The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. AronThe Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron

The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You

byElaine N. Aron

Paperback | June 2, 1997

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Are you a highly sensitive person?

Do you have a keen imagination and vivid dreams?  Is time alone each day as essential to you as food and water?  Are you "too shy" or "too sensitive" according to others?  Do noise and confusion quickly overwhelm you?  If your answers are yes, you may be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

Most of us feel overstimulated every once in a while, but for the Highly Sensitive Person, it's a way of life.  In this groundbreaking book, Dr. Elaine Aron, a psychotherapist, workshop leader and highly sensitive person herself, shows you how to identify this trait in yourself and make the most of it in everyday situations.  Drawing on her many years of research and hundreds of interviews, she shows how you can better understand yourself and your trait to create a fuller, richer life.  

In The Highly Sensitive Person, you will discover:
* Self-assessment tests to help you identify your particular sensitivities
* Ways to reframe your past experiences in a positive light and gain greater self-esteem in the process
* Insight into how high sensitivity affects both work and personal relationships
* Tips on how to deal with overarousal
* Informations on medications and when to seek help
* Techniques to enrich the soul and spirit
Elaine R. Aron is a highly sensitive person herself who has a Master's degree in clinical psychology, as well as a Doctorate. She has researched the subject using hundreds of detailed interviews with HSPs. She lives in San Fransisco and New York.
Title:The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms YouFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:288 pages, 8.25 × 5.49 × 0.73 inShipping dimensions:8.25 × 5.49 × 0.73 inPublished:June 2, 1997Publisher:Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/RodaleLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0553062182

ISBN - 13:9780553062182


Rated 3 out of 5 by from Some good insight Aron gives some good insight into the existence of HSPs, but I would have also like more scientific/numerical backing as opposed to relying mainly on personal stories about the moment someone realized they were an HSP.
Date published: 2018-08-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Made me less harsh on myself While I don't believe or feel the need to follow through with every single element in this book, I do feel that acknowledging this sensitivity as a real trait gives me a less judgmental view of myself and I can relax a little without feeling guilty or antisocial. Towards the end, I was losing interest, but it is a good light read for someone who feels they are more sensitive than the average person.
Date published: 2018-05-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Doesn't get less scientific than this I am a big fan of self-help, but this book was unreadable. I could not get past the first couple chapters. It is incoherent. You never learn exactly what an HSP is, you just get a bunch of loosely related stories about sensitive people. I found it hard to figure out if I was an HSP or not because the description was so vague. It also claims that being sensitive has good sides, yet spends a lot of time saying how you should basically find ways to not be like that. Don't waste your time.
Date published: 2017-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved it! Great book explaining why someone may be sensitive and that it is okay to be. Talks about the science behind it and the gifts of being sensitive.
Date published: 2017-04-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enlightening As I read this book, I keep underlining sentences in the book and thinking " that's me". It a great self-discovery book
Date published: 2016-12-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from That's me! "That's me!" is what I kept saying to myself as I read this book. Very eye opening, informative and validating! I have had so many questions about myself over the years and this book answered many of them.
Date published: 2014-10-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Highly Sensitive Person I bought this book along with the workbook.  It is very enlightening for my own self-discovery process.  It also teaches me about friends and family.  Everyone should read this, especially if you feel you are in the minority of sensitive people.
Date published: 2013-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Profound and enlightening! As an "HSP", this book articulates what I have not been able to put into words. I scored a whopping 21 out of 23 on the self-help test. I found myself in tears (sometimes without even realizing it) because of the profound responses I had while reading this book. I knew I was different and more sensitive than most people for most of my life and truly find/found it hard to see this as a positive thing. After reading this book I am a believer that it is a key survival trait, one that I needed and still need to help me through times of difficulty. I know now that I withdraw from situations deemed stressful because I am over stimulated and anxious. I thought I was running away but I just needed time to process new information. I am learning to nurture my sensitivity in a part of the world that is for the majority "non-sensitive" (Go Japan, Sweden and China). I cannot recommend this book enough! Although I am completely middle-brained everything else written here is textbook for me. Thank you Elaine for opening a door that was invisible to me for my entire life. I'm not a freak... okay well maybe just a little! Keep smiling through the struggle my fellow HSP'ers. Now that I know you are out there too.
Date published: 2011-01-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worthwhile if you find yourself anxious. While I must admit that self-help/therapy/psychology manuals kind of make me squirm in a lot of ways, there was a heck of a lot for me to identify with in this book. It's probably not very exciting for most members of the general public, but if you are someone, or live with someone, who seems to get overwhelmed by the buffetings of everyday life, or someone who seems unnecessarily plagued by anxiety... consider reading it. The basic gist of the author's research is that 15-20 % of the population's nervous system reaches a point of overload at a much lower threshold than that experienced by everyone else. This is not a character flaw, but simply another way of looking at the world that makes these people slightly more cautious. She posits that, if well managed, this is a trait that balances out the full speed ahead approach that much of the rest of the population has. It's given me a lot to think about, and is well written for the most part, though I am sometimes very puzzled by Jung...
Date published: 2006-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Owning our Sensitivity! Elaine Aron has liberated many people from a sense of being 'out of step' with the rest of society. Now, rather than feeling inferior and incompetent in many areas of life, we can bask in and embrace the knowledge of our unique giftedness which can only make the world a better place when understood and acted upon in our 'priestly advisor'capacities. Rather than spend our lives cowtowing to the 'warriors' of the world, we can step forward, albeit gently, to speak our truth and offer much needed guidance and healing to a world wracked with brutal competiveness and harshness. This book is written in a profoundly heartfelt and understandable manner while conveying and retaining the author's professional and scientific integrity. A must read for anyone who feels their sensitivity has been an obstacle to personal success in life and love or to anyone who has endured the 'stigma' of being a highly sensitive person in a culture which lacks much needed compassion. Kudos to Elaine Aron and her fine efforts on our behalf.
Date published: 2003-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Freedom!!!! This book has truly impacted my life in a marvelous way. To discover that my reactions to the world around me are not strange and unusual! What freedom to know that this is a gift, not a curse! Elaine Aron's book is a wonderful tool for discovering the advantages and disadvantages of this gift, and how to cope with the disadvantages. I love it!
Date published: 2000-10-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Freak Finds Kin It's great to know that my keen awareness of what most people find unimportant is not a personality flaw, but a natural ability. The knowledge that everything, from a fleeting thought to a physical act, has an equally powerful impact on our lives is both exciting and terrifying
Date published: 2000-01-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Sensitivity as character trait not flaw Excellent. This book helped me reframe many of my childhood experiences in a much more positive light. Viewing sensitivity as an inherent trait, rather than a character flaw has changed how I feel about myself. I recommend this book although it does get alittle flakey towards the end in regards to spiritual experiences.
Date published: 1999-01-03

