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What Exactly Is a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?

Peter learned he was an HSP in 1997. As a student of sensitivity, he has met 100s of HSPs in person and writes extensively about the trait.


HSPs: An Introduction

I am a Highly Sensitive Person.

What's more, I am a Highly Sensitive Man.

I wasn't always openly comfortable with making such a public admission, but I've come to accept that it is simply part of who I am. And it may be part of who YOU are, as well. Skeptical? Curious? Read on!

When people think about a person who is "Highly Sensitive", the default assumption seems to be that we're talking about someone who's a fussy tender flower who gets their feelings hurt at the drop of a hat.

Whereas that kind of emotional sensitivity might be part of what makes some people an HSP, the definition explored in these pages goes far beyond that, and does not purely revolve around emotional sensitivity.

When Dr. Elaine Aron coined the term "Highly Sensitive Person" (or HSP) in 1996, she was talking about something that is a genetic physiological trait, not a "pathology" or "affliction." In short, an HSP is a person whose neural net (central nervous system) is wired a little bit differently from the rest of the world-- in such a way that they experience everything more deeply and intensely than most people. As a result, they are also more prone to being overstimulated by their environment than most people.


The HSP Next Door: Highly Sensitive People are not that rare

HSPs are not as rare as you might think: an estimated 15-20% of the population is highly sensitive, according to Dr. Aron's research.

Being an HSP is not a "choice," in any way, and it cannot be "fixed" or "treated," anymore than the size of your feet, or the color of your eyes can be "fixed." Through the use of EEG and fMRI technology, scientists in the US, Canada, China and beyond have now actually observed that the brain of an HSP responds differently to specific stimuli than do the brains of the majority of the population. In recent years, the trait has received more scientific study, and high sensitivity is now also referred to as "Sensory Processing Sensitivity."

What follows is an fairly thorough introduction to high sensitivity as an inborn trait, describing its basic attributes as well as some of the "lookalike" medical conditions that may seem like the same thing, but actually are quite different. You will also find links to books, web sites, web groups and other resources that will help you learn more about what it means to be an HSP.

Caution! Lots of information ahead! This article is quite long, so you may wish to bookmark it now, so you have it to refer back to later. I've added lots of peaceful photos along the way to break up all the text... and for something pretty to look at while "thinking about things."


My Own HSP Story, in Brief... or "I am a Highly Sensitive Man"

I learned that I was an HSP in 1997... quite by accident. I was looking through the travel section at a Borders bookstore in Austin, Texas when I came across a book someone had evidently "abandoned," by laying it flat on top of the otherwise neatly shelved books. I picked it up and read the title-- hoping perhaps it was the book on Ireland I was looking for.

"The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You" by Dr. Elaine N. Aron.

Normally, I'd just have set the book aside as "off topic," but for some reason, I decided to flip through the pages. Perhaps it was fate, perhaps it was the echoes of my mother's voice saying "He's such a sensitive little boy," when I was little-- and the way those words always made me feel like I simply didn't belong on this strange ball of rock with what seemed like so many very LOUD and very VIOLENT people.

Either way, I kept looking at the book-- "skimming"-- till I found the author's "self test" for sensitivity. A few minutes later, I had answered "yes" to all but two of the 24 questions (newer versions of the book have a 27-item quiz)!


Not sure I really WANT this "Highly Sensitive" business!

I wouldn't exactly say that I was thrilled about this "news..." which wasn't actually news to me. "Resigned" might have been a better term. As a thirty-something man, living in Texas where "men are men, and everything is larger than life," I had already struggled quite a bit in my attempts to fit into my workplace and cultural environment in general. Whether it "fit," or not, this was not a label I was looking for!

However, I bought the book even though I felt a bit sheepish about it... and over the next couple of weeks I basically devoured it several times, realizing in the process that there was no doubt at all that I was this... "Highly Sensitive Person." As I slowly advanced through the text, I kept having "aha moments," each time gaining insight into why certain aspects of my life had turned out the way they had, and why I had encountered difficulties (and confusion!) where and when I did.

My journey of discovery before, during and after learning about the trait is longer than I can fit here-- but if you're interested, I have written this separate article called How I Learned I was a Highly Sensitive Person.

ESSENTIAL Reading for all HSPs!

It has now been about twenty years since my day at the bookstore. In the interim, I set out to learn all I could about being highly sensitive.

I have gone through an entire range of feelings about the trait-- skepticism, rejection, embracing, scorn, more skepticism, acceptance-- to get to where I am today. I have journaled, blogged and written hundreds of articles about the trait-- in places ranging from Elaine Aron's own "Comfort Zone" newsletter for HSPs to several mainstream magazines. I have met well over 100 HSPs in person, and literally thousands through online groups, listservs, web sites and blogs.

My intent with this article-- and here on this site-- is to share some of what I have learned... so others who are new to learning about the trait may have an easier time getting comfortable with the idea that they are an HSP. This page is also intended as a resource for those who are not HSPs, themselves, but are aware that they have a highly sensitive person in their life.

Unsure? Read this review first

If you're not sure whether to get the book, why not read my book review of "The Highly Sensitive Person" on letterpile before you decide?


Learning more: Dr. Elaine Aron's self-test for Sensitivity

So how do decide whether you are actually a Highly Sensitive Person?

There is a short sensitivity self-test on Dr. Elaine Aron's web site which is FREE and only takes about five minutes to complete. It might seem a bit subjective, but it will give you a fairly clear picture of the characteristics of the HSP trait, and where you fit into the picture. Over the years, it has become the de facto test to measure sensitivity. Hopefully it will offer you some new insight into yourself!


In More Detail: Some Basic HSP Characteristics

So how do you know if you're an HSP?

Well, the core of the trait revolves around experiencing your surroundings and inner life very deeply. As a result, highly sensitive people tend to become easily overstimulated by their environment and intense feelings. There's a common misconception that the trait is just about emotional sensitivity, but that's not true-- there's much more to it than that. Here are some common characteristics of a highly sensitive person-- in no particular order:

HSPs are often very sensitive to noise, and tend to startle very easily.

HSPs are typically deeply moved by art and music.

HSPs often find it difficult to work and concentrate when being watched or evaluated.

HSPs tend to be easily blinded by bright lights; often disturbed by the noise of fluorescent lighting.

HSPs are often more affected by medications than most people, and can get good results from below-average dosages.

HSPs are usually very sensitive to pain-- both in the physical and emotional sense.


HSPs are often deeply disturbed by violence in movies and on TV, and will actively avoid them.

Many HSPs are introverts (about 70-75%), although a few are extraverts.

HSPs are often highly conscientious individuals, but can also struggle with perfectionism.

HSPs don't tend to perform well in very competitive environments-- by nature, they tend to prefer "cooperation" over "competition."

HSPs often find it difficult to deal with sudden unplanned changes.

HSPs tend to want to retreat to a quiet space to be alone when there is too much noise and activity around them.

Many HSPs are very sensitive to stimulants like caffeine and relaxants like alcohol.

