Why So Sensitive?  written by Tracy Bryan

shutterstock_271886822   As a writer, I’m constantly browsing the internet and other sources to find information about different topics. I try to research the who, what, why, when and how of a diverse range of subjects and I apply this material to my books. Being a children’s author, I need to take the information I find and filter it through my writing in a way that kids will understand- challenging, but also very therapeutic. It’s a great process, not only do I educate myself, but I also get to create something that will educate and hopefully inspire children and adults.   shutterstock_250898245 Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of research on the topic of Sensory Processing Sensitivity. This is a fairly current and mainstream school of thought about an innate personality trait condition. Quite a mouthful for such a simple attribute. Or is it so simple? As described by the renowned founder of this condition, Psychotherapist Dr. Elaine Aron; “A Highly Sensitive Person or HSP is someone that is born with a nervous system that is highly aware and quick to react to everything. HSPs are incredibly responsive to the people and situations they experience.” So basically, HSPs feel more deeply, have more awareness with their five (and sometimes even six) senses and react more intensely to their surroundings. Boy, can I totally relate to this! shutterstock_133248710         Some history of this research shows that Dr. Aron first began studying this personality trait in people in the 1990’s. Backed by extensive field studies (1) and her own medical practice, Dr. Aron continued to document the results of these studies and wrote the groundbreaking novel called ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’. (2) A breakthrough, because as studies report “…even though almost no thought had been given to a general trait of sensitivity prior to 1997, it would be present in some way within the vast amount of high-quality research on human personality and temperament that has accumulated for decades.” (3) shutterstock_126755633 shutterstock_113651569The earliest research before 1997 suggests that many doctors tried to find a link between how certain people formed a “introversion” to the stimulus in their environments when interacting with it. Prominent Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung, who founded analytical psychology, actually seemed to have come the closest to describing a central role of sensitivity in introversion. (4) A quote by him of his findings sums it up better as to what he found; “A certain innate sensitiveness produces a special prehistory, a special way of experiencing infantile events, which in their turn are not without influence on the development of the child’s view of the world. Events bound up with powerful impressions can never pass off without leaving some trace on sensitive people. Some of them remain effective throughout life, and such events can have a determining influence on a person’s whole mental development. (5) In a few words, Carl Jung would describe a highly sensitive person (HSP) as someone who has high sensory processing and an “innate sensitiveness.” (6)shutterstock_115941898 In the current medical community, National Institutes of Health documents that; “Theory and research suggest that sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), found in roughly 20% of humans and over 100 other species, is a trait associated with greater sensitivity and responsiveness to the environment and to social stimuli.” (7)shutterstock_227760100 shutterstock_124425262         This greater responsiveness to other people and situations causes HSPs to be more empathetic and compassionate, but also more prone to crying and they find it more difficult to make decisions. So…are you feeling a little more sensitive towards people with this condition? Feel like you can relate to this personality trait description? Take the test hereshutterstock_262849058   People are a complicated species, yet humans can be so primal, not unlike their animal friends. There are millions of reasons why we behave a certain way in certain situations. Some people may be more sensitive to these situations and some may not. Next time your trying to understand why a person acts the way they do, consider that they may just be feeling a little sensitive…and that’s a good thing!   shutterstock_255266638 **************************************************************** logo_header_SensitiveTheMovie-tmClick here to watch the trailer for Sensitive! (A PBS movie about High Sensitivity)   shutterstock_69053353Tracy Bryan is a self-published author for kids aged 2-11. She writes whimsical picture books about emotions, self-esteem, mindfulness and mental health. Tracy also likes to tackle social issues and speak directly to her readers about important topics that affect everyone. Please visit Tracy’s website tracybryan.com or email her at tracy@tracybryan.com ********************************************************************************* shutterstock_212523580Thank you to the following websites that were used as resources: (1) http://hsperson.com/research/ *click on link to view research (2) http://www.amazon.com/Highly-Sensitive-Person-Elaine-Aron/dp/0553062182 *click on link to view book (3) http://scottbarrykaufman.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Pers-Soc-Psychol-Rev-2012-Aron-1088868311434213.pdf *click on link to view research (4) Jung, 1913/1961 (5) Jung, 1913, para. 399) (6) psychologytoday.com (7) http://www.nih.gov/ *click on link for more info