There is nothing wrong or abnormal about being born with a highly sensitive nervous system.

According to Dr. Elaine N. Aron, about 15-20 percent of the population are highly sensitive. I am in the 1% that is extremely sensitive. Highly sensitive people feel everything (inside and outside of their body) more intensely. This kind of sensitivity may come with

PSYCHOMOTOR OVEREXCITABILITY: heightened excitability of the neuromuscular system

SENSUAL OVEREXCITABILITY: heightened experience of sensual pleasure or displeasure emanating from sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing

INTELLECTUAL OVEREXCITABILITY: need to seek understanding and truth, to gain knowledge, and to analyze and synthesize

IMAGINATIONAL OVEREXCITABILITY: heightened play of the imagination with rich association of images and impressions, frequent use of image and metaphor, facility for invention and fantasy, detailed visualization, and elaborate dreams

EMOTIONAL OVEREXCITABILITY: heightened, intense feelings, extremes of complex emotions, identification with others’ feelings, and strong affective expression

~ Overexcitability and the Gifted

There are many advantages to having a highly sensitive nervous system. I think it’s almost like have a super human power.


  • You are detail-oriented
  • You are quick to see patterns and connections
  • You are able to understand and appreciate nonverbal expressions, art, and nature more deeply
  • You read people and their hidden emotions well
  • You can sort things into finer distinctions – “Like those machines that grade fruit by size – we sort into ten sizes while others sort into two or three.” (The Highly Sensitive Person)
  • You are curious and smart
  • You have strong intuition – “Your intuition is right often enough that HSPs tend to be visionaries, highly intuitive artists, or inventors, as well as more conscientious, cautious, and wise people.” (The Highly Sensitive Person)

Although it can be quite advantageous to have a highly sensitive nervous system, it is definitely not easy. Highly sensitive people experience everything so intensely that they are more likely to become overwhelmed with sensory overload, the pain of understimulation (boredom), stress, worries, and emotional pain. These things can make highly sensitive people so uncomfortable that they may be pushed by a strong urge to either escape or fix everything that bothers them.

Escaping or fixing is not always the best solution.

Read more on how high sensitivity can turn into obsessive-compulsive personality disorder in the “Cause” section of my “What is OCPD?” page.


Understand that hurt, loss, and imperfections are all normal parts of life. The more you allow yourself to feel the discomfort that comes with those things, the more your tolerance for pain will grow and you will become less and less overwhelmed by the world around you. Allow yourself to feel more.

Even though you might not fully understand how your HSP friend feels because what he or she feels is outside your range of emotions, try your best to show that you care. Telling your HSP friend, verbally or non-verbally, that he or she is overreacting, exaggerating, or being a drama queen will only make him or her feel more frustrated, alone, and unheard. Try to be the voice of positivity in your HSP friend’s life and encourage him or her to feel more.

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9 thoughts on “Sensitivity

  1. Tracy Green says:

    I also think that depending on one’s neurological wiring – sensory issues are often an issue. One of my favorite books is The Out of Sync Child. I know you give great parenting advice – and I think this will help many parents with children sensitive to sensory environment. For example, in clothing – I’ve cut many tags out of my boys’ clothes and they are very picky about fabric. Sensory issues they have to varying degrees: food textures, smells, light, sounds,

    There is an interesting interplay between the psychological and the neurological. I think if a child who is neurologically wired to be sensitive to emotions and environment is raised by critical demanding fear-inducing parents, it doubles things up. And if there is physical discipline, that’s an issue. So many interesting points you raise. It’s all complex. And this is why when people are adults and going through therapy – it gets harder to separate out the psychological, family based issues from genetic wiring. Treating children well and appropriately and remembering that each child is unique and different is important.

  2. Bob Jones says:


  3. princess marie antoniette says:

    this is just so amazing♥

  4. Tamara Tatiana says:

    Of all the theories out there, yours makes most sense to me. I’m a 24 year old Dutch girl, after years of struggling with depression I’ve been recently diagnosed with OCPD. I find this website to be extremely helpful and I can really relate to everything written on here. I never expected to feel so relieved to find out what’s actually wrong with me, and it’s not half that bad. 😉 Thanks!

  5. Kathleen says:

    I am a parent of a highly sensitive child, now a 17 year old. It wasn’t until today that I fully realized there is a formal definition. I always Knew my daughter was extra sensitive and needed even more security and support. I was not one of those parents that was not able to offer her a sense of security. When my young child lost her sense of security, her immediate reaction was not to find a parent, she did not want to be comforted or touched, it only aggravated her. For her it is more of an issue of control. She is not an affectionate person and has trouble with empathy. Besides being HSP, Her OCPD traits complicate the issue. Because you mentioned the book “The Highly Sensitive Person”, having never heard of the book or author, I am so grateful. I purchased the book The HS Child. What a great find. It will help get to to root cause of some of her issues. I hope to introduce her to this theory of HSP and that it is ok and help her manage it. She is in therapy and will work with him .

    • Daniel Kim says:

      Ah yes. I didn’t write about it but that loss of security starts even earlier than when the child has the ability to go to his or her parents. I am talking about infancy. Infants that grow up with familiar routines for eating, sleeping, etc. with set times that are set by the parents feel safety and security because their life becomes predictable. That’s why children love watching/listening to the same story over and over again… because the predictability makes them feel safe. But infants who call the shots and the parents match their needs according to the infant’s schedule (“go with the flow parenting”) are more likely to have anxiety creep into them.

  6. Willa says:

    Hello! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading your posts.
    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums
    that cover the same subjects? Thank you so much!

  7. SEM says:

    I have a willing synthetic vision for the purpose of fine detail
    and can anticipate issues just before they take place.

  8. AndrewInterrupted says:

    What your theory states is what has been recently found by research organizations like The World Health Organization.

    What you are describing is in the epigenetic/soft inheritance realm. These accounts meet the description of the DRD3 gene expressing anankastic.

    Wikipedia: OCPD–scroll to WHO/anankastic….

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