HSPs tend to have highly idealistic natures and might be described as "dreamers."

HSPs tend to be deeply empathic and will "pick up emotions" from those around them.

HSPs often report having psychic or extrasensory experiences.

HSPs are often aware of tiny subtleties in their environment and tend to have exceptional powers of observation.

HSPs tend to have very rich and complex inner lives and are often labeled as "daydreamers."

HSPs are often drawn to the arts and music, and many work in creative fields.

HSPs tend to be unusually cautious when approaching new and unknown situations.

HSPs are almost often highly intuitive, sometimes to the point of seeming almost "psychic."

Although highly sensitive people tend to share many of these characteristics, it's important to keep in mind that HSPs are unique and individual people-- just like anyone else in the world. When you meet another HSP, they will not necessarily be "just like you."


What do you think? Are YOU a Highly Sensitive Person?

So now you've been introduced to just a little bit of what it means to be highly sensitive. Of course, it's a pretty complex concept, and there's much more to come... but before we move on, here's a brief quiz-- you're also welcome to leave a comment; there's a space for that at the very end of the article.


OK, so I'm probably an HSP... NOW what?

For many, learning that there is an actual name and scientific basis for the "strange feelings" they have had all their lives can be a major life-altering epiphany. And it can take a little time to get used to the idea.

But what should you do with this information? What can you do with it?

The best advice I can offer is "learn all you can!" When it comes to being an HSP-- which is a fairly complex concept-- knowledge is definitely power. The more you understand about the trait and how it affects you, the better you will be able to decide how and if changing-- or "rearranging"-- parts of your life will make your days easier to navigate. Learning will also enable you to discern which things are not part of high sensitivity.

As of this writing, there are quite a few books available on the subject of high sensitivity. The books listed in this article are just a few of the titles most recommended by the HSPs who have read them.

A little work with Google will offer up literally millions of results for web sites and articles published online. Thousands more are added every year, as "high sensitivity" becomes more and more of a household concept. Below, you will find a list of links to the most significant HSP sites on the web. They offer much excellent information-- regardless of whether you have just learned that you're an HSP, or have already been learning about the trait for many years.

Trying to "ignore" your sensitivity is really not a good approach. You will feel the effects of the trait, regardless of whether you acknowledge it, or not. However, there is nothing to be "cured."

As you move through this article, I will be sharing what I feel to be some of the more significant and helpful books relating to the HSP trait.

if you are interested in gaining a deeper understanding what it means to be an HSP, you would definitely benefit from checking these out-- I have all of them in my personal library and feel confident in recommending them, based on how much they helped me on my own journey of discovery.

Yes, pieces of this information can be found online, on various web sites... but the books do offer far greater depth.

Nothing listed here has not been "field tested" by myself and numerous other HSPs!

Important HSP Web Sites: A short list of some of the most visited web sites for-- and about-- the Highly Sensitive Person.

  • Dr. Elaine Aron's web site
    Author of the landmark book "The Highly Sensitive Person," Dr. Aron's web site has a self-test for sensitivity, information about her books and workshops, as well as the complete archives of her "Comfort Zone" newsletter for HSPs.
  • The HSP Notes blog and web site
    Home of the web's oldest "all HSP topics" blog, published non-stop since 2002. Extensive archive of articles about hundreds of HSP-related topics, as well as a wealth of links to other HSP sites.
    Part of Douglas Eby's Talent Development Resources network, this site about high sensitivity includes lots of information about the HSP trait, gathered many expert sources, as well as articles about well known public figures who are highly sensitive.
  • HSP Gathering Retreats
    HSP Therapist and Coach Jacquelyn Strickland's page about "HSP Gathering Retreats." Now in their 12th year, these are periodic 4-day experiential events with workshops, activities and social events for HSPs.
  • Healing for Highly Sensitive People
    Author and researcher Dr. Ted Zeff's web site, with tips for HSP living, resource links and synopses of Zeff's books about various aspects of high sensitivity.
  • The National Centre for High Sensitivity
    Based in the UK, the National Centre for High Sensitivity was founded in 2010, and serves as an information resource and meeting organizer for HSPs living in Great Britain.

A Useful book for Daily HSP Life

HSP Wellness in Daily Life: It's not about "curing" something, it's about managing your life consciously

When first learning about high sensitivity, many people start off with questions like "What can I do to cure this?" or "It's good to learn about this... now how do I get RID of it?"

One of the most important things to always keep in mind is that high sensitivity is neither a "flaw" nor some kind of "condition" or "syndrome" you can somehow treat and "get over." In fact, you can't change your sensitivity... any more than you can change your eye color or your shoe size. It's also not a "handicap;" it's simply a way for a person's central nervous system to be "wired."

To someone who's suffering the effects of frequent overstimulation, that may not be the news you want to hear. But there really is nothing to be "cured."

HSP Wellness in day-to-day life is about seeking balance and managing your "personal resources" wisely. With deeper understanding of their sensitivities, most HSPs learn to live rich and fulfilling lives that make use of their natural creative talents. They learn which situations will cause overstimulation, and "how much" they can handle, and when to leave before getting overwound. As an HSP, there is very little I can't do that "other people" can do... it's just that my approach to doing these things might be a little different.

According to Elaine Aron, quality sleep is also an essential part of HSP wellness. She recommends 8-9 hours of sleep a night, and emphasizes the importance of a "slow wind down" at night, so we don't go to bed with our minds racing, leading to poor sleep or even insomnia.


Authentic living

"Living authentically" is a very important part of HSP Wellness. The path to an authentic life is not always easy for a highly sensitive person, because it typically requires us to abandon old thinking about what and who we "should" be and what we "should" do. Often our ideas about who we are and what we can do have been placed in our hearts and minds by other people... not by us. A large number of those who learn they are highly sensitive go through a-- sometimes lengthy-- process of "reinventing themselves."

Last, but not least, special attention needs to be paid to a highly sensitive person's need for "Alone Time."

Overstimulation comes to HSPs in many different ways. Sometimes they are environmental. Personally, I am very sensitive to loud, sudden or pervasive noise from my surroundings. Some can be more affected by bright lights, or maybe by acrid or artificial smells. Yet others are sensitive to touch, and to the textures of objects and clothing around them. Sometimes it's all of the above.


Deeper Understanding of the HSP trait

Alone Time: The key to managing overstimulation for HSPs

We live in a busy and chaotic world, filled with demands, things to do, work, family, kids, TV news, scary movies, parties, obligations and much much more. This holds true for everyone-- doesn't matter whether you're highly sensitive, or not.

However, as an HSP, you experience all these "inputs" more intensely.

You might think of it in terms of this analogy: A "standard" radio might be able to pick up 25 stations. Well, an "HSP radio" picks up 100 stations! This doesn't mean that both kinds of radios don't "work properly," however it is FAR more work-- and hence far more exhausting-- to be picking up 100 stations all the time.

