Check this out to see if you are Highly Sensitive

Decreased Latent

Decreased Latent Inhibition by Judy

You or someone you know probably fits the profile of being “Highly Sensitive”.  After reading an interview of Douglas Eby  I’m relieved to know I’m just “highly sensitive” and not wacked out.

Read on for some excerpts from an interview by Therese J. Borchard, associate editor of PsychCentral with Douglas Eby, M.A./Psychology, writer and researcher on the psychology of creative
expression, high ability and personal growth. and

5 Gifts of Being Highly Sensitive

1. Sensory detail

“One of the prominent “virtues” of high sensitivity is the richness of sensory detail that life provides. The subtle shades of texture in clothing, and foods when cooking, the sounds of music or even traffic or people talking, fragrances and colors of nature. All of these may be more intense for highly sensitive people.”

” . . . response to color makes visual experience rich and exciting, and can help visual artists and designers be even more excellent.”

2. Nuances in meaning

“The trait of high sensitivity also includes a strong tendency to be aware of nuances in meaning, and to be more cautious about taking action, and to more carefully consider options and possible outcomes.”

3. Emotional awareness

“We also tend to be more aware of our inner emotional states, which can make for richer and more profound creative work as writers, musicians, actors or other artists.”

“A greater response to pain, discomfort, and physical experience can mean sensitive people have the potential, at least, to take better care of their health.”

4. Creativity

“Psychologist Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, estimates about twenty percent of people are highly sensitive, and seventy percent of those are introverted, which is a trait that can also encourage creativity.”

5. Greater empathy

“High sensitivity to other people’s emotions can be a powerful asset for teachers, managers, therapists and others.”

Five curses of the decreased latently inhibited 

1. Easily overwhelmed, overstimulated

“The biggest challenge in high sensitivity is probably being vulnerable to sensory or emotional overwhelm. Taking in and processing so much information from both inner and outer worlds can be “too much” at times and result in more pain, fatigue, stress, anxiety and other reactions.”

“An intriguing neuroscience research study I came across that may explain some of this said people with nervous systems having decreased latent inhibition are more open to incoming stimuli. Which can be a good thing, or not so good.”  (I prefer to be latently inhibited rather than overly sensitive)

“Actor Amy Brenneman once commented, “I’m too sensitive to watch most of the reality shows. It’s so painful for me.”  (Won’t watch anything that even hints at famine, pestilence, flood or fire.)

2. Affected by emotions of others

“Another aspect of sensitivity can be reacting to the emotions — and perhaps thoughts — of others. Being in the vicinity of angry people, for example, can be more distressing.”  (I run screaming into the night if I overhear angry arguments even on T.V.)

3. Need lots of space and time to ourselves

“We may need to “retreat” and emotionally “refresh” ourselves at times . . . ”  

4. Unhealthy perfectionism

There can also be qualities of thinking or analyzing that lead to unhealthy perfectionism, or stressful responses to objects, people or situations that are “too much” or “wrong” for our sensitivities.

5. Living out of sync with our culture

Living in a culture that devalues sensitivity and introversion as much as the U.S. means there are many pressures to be “normal” — meaning extroverted, sociable and outgoing.

Dr. Ted Zeff, author of The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide, points out that other cultures, such as Thailand, have different attitudes, with a strong appreciation of sensitive or introverted people.  (Now I know why I love Thai food)

” . . .  “too emotional” or “too sensitive” are usually criticisms based on majority behavior and standards.”

Click here to read the entire interview 

The conclusion of the interview: “Overall, I think being highly sensitive is a trait we can embrace and use to be more creative and aware. But it demands taking care to live strategically, even outside popular values, to avoid overwhelm so we can better nurture our abilities and creative talents.”

8 comments on “Check this out to see if you are Highly Sensitive

  1. I definitely qualify. Ever take the Myers-Briggs? I wonder how much “over sensitive” people happen to be introverts as well? And how often we end up in the helping professions? Hope you had a great birthday!


  2. Hello Judy-Judith

    Thanks for this! It reminds me of a post about “orchid children’ that I read a couple years back on Dr. Barbara Keddy’s blog “Women and Fibromyalgia” (do you know it? – and her book of the same name?) –

    Dr. Keddy explains: “Based upon the work of Elaine Aron and ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’, I developed a theory about the cause of fibromyalgia. In my view, this condition resonates with those of us with an easily aroused nervous system and we are those ’highly sensitive persons’. Nothing I have read to date nor speculated about has changed my opinion, in fact the opposite has occurred. I am now more convinced from learning more and more regarding the revolutionary new brain research and my own observations from decades of living with fibromyalgia.”

    Back to Eby’s article: that “richness” of sensory detail described here – like the “subtle shades of texture in clothing” – can turn out to be an unbearable experience, according to Dr. Keddy, who even as a small child recalls complaining about scratchy clothing, tags in clothes, or seams in socks.

    Interesting how Eby looks creatively at the flip sides of both the gifts and the curses. I feel a blog post coming on about the gifts and curses of living with heart disease. Oh wait. I forgot. I’d like my old life back, please and thank you!



    • Carolyn,
      Thanks for the reference to Dr.Keddy. I’ll check it out.

      A HUMONGOUS gift to the world of your heart disease is educating others to hopefully avert or treat heart conditions before they result in death or debilitation. I’m only sorry the gift is wrapped in your own personal curse.


    • It’s funny, I don’t REMEMBER you interviewing me for the article on being over-sensitive but you sure did describe me. Fascinating. When my mother did something wrong, growing up, instead of apologizing all I got was “You’re over sensitivie.” with negative connotations. I see it as a positive now. wonderful blog post and comments will check out the other people’s suggestions. Love to you, Carolyn and Ramesh.Peachy keen junior or Just Laurie


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