The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You

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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

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

Customer Reviews:

  • 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
  • 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

  • Profound, Accurate, Essential Reading
    Elaine Aron is one of the first psychologists to study the trait of high sensitivity, where others simply called it shyness, or viewed it as some kind of a disorder. This book clearly demonstrates the importance of this trait, how natural and vital it is to be explored and accepted.

    If you believe you may be highly sensitive, let this book guide you into an inner world you have always known existed for you, and let it show you how to bring this trait out into the world, where it belongs, strong and vibrant and beautiful in its many varied and individualized ways....more info
  • The Highly Sensitive Person
    I wish I would have found out about this book years ago. I feel like someone wrote my autobiography. I feel validated and also excited to know that there are others who are like myself, Highly Sensitive. The most important thing is that despite my difficult childhood, and sensitive nature I have been able to be a very successful person. Lastly, I am embarking on new territory with the help of a HSP therapist who is helping me to work through some deep seated pain. It is through her recommendation that I found this book. I am eternally grateful. ...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
  • A Blessing, not a Handicap
    What a blessing, and a relief, to find this book a few years ago. As a middle-aged adult who always felt herself flawed because of my "overly-sensitive nature," this book was like a breath of fresh air. Finally, I understand why I am so attune to the subtleties in my environment, why I am very sensitive to pain, why I quickly become drained around crowds, why I am uncomfortable with loud noises and why a few hours of daily solitude are as essential to me as food and water. HSP's intense arousal to stimuli that goes unobserved by others (sounds, sights, physical sensations) isn't due to a personality flaw in our makeup, but due to the way our brain functions and the way it processes information.

    One particularly helpful chapter is the one on Social Relationships. According to the book, approximately 75% of the US population is very socially outgoing. This extroverted population often sees the highly sensitive person as being 'stand-offish,' overly emotional, or afraid of being rejected. HSPs are generally very loving individuals, who are also very cautious and intuitive when it comes to relationships -- we do not give our affections lightly, which should be viewed as a strength rather than a weakness. And, while we do sometimes get caught up in our emotions and fear rejection, those qualities are not unique to HSPs. There are often quite different motivators at work in our actions...such as too much arousal, the need to be alone, etc. This book explains these facts very thoroughly and delves more deeply into the psyche of the HSP than any I've ever read.

    This book is also helpful for couples. As a counselor, I recommended this book to a married couple considering divorce. The husband, not the wife, was the HSP. After reading the book, a ray of light broke through for this couple. The husband finally came to understand himself on a level never before experienced, and the wife came to understand that her husband was not an "overly-sensitive wimp just seeking attention." It made a huge impact on their marriage and they were able to use the book as a jumping off point from the merry-go-round of criticism and pain upon which they had been trapped for years.

    I once read a quote which said, "No one who has not a complete knowledge of himself will ever have a true understanding of another." I echo that sentiment and highly recommend this book to introverts who may be struggling with feelings of being 'less-than' due to their shyness or heightened sensitivity to criticism or emotional pain. This book is very capable of changing your life.

    The only caution I would have is that many of the personality traits described in the book may also apply to individuals struggling with emotional, physical or sexual abuse issues. If that is your case, I highly recommend you receive counseling from a qualified professional in addition to, or possibly before, reading this book....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
  • The Highly Sensitive Person
    In the short time since I have owned this book, it has explained some of the most unexplainable contradictions in my life and helped to provide solutions, including for a sleep disorder. I have recommended it to several others who are all reporting the same thing. In the vast field of self-help books, I have never come across one which addresses this topic. Dr. Aron's website has a quick self-test and for those who suspect they are HSP, I would urge you to get this book as soon as possible. It is truly life altering....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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

  • 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
    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
  • It's you or it's not
    This book and this person so thoroughly explained my symptoms over a lifetime that it has changed my life significantly. I have been able to hand the book to my wife and just say "read this". She is totally supportive and now can be creative in helping me think of ideas for coping. She already bought me the best wrap-around sunglasses I ever had....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
  • 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