In a nutshell, this is why HSPs tend to get "overstimulated," or overwhelmed by their surroundings more quickly than their non-HSP counterparts.

The single most important "antidote" to overstimulation is alone time. ALL HSPs-- regardless of whether they are introverts or extraverts depend on taking some time alone on a regular basis to "recharge their batteries." This can take the form of anything from a five minute break to a couple of hours... however, it is essential to an HSP's overall well-being and sense of feeling balanced.

As an HSP, the best thing you can do-- in terms of pro-active self-care-- is to make sure you take some time to yourself every day, and at such times as you feel yourself starting to "wear thin" and get overstimulated. As a friend-- or spouse-- of an HSP, please understand that spending time alone doesn't mean the HSP is being "anti social" and rejecting you... it just means they need to take a little time alone to regain their strength.


HSPs and Spirituality

In several of her books about High Sensitivity, Dr. Elaine Aron stresses the importance of spirituality in the lives of HSPs.

Given how natural it is for an HSP to "look inwards" and seek introspection, it's not surprising that many are drawn towards "matters of the spirit." Add to this that HSPs are sometimes characterized as the "Priestly Advisors" (as opposed to "warriors") of the human race and it becomes easy to see why HSPs are often deeply spiritual... and spiritual practices can be the cornerstone of wellness and balance for many.

It's important to keep in mind that being "spiritual" in this context doesn't necessarily imply "religious." HSPs tend to hold a very wide range of beliefs, but seem disproportionately drawn to "alternative" and Eastern practices and philosophies that have less structure and are more open to "free" thinking. HSPs also seem more prone to become "solitary practitioners" of their belief systems, rather than become part of larger congregations... which many find overstimulating.


The best book currently available on the topic of HSPs and work

The Highly Sensitive Person at Work

HSPs tend to be very idealistic, by nature. Unfortunately, this idealism can become one of the things that cause many of us to have turbulent work lives.

Traditional workplaces and careers are seldom HSP friendly-- most such environments tend to be highly competitive and allow for only limited expression of the valuable kinds of creativity HSPs are capable of. HSPs tend to be soft spoken and modest, as a result of which they are often overlooked, in favor of those with more aggressive and assertive styles. In the words of Dr. Elaine Aron, many HSPs end up "underemployed," relative to their education levels and skills.

The physical environment of many workplaces can also be rough for a highly sensitive person. Long hours and working in very public and noisy "cubicle farms" tend to not bring out the best in an HSP.

Constant pressures to "perform" and meet ever escalating company benchmarks for work add a lot of stress to anyone's life... and especially to an HSP's life.

As a result, many HSPs turn to self-employment, especially in mid-life. This is often the only way for them to not only build a comfortable work environment, but also to pursue their dreams. Although being in business for yourself can be risky, HSPs' conscientious natures tend to work in their favor, and HSP operated businesses have an unusually high success rate.


Highly Sensitive Men - An underrepresented and often "invisible" subgroup of HSPs

Although there are approximately equal numbers of men and women who fit the description of a Highly Sensitive Person, it often appears as if the women greatly outnumber the men.

Unfortunately, there are a number of cultural perceptions of-- and biases against-- high sensitivity that makes it particularly difficult for men to be open about their sensitivity, especially in the US and some other Western societies.

Much as we may believe we have "advanced" from a patriarchal, emotionally cold "tough guy" image of men, the "boys club" remains alive and well... and the pressure to conform to societal expectations and norms often cause highly sensitive men to "go into hiding."

HS Men is a vast and complex area of its own-- and involves far too much information to adequately cover here. Instead, I'll offer this link to an extensive article I wrote specifically about the challenges of highly sensitive men. It's highly recommended, both for HS men themselves, as well as for the women who have a highly sensitive man in their lives.


Highly Sensitive Children... and Parenting

As the concept of a "Highly Sensitive Person" has gained acceptance in the medical and mental health professions. there has also been an increase in the discussion of highly sensitive children, and the issues involved in raising a highly sensitive child.

Similarly, there is growing interest in the topic of how to handle parenting (of HS children, or not) when you are an HSP, yourself.

Many HSPs feel hesitant to start families-- or choose not to have children at all-- out of concern for the constant state of overarousal parenting might bring.

Because highly sensitive children often find conventional learning difficult-- and at least overwhelming-- many parents of HS children choose to home school, at least for parts of their child's education. There is no clear cut evidence to suggest that home schooling is the optimal approach for HSPs-- it has benefits and drawbacks for HS Children, just as it does for the rest of the world.

The topic of highly sensitive children is extensive, and far beyond the scope of this article, as far a detailed coverage goes.

As of this writing, several books are available on the topic of highly sensitive children. In addition to Elaine Aron's book from 2002, Dr. Ted Zeff has also written about this subject, specifically with highly sensitive boys in mind.


If there are so many HSPs... WHERE are they?

According to Dr. Elaine Aron's original research, somewhere between 15% and 20% of the population are highly sensitive. If we just use the lower number as an example, that would mean that 46.7 million Americans are HSPs!

To many who have actually learned that they are HSPs, this seems like an incredibly large number. And yet, when you ask most people, they are not even sure they have met another HSP. Which begs the question "Where are all the highly sensitive people hiding?"

Western society mostly tends to value the outgoing gregarious person, as well as assertiveness and competitiveness. Most HSPs are fairly quiet and soft-spoken, and tend to be more "cooperative" than competitive. As such, HSPs are rarely among the public figures we see in the news-- the people who are most "visible," and whom we are more aware of.


In general, you'll find that HSPs tend to be the "quiet backbone" of society. They might be your local librarian, the organic CSA farmer, the social worker who places those who've fallen on hard times, the person behind the scenes who's ultimately responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly. Many HSPs can be found in fine arts or performing arts. Many work in the healing professions, serving as anything from Yoga instructors to psychotherapists; a good number are teachers or employed in the non-profit or charity work field.

In other words, it's not that the highly sensitive people aren't there-- they are just not as prominent as the mainstream. In part, this can also be explained by the fact that 70-75% of HSPs are introverts.

Of course, even though awareness of high sensitivity-- as a trait-- is growing rapidly, the vast majority of HSPs are not actually aware that they are HSPs, nor are they even familiar with the concept.

In addition, a large number of people know they are highly sensitive, but choose to keep that fact to themselves.


Get to know other HSPs: Online and offline groups for Highly Sensitive People

Once you've learned a bit about the HSP trait, the next logical step is often to connect with other HSPs. After all, there is only so much you can learn on your own-- and one of the best ways to gain insight into life lessons for HSPs is to talk to others about their experience.

Over the past 15 years, a substantial number of online discussion groups have sprung up. Some are very general in nature, others take on specific topics like HSPs and work, HSPs and parenting, and so forth. There are also local and regional groups, some of which operate only online, while others hold meetings and gatherings on a regular basis.

The following list has links to some of the oldest, largest and most active groups for HSPs on the web. Joining such a group is an excellent way to continue your journey of self-discovery in a supportive environment. After all, nobody "gets" what it's like to be an HSP... like another HSP.

