The Highly Sensitive Person

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Are you an HSP? Are you easily overwhelmed by stimuli? Affected by other people's moods? Easily startled? Do you need to withdraw during busy times to a private, quiet place? Do you get nervous or shaky if someone is observing you or competing with you? HSP, shorthand for "highly sensitive person," describes 15 to 20 percent of the population. Being sensitive is a normal trait--nothing defective about it. But you may not realize that, because society rewards the outgoing personality and treats shyness and sensitivity as something to be overcome. According to author Elaine Aron (herself an HSP), sensitive people have the unusual ability to sense subtleties, spot or avoid errors, concentrate deeply, and delve deeply. This book helps HSPs to understand themselves and their sensitive trait and its impact on personal history, career, relationships, and inner life. The book offers advice for typical problems. For example, you learn strategies for coping with overarousal, overcoming social discomfort, being in love relationships, managing job challenges, and much more. The author covers a lot of material clearly, in an approachable style, using case studies, self-tests, and exercises to bring the information home. The book is essential for you if you are an HSP--you'll learn a lot about yourself. It's also useful for people in a relationship with an HSP. --Joan Price

Are you a highly sensitive person?

Do you have a keen imagination and vivid dreams? Is time alone each day as essential to you as food and water? Are you "too shy" or "too sensitive" according to others? Do noise and confusion quickly overwhelm you? If your answers are yes, you may be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

Most of us feel overstimulated every once in a while, but for the Highly Sensitive Person, it's a way of life. In this groundbreaking book, Dr. Elaine Aron, a psychotherapist, workshop leader and highly sensitive person herself, shows you how to identify this trait in yourself and make the most of it in everyday situations. Drawing on her many years of research and hundreds of interviews, she shows how you can better understand yourself and your trait to create a fuller, richer life.

In The Highly Sensitive Person , you will discover:
* Self-assessment tests to help you identify your particular sensitivities
* Ways to reframe your past experiences in a positive light and gain greater self-esteem in the process
* Insight into how high sensitivity affects both work and personal relationships
* Tips on how to deal with overarousal
* Informations on medications and when to seek help
* Techniques to enrich the soul and spirit

Customer Reviews:

  • the highly sensitive person
    have not read this book yet, but my therapist says it is a wonderful book for sensitive people...more info
  • Waste of time and money! (At least read this review)
    I found this book to be very boring. The first 3 chapters were totally useless. She says that this book is suited for everyone to read (health professionals, parents..)I don't believe so. Throughout the entire book I kept waiting for her to tell me something I didn't know. I bought this book to learn more about myself and about treating others. I learned very little from this book. I wanted to learn more about emotional sensitivity. The book however has little to do with that type of sensitivity. She wrote more about being overwhelmed by things such as bright lights, sounds, colors, etc. She claims to have found a new trait which she calls the "Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)." She says that about 1 in every 5 people have this trait. I really do not believe it is that high. In fact, I do not believe that this is a new trait at all. It sounds more like a combination of other traits that have already been found. Try reading a self help book on anxiety or shyness. In the beginning of the book she has a test for people to take to see if they may have the HSP trait. It seems as though she made it so that everyone will test positive..hmmmm$$$.? I had about 8 people take it. Seven of them tested positive. I thought only 1 in every 5 (20%) had this trait?
    Maybe you are a person who gets very easily overwhelmed by things such as lights and colors. If so I have total respect for you. I just feel that there are probably better books out there than this one. I can't believe I made her richer and me poorer for this. I wish I would have read a chapter at the bookstore. Then I would have learned how useless this book was going to be for me. College Student...more info
  • Is Over Stimulation A Way of Life for You?

    Answer true or false to these ten statements as they apply to you:

    1. I find myself needing to withdraw during busy days to any place where I can have some privacy and relief from stimulation.
    2. I am easily overwhelmed by things such as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens close by.
    3. I get rattled when I have a lot to do in a short amount of time.
    4. I startle easily.
    5. I make it a point to avoid violent movies or TV shows.
    6. Changes in my life shake me up.
    7. When I must compete or be observed while performing a task, I become so nervous and shaky that I do much worse than I would otherwise.
    8. I am very conscientious.
    9. When I was a child, my parents or teachers seemed to see me as sensitive or shy.
    10. I tend to be very sensitive to pain.

    If you answered true to five or more of these statements or if any one or two statements are extremely true of you, then this book may be for you.

    This easy-to-read, non-technical book (first published in 1996) by Dr. Elaine Aron, deals with the highly sensitive person (of which Aron is one). Such a person is one that has a very sensitive nervous system and thus has a trait of greater receptivity to stimulation that may cause over stimulation. This trait should not be confused with such things as introversion, shyness, inhibition, anxiety, or fear. (Interestingly, there are also extroverted highly sensitive people.)

    This book provides basic, detailed information about this trait, data that is difficult to obtain elsewhere. According to the author, "[This book] is the product of five years of research, in-depth interviews, clinical experience, courses, and individual consultations with hundreds of highly sensitive persons."

    If you feel that you are a highly sensitive person, this book will help you understand yourself better and show you how to thrive in today's not-so-sensitive world. Also, this book is written for those seeking to understand those that are highly sensitive, such as a friend, relative, employer, or educator.

