What is a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?
Due to the distinctive makeup of their nervous system, Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) process sensory information unusually thoroughly and reflect on it deeply. If you are an HSP, you notice so much at once that it is easy to become overstimulated (and at times overwhelmed) if you receive sensory information that is intense, complex, chaotic or even just new to you.
Your high sensitivity may manifest on a physical level, for example as a strong reaction to certain foods and/or features of the environment.
HSPs comprise about a fifth of the population, with the same number of males as females being affected (although it may be less obvious in males because of upbringing and cultural expectations). It is not a ‘condition,’ it is a NORMAL human trait. However, HSPs may be more vulnerable to higher anxiety levels and depressive states.
As an HSP myself, I gain great satisfaction from assisting other HSPs – adults and children – to live healthy, enjoyable and productive lives which make room for their sensitivity and respect their depth of feeling and perception.
If you are an HSP:
- You possess a NORMAL trait – NOT a disorder.
- Equal numbers of males and females are represented – but cultural influences often inhibit its expression in males and make it less noticeable.
- It is INNATE. Biologists have found these traits in over 100 species including fruit flies, birds, fish, dogs, cats, horses and primates. A heightened awareness of self and its responses to the environment – an ability to move from scanning our external environment to observing our inner landscape – is well-developed in highly sensitive beings. The presence of highly sensitive animals as a balanced part of a ‘less sensitive’ population is essential for species survival.
- You notice more in your environment because you process information more deeply.
- If you notice more, you are more easily overwhelmed.
- You may have been called shy, inhibited, fearful, too sensitive – or worse, neurotic – but these restricting behaviours are learned, NOT INNATE – and not the real you!
- Your sensitivity is valued differently in different cultures and countries.
An HSP’s response to Naturopathy:
I meet many HSPs in my practice as a Natural Therapist specialising in Naturopathy-Homoeopathy – they make up 40–50% of my clients, as compared with 15–20 % in the general population. I have come to understand that HSPs seek out natural therapies because:
- HSPs often experience strong responses to clinical doses of medications, including more numerous, and more intense, physiological side-effects. As a consequence, they may be more receptive to complementary medical approaches to health management which are less invasive and more subtle (for example Homeopathy and Flower Essences) and often respond better to ‘subclinical’ doses. This is also the case for their responses to herbal and vitamin complexes, and many HSPs find that using less than the recommended dose works best for them. For instance, I find that lower doses of Vitamin B (e.g. 5–10 mg) work best for calming my nervous system, whereas the commonly recommended larger doses (50–100mg) overstimulate me.
- Symptoms experienced by HSPs are frequently not a ‘good fit’ with Western medical diagnoses and HSPs often suffer from ‘strange, rare and peculiar’ symptoms (or SRPs as they are called in Homoeopathic diagnosis). These idiosyncratic signs and symptoms can’t be assigned to a specific condition or disorder that is recognised as part of the orthodox medical model.
- HSPs frequently feel that they have not been ‘heard’ or understood in an orthodox medical context. The clinical setting, and the time constraints which force medical practitioners to focus on eliminating the possibility of a life-threatening or other serious condition, may not provide the ideal space for an HSP to calmly and clearly articulate their health concerns.
- Related to this, there is usually also little time (or motivation) for a medical practitioner to listen to or take advantage of the information that the HSP is able to provide due to their greater intuition and physical self-awareness. If heard at all, the HSP may be written off as merely anxious or neurotic. By contrast, the subjective symptoms that differentiate an individual’s experience from that of others are of prime importance to most alternative medical practitioners when making a diagnosis. HSPs feel ‘heard’ in this context, where their self-knowledge is appreciated and validated by the Natural Therapist.
The Highly Sensitive Person
- Latest HSP News