Although some who read this may have had previous negative experiences with group activities, groups of HSPs tend to be very friendly and welcoming. Many HSPs have felt marginalized for much of their life, so kind and "inclusive" treatment of others is important to them.

  • HSP Book Discussion Group on Yahoo
    The oldest active online discussion group for HSPs. Active since 1999, it has over 1800 members. Only accepts new members who have read "The Highly Sensitive Person" by Elaine Aron, or another major book about high sensitivity.
  • Highly Sensitive Person (Global) on Google+
    A relatively new-- but quite active-- group for HSPs; part of Google+... ideal for those who are not "into" Facebook or Yahoo.
  • Highly Sensitive Person (Global) on Facebook
    The largest HSP group on social network Facebook-- with more than 8500 members and an active community discussing many aspects of life as an HSP.
  • The HSP Work Discussion Group
    This "specialty" HSP group on Yahoo is specifically centered around the book "Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person" By Barrie Jaeger, and takes on many different topics relating to HSPs at work. Has about 350 members.
  • High Sensitivity Meetup Groups on
    Social connection site is home to many "meetup" groups for HSPs, both in the US and beyond. This link is to the main HSP group page, from where you can search for a group in your part of the world, currently over 50!
  • Highly Sensitive Souls group on Facebook
    This is one of the largest "closed" HSP group on Facebook, with almost 4800 members. A "closed" group is one that has membership by approval, and only group members can read what is posted on the group's message board.
  • Highly Sensitive Child group on YahooGroups
    Active since 2003, this is the web's most active group dedicated to the discussion of HS children, parenting HS children, and being a highly sensitive parent. Has over 1000 members.

An important book for Introverted HSPs

Are all HSPs Introverts? A quick look at the "minorities" within a minority

Given that it's typical of HSPs to need "alone time" to regain energy and balance after stressful situations, and that they have "deep, rich inner lives," it's easy to conclude that "all HSPs must be introverts." Whereas it is true that the majority of HSPs are introverts, some 25-30% are actually extraverts. This compares to about 60-65% extraverts in society, at large.

It may seem like a contradiction to have a person who both feels energized as a result of being with people (the core characteristic of an extravert) and needs alone time in order to "decompress" from stressful and highly stimulating situations. But this is exactly what it is like to be an extraverted HSP.

Extraverted HSPs face the constant challenge of finding balance between their natural desire to socialize and be among people, and their need to withdraw and spend time alone in order to "rejuvenate."

Finally, there is another "type" of HSP known as a "High Sensation Seeker," or HSS.

Where most HSPs tend to be cautious, avoid changes, pause to think before acting and generally prefer well-known routines, HSS HSPs are almost the exact opposite. They enjoy a constant stream of new activities and ideas and generally don't hesitate to "jump right in" when faced with a new experience that seems appealing. But they are still HSPs... and face the difficult challenge of balancing their lives. On one hand they are prone to getting easily bored when they are UNDER-stimulated, on the other, they get OVER-stimulated and worn down by the very "novel activities" they seek out... just like any other HSP.

It should be noted here that being a High Sensation Seeker is not the same as being a "thrill seeker." The HSS HSP seeks "novelty," but isn't necessarily a daredevil or risk taker.


Negative responses to Sensitivity

"Sensitivity" is an interesting concept. When we tell someone that we're "highly sensitive," it elicits a very wide range of responses. Sadly, many of these responses are negative, rather than positive.

Some people are angry because they have had to take "sensitivity training" at work, typically over gender or race issues, and they associate sensitivity with that-- in a negative way. Some are locked into the idea that "sensitivity" ONLY means "getting your feelings hurt easily," and pre-judge anyone sensitive accordingly... as a difficult person they have to tiptoe around and make constant accommodations for. Some believe "sensitivity" means "high maintenance," and will avoid you.

In some ways, these responses are a little strange; after all, we tend to value "high sensitivity" when it comes to scientific instruments, radios and such-- so why not in people?


Sensitivity: Cultural vs. Scientific Interpretations

The word "sensitivity" has many different meanings, and they have been around for a lot longer that Elaine Aron's research concerning the HSP Trait. As such, it is inevitable that people will interpret sensitivity in ways quite different from what we have learned,

Along these lines there are those who understand "sensitive" to mean someone who can see ghosts and talk to the spirits of dead people... and then end up disappointed when you can't. Certainly, there are some HSPs who are psychic or have other "psi-talents," but that's not an actual part of the trait. I have met plenty of HSPs who are not the slightest bit psychic, and have never had any "supernatural" experiences.

Similarly, some people incorrectly use the words "Sensitive" and "Empath" interchangeably. Whereas many HSPs are empathic and feel lots of empathy for others, they are not necessarily "Empaths," as culturally defined. This article in OM Times Magazine explains some of the distinctions in greater detail.

The thing to remember is that none of these definitions are "wrong," they are merely different... just like apples, pears and grapes are all "fruit," just not the same type of fruit.


Naysayers, Skeptics and Critics

A few people just have a generally negative outlook in life and will insist that you are "full of it," and that the idea that there's a special class of people who are "highly sensitive" is a bunch of hogwash. Others will insist-- without malice-- that all people are sensitive "in their own way" and to call yourself an HSP is "elitist" and "exclusive."

These cultural biases-- which are quite common-- can make life quite difficult for HSPs... not only are we dealing with "our" sensitivities, we have to deal with other people's criticisms, which can be quite hurtful, at times.

Whereas it may be exciting to suddenly have all these answers to "why I am the way I am," it's not always in your best interest to go around telling everyone from your mother to your boss that you're an HSP. For a variety of reasons (just a few of which I listed above), people may not respond positively to this information.

A cautious approach is highly recommended. If you feel inclined to tell someone, ask yourself why you want to tell them, and if they really need to know-- what do you hope to gain, by telling them you're an HSP? When you do decide to share, probe carefully and check for genuine interest, rather than immediately share a 40-page verbal dissertation about everything you've learned.

One of the things HSPs often hear is that they are "too intense" for others. When you are about to explain to someone why you are so intense, it's actually a good idea to try to do so in a "non-intense" manner... after all, you want the other person to be receptive, not to tune you out.


Taking a "Soft" Approach to sharing your Sensitivity with others

As an example of a "soft approach," when I was learning about being an HSP-- and wanted to share with others-- I always carried Elaine Aron's "Highly Sensitive Person" book with me. If the "right" person was around, I'd leave the book out, in a visible spot. If the person at hand noticed and commented, a conversation might begin about what I was reading and what the book is about, and I'd comment that this book really seemed to "describe me," was giving me some insight and we'd go from there. Either the person would be interested enough that we'd talk further, or the conversation would end there and I wouldn't push it.

In general, I have found people with a broader interest in psychology, self-development and self-improvement to be the most receptive, as are people involved in the healing professions. In general, I suggest using discernment in terms of who, when and how you share that you're highly sensitive.

