

i think i've heard of it, with some of the points you mentioned.
very interesting. i wonder, though, how much these describe the general population. i seem to have some of these.
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Old 09-22-08, 11:30 AM   #4
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i can really relate to some points you mentions.
- bothered by noise.. makes me really stressed and i need to leave and be somewhere quiet
- you said u cant be inside for too long.. im the opposite.. i cant be outside the house for too long
-dread doing tasks when people are watching.. proper freaks me out and i get so anxious and scared
- cant stand having a lot going on at once.. need to do one thing at a time
- need a lot of time to myself... hell yeah
- great appreciation for arts.. esp music and dance
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Old 09-23-08, 09:09 PM   #5
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IDKwhatIwant: I had noticed that there are many traits shared among Aspies and HSPs, too. A huge difference I've seen between the two is that Aspies have an incredibly difficult time interpreting the emotions and intent of others, whereas HSPs are generally thought to be well-attuned to others' emotions and intentions (which is something I didn't mention earlier). And I kind of do wonder how many of those who could be thought of as HSPs have GAD. (I haven't been diagnosed with GAD nor do I think that I have it.)

BlueGirl: Even though I think the concept of HSPs seems very plausible, I've wondered how generalized it is, too.

silent cry: When you say that you can't be outside for too long, is it because you're not fond of the elements or is it due to social anxiety? I'm not too crazy with having to interact with people when I'm outside, but I always feel so much better after I get a bit of fresh air; I find the air indoors to be awfully stale. I also just enjoy being around plants and animals, and there's just something I really like about being in the wind and walking on earthen ground.
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Old 09-23-08, 10:38 PM   #6
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ok then. good luck. sound slike you know what youre doing. :D
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Old 11-19-08, 09:15 PM   #7
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*Certain smells are very overpowering.

Um, yeah. Enough said. I can smell my brother when I'm upstairs and he opens the door to come into the house (and he doesn't smell THAT bad). A bad smell or a smell that I personally don't like can put me in a real nasty mood.

I have the book actually, called "the highly sensitive person's survival guide". It was a quick read, nice to see that there are other people like me that aren't autistic per se. But nothing earth-shattering in it. I think i need the "highly sensitive person's workbook" (1999) by Elane Aron.
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Old 11-20-08, 03:47 AM   #8
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the reaon i dont like being outside is cus of the social anxiety i think.. tho partly cus i dont like the feeling of the outside.. weather, air etc
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Old 11-20-08, 05:01 AM   #9
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alot of these sound like me

I'm intuitive, a conductor, kills me to have lots of things going on at once, need alot of time to myself, and am concientius.

good post... i think it comes with the territory of having major depression and anxiety disorders, probably the latter more than the first.
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Old 11-21-08, 03:24 AM   #10
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As long as the multi-billion dollar pharmacology industry doesn't convince society its a legitimate syndrome (a group of concurrent symptoms) and prescribe a medication for it. Is there an opposite?
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