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Highly sensitive persons

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A Highly sensitive person processes sensory data exceptionally deeply and thoroughly due to a biological difference in his or her nervous system. This term was first coined by Dr. Elaine N. Aron, who subsequently wrote several books about the subject.

The research on sensory-processing sensitivity builds on Eysenck's views on introversion and arousal and Gray's work on the inhibition system. This research shows that about 15-20% of humans and higher animals have a nervous system that is more sensitive to subtleties. This means that regular sensory information is processed and analyzed to a greater extent, which contributes to creativity, intuition, sensing implications and attention to detail, but which may also cause quicker overstimulation and overarousal.

This temperament may also be connected with continuously high cortisol levels, which may cause hypervigilance and susceptibility to trauma. Also, being highly sensitive may amplify or create psychological issues if overarousal is not managed well. Giftedness may also be linked with high sensory-processing sensitivity.


  • Aron, Elaine. 1996. The Highly Sensitive Person. ISBN 0-553-06218-2.
  • Aron, Elaine. 1997. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Aug. 1997 Vol. 73, No. 2, pp. 345-368.

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