On the positive side, science is on the side of HSPs, as more and more "peer research" is being done on the original concepts explored by Elaine Aron. And sometimes the best thing you can say to a hard-core skeptic-- rather than try to argue with them or persuade them-- is simply "It's not a big deal-- but if you're interested, try Googling 'Sensory Processing Sensitivity;' the background science is all over the web."

And just leave it at that.

If the person is genuinely interested, they might just do as you suggested and see for themselves. If they are not, you ended the discussion on a solid note, strongly hinting at the fact that high sensitivity is not something you "just made up."


High Sensitivity is NOT an Illness or Pathology!

A substantial number of people-- including HSPs, themselves-- tend to approach sensitivity from the perspective that there is something "wrong" with you if you're highly sensitive-- you have an "illness" or a "syndome" or some other pathology in need of "treatment."

The most important thing you can take away from reading this article-- regardless of whether you're an HSP, or not-- is that sensitivity is an inborn trait, not an illness. A person cannot be "diagnosed with" HSP... they simply ARE an HSP.

It's not a stretch to see how confusion arises because there are several mental illnesses and conditions whose clinical diagnoses include items/point that are similar to aspects of being an HSP. However, these are not "the same as" being an HSP. Here's a short list:

Sensory Integration Dysfunction

Social Anxiety

Generalized Anxiety

Asperger's Disorder


Avoidant Personality Disorder



All of the above can affect HSPs. However, being an HSP doesn't mean you are necessarily afflicted with any of these. Nor are you necessarily "highly sensitive" because you are suffering from one of these conditions. By all means learn more about these conditions if you believe they are an issue for you, but it is also important to learn all you can about the HSP trait so that you have a clear idea about what you can "change" and what you cannot.


HSPs and the Medical and Mental Health Professions

I am often asked if HSPs are more likely to have physical ailments or mental/emotional issues than the general population.

It's a difficult question, as well as one that doesn't have a straight answer.

In her recent book "Psychotherapy and the Highly Sensitive Person," Dr. Elaine Aron characterizes HSPs as "the minority of people who are the majority of clients." In this case, Dr. Aron draws on her personal experience as a clinical psychotherapist. Similarly, when you consider people seeking medical help for an assortment of pervasive issues-- from Fibromyalgia to food allergies-- a significantly large number are HSPs.

However, we should be cautious about taking such information at face value. Consider that it is central to the HSP personality to be "highly aware" and "tuned in" to both one's own-- as well as someone else's-- body and psyche. As a result, it's also safe to assume that many more HSPs notice when something is "a little off" than the rest of the population.

On the mental health front, we must consider that HSPs experience events "more deeply" than their non-HSP peers and spend more time "processing" them. Thus, we can also assume that an HSP is less likely to simply ignore feelings such as anxiety or severe stress than their non-HSP counterpart.

So whereas it may be true that a larger proportion of HSPs seek medical or mental health help, it's not so much because "more HSPs are ill," but because more HSPs "notice that something is wrong."


Considerations in choosing your provider

If you are an HSP and seeking help, it's important to take care in choosing a provider. The most important thing-- regardless of whether you're looking for a medical or mental health professional-- is to work with someone who has at least a passing knowledge of High Sensitivity, and preferably someone who'd be willing to learn more about the trait as your health care partner.

Many of those working in both fields still regard high sensitivity with skepticism, and you'd do well to avoid them-- mostly because you will end up being mis-diagnosed with a "disorder," rather than offered tools to help manage your natural way of being.

In the case of psychotherapists, it's important to choose someone you have a good rapport with. Some will insist that you don't "need to" like your therapist, but that's not really good advice for HSPs. Most therapy will involve sharing very personal and intimate details, and since many HSPs already have trust issues as a result of having spent a lifetime feeling somewhat marginalized and negatively judged, it is important to work with someone you feel comfortable with.

In the case of medical doctors, it's important to find someone who's not only open to high sensitivity, but who's open to pursuing "alternative" or holistic courses of treatment. Your doctor should also be made aware that HSPs often are particularly sensitive to medication, and that successful treatment can result from dosages much below what's normally prescribed.

There's an appendix in the back of Elaine Aron's "The Highly Sensitive Person" entitled "Tips for Health-care Professionals Working With Highly Sensitive People" which is quite useful-- and another good reason to own this book!

Psychotherapy and the Highly Sensitive Person

Although this book was originally written as a guide for mental health professionals, it can also be a very valuable resource for the highly sensitive person who's seriously considering getting help from a mental health professional.

Yes, the book is a little "dry and clinical" in its presentation and language-- after all, it is intended as a "professional" book, not a "self-help" book. But it is useful in that it familiarizes you with the therapeutic process... and offers insight into evaluating where the therapy is helpful... and where, perhaps, you need to guide the therapist, rather than vice versa, in order to get the most for your money.

Be aware that this book is also higher priced than your typical paperback self-help book. However, it is well worth getting... I wish it had been around 15 years ago when I was an HSP looking for a therapist with "a clue."

If You Enjoyed This Article...

Thank you for reading!

If you enjoyed reading this article about HSPs, please consider sharing with others! There are some nifty social media share buttons at the upper left.

No permission needed to link to this article, or to share it to your blog or web site,as long as you link back to this original page.

Sharing articles about being an HSP helps us ALL... the more general awareness of the trait we can build, the better off we all become.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2007 Peter Messerschmidt

Are you an HSP? Or is this the first time you've ever heard of this? How and when did you discover you were an HSP, and how (if at all) did it change your self-

watson1988 on April 09, 2018:

Thank you for this website. Two observations: the sub-types of HSP and the variety of experiences shared were both very enlightening. Again, thank you.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on April 20, 2014:

@Colin323: Thanks for reading, and commenting!

Yes, the term "sensitive" does cause a variety of (often negative) responses. Even the more scientific term "Sensory-Processing Sensitivity" seems to bring up a negative slant for a lot of people. At this point, the term "HSP" is 18 years old and seems like it is going to "stick." But yes, we could definitely have had a better name, from the start.

Elaine Aron (who did the research and wrote the book) happens to be a personal friend... and one of the things she's often said is that she "never set out to write a self-help book," nor to end up as the spokesperson for something that has slowly turned into a worldwide "movement." She's extremely private-- and a bit of a "loner"-- and the very public attention high sensitivity has gotten is often overwhelming to her.

Colin323 on April 20, 2014:

Very good article, and very informative. I think the label 'Highly Sensitive' is a bit of an issue, however, as many people automatically would give or assume a negative attribution to it for the reasons you gave. 'Intuitive' might have been a better descriptor to the trait.

Fay Favored from USA on March 04, 2014:

I know several people with this. You have presented it so well. Thank you for bring this to public awareness.

Odille Rault from Gloucester on January 23, 2014:

Fascinating and informative page - beautifully written and put together. I hadn't come across the term HSP before, so found this really interesting.

Deborah Carr from Orange County, California on January 13, 2014:

This is the first time I have heard of this, but it was fascinating to read!

MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose from Washington State on January 09, 2014:

Bingo for me as light bulbs in my head starting going ding, ding, ding, here we go, that's it. Puts my teeter totter perspective into a positive place, oh how I love that. Thank you, for your sharing of this highly sensitive seeker trait, novelty for me, exactly, daredevil, I am not.

rainykua on November 14, 2013:

This is a very well-written article about HSP. I have read the book many years ago. At first I misinterpreted the title and thought it refers to an emotionally sensitive person. I am sensitive, so I bought the book. After taking the test, I think I am a boderline HSP - if there's such a thing. There are a lot of things in the list that don't apply to me at all, though I can fully understand how an HSP feels. My twin is an HSP. Both of us are introverts. I think I need to read this book again. :)

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on October 11, 2013:

@dellgirl: Thank you for your kinds words-- and glad you got so much out of the article! The more you know-- and the more people are aware-- of this trait, the better off everyone is.

dellgirl on October 10, 2013:

This is so thought provoking I have Google+(d), Pinned (on 2 of my boards), LinkedIn, and Tweeted it! I learned a lot reading your article!

dellgirl on October 10, 2013:

I enjoyed your lens and this wonderful article. It is really well written and very informative! I like it. Thank you for sharing.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on September 01, 2013:

@mel-kav: Thanks for stopping by! Since high sensitivity affects at least 1-in-6 people, it's a good bet most people have someone in their family or circle of friends who fits the description. It's important to know about the trait simply because LOTS of HS people get misdiagnosed with assorted "disorders" and spend LOTS of money on doctors, therapy and medication that does NO good.

mel-kav on September 01, 2013:

Excellent lens. Very interesting. I had never heard of HSP before. Although I do not fit the profile of having HSP, I do know several people who fit the description perfectly.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on August 14, 2013:

@darciefrench lm: I read "Power vs. Force" around the same time I read Elaine Aron's "The Highly Sensitive Person" for the first time... all part of assembling the puzzle, while I was deeply involved in a spiritual practice centered around nonduality. I have referred back to Hawkins' Map of Human Consciousness many times since then, and I do like his work. Most sensitive people struggle a LOT with integrating the trait into their lives... much of that difficulty stemming from societal biases (or misinterpretations) centered around the meaning of "sensitive." Sounds like you really have your life figured out, which is a beautiful thing... sadly, most HSPs do NOT, and daily living can be a path of endless pain.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on August 14, 2013:

@Radcliff LM: Thanks for reading, and taking the time to comment! Yes, the more you know and understand, the easier it becomes to figure out how the trait "interacts" with how we experience the world... and the people in it.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on August 14, 2013:

@webmavern: A lot of HSPs I know DO live with fibro, but the correlation is basically "non-causal." Most likely, it seems common among HSPs because the trait tends to make people far more aware of what's going on in their bodies, and so they are more likely to take action.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on August 14, 2013:

@stephen downing: Stephen, yes mindfulness is an important part of living peacefully with high sensitivity and deep empathy. It's especially important to be mindful of what is "ours" and what is "theirs," which requires us to set strong personal boundaries.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on August 14, 2013:

@JackNimble: Thanks for your comment! Yes, it's important to learn all you can about "what IS" part of being an HSP, and "what is NOT." I'm now in my 50's and have lived with ADD (the "inattentive" variety) all my life... and it's a daily puzzle to sort out what "belongs" to the HSP trait, and what is a result of the ADD. The more I know, though, the more I become aware that they really are quite different.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on August 14, 2013:

@David Stone1: Dave, I agree that we're all individuals, but I also find the "labels" useful... not as a way to "box everyone in," but as a tool for better understanding. A bit like walking into a shoe store, it's helpful to know that your shoe size is 11, but that doesn't "define" who you are, it's just a piece of information.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on August 14, 2013:

@kislanyk: Thanks for stopping by! The terms "empath" and "HSP" and "a Sensitive" seem to be used interchangeably... sometimes correctly, sometimes not. Many HSPs are Empaths, but not all... and only about 25% of HSPs actually have "psychic gifts."

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on August 14, 2013:

@bossypants: Thanks for reading! It's a good thing to simply KNOW about this trait, as it helps us understand the people around us. And with 15-20% of the population fitting the description of an HSP, it's very likely that there are several in your family.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on August 14, 2013:

@hntrssthmpsn: Sensory Processing Sensitivity does tend to run on a spectrum, so it makes sense that just like some people are EXCEPTIONALLY sensitive, others are going to be at the opposite end of that spectrum. I'll add the same thing I suggest to the very sensitive... if you feel concerns about how things are working when you interact with the world, try to be aware of what is just a "natural part" of who you are and what (if anything) might have other underlying causes you can actually address. It may be that your body processes dopamine differently from most people. Thanks for your comment!

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on August 14, 2013:

@Joan Haines: Yes, the vast majority of INFPs (and INFJs) are also HSPs-- about 85-90%

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on August 14, 2013:

@MelanieMurphyMyer: They are similar, but any correlation is non-causal. Dr. Elaine Aron has an article on her web site where she addresses this question:

(Sorry if it doesn't turn into a link-- you may have to copy and paste)

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on August 14, 2013:

@rebecca-mathews1: Thanks for stopping by! This trait can be especially challenging for men, due to social prejudices that "men aren't supposed to be sensitive." I also have an article about highly sensitive men here on Squidoo... you (or he, if he turns out to be an HSP) might be interested in reading it, too.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on August 14, 2013:

@happynutritionist: Knowing as much as possible is a good idea... it allows you to "sort through" what is part of being naturally sensitive, and other issues you may be able to DO something about. A large part of feeling better about life in general can some through merely understanding more about what's going on.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on August 14, 2013:

@anonymous: Thanks for stopping by and reading! For many people, learning about this trait can be quite an eye-opener... especially for those who have been tagged with "disorders" all their lives, to explain their "strangeness." Learn all you can, and see if it fits... life becomes much easier when you understand how the trait affects you, every single day.

anonymous on August 14, 2013:

OMG. I think I am a HSP. That explains a lot!

happynutritionist on August 08, 2013:

This tendency tends to run in my family with several of us, but I don't know that all have heard of being highly sensitive. I'm definitely seeing me in a lot of the above.

rebecca-mathews1 on August 06, 2013:

i took the test i only missed 4 out of how ever many there were. I am probably HSP. i am going to have my brother take it as well. The questions I thought of him as i read them so perhaps he is very much so.

MelanieMurphyMyer on July 05, 2013:

I would be interested in reading about how this model differentiates between HSP and Asperger's.

Joan Haines on June 02, 2013:

I have just always known that I am sensitive, and feel things deeply. It's part of being a Myers Briggs INFP too.