    This book consists of ten chapters:

    *Chapter one helps one learn the basic facts about this trait and how it makes one different (not flawed) from others.
    *Chapter two helps you understand your trait.
    *In the third chapter, you'll learn to appreciate your highly sensitive body's needs.
    *In the fourth chapter, you'll learn ways to rethink your past experiences in a positive light and gain greater self-esteem in the process.
    *Chapter five gives insight of how high sensitivity affects non-intimate social relationships.
    *Chapter six gives insight of how high sensitivity affects work relationships.
    *In the seventh chapter, you'll find insight of how high sensitivity affects close intimate relationships.
    *The eighth chapter deals with ways to heal the sometimes deep adult psychological wounds caused when one was a highly sensitive child or adolescent.
    *Chapter nine gives information on medications and when to seek help. (The author advocates caution if you desire to use medication.)
    *In the last chapter, you are introduced to techniques to enrich the soul and spirit.

    Near the beginning of this book is a self-test to help you decide if you are highly sensitive. It consists of twenty-three statements (ten selected ones are presented above) of which you answer true or false. (I felt that some of these statements were too general.)

    Throughout this book are voluntary activities that the author has found useful for highly sensitive people. As well, there are tips throughout on how to deal with over arousal.

    Finally, there are three appendices that consist of tips for health-care providers, teachers, and employers who work with or employ highly sensitive people.

    In conclusion, if you are highly sensitive or want to learn about this trait, then this is the groundbreaking book for you!!

    ...more info
  • Awesome
    There is not a whole lot to say except that it was very enlightening and I am looking forward to reading her other book, The Highly Sensitive Person in Love, or something like that....more info
  • Good book on the HSP, but digresses during its latter half
    This work is generally a good read in helping one understand the highly sensitive person (HSP). While the first half of the text is well written and useful, in my opinion, the latter half is a slide downhill into not only strategies intended to work with one's sensitivity, but avenues to subdue one's sensitivity. Some of the strengths of the book include the attempt of the author to differentiate the highly sensitive from the introvert and the shy (many modern psychologists are rightly coming to like conclusions that these three personality attributes are not synonymous, although some therapists unfortunately still group these three types of individuals together), her explanation of how sensitivity in many ways is a strength because the HSP is much more aware of what is going on around them than the non-HSP, and the many case studies distributed throughout the text. As with most works of this nature, there are also weaknesses that need to be mentioned. Despite the book's strengths, and my recommendation that you read this book if there is an HSP in your life, there are two weaknesses in this book that should not go unnoticed, contained within the last two chapters in the book: the author's discussions on medications and spirituality. In my opinion, medication for any purpose, including both physical and mental health, should be used in only limited circumstances - drugs should not be used as much as they are in the United States to treat people. Although people have a right to disagree with this assertion, I must say that the second and greatest weakness of this book, constrained to chapter 10, is large enough that most would probably agree with me (even if the only reason for this agreement is the fact that the content is far removed from the thesis of the book, i.e. the content digresses in a long, unrelated tangent). Aron explains that HSPs tend to be more spiritual than non-HSPs, but she goes far beyond this research finding to say that HSPs as a general rule are against "organized religion", without explaining her definition of organized religion. She includes almost two full pages of quotes by supposed HSPs, which together form "almost a poem", in her opinion. Included within this "poem" is a quote from an HSP who says that one should "have fun at all costs", and another which says "you get what you pray for". There is simply too much hostility in this "poem", which many readers will probably categorize as a tragedy. Amid periodic bursts of insight, this "Soul and Spirit" chapter gets stranger, reminiscent of the book "Communion" by Whitley Strieber, where the author goes on a tangent about guardian angels which sound more like demons. In a related case study, a woman recalls waking up at night, seeing "at the bottom of [her] bed a creature about four feet tall, hairless, not naked but in a sort of skinsuit, with minimalist features...[the creature] thought-transmitted to [her], `Don't be afraid. I'm only here to observe you'". The woman notes that she "was not the least bit afraid". For future printings of this book, this last chapter simply needs to be cut-and-pasted into a book categorized in the "New Age" bookshelf of your local bookstore....more info
  • The HS person
    I love this book!
    It's like it was written just for me.
    For years I've felt out of place and odd because I can't stand loud noises, loud restaurants, crowds and many other things like that.
    This book explains that I was born that way and that there are "others" out there like me.
    This book was recommened to me by a counselor.
    She told me that in her opinion I was a highly sensitive person.
    I went on the author's web site. Read up on it, took the test and immediately ordered it.
    I can't begin to describe how much better I feel as I read chapter after chapter.
    I would recommend you go to the web site and take the test to see if you might be highly sensitive also.
    "[...]"...more info
  • Took a lot of years before I discovered this book!
    I dare say I enrolled in Psychology in college to try and discover what made me so different. Now 17 years out of college, I have finally figured it out! Hallelujah! This author's theory explains EVERYTHING about my oddities. I feel less alone. Now I need the Cliffs Notes version so my spouse can get filled in without having to read the whole book.

    What's it like to be Highly Sensitive? I can't schedule more than one or two meetings or appointments on any given day or I will feel overwhelmed. I need hours of alone time to recharge. I'm always worried people don't like me. I avoid crowds whenever possible. I run to close the window when I hear power mowers in the neighbors' yards - the sound drives me batty. The volume on the TV can't be too high or I will become tense and agitated. Smokers and people with heavy perfume annoy me. I'm the quintessential picky eater. I have to wash my feet before bed every night - I can't go to sleep if my feet are dirty. I have spectacularly vivid dreams and nightmares. I am a morning person. I worry about little things. I worry about big things. People tell me I am the calmest person they know. I don't appear to be neurotic, however, as people tell me I am friendly, outgoing and social. What a public face! Now I can understand that my nervous system is wired a little different than most.

