Hypersensitivity (psychology), is a higher than average sensitivity, temporarily or permanently, that can be experienced with difficulty by the person concerned himself or perceived as “exaggerated” or even “extreme” by those around him1.
This notion refers to a temperament, to an individual characteristic which makes it possible to identify a clinical set defined in 1996 by Elaine Aron. The author revisits, through empirical studies, the concept of “innate sensitivity” introduced in 1913 by Carl Gustav Jung.
According to the following research, “highly sensitive individuals” represent between 10 and 35% of the population 4. The characteristics of this group derive from a higher reactivity to the same stimulation, which has positive aspects – Jung speaks “rewarding” – and negative aspects, such as heightened sensitivity to fear.
Characteristics Hypersensitivity (psychology)
Neuroscience research refining the diversity of characteristics of hypersensitive subjects, the general characteristics do not allow to conclude to homogeneous profiles in all hypersensitive. Some caution should therefore be taken to avoid amalgamation.
According to Elaine Aron, shyness and introversion should not be confused with hypersensitivity, although these are possible responses, as there are extraverted hypersensitive people and therapy may reveal a repressed tendency to extroversion in some. hypersensitive.
In some, this sensitivity is associated with a particular method of processing sensory data. For example, certain perceptual operations recognized as being influenced by the culture of the perceiving subject seem to be perceived in the same way by hypersensitive people of various origins, which indicates that the social factors which modify the perception have less control over the hypersensitive.
Finally, hypersensitivity can also manifest as sensory (and non-emotional) hypersensitivity. The 5 senses are then exacerbated, and their feeling can be painful for the person. We are talking about hyperesthesia.
There are different types of hypersensitivity (psychology)
1. Sensory hypersensitivity
– touch; that is, a simple touch can annoy the person and affect all of their senses.
– with the smell; that is, there may be a strong sensitivity to certain odors.
– noise; that is, there may be intolerance to certain sounds.
2. Emotional hypersensitivity
This hypersensitivity is the most difficult to live with. Some individuals suffer from it and may experience periods of depression. The feeling and the perception are increased tenfold for the hypersensitive. He is very receptive to his surroundings, he has a strong emotivity and great expressiveness. He is very anxious and sometimes this generates excesses to escape the overflow of emotions (compulsive behavior, drugs, sex, alcohol …). The hypersensitive appreciates solitude but it is generally a precious support for those close to them. He is very empathetic and attentive, so he shares the joys as well as the sufferings of the other.
3. Delayed hypersensitivity
In this hypersensitivity, the emotions that we may have echo a buried past event and thus plunge us back into a kind of depression.
On the other hand, the hypersensitive is endowed with a faculty which is that of feeling and perceiving as others cannot. The five senses are much more developed. It also develops in this being a sixth sense which is that of instinct.
To manage your hypersensitivity, there are different ways such as relaxation, yoga, meditation to control your emotions and take a step back. If this is too difficult to bear, consultation with a therapist is recommended.
Characteristics of Hypersensitive People
It is not easy to target the distinguishing characteristics of hypersensitive people because no two hypersensitive people are alike. However, here is a list of characteristics that can help you identify if you are hypersensitive.
You are empathetic. You care about others and are concerned about their worries just as much as you also hope for their happiness.
You are emotional. Emotions – all of them! – you live them intensely. You feel like you always flirt with extremes and hardly ever navigate calm waters. But from the outside, you come across as a calm person. The storm is happening within.
You are intuitive, but still like to analyze a situation or a problem before making a decision.
You are rather lonely. You enjoy your lonely moments not that you don’t like people, but sometimes you don’t feel comfortable in all situations.
You don’t like to be too busy. When requests come in from all directions and are aligned only with you, you tend to panic. You feel like you are walking a tightrope and you don’t like that feeling. You’d rather do one thing at a time and not be inundated with requests.
You are disturbed by the sounds. Noises tend to attack you, so if you can, you are likely to be working in silence and with the door closed.
You are easily overwhelmed by your own emotions and those of others. You are a sponge and you “capture” what is going on around you.
You are thorough and even tend to be a perfectionist. You care about the little details, but especially anything that can affect the morale or well-being of others.
You do not tolerate your own mistakes. You are hard on yourself and tend to rehash what you have done (or not done!). You criticize yourself severely.
You are often anxious or stressed and find it difficult to cope with these emotions which disturb, more than most people, your daily activities.
You are a good ear. One of your greatest qualities is that you listen to others well. You genuinely care about what others share with you and that makes you a sought-after confidant.
You don’t like having to make a final decision. Even if you work well as a team, you are not the one who puts his foot down to make decisions.
You are easily amazed. In front of a sunset, a photo of a friend, a song or for any other little moment, your heart is bowled.
Emotionally, you bear many scars from past trials. You take longer to get back on your feet.
You are easily disturbed by a thought or an idea. They can take up a lot of space in your mind and prevent you from functioning normally. You are sometimes irrational and unwittingly complicate certain situations.
You feel “naked”, without a shell, to protect yourself against the vagaries of life and the emotions you experience.
You don’t have to have all of these characteristics in you to be hypersensitive. And each of them can be experienced in a more or less intense way. Obviously, this article does not replace professional advice. This list was created based on symptoms described by author Elaine N. Aron, with her permission. To get the facts straight, it is best to see a psychologist or discuss it directly with your doctor.
Sources: PinterPandai, Health Line,
Ni, Preston. Are You Highly Sensitive? How to Gain Immunity, Peace, and Self-Mastery!. PNCC. (2017)
Ni, Preston. How to Communicate Effectively with Highly Sensitive People. PNCC. (2017)
Aron, E.; Aron, A. Sensory-Processing Sensitivity and its Relation to Introversion and Emotionality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (1997)
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