Cynthia Haltom from Diamondhead on May 29, 2013:

I have an HSP daughter, she was born that way. Always had to be careful around her.

hntrssthmpsn on May 28, 2013:

I wonder if there's a corresponding percentage of folks at the very low end of the sensitivity spectrum... I sort of suspect that's where I am. Noises and lighting that make others very uncomfortable tend to pass unnoticed by me... often, I can't see/hear anything unusual at all. I require larger-than-usual doses (for my body size) of many medications, and build physical tolerance to medications rapidly. I know a few folks who maybe are more sensitive than others to all sorts of stimuli, but just about everybody seems more sensitive to these things than I am.... which comes with its own set of worries. I'm always a little concerned that areas I control (meetings I lead, my own home, etc.) may be uncomfortable for others due to something I haven't even noticed.

bossypants on May 19, 2013:

This has been an enlightening read. I'm pretty sure there are some HSPs in my life -- and I think, now, perhaps in my family. Your page does a commendable job of defining HSP and establishing that it isn't a pathology, but part of who someone is.

Marika from Cyprus on May 12, 2013:

Just found your lens going back through the HSP group on FB since I was reading your Bubblews post linked, and I fully agree. I totally agree with you and I'm HSP myself (an empath as they call it in the spiritual groups) and yeah we do have a weird life indeed...

Yoursanity on May 10, 2013:

Interesting Read.

centralplexus on April 20, 2013:

I'm not an HSP ( I think...) though I did find many things in your article that also apply to me. Nevertheless this is an excellent lens, and clearly you've put a lot of effort to make it. Well done!

David Stone from New York City on April 15, 2013:

Interesting information, although I am not comfortable with the tendency to categorize everyone as way of reinforcing a sense of what's normal. I prefer to see others as individual, each unique, and not categories, but I can see why it may be helpful for people to recognize other similar to themselves in ways each stands out.

JackNimble on April 15, 2013:

Wow this is a jam packed lens full of great information. Thanks for your approach and diligence in putting this together. I was recently diagnosed with ADHD and it is interesting that many of the traits that affect me there are also part of being an HSP. For example the overstimulus. Sometimes I really hate being overemotional, but on the other hand I would never trade my empathy and compassion for anything. Quite simply I would rather feel than not feel. When I was in high school my family lived about 30 minutes from any major town area and a movie theater so going to the movies was a treat. My parents offered to take my buddy and I to see a movie and we happily agreed. Well... the movie was My Girl where the little boy dies and here we are my buddy and I who were I think Freshman in high school at this sad movie and we both were balling our eyes out. Thank goodness I think he was an HSP as well. Sure glad I wasn't with one of my football buddies at the time. I was so mad at my mother though because she knew the little boy died in the movie and she knew I hate sad movies because of my sensitivity and being so deeply impacted with the emotions. Thanks for sharing all this information. So cool.

anonymous on April 01, 2013:

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I read these words, and I see my son. We've been researching Asperger's, and still will, but I will be looking into HSP - definitely. Much of what I've read so far, also applies to me.

stephen downing on March 22, 2013:

Be aware that it is a gift, but be careful of overload. To overcome overload try to concentrate/focus on one particular thing/feeling or awareness. Even applying a single or double sense overload can help for a short while, i.e: watching films on tv, can reduce awareness from other senses for a short time.

Empathy overload can often be caused by too many people coming to you with their problems. To try to reduce this, when someone comes with a problem try saying, "yea! I have bla, bla problem, and bla, bla, bla is a problem. Also bla, bla, bla, bla is a problem'. They soon get the message.

Practice makes perfect, and you will soon know or feel which methods works for you. Hope these tips can help, and all the best.

anonymous on March 10, 2013:

Thanks for the profound information. Getting to see life from different perspectives is essential to being able to see the whole artwork.

Linda Jo Martin from Post Falls, Idaho, USA on March 09, 2013:

There should be a support group for people who live with HSPs.

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on March 09, 2013:

Thanks for your insight. I hadn't heard of HSP but that's me for sure.

victoriahaneveer on March 09, 2013:

Fascinating reading. I like the way you write and I'm v interested in HSP.

webmavern on March 08, 2013:

A great lens with loads of information, thanks! I have fibromyalgia and think I'm an HSP too, or maybe one leads to the other?

Eliza Rayner from Boulder, Colorado on March 08, 2013:

very interesting. Some of these traits apply to me others do not but I do know some people who I think are HSP and I would like to direct them to your page. thanks

Radcliff LM on March 08, 2013:

I have read about being an HSP here and there, but this lens makes me want to delve more into the subject. I think I'm an HSP, and learning more about how you "tick" can help generate more compassion for self and for others. Always a good thing! Thanks for sharing this great information.

darciefrench lm on March 06, 2013:

I am sensitive to the point of clairvoyance, being able to read people's emotions, thoughts, auras etc. I prefer solitude because it's just to much to know the inner workings of a person or group of people who is/are more often than not saying and doing things that don't match up to what they're really thinking, feeling and planning. I had to learn how to "wear the world loosely" and adopt a stance of allowance and release vs being consumed by the emotions that came up from knowing what people were attempting to hide or even just subconsciously hiding. Since finding the work of Dr David R Hawkins MD PhD I've actively avoided negativity and I always use clearing techniques (like the thymus thump) after exposure. I live a very minimalist life and focus on beauty, nature, surrounding myself with loving people (holy company), beautiful music and the space to meditate as needed. I could tell many stories about being affected by lower energy people and situations and how I've worked most of my adult life to transcend and release the effects on the psyche. It's nice to have met you, you're providing a much needed service for those who are sensitive .

Vicki Green from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA on March 02, 2013:

I'd never heard of HSP, but my results on the test seem to suggest that I am. I guess it couldn't hurt to learn more about it.

Susan R. Davis from Vancouver on February 28, 2013:

I doubt I'm a HSP, but this is an excellent discussion for anyone who may be, or knows someone who is. *blessed*

Teri Villars from Phoenix, Arizona on February 27, 2013:

This is very interesting. Blessed by a Squid Angel!

SteveKaye on February 26, 2013:

Thank you for publishing this lens. I'm very glad that I found it. I'll share that I now avoid all violent movies. For example, Braveheart left me so upset that I was unable to sleep for 3 nights. The grotesque violence in that film was too much for me.

Takkhis on February 22, 2013:

Wonderful lens! :)

Stephanie from Canada on February 19, 2013:

Such a great lens! Definitely going into my favs so I can come back when I have more time.

anonymous on February 19, 2013:

Wonderful resource! Well organized and informative for all potential parties! I have read Elaine Aron's book - The Highly Sensitive Person: How to thrive when the world overwhelms you - and am almost done reading Ted Zeff's HSP Survival Guide. I have also read Rue Hass's EFT for the Highly Sensitive Temperament (EFT: Emotional Freedom Techniques). All three books have some very helpful information, lots of AHA moments to be sure. Your website gives a great overview of information about the HSP and can provide hope to those just learning about their trait and for those they live with, work with, or love.