  • 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

  • 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
  • I am normal afterall
    I haven't finished it yet as it stirs up a lot of memories and I have to process a bit at at time, but the information is very reassuring, normalizing, and validates my experience of myself. I can also see the traits clearly in others that share this attribute. I am very grateful for this book. ...more info
  • Validating and thought-provoking, but slightly confusing
    I first read this book two years ago and just recently revisited it. As someone who is definitely highly sensitive by nature, I like the way Elaine Aron encourages HSPs to embrace, rather than change, their sensitivity. I resent the number of times I've been told I'm "too sensitive" or "too shy" or even "anti-social" by people who simply had no clue what makes me tick. I especially like her suggestion of "reframing" past events with an understanding of our innate sensitivity.

    And I very much agree with her rejection of the term "shy" for many of us. There's nothing wrong with accepting the label "shy" if you genuinely feel it applies to you. But I was labeled shy for many years and knew in my heart that it didn't fit, but bought into others' definition of me and tried to fight my "shyness." I was struggling with an issue that, for me, was not the real one. I was simply overstimulated and overwhelmed much of the time, which would cause me to want to retreat and withdraw. It's such a disservice to label kids who are simply introverted by nature and/or highly sensitive "shy," because as Aron states, it does tend to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, not unlike the child who is labeled "stupid" because he or she is dyslexic and has difficulty reading.

    What bothers me about the book is that Aron often seems to contradict herself when talking about the HSP trait. For example, she says you should take steps to keep yourself from being overwhelmed by cutting back on activities and stimulation; on the other hand, she says you should not allow your high sensitivity to keep you from participating in activities and that you CAN handle stimulation. She says you should accept that because of your high sensitivity you will not be able to do all others want you to do; on the other hand, she says you should not use your trait to manipulate situations to your liking. After quite a few pages of such back and forth, I found myself thinking, huh? What is she saying, really? I think her point is that HSPs need to know themselves well enough to know when to push themselves and when to not to push. But maybe she could have stopped there. There's a little too much "You want to make sure you do this -- but you want to make sure you DON'T do that!" I found that confusing.

    Her writing style is a little dry and detached, which after a while I began to find a bit irritating. And as another reviewer pointed out, this book seems more geared toward the baby boomer generation than Gen X (which is, apparently, my generation). But overall this book is an extremely valuable resource for those of us who are highly sensitive, and for those close to us who'd like to understand us better. It's certainly a must-read if you think you might be highly sensitive.

    ...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
  • Didn't quite hit the mark
    I bought this book with the recommendation/ suggestion from a friend. Based on the info from Amazon, I thought it might be a helpful read. But after obtaining the book, I discovered it doesn't really describe me as much as we guessed. I'm taking that as good news (no sense taking on another label).
    The author does a really nice job of reassuring readers that being an HSP is ok. Absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and that success and happiness are still within reach. So a very nice, concrete, positive book. Lots of practical exercises and things to ponder, but if you aren't really a "highly sensitive person", it falls rather flat....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
  • 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

  • Follow Your Bliss & Let Your Light Shine Through.
    Highly sensitive people are most often "isolated individuals" and have trouble interacting with the overactive, highly motivated people. They're not afraid of being hurt and they generally are not frightened of crowds. Noise and confusion are things which do cause some concentration problems and a lack of ability to cope at times. Having anxiety attacks are very different from being sensitive, getting one's feelings hurt easily and often are the hardest things. You can see a person's soul in his eyes, and I met a sensitive writer with the gentlest blue eyes and it simply broke my heart. Luckily for him, his talent in research and transposing it into words everyone can understand has made him a hometown hero and a 'treasure."

    E. M. Forester who wrote naval books many years ago said, "I believe in aristocracy...Not an aristocracy of power ... but of the sensitive, the considerate. Its members are to be found in all nations and social classes, and all through the ages." A few are great names, such as Einstein. They are sensitive for others as well as themselves; they are considerate and their luck is the power to endure.