    This book is a real eye opener. I wish I had discovered it when it was originally published!...more info
  • Artist point of view...
    I only read half of the book. I couldn't take it anymore and had to put it down.
    The test was a joke. Doesn't everyone avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
    Doesn't everyone get a rattled when they have alot to do in a short amount of time?
    or get a little moody when they are hungry?
    after testing postive to most of the questions i labled myself as HSP and began reading the first few chapters.
    I don't know what i was like as a baby... so i can't compare notes there.
    But yes, from the age of 5 i always knew i was different ...
    I was quiet, shy, insecure and introverted, as well as extremly aware of my environment.
    i still am, but i certainly was not scared of my own shadow as she makes us out to be.
    The book didn't identify with me in alot of ways.
    I found it to be annoying, boring and repetitive which is why i couldn't continue reading it.
    Many of the reviews are positive, so this book must have been helpful to alot of other people.
    Why i can't relate, i don't understand. maybe i'm not HSP afterall....more info
  • Answers abound in this book!
    If you think you are an HSP, check out Elaine's website, and take the self-test. I you find out you are, buy this book. After 35 years of questioning my HSP traits, I finally found a book that helps me manage and develop my traits as well as accept that I'm a pretty neat person. Labeled as "gifted" and "sensitive" since birth, I can finally use my gifts to enhance my life rather than detract from it. I usually detest labels, but I find this one, HSP, to aid in my expansion as an individual rather than my receding from the world due to "too much information, runnin' through my brain" (thanks, Sting.)

    Reading this book has also helped me understand my niece and her HSP traits. Maybe we can both breathe easier now that we have each other and these books as a place to rest. Peace to all!

    Veo...more info

  • a pep talk for the quiet and introverted
    I read this book a couple years ago. I am generally not into pop psychology, self-help books, etc...So it was unusual that I picked up this book at all. But the description of the book sounded so much like me that I had to read it.

    While I don't agree with some of the advice in the book...What I liked best about this book was simply that it was a positive pep talk for people who have HSP traits. There are good and beneficial things about our traits! I have gone through life feeling ostrasized by others because I am quiet natured and introverted. "You're too quiet." "You're too serious." "You're anti-social." ...On and on it goes.

    People on the opposite side of the spectrum (light-hearted, talkative people...) are not criticized like this - I am not saying they are never criticized, but not nearly as much as we are. Our Western culture simply does not value our traits.

    If nothing else, this book was simply an encouragement to me. I am not alone, others have traits like me, and although there are downfalls (which we can learn to deal with)- there are many positive aspects to being a quiet and introspective person.

    I think HSP has some similarities to the the melancholy temperament type. The ancient Greeks identified 4 basic temperament types. (For an interesting book on the temperament types, read "Why You Act the Way You Do" by Tim Lahaye. It is from a Christian perspective just so you are aware. And it's not a "scholarly" book either, but just an "easy-reading" book about temperament types.)
    ...more info
  • Bunkum
    Bunkum by a master grifter. Poorly written
    (not even entertaining as con artists can be:
    carnival sideshows!) and edited as well (two
    of scores of insensitive errors: folk is
    plural, not folks; adage is an axiom, old
    adage is wordy). Why with all the money Aron
    is making off her HSP industry, next we'll
    learn that she has duped the most famous
    zoologists from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe to
    assert with her that HSPs evolved from
    peaceful and loving (and hidden!) bonobos,
    orangutans, and gorillas and that the rest of
    us did from out there, gang-warfaring chimps.
    I qualify nearly 100% as an HSP, and I would
    buy that book and believe in it with all my
    heart and soul! And I'd spend the rest of my
    life as a bonobo hoping to do what
    they--surely earth's only true saints--do
    most of their time. Facing prudish scorn,
    I would proclaim: I am an HSP; I am special;
    leave me alone, clods!
    ...more info
  • Well perhaps
    When I first read this book several years ago I found it quite intriguing. So why do I rate it 3 stars? In a nutshell, I believe the author treats socio-cultural phenomena as epiphenoma (not central to the genesis of sensitivity-related problems if you will), and that the creation of a HSP phenotype (or race of human if you wish)could be a reification, to a greater or lesser extent. The author does address how our contemporary culture is not a welcoming or healthy environment for HSPs in general, and has written about what HSPs can do to protect themselves....but, I find myself asking a nagging question as I read this thesis: is the author possibly reifying the concept of a HSP? and if so, she could well be minimizing a much more evil force afoot in our contemporary society--the cultural toxicity that destroys self-esteem from a very young age and enslaves people to various psychological problems as they age--anxiety disorders, drug addiction, eating disorders, etc. If you went to middle school and high school in US (or probably anywhere) you know what I'm talking about.
    Indeed, as a practicing psychiatrist for the past 6 years, I could give any of my anxiety disorder patients this book and it is my belief that many would conclude that they are HSP. But is this accurate? There is no doubt children are born with different biological temperaments, and that there probably exists a cohort of children that are more sensitive to stimuli(and I would not be surprised if these children were at greater risk for certain psychological problems later in life). And according to the book, these children grow up to be HSPs, victimized by a society unaware of their unique properties and needs. But what if the real genesis of a person's anxiety/sensitivity (or whatever psychological problem...if it is a problem) was caused by toxic cultural processes in the first place (usually occurring in the first decade of life) and this is the real source of suffering--a self image severely beaten down by a toxic culture! I do not know the answer to this question, but the few people I have witnessed significantly reduce their difficulties with anxiety don't seem to be HSP anymore. Which brings up another risk...could accepting the label of HSP make a person say, "well this is just the way it is?" which would be fine if it IS truly a biological phenomena impervious to change...but what if itisnt? what if it's a deep-rooted psychological problem that could be changed?