Mary from Chicago area on February 19, 2013:

This reminds me a bit of the book I had (and unfortunately loaned, never to get back) on raising a "spirited child." My one kid who was "spirited" in his early years is pretty even keel now, but still, I'd say he is sensitive. Great info!!

anonymous on February 18, 2013:

Welcome to Squidoo, I'll be reading more of your articles and learning from you. :)

thesuccess2 on February 18, 2013:

I'm surprised that I totally failed your HSP test. One of my weaknesses which I don't think you mention is being overly concerned what other people think

Rosetta Slone from Under a coconut tree on February 18, 2013:

I've come back with my newly-appointed Angel status to leave a blessing on this wonderful lens.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on February 17, 2013:

@crstnblue: Thanks for stopping by and commenting... and for the blessing! :-)

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on February 17, 2013:

@anonymous: Thanks Danielle! Even if YOU are not personally an HSP, it is highly likely that many of the kids you work with are... and if you work with G/T kids, the chances that any one of them is highly sensitive is almost DOUBLE, compared to the rest of the population.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on February 17, 2013:

@douglas-eby: Douglas, I appreciate your support and kind words. As a fellow "information distributor" you know how important it is to our general well-being that good information resources are out in the public arena.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on February 17, 2013:

@Mamabyrd: Thanks for visiting... and for "blessing" my lens!

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on February 17, 2013:

@anonymous: Lisa, thanks for sharing your thoughts! I am a firm believer that we must each make the most of our unique gifts. Of course... it helps a lot to KNOW and have a NAME for these gifts, when we endeavor to do that. All the best on your journey!

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on February 17, 2013:

@Rosetta Slone: Thanks for visiting and commenting! The sad truth is that for every HSP who knows about this trait there are 20 who fit the description but don't know... and spend their lives "trying to fit in" and then getting down on themselves when they DON'T have the ability to "just suck it up."

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on February 17, 2013:

@sybil watson: Thanks for the kind words! I fear our society has an issue with "medicalization," which means an increasing slice of what once was considered "part of the normal human experience" is now labeled as "illness" or a "syndrome" of some kind. So the more information is in the public arena to let people know they are really OK, the better off we all are...

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on February 17, 2013:

@anonymous: Thanks for visiting and commenting! Interestingly enough, even though this concept has been around for a long time, only a few percent of people who fit the HSP description are aware it even exists. It's important to share the information because there are LOTS of HSPs out there who are being misdiagnosed and medicated into oblivion for "anxiety disorders" when there's actually nothing wrong with them...

Tara Wojtaszek on February 17, 2013:

Very well written and informative. I have some of the traits but not all of them.

crstnblue on February 14, 2013:

Wonderful lens, thoughtful and informative!

Thanks for sharing and chance for seeing things from a different perspective! : )


anonymous on February 12, 2013:

What a nifty lens. It has raised a bunch of questions that I will have to look into. Thank you.

DouglasEby on February 11, 2013:

@douglas-eby: Here is my 'real' Squidoo':

douglas-eby on February 11, 2013:

Peter - Thanks for this excellent collection of writings and resources. As many of us have discovered, realizing we are highly sensitive - not 'crazy' in some way - can really help us more fully realize our talents.

Mamabyrd from West Texas on February 11, 2013:

I had never heard of HSP. Thank you for the information it is presented very well. I really enjoyed reading your lens.

anonymous on February 11, 2013:

From the time I was very young I knew I was "different". Others treated me "differently" but my Mom embraced my uniqueness. It wasn't until quite recently I put a "label" on what makes me "different." This knowledge has allowed me to EMBRACE being an HSP/Empath and thinking of it as being positive. I can do things others cannot or will not. I am attempting to expand on my "gift" and look forward to seeing where it can take me.

Rosetta Slone from Under a coconut tree on February 11, 2013:

This lens is so well written and full of useful information. I hope it flourishes as more people need to know about this. I've always wondered why I get so overwhelmed by things when others just get on with it. I nodded my head when I read the part about sensitivity to noise and light, and kept nodding my head throughout the list. I'm so glad I now have vocabulary to describe my experience.

sybil watson on February 10, 2013:

I followed you here from the forum and I'm so very glad I did. This is a fabulous lens and you are a very talented writer. I've learned so much from reading this lens and I truly appreciate an informational lens vs. a sales lens. Tests that I've taken on multiple intelligences show that I'm an introvert, although my job requires me to be an extrovert. The sooner we realize that we're all okay just the way we are the better we'll all be.

anonymous on February 08, 2013:

Thanks for visiting my Lens by the way. I took the test and I almost scored as an HSP and a lot of the questions rang very true for me. I haven't heard of this trait before but would love to understand more. Thanks for the resource. I hope to learn more for my own growth but also to share with others.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on February 03, 2013:

@FanfrelucheHubs: Thanks for reading and commenting! Many people are surprised when they first read about it... but since the trait is present in 15-20% of the population it's actually not so rare to discover that you're among them.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on February 03, 2013:

@empathzone: Agreed! I've heard it said that sensitivity isn't actually a psychological "issue" but a cultural bias and discrimination issue... and I think that is largely true. There's nothing wrong with being an HSP, but there IS something wrong with a society that perceives sensitivity in a negative light.

Nathalie Roy from France (Canadian expat) on January 30, 2013:

I need to have a closer look at HSP, I have most of the characteristic you listed. It's the first time I read anything about it.

empathzone on January 27, 2013:

I have a bittersweet relationship with the term HSP. It seems to want to make us feel guilty for being as all humans should be. Great lens! Loved it. :)

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on January 24, 2013:

@aesta1: Thanks for reading and commenting!

I'm hoping to add more lenses about different specific aspects of this trait, eventually (perhaps!) resulting in a whole "mini book" that might help people understand better.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 21, 2013:

New term...I think I am.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on January 19, 2013:

@flycatcherrr: Thanks for reading, and for your comment!

A lot of HSPs do work as independents, and many are in writing fields, AND many work online. I've actually got some 15 years of watching and studying to suggest that you are probably right... venues like Squidoo are heavily populated with introverts, and 70% of HSPs are introverts, so it certainly seems like a good fit. I may explore that further... thank you!

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on January 19, 2013:

@TonyPayne: Thank you! A surprisingly large number of people do seem to relate to at least some of the characteristics.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on January 19, 2013:

@anonymous: Thanks for reading, and for the kind words.

flycatcherrr on January 19, 2013:

I hadn't heard this term either, but a lot of what you describe does ring a bell... I wonder if there's some sort of correlation there, of HSP traits with people who choose to write/work online. Wouldn't that be an interesting study!

Thanks for a thought-provoking lens, well done.

Tony Payne from Southampton, UK on January 17, 2013:

Excellent information, I hadn't heard of this term before, but in many ways it describes me too.

anonymous on January 16, 2013:

This is the first I've heard about GDP. Good job on this lens.

Peter Messerschmidt (author) from Port Townsend, WA, USA on January 16, 2013:

@Tim Bader: Thanks for reading and commenting!

Tim Bader from Surrey, UK on January 15, 2013:

Interesting read!

I'm not an HSP, but I think I have some of the characteristics of an HSP, so can empathise :)

Congratulations on a great first lens.