People with high sensitivity, trait or disorder?

People with high sensitivity, trait or disorder?

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

It is known that the way in which people process the information they receive from the stimuli of their surroundings varies substantially between them. Not all human beings have the same speed, nor the same depth when interacting with our environment.

Some people seem not to react emotionally to the events that happen to them, be they positive or negative (although, in reality, more than "not reacting", it could be clarified that they seem not express any emotion, since it is practically impossible to avoid an emotional reaction), while others may experience an emotional intensity considered out of the ordinary.


  • 1 Characteristics of people with High Sensitivity
  • 2 So, why High Sensitivity can be a problem? Is it a disorder?
  • 3 What to work with high sensitivity?

Characteristics of people with High Sensitivity

The People with High Sensitivity (formerly, "Hypersensitivity") They are that they have a neuro-sensory system with a capacity greater than that of the majority of the population, something that translates into a more developed ability to detect aspects of their environment that could go unnoticed by others, as well as a level of empathy also above average due to this ability to detect details in other people and respond to their demands and needs (Aron & Cutanda, 2006). This implies that they can establish personal relationships that allow a healthy and constructive individual development.

On the other hand, in people with High Sensitivity is an association with greater perceived stress and more frequent symptoms of ill health than in the general population (Benham, 2006), probably due to greater sensitivity (understood as “attention to”) To somatic symptoms, being able to detect physiological sensations that others may not perceive.

Current studies confirm that there is a genetic basis in High Sensitivity which means that it can be explained to a large extent thanks to the dopaminergic system (which plays an important role in the development of the personality) of our brain, although environmental factors such as stressful life events are also relevant, which can lead to variations unique to this personality trait (Chen et al., 2011).

In addition, the genetic implications of High Sensitivity mean that it is highly likely to find several family members with this characteristic, as well as the fact that the AS is present in two out of ten people, without distinction based on sex.

So, why high sensitivity can be a problem? Is it a disorder?

High Sensitivity, for those who experience it, can easily become a double-edged sword, since some of its clear advantages can become inconvenient.

For example, people with High Sensitivity usually report trouble setting limits on your social relationships, so that the emotional intensity with which they live at a given time can be increased and they can experience blockages in the social sphere as a result of this difficulty with the establishment of limits. In the same way, empathic ability can be a problem when the experience of the pain of others becomes true pain itself (Acevedo et al., 2014).

This is because in people with High Sensitivity there is a greater capacity to “pause and check” what is happening to them in novel situations, showing a higher level of alertness and attention and, therefore, being faster when reacting to both negative and positive stimuli (Acevedo et al., 2014).

However, it should be added that people with High Sensitivity do not usually fit the criticisms well, often not so much for the reason of the criticism itself, but for the way in which it is formulated. Those who relate to a person with High Sensitivity should keep in mind that the way of transmitting an idea can radically change its perception by the person with AS.

From the hand of the above, The attentional deployment that a PAS puts into motion in the face of any new situation or context is so great that it can adapt to it, that the changes usually generate intense discomfort. Again, the issue is not so much the change in itself, as the "energy investment" that the person must make to re-adapt to the new situation (break, job change, death of a relative, etc.)

Based on the aforementioned, several studies have indicated the existence of four factors that are present in a person with High Sensitivity: processing depth, the great emotionality and empathy, the sensitivity to subtleties and the overstimulation / saturation.

What to work with high sensitivity?

It is true that the issues outlined in the previous section can be a daily problem for the person with AS, but, Should High Sensitivity be considered a disorder? The answer is clearly a "do not" resounding

People with High Sensitivity are people with a specific and specific feature that makes them more able to perceive and feel the events, emotions and relationships that occur in their day to day, as some scientific studies have shown that have used magnetic resonance imaging to measure brain reactions to visual stimuli related to different emotional situations in people with high sensitivity (Aron & Cutanda, 2006; Acevedo et al., 2014).

It is true that may experience difficulties, mostly related to two issues: on the one hand, the lack of knowledge and understanding by the immediate environment of what it means to be a Highly Sensitive Person and, on the other, the lack of skills in establishing certain patterns of interaction and healthy boundaries with others.

In any case, Psychoeducation on this characteristic can be very useful for both family and friends, and it would also be very productive to talk about High Sensitivity in educational centers from the earliest childhood, because the incidence of this trait to date is not precisely low.

And on the other hand, To work with a PAS, this characteristic should not be specifically considered as if it were a limiting issue., but as a part of the whole that constitutes the person, allowing to analyze both strengths and weaknesses to address, if they arise, those emotional difficulties that might require the support of a psychologist.


  • Acevedo, B. P., Aron, E. N., Aron, A., Sangster, M. D., Collins, N., & Brown, L. L. (2014). The highly sensitive brain: an fMRI study of sensory processing sensitivity and response to others' emotions.Brain and behavior4(4), 580-594.
  • Aron, E. N. & Cutanda, T. (2006). The gift of sensitivity: highly sensitive people, Ed. Obelisco.
  • Benham, G. (2006). The highly sensitive person: Stress and physical symptom reports. Personality and individual differences, 40(7), 1433-1440.
  • Chen, C., Chen, C., Moyzis, R., Stern, H., He, Q., Li, H., Li, J., Zhu, B., & Dong, Q. (2011). Contributions of dopamine-related genes and environmental factors to highly sensitive personality: a multi-step neuronal system-level approach. PloS one, 6(7), e21636.