    Paul Nicholas, MD, MPH email:

    In sum, the book is intriguing, but is it guilty of reification? I don't know, but this is my suspicion....the author doesnt address it. ...more info
  • my mother
    well, I haven't atcually read this book, so I probably have no right to post here. But my mother has not stopped talking about it. I think it is interesting how many people gave it such bad reviews. Perhaps they are reading the wrong book.
    When my mother stumbled upon this book accidentally and started to read it, she almost cried with relief. She could not believe how closely it described how she has felt for most of her life. As she read it, she felt as though it explained so many things to her about her anxieties and she felt as though a weight were being lifted from her. It gave her hope and ideas on how to deal with her sensitivity. I think this book really applies to a certain group of people who are born with HPS and if it applies to you, you could find it to be very enlightening. It might even change your life....more info
    I picked this book up at the library yesterday by accident. I was hoping that the book would help me understand my emotionally sensitive neighbor. Well, after opening the book and reading only two pages, I realized that Dr. Aron was describing me. Dr. Aron, in her book, is not describing emotionally sensitive people (although some of you may be as well) but rather she desribes those who have sensitive nervous systems. I have always misinterperated my blushing, heart racing, and foggy mind to a mysterious fear, or neurosis, even though I didn't really feal afraid. Now I know that being in an arousal state is not the same as being afraid or shy. I read the book in three hours and have cried tears of joy ever since (and I am not a very emotional person!). Throughout my life, I have felt so oddly out of place and only have one friend that I would say really knows me. After reading this book I cry just knowing that it's not my fault, that I am not a weak person, that I am valuable just as I am. After a lifetime of avoiding people, avoiding driving, and always needing time alone to "think" I am renewed and literally reborn!...more info
  • If you're highly sensitive, this book is for you!
    I read this book and recommended it to other HSPs. It really changed the way I view my life and my responses to people, places and things. Those people I recommended the book to, said the same thing. I scored 17/22 on the sensitivity scale and my relief at understanding my nature was enormously relieving. If you've been told you are too sensitive or suspect that you are, this book may help you. I know it did for me. I give it a 5 star rating and a huge thank you to Dr. Aaron for her extensive research and efforts to further understand the highly sensitive person. ...more info
  • This book changed my life
    Until picking up this book, I had always felt different from others, but didn't understand why. I reacted "strangely" to normal situations, deeply appreciated alone time, and was bothered by things others didn't even notice. My high sensitivity was a joke with my friends. I mean, who "needs" to sleep on flannel or 300+ thread count sheets, with ear plugs, and block all light just to get a decent nights sleep? This book has helped me to understand that my reaction to the world around me is not something to be ashamed of. Now that I understand what the difference is I am learning, not to ignore my "strange" way of reacting, but to be sensitive to it and respond in a positive way. Thank you, Elaine, for helping me understand myself more deeply....more info
  • Too Psychologically Deep
    This book is very hard to understand. It seems as though one has to have a little bit of a background in psychology (or at least an understanding of it) to undertand the nomenclature of the book and to understand what is being comunicated. For the previously mentioned reasons I did not like the book. I expected it to be reader friendly and very practical(to suggest tips in one's life he/she could actually practice- put to use). It is not. ...more info
    this is a stupid book. it doesn' tell you anything that you, as sensitive person don't already know about yourself....more info
  • This is really a book about Asperger's Syndrome
    This is a wonderful book, but anyone who knows about Asperger's Syndrome sees that *every single characteristic* described in this book is typical of Asperger's. I guess the author either a) doesn't know about Asperger's Syndrome or b) is in denial that that is really her issue. That said, the descriptions are clear, the coping techniques are helpful, and her writing style is clear in describing the issues that can overwhelm a HSP/Aspie....more info
  • YIKES!!! Danger!! A Dissenting Opinion
    Gentle Reader--If it is wisdom you seek, be prepared to resume your journey after partaking in this feast of fantasy. Here lie ghosts and goblins and airy-fairy assumptions of things that simply do not exist. You no doubt already KNOW that you are a sensitive individual. So what? It CAN be a nice added dimension to living without making it into a social movement. Just enjoy it. And don't allow people like this author to encourage you to lose firm footing in the real world. And when your hopes happen to swell up in response to what some charlatans offer, don't be entirely disappointed when the time comes to deflate that sad balloon. Just pay attention to simpler things in life, and you'll be okay.

    Someday, a serious author may take up the extra-sensitiveness of some of us and caution us to cease over-reacting. But this is not the day, and this is not the author.

    Take care, and best wishes....more info

  • Just excellent!
    I've reviewed the literature on "gifted adults" but this one is so practical and so understandable. Thank goodness - now I understand! Always called myself a closet introvert....more info
  • Empowering the introverted and sensitive
    The great thing about this book is it identified a trait that had never really been discussed before in positive terms: high sensitivity. A major aspect of this sensitivity is difficulty in social situations and a tendency to turn inward rather than outward, so people with this trait are known as being "antisocial," "too quiet," "too shy," etc. However, the trait encompasses so much more than this. HSPs tend to be sensitive to most sensory stimulation, so find themselves uncomfortable in noisy and chaotic places. Although Aron says that 30% of HSPs are extroverted, none of what she says about HSPs makes much sense for an extrovert. These are the people who desperately need a calm oblivion to retreat to when the world gets to be too much, people who are drained by the hectic lifestyles that are so common these days and would rather curl up with a book than spend the evening at a bar.

    The strength of this book was its assurance that the trait is completely normal, not a flaw that we need to get over. HSPs tend to have higher rates of psychological problems compared to the general population, largely in part due to living in a culture that tells them their personality and feelings are "wrong" and need to be changed. Most books on shyness emphasize how to get over it; Aron emphasizes how to appreciate your strengths and live with what you have.

    That being said, not all of the book is useful. Parts were difficult to get through; for example when Aron was comparing the body to an baby and talking about parenting your "infant/body," she totally lost me and it was a struggle to continue reading. The chapter on spirituality and Aron's claim that HSPs are more spiritual than others was not helpful to me either.

    The chapters on relationship, work, and medical issues were priceless though. I constantly found myself knitting together the threads of my life. Suddenly, it all made sense, why I had failed at certain things, why I had reacted in certain ways. Although more practical advice in these areas (particularly work) would have been helpful, the book was most empowering just because it said, "this is how you are. And that's okay." ...more info
  • Get Ready To Have Some "AHA!" Moments!
    Have you ever felt overwhelmed and "jangled" by situations most other people seem to take in their stride? Have you often heard the words "Crybaby" or "You're just too sensitive about stuff?" Do strong smells, bright lights are loud noise seem to affect you more than they affect other people? Do you enjoy people and their company, but feel exhausted after you've been around them for a while? Do you intuitively see solutions to problems other people spend weeks solving? Do prescription drugs affect you more strongly than indicated? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you owe it to yourself to read this book. When I first read it, I had a long string of "AHA moments" with each chapter, and I have since spoken to many others who have had similar experiences.

    Dr. Elaine N. Aron's research on High Sensitivity in people is a welcome effort to show the world that "not being the same as the societal ideal" does NOT necessarily have to be labeled as a pathology. This is an important book that will resonate with the millions of people who have spent their lives feeling just a little out of step with the frenetic, aggresive, extraverted, hectic "do, do, do!" aspects of modern society.

    The book starts with a Sensitivity self-test, to allow readers to evaluate their degree of sensitivity. The good news is that if the test shows that you ARE a "Highly Sensitive Person" there is nothing "wrong" with you, and Dr. Aron has done a laudable job of helping us understand WHY. High Sensitivity is a genetic biological state you have about as much control over as the size of your feet-- and it certainly isn't a personality "disorder" in need of "repair." Throughout the book, Aron provides background to help readers understand more about their sensitivity, as well as tips and tools for how to improve the quality of their interaction with a world that isn't always tolerant of those who are a little "different."

    For some people, this book is a serious eyeopener-- especially those who might have been diagnosed with, and treated for, Social Phobia or Generalized Anxiety Disorder-- while feeling that the diagnosis really didn't seem "right." Just the mere understanding of the characteristics of High Sensitivity could have a "healing effect" for them.

    Anything I didn't like about this book? Well, stylistically, the writing is a bit dry and academic-- but then again, the book was not written for entertainment purposes.

    A cautionary note: As with most self-help and self-analysis books, I would caution readers not to become TOO absorbed in pursuing the ideas presented in this book. As a long-time member of the "HSP Community" I have observed a number of people adopting their sensitivity as a "lifestyle" with a near-religious fervor, and a somewhat negative "Us vs. them" philosophy. Understanding that you're Highly Sensitive is not "the answer" to every problem in life-- it is merely a way to look at your life from a different perspective and gain some insight into making the most of a situation that sometimes makes you feel like a bit of a "misfit."

    Overall rating: Highly Recommended (8.7 bookmarks out of a possible 10), not only for the Highly Sensitive Person, but also for a less sensitive person with a Highly Sensitive child or partner....more info

  • The workbook and relationship book from this author are a tad better!
    I'll write more about this book-I think but, It is very sad the author tells you everything but, the fact that your ADD/Aspergers/LD/ any combo of any of these. And I know most if not all the people with this wheather they know it, or want to admit it, are one of those things; if not a combo. And that's more important to know then you are a highly sensitive person which is just part of a side effect sorta often to any of those differences/disabilities. And the fact she doesn't know she has one of those things after her extensive research shows some of the limit she briefly mentioned she had about what she mentioned and told in her books. ...more info
  • You are not alone
    This book is a comfort to those of us who have felt alone in our quirkiness....more info
  • No mention of gay people
    I found this book useful, containing some interesting concepts, but I couldn't help asking, "How could someone write a book about 'highly sensitive people' and not even mention gay people? Was is oversight, inexperience or exclusion? ...more info
  • There is a Word to Describe You
    Imagine a warrior going into battle without armor ... and that is the world for a highly sensitive person. Rather than judge the sensitivity .... just learn the tools to wear the armor in an overstimulating world. This book tells you the nuts and bolts of protecting your sensitive soul without hiding away your gifts of it....more info
  • worthwhile
    There's a fine line between taking care of yourself and self-obsession.

    Even in highly creative families, overly sensitive children are often considered "selfish" or egocentric. Hypochondriacs. Whiners. It's ironic so many end up with autoimmune diseases: diseases where the body does not recognize it's own tissue and attacks it as an invader. What a picture of self-rejection...never learning healthy regard for self care

    Perhaps coming from this background, I had a hard time with the tone of this almost seemed arrogant.

    At any rate, there's too much good info to pass up. Buy it. Take what you like and leave the rest....more info
  • Great book
    Reading this book was an important step in my healing as I found the description of "HSP" fit me well. Elaine's book opened up a whole new understanding for me. This book taught me practical details and information about how to manage my own sensitivities in a world that moves too fast, is too loud, can be harsh, etc. I found her book to be life-changing as I learned helpful strategies for daily living and for communicating with others about my sensitivities. As a holistic massage therapist, I recommend this book to my clients and acquaintances who are struggling with the issues of high sensitivity. It is one of the more popular books in my lending library for clients. The one part that Elaine could improve upon is better practical suggestions for health care for HSPs. She describes the difficulties in finding appropriate practitioners to work with, but does not go much beyond conventional medicine in her evaluation of what works for sensitives. I found that my own sensitivies were much improved by working on my overall health using alternative self-help methods. While I'm still an HSP, the health improvements greatly increased my ability to function in the world. Overall, her book is carefully and sensitively written -- a wonderful resource....more info
  • Explains in simple words - Who & Why 15% of the population have a "gift"...
    As a healer (and being an HSP myself) this book has become an invaluable "tool" to "analyze" people "searching" for their true selves...