Read from the Book

"Cry baby!""Scaredy-cat!""Don't be a spoilsport!"Echoes from the past?  And how about this well-meaning warning: "You're just too sensitive for your own good."If you were like me, you heard a lot of that, and it made you feel there must be something very different about you.  I was convinced that I had a fatal flaw that I had to hide and that doomed me to a second-rate life.  I thought there was something wrong with me.In fact, there is something very right with you and me.  If you answer true to fourteen or more of the questions on the self-test at the end of this preface, or if the detailed description in chapter 1 seems to fit you (really the best test), then you are a very special type of human being, a highly sensitive person--which hereafter we'll call an HSP.  And this book is just for you.Having a sensitive nervous system is normal, a basically neutral trait.  You probably inherited it.  It occurs in about 15-20 percent of the population.  It means you are aware of subtleties in your surroundings, a great advantage in many situations.  It also means you are more easily overwhelmed when you have been out in a highly stimulating environment for too long, bombarded by sights and sounds until you are exhausted in a nervous-system sort of way.  Thus, being sensitive has both advantages and disadvantages.In our culture, however, possessing this trait is not considered ideal and that fact probably has had a major impact on you.  Well-meaning parents and teachers probably tried to help you "overcome" it, as if it were a defect.  Other children were not always as nice about it.  As an adult, it has probably been harder to find the right career and relationships and generally to feel self-worth and self-confidence.What This Book Offers YouThis book provides basic, detailed information you need about your trait, data that exist nowhere else.  It is the product of five years of research, in-depth interviews, clinical experience, courses and individual consultations with hundreds of HSPs, and careful reading between the lines of what psychology has already learned about the trait but does not realize it knows.  In the first three chapters you will learn all the basic facts about your trait and how to handle overstimulation and overarousal of your nervous system.Next, this book considers the impact of your sensitivity on your personal history, career, relationships, and inner life.  It focuses on the advantages you may not have thought of, plus it gives advice about typical problems some HSPs face, such as shyness or difficulty finding the right sort of work.It is quite a journey we'll take.  Most of the HSPs I've helped with the information that is in this book have told me that it has dramatically changed their lives--and they've told me to tell you that.What You'll NeedI have found that HSPs benefit from a fourfold approach, which the chapters in this book will follow.1.  Self-knowledge.  You have to understand what it means to be an HSP. Thoroughly.  And how it fits with your other traits and how your society's negative attitude has affected you.  Then you need to know your sensitive body very well.  No more ignoring your body because it seems too uncooperative or weak.2.  Reframing.  You must actively reframe much of your past in the light of knowing you came into the world highly sensitive.  So many of your "failures" were inevitable because neither you nor your parents and teachers, friends and colleagues, understood you.  Reframing how you experienced your