Sensory Processing Sensitivity (HSP) Research

Here’s a great video of a lecture that I just added to my YouTube HSP playlist.

HSP Marie-Lise Schläppy is interested in using sensitivity as a tool to help in the early identification of gifted children. That is, assuming there is a connection between giftedness and sensitivity, which is primarily addressed at the very end of the video, and not conclusively. Most of the lecture is devoted to tracing the evolution of research on sensitivity, both before and since Elaine Aron’s work, and it is fascinating. I found her description of Dabrowski’s theory of positive disintegration particularly intriguing. Sounds like a contradiction in terms, right? But it sure describes my HSP journey to a T. Many thanks to Schläppy for synopsizing psychological research in non-academic terms.

The video is titled Part I. Part I includes the entire lecture. Part II, which is 45 minutes long, is the Q&A that follows. It is not always easy to understand the questions, so I found it less interesting, but here’s the link if you want to check it out.

Quiet Revisited

The cover of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan CainJenna, my comrade in bloggery over at The Wishing Well, just published a post about Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. To my great surprise, her reaction to it was very different from mine. Since I had recommended it to her enthusiastically, I started out writing a reply in a comment, but it became way too long, so I’m publishing it here.

Wow, did we read the same book? Before I read Quiet, it had literally never crossed my mind that I was an introvert, much less an HSP (which Elaine Aron believes Susan Cain also is). I thought I was an extrovert inhibited by a tendency to isolate. I defended this, extolling the joys of solitude, as I still do. However, before I read Quiet, those joys were seriously undermined by my secret fear that solitude was an unhealthy indulgence, an escape from my shameful inability to interact “normally.” Whether it was my failure to produce extroverted bubble and bounce on command, or my persistent inclination towards behavior I had been taught was dysfunctional, I was coming up short no matter what I did. Continue reading

Update on HSP documentary livestream

An email I received from Elaine Aron’s e-list this morning announces that the streaming option for Sensitive: The Untold Story, will not jump from $20 to $30 today as previously announced, but will remain at $20 through the premiere date of the film. Go to the movie website and click “watch on livestream” to buy your virtual ticket.

The film premieres in San Francisco on Thursday, September 10th. It’s sold out, but you can stream the premiere in real time and for 48 hours afterwards for the above-mentioned $20. The film’s producers want to keep the film affordable for international viewers, especially since the DVD will not be immediately available.

I kinda wish I’d known about the streaming option when I bought my ticket, but it hadn’t been announced yet. The venue for the premiere is scenic (see above photo of the Golden Gate from the Legion of Honor grounds, which used to head this blog), but not so easy to get to and from. Well, I guess it’ll be a great opportunity to compare a roomful of HSPs to a busfull – and a trainfull, and another busfull – of everybody!

I confess I’m a little anxious about the film, as my attempts to discuss high sensory processing sensitivity with people in my own life have met with mixed results. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this documentary will make that easier, not harder.

Speaking of which, if you have a minute, I’d really appreciate your responses to the poll at the end of my previous post.

Highly Sensitive Movie, and a poll

Movie poster for Sensitive - The MovieThe Sept. 10th San Francisco premiere of the new documentary on high sensory processing sensitivity is sold out. Apparently distributors have balked (as distributors will) at releasing the DVD before Sensitive: The Untold Story has finished its theatrical run, but there will be a livestream during and for 48 hours after the premiere, which will allow you to stream it as many times as you want within that 48 hour period. The livestream is currently $20, going up to $30 on Sept 7th. You can join Elaine Aron’s email list for HSP-related news here. Hopefully we will soon hear something about other cities where the film will be shown.

I was discussing HSPS with a friend recently. I have always felt “highly sensitive person” was a problematic, if accurate, label, and proposed my own, “deep engager.” This seems equally descriptive but more neutral to me. My friend disagreed. Continue reading

1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back: HSP Kudos and Call-Outs

HSPs, attend. First we have this outrageously negative and misinformed post about sensitivity from a life coach and “mental health administrator,” whatever that may be. Scary to think she might be “administering” the mental health of HSPs by taking their money and telling them they aren’t trying hard enough to “get over” their obnoxious sensitivity. Hint: You can leave comments. I suggest being kind, factual and constructive, since she was none of these.

Don’t listen to bad-mouthing! You are beautiful!

Don’t listen to bad-mouthing! You are beautiful!!

Also, the Wikipedia entry on sensitivity has lately been labelled as a “fringe theory.” Admittedly, the article was not as thorough as it could’ve been, and I can only applaud Wikipedia’s general intention to improve the quality of psychology-related entries, but have they considered what the effect might be on a given population to have a category they identify with suddenly labelled “fringe”? The person who applied the designation admitted he didn’t have the time to follow up, which strikes me as highly reprehensible. I mean you, Genandrar!

Most of the criticisms of the article as it was in April, when the “fringe theories” tag was applied, have now been addressed, and I would suggest that it is past time for Wikipedia to remove that tag from the HSP entry. I would also suggest they develop a more sensitive way to improve psychology entries without dissing people. And what, pray tell, is “appropriate  weight to the mainstream view” (emphasis all mine)? With that kind of thinking, kiss innovation goodbye.

Inhale… aaaaaannnnd exhaaaale.
The universe is vast. Annoying humans are transitory.

By now, you are probably ready for this delightful post, chockful of suggestions for HSPs that are actually insightful and useful (take note, Faydra Rector):

When You Need Stillness

Love her image of the mind as a ping-pong table. I was just thinking, “this woman has got to be an HSP,” when she said she was. I do so enjoy being right :)

And on the introvert side, we have another charming post:

12 Problems Only Introverts Understand

It gives me hope that one day we might enjoy Friday dialogues like this one:

What are you doing this weekend?

I’m going to stay inside completely.

Oh, that sounds wonderful, I’m so jealous. I have to go to a party.

Oh, you poor thing. Take a hot bath and don’t call me after.

The Black Hole of Depression

scream faceRecently, a fellow HSP blogger raised the question of whether knowing one is an HSP might make depression a little easier to handle. In other words, could knowing you are an HSP help you to take a step back and become conscious of your own reactions and needs, instead of automatically acting them out? Continue reading

This ‘n That


In this commentary (The solitary bliss of life as an introvert) from the early days right after Quiet was published, Michael Deacon ponders whether the supreme being is an introvert or an extrovert, and adds his 2¢ on aging into introversion. Don’t miss the comments.


As for me, I’ve been performing job searches on the keyword “alone.” When I find it, it’s usually preceded by “looking for someone who works well…” and I get all excited. That’s me! But no. In every single post, it’s also followed by “or in a group.” Sheesh. Flip-floppers.


In case you haven’t heard, Elaine Aron has revamped her website, and is fundraising for a film on HSPs. She has already exceeded her goal, but has promised to apply any additional funds to making a better documentary. Only 3 days to go, so visit soon.

WANTED: PATRON (or matron, I’m not picky)

Would anyone like to pay me to spend my time researching whatever I feel curious about today, and then writing about it in multiple blogs? That’s what I really want to do with my life, but all this annoying need-to-pay-rent crap keeps getting in the way :(