    For a healer it is absolutely essential to have an understanding of HSP personalities - their "gifts" - the rewards and advantages they have in life (if they are aware of their personality trait..!) but also the problems that 15 % of the entire population on earth have/will encounter in their lives.

    You cannot truly heal someone without the understanding of their subconscious mindset..!

    This is one of the reasons why this book is completely invaluable for any healer, HSP's or family and friends to HSP personalities!


    (Unnecessary suicides, able to be medically treated/"healed" - in short it gives the person inner harmony, self insight and the ability to use this extraordinary "GIFT" to the benefit of themselves and people around them...)

    If you have a family member, a friend or you yourself - that can be regarded as withdrawn & quiet, often is in need of being alone, has hard to deal with to many impressions at once (becomes "overwhelmed") - BUY THIS BOOK - see my honest quote above...

    Mats Fondelius - CEO...more info
  • Thank you Thank you Thank You
    A must for all of us HSP's out there. I have a renewed self confidence after reading this book. I also recommend the companion workbook to this series. It has lots of helpfultips for "shielding". Thank you to the author for helping me to understand I am not flawed....more info
  • To all you who claim high sensitivity
    Okay, I have only read part of the book. Yes, I think Americans place far too much emphasis on being outgoing and should take lessons from Oriental societies. But I just had to write this. I had found out not too long ago that a person's blood type is a likely indicator for their personality. Blood type O is known for being athletic, extroverted, and wanting to be the boss and type A are more noted for their sensitivity and being prone to anxiety. In the United States, over half are type O and about 35% are A types, whereas in Japan, over 40% are A type and only about 25% are type O. So I think that explains it partially. All you who have read the book and think it's you, you're probably A type, or in smaller numbers, type AB....more info
  • Highly sensitive people are an asset- not defectives.
    I truly wish that this book would have existed 30 or more years ago. Almost everthing traditionally written on this subject has been tacitly negative. The highly sensitive, or introverted, personality type was automatically assumed to be defective to some degree for their failure to "adapt" to the extroverted "norm." I think that this is because most traditional American psychological thought has been fundamentally industrial and military psychology- the subject is always supposed to adapt to the environment and never the other way around. Those who cannot adapt are identified and disposed of. That is certainly how military psychology has always been practiced. This book is the first to demonstrate that highly sensitive people are both "normal" and have many valuable traits. Indeed, they excel against extraverts in most areas that make people truly "human." Not only that, but in other cultures without an unnatural majority of extraverts, the sensitive person was seen as the ideal friend and citizen.

    I especially appreciated the explanation of the biochemistry of "over-stimulation." When sensitive people are forced to interact in unnatural evironments the cortisol levels in their bloodstream increases, making them even more sensitive to their environment than they usually are. Unless they can withdraw, or otherwise calm themselves, it is a virtual certainty that they will overreact. This means that they will act contrary to their usual conscientious, reasonable, and understanding normal behavior in order to escape. Needless to say, inspite of the fact that this reaction is virtually out of their control, this overreaction is dealt with harshly by society- and by employers. Inspite of the fact that highly sensitive people are the most conscientious, hard-working, competent, and even gifted, of employees 99% of the time, this absolute physical need to escape to a less stressful environment can ruin their lives. They are labeled as freaks, as not being "team players"- and as "unemployable." I know this, for like the author, I was also born a HSP. This means that in an unnaturally extraverted society I often find myself wishing that I had not been born at all- inspite of my gifts, inspite of the shear injustice of it all.......more info
  • Finally
    I am a HSP/HSS, finally someone who has an explanation for my Pesonality. I always felt different and knew I wasn't like anyone else but just thought I was Nuts, Depressed, ADD, Anxious etc. Now I completley understand why I am the way I am. Now I can do the things I need to do in order to not become overwhelmed and Anxious. Give myself time alone, don't become too involved with every elses problems, stay away from negative people, take care of my health.

    Great book to read if you have ever felt these things!...more info

  • What an incredible book
    Being a highly sensitive person, I started to understand my traits through the years, but here in this book is where it all comes together and is acknowledged in a way like never before. For anyone who is highly sensitive, this book let's you know that it's perfectly ok to be exactly who you are, in the clearest way imaginable. I am very grateful that it is here. It is a very validating thing.

    For those reviewers who found this book to be off the mark or a bad thing, then it was probably not written for you. I'll echo the many who have said that if you are the kind of sensitive person that this book speaks for, it will resonate within you deeply. It brings peace to me, and if anything, it gives me more courage and strength to thrive in this world. Those who said that this book does more harm than good by "sinking you into your sensitivity" are truly missing the point. That is like telling someone not to be themselves, and is the very thing that sensitive people have been painfully dealing with in this culture for a long while. When I become more of who I am, I will only be better for myself and better for the world. Being more accepting of myself within, is something that will bring me more comfortably out into the world, not push me further back from it.

    One reader thought that this book was written from the "female perspective" and therefore not as useful to males. I am a male and find that it was very fitting to the person I am, so it may just depend on the individual.