    Military men, especially, lack sensitivity because of the cruel basic training they must live through. It was described in a college paper as a Hell on Earth and they were treated as non-humans but more like vermin. After they retire from their varied fields, they are so proud of themselves for having gone through "Ranger" school and other special forces training, that they don't have a sensitive bone in their whole body. They are like the autistic child, cannot put themselves in the other person's shoes or emphathize, as their opinion is definite and "always right," not to ever be changed. They don't know the word "compromise" as the military don't do that; only the leaders know how to "back down" in the face of fierce oppositon.

    It almost always begins in childhood when an adult says, "you are too sensitive for your own good" or "you are your own worst enemy." No one wants to be talked down to like that at any stage in life and, especially in childhood, there is no way to retaliate for such unfeeling and uncaring comments. Being sensitive is not any kind of syndrome. It is just being and having your feelings on your sleeve for anyone and everyone to step on and cause you severe pain. Sometimes, you can outgrow it if you find the right mate and have a loving marriage and family.

    Being introverted, shy and inhibited does not necessarily mean that the person is highly-sensitive. We all need to be sensitive to a degree, though men are not supposed to possess that trait. But, do you know what, women love the men who do! My middle son was artistic, highly-intelligent and talented, but did a lot of crying for some reason on his birthday. I have looked at his birthday photos and seen those red-rimmed eyes and wonder what did I do wrong. I did all I could to make his day happy and cooked his favorite foods and always a birthday cake. But he still was not happy. He had one good friend was was extroverted, but a big liar and had few ethics as his family had deserted him as a child -- and he felt inferior. They were in the band together -- Kenny played trumpet while my son had the trombone. Kenny had an orange Mustang and the two of them enjoyed riding around town and being admired. The sensitive one and the extroverted fool. So, what does my artistic son do -- get into sports to compensate, and the not-so-smart students thought he was a 'tough' guy. He hid his light under a bushel because some poorly-trained teachers had no sensitivity and told him that he was not as smart as his older brother.

    I was a talented, pretty motherless girl, but shy. Put me before the t.v. camera pantomiming Teresa Brewer, and that shyness evaporated and I became a star on Your Startime on Channel 6, WATE. On other radio and t.v. shows, I was the only child without a pushing mother, but I got on the air because I believed in myself -- thanks to an understanding grandfather who also sang on the radio, though a different kind of music. When I sang, the songs came out exactly like they sounded on the Hit Parade, my favorite show after the Eddie Fisher 'Coke Time.' I was born with music in my soul, a shyness because I was poor, and the feeling that I was as good as anyone in this town.

    Hyper-sensitivity is almost the same as hyper-thyroidism only in a different direction. I've had both and they mingle nicely as you get older to make you able to do things others can't and would never think of doing. You can become intrepid and people think that you are not sensitive but tough (like Zach). They may be a little afraid of what might come out of your mouth, but they also admire your courage and ability to get things done.

    Elaine Aron graduated from the University of California at Berkley, and became a college teacher, therapist, psychologist, and novelist in that order. I am always against mental health workers using their clients as scapegoats by putting them in books to be disected. In Pulaski, on a weekly talk show, the director of the Mental Health Center was a regular who talked about the poor clients (of course, he did not use their names, but he did divulge personal and private information on the air) and made fun of some of them. He ended up leaving his career dental hygienist for one of the crazies, to live happily ever after in loo-loo land.

    Highly sensitive people should never be made fun of or used for the monetary profit of their therapists. But I do believe that many do such an unethical practice and charge the government excessive amounts for "using" these folks as guinea pigs....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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • And all this time, I thought something was wrong with me...
    Not only is there nothing wrong with me, my HSP traits are an asset! Finally, a positive book on being highly sensitive. Dare I say, this book is my bible. I made my brother read it too, and he found it extremely helpful also. I am grateful for this book. Thank you Elaine....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


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