    If you are a sensitive person and you have ever compared yourself to most others in the society we live in, you understand that you do not fit the mold. What this book delivers is the point - "it's ok" and in doing so it helps one to deal with oneself in a much kinder and constructive way in the world. I don't think this book is a miracle worker, it does take personal steps to be fully accepting of self, but this writing is a big help to the sensitive soul. My wish is that everyone who needs it, finds it.

    To all those gentle, kindred spirits out there, I offer my heartfelt best wishes for much happiness and peace. I plan to order a couple of copies of this great book for friends whom I know will surely love it.

    Thank you very much, Dr. Elaine Aron. Great job....more info

  • blondegreen
    I'm glad I ordered this book without reading the reviews below. It was recommended thru a web site for the highly sensitive, and it has help me a lot. After the first few chapters, I felt enlivened and relieved to know that there were others like me and that I was a minority, but normal. It's difficult to be a HSP in a gung-ho world of extraverts. It is an excellent book and I highly recommend it to anyone who feels like they don't fit in with most and who shy away from too much noise or commotion. ...more info
  • Highly strung
    Apart from being a very spiritual person (VSP), I'm also a highly sensitive person (HSP). I am quickly overwhelmed by noise and confusion, and am easily shocked and offended by the insensitivity of the other 80% of the population. I am easily over-aroused by stimuli, and suffer from a generally high level of anxiety (HLOA). Since life as an HSP is such a challenge, it's a satisfying thing to find a whole franchise of books catering to all the different aspects of being sensitive in an insensitive world (SIAUW). It's very sensitive of the author to be catering to this need among the highly strung....more info
  • A new category explaining a familiar reality
    I enjoyed and learned from this book. I also think that the whole idea of a 'highly sensitive type' is an interesting way of helping many of us understand anew our own self and reality. Aron's explanation of the way this type of person is traditionally devalued in American and Western schools was interesting. She claims that there is a study showing that Chinese children are valued precisely for the kind of 'inward sensitivity and shyness' that our traditionally condemned in Western schools.
    Her aim is of course to help and encourage the highly sensitive person. She says that this type of person has traditionally been the 'advisor' of those in power. She has an interesting riff on the idea that the valuing of the counter- aggressive type comes from the kind of culture brought with them by the steppe-nomads who in conquering Europe gave it a fierce militant outlook.
    What I most appreciated was that the analysis made me better understand certain highly sensitive people I know. These are people who hate crowds and noise, do not want to fiercely compete with anyone, are not aggressive. They are the good and obedient people who ordinarily suffer greatly from the rudeness, inconsiderateness of those with the strong elbows. I doubt that many politicians are highly sensitive people.
    Aron estimates that twenty percent of the population fall into this category. She again points out that these people usually make an exceptional contribution in terms of their creativity, and ability to focus on work in depth.
    Her work in a sense provides a kind of support group for those who have felt isolated and depressed in their own sensitivity.
    This is a fine and insightful work, and is highly recommended especially for the highly sensitive reader.
    ...more info
  • to the reader from South Texas
    I think that the reader from South Texas has some serious anger issues and should spend some time working on those before condemning the author. Maybe he/she should try some meditation, (or medication) to help get in touch with their inner-self!...more info
  • Helped me understand and accept myself
    I'm not a huge fan of self-help books, but something told me to read this one. I'm glad I did. It really helped me to understand things about myself that I'd struggled with for years. Before, I didn't understand why I'd freak out in crowds, why I'd often find myself retreating to stairwells or restrooms for solitude at work or school, or why large social gatherings often exhausted me when other people seemed energized by them. This book explains that highly sensitive people (HSPs) are simply a significant segment of the population born with a sensitive nervous system, and as a result are easily overstimulated and overwhelmed. It covers the pros and cons of being an HSP, and helps HSPs understand, accept and embrace who they are. If you suspect you are an HSP (or are married to or are the parent of one), I'd highly recommend this book....more info
  • May do more harm than good
    Okay, first the good: Yes, there are sensitive people in the world, and this book makes it okay to be one of them. Now, the bad: Sinking into your sensitivity is not always the best way to handle it. For more practical, less self-defeating hints, see Riso and Hudson's books on the Enneagram (Like me, you may be an Enneagram 4. You may also be an Enneagram 2, 5, or, possibly, 6. You may be a 1 who has gone in the direction of a 4). In any case, don't buy Peter D'Adamo's advice that blood type equals personality. Yes, his Live Right For Your Type is an excellent eating plan that leaves me feeling great. But this sensitive person is an "aggressive" Type O!...more info
  • Finally Knowing I Belong
    I found comfort in every word of this book. Reading it validated that I am not only "not crazy", but that I have something wonderful to offer this de-sensitized world of ours. It's taken me many years, but I am finally realizing that being "different" can and usually is a genuinely good thing! All those years of hearing people describe me as "overly sensitive" as if it were some major character flaw certainly left their mark on me. Now, however, I can look upon my sensitivity as a gift - as something special and unique. I am happy being me. I am happy to have this book on my shelf. It has become a haven where I dwell when I need reminded that I belong, just as I am....more info
  • Wonderfully reassuring!
    All of my life I have been an HSP and felt as though I had landed on the wrong planet; this book describing the traits of the Highly Sensitive Person and how best to arrange your life to maximize the calm that you can find as you go from day to day is a delight! I'm still an HSP but I no longer feel alone with these traits....more info
  • A self awareness most revealing book
    My really enlightened HMO doctor recommended I read this book a few years ago. It helped me a lot recognizing my psychological profile, my role in life, and how to treat and respect myself so as to function optimally in this rather challenging world of ours.

    The author comes up with wonderful metaphors. She places people in two broad buckets. First, the King Warriors, these are the majority of the people accounting for roughly 80% of the population. They are self assured, often loud, and thrive naturally in our macho world. They are also risk takers. And, allow our society to advance in all sorts of discipline. So, as you can see, even though they may have some less than desireable qualities, they also make a very positive contribution to society. The other 20% are the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). She calls them the King Advisors. These people are not so self assured. They are typically not risk takers. But, their complex sensitive personalities give them a multi dimension ability to understand the world around them. Thus, they are a source of judgment, wisdom, knowledge that is indispensable for society at large. Thanks to them, the energy and risk daring of the King Warriors can be better optimized. In other workds, society really needs both temperaments (King Warriors and King Advisors) to be fruitful and progress.

    The author comes up with many other psycho analytical metaphors that you will love. She also comes with recommendation on how HSPs should deal with doctors, workplace, and other occasional intense situations. It is full of sound recommendation that will really feel right on the money if you are truly an HSP....more info

  • disappointingly frustrating :(
    I had been looking forward to reading this book. First of all, I do believe that the HSP trait is a distinguishable trait. I myself have started to discover and do some research into the subject. I have no doubt that Dr. Elaine Aron is an HSP herself and her book has helped many. Maybe I was born too late or something or just my natural tendency to not put too much value into self-help books in general. Maybe it's a GenX thing, I don't know... but I think the root of it may be my general disdain for the psych "establishment" as it exists right now. They have pretentions of "open mindedness" but I really do believe a great majority of them have this "happy psychologically well-rounded medium" that they ALL seem to want to drive people toward, regardless of how many paths there are up that mountain to get to that point. I fear Ms. Aron, with her PhD credentials, has fallen into this trap of not being able to think outside the "psych box", so to speak. My biggest complaints about this book are:
    1. her dismissal of the word "shy" and "shyness in general". (see below)
    2. her over-insistance on psychotherapy as the cure of everything.
    3, her over-reliance on childhood experiences as the ultimate factor in just about everything related to HSPness. A side note to this complaint is she seems to think childhood experience is at one of two extremes: either blissfully wonderful and magical in every way or horribly dysfunctional and wracked with trauma and just plain awful in every which way (of course requiring years of psychotherapy to get over!--sorry, I can't help being sarcastic!). I would think that most people's childhoods, whether they are HSP or not, would fall somewhere in middle, don't you think? That would be where mine falls.
    4. Generational and socioeconomic complaints: This book, like many other self-help books of this type seem always geared toward overly-affluent suburban Baby Boomers. As a struggling GenXer male who hasn't had a six-figure income to escape from and find out that life is more important than making money, (sorry, sarcasm is too's a GenX thing!)I just feel so disconnected to this type of thinking that prevails in most self-help books of this type (which is why I mostly avoid them!) Aren't there HSPs who AREN'T age 45-60 females from New York or San Francisco?(where this author divides her time) out there who have a perspective to say? (Hmmm, maybe I should write it myself!)

    I'll address these complaints briefly in depth. As someone who has both been called "shy" and have called myself that for as long as I can remember, I have no problem with the label. Granted, we should not let our labels BECOME us, but if there's something that fits and is not derogatory, why not? Frankly, what's wrong with "shy", Ms. Aron? I respect your view on it, but I disagree. I don't think "shy" is an inherently negative description. I'm mystified as to why you think every introvert should shed it.

    I guess I wish this book had been written by an HSP layperson instead of a clinical psychotherapist who is stuck inside the box of that school of thought. That would make it seem more like it was written by a friend and not a shrink who has to keep their occupational distance from you. This is a highly emotional (and sensitive!) subject for us HSPers, so I dunno...maybe my response is just a natural reaction of my type. Who knows? Psychology is an inexact science to begin with, anyway.

    So basically, it was a frustrating disappointment to read this book. I'm giving it two stars only because it at least was groundbreaking in it was apparently the first book to try to identify and distiguish this specific trait. It deserves credit for that at least. ...more info
  • yes, interesting
    certainly interesting, i did recognise myself, many times. in particular, i was intrigued (and still questioning) about the idea of "persona". the author has a wide view and throws up some very intersting vignettes e.g. the general sense of "disappointment" with other people sometimes. The book partially strengthened by resolve to take some counselling (something I have strongly resisted) and, so far anyhow, it has been v. interesting.

    if i have one criticism, it is the assumption of Shyness. "Intuitiveness" has an outward - looking function - this creates a certain tension for HSP's, which I know only too well.... one can be friendly, warm, intuitive but not want to be "overwhelmed" with stuff, it is not really the same as the wallflower phenomenon.... but this is hard to explain.

    i feel the criticism of other reviewers re. HSP as being "special" is not really deserved ... the author I feel does understand "it takes all sorts" and gives credit for everyone's strengths ... she just makes the point (quite reasonably I think) that HSP are often misunderstood and underestimate themselves.

    For a more indepth approach to many questions raised, I highly recommend Mid-Life Spirituality and Jungian Archetypes by Janice Brewi and Anne Brennan....more info

  • This book saved my life.
    For a quarter of a century, I battled with the "drawbacks" that come with being born a highly sensitive person. And it was only made worse by the fact that I sincerely thought there was something wrong with me and that I was sure I was alone in my particular awareness of the world around me. I fought my way through depression and anxiety and, somehow, by the grace of some higher power, ended up with Dr. Elaine Aron's book in my hands. It shed light on the fact that there was nothing wrong with me, and that there were, in fact, very special and good qualities in what I am. I am ever thankful to Dr. Aron for writing this inspiring book. Because of her reassuring and illuminating words, I now have complete faith in my emotions, my senses, and my sacred sensitive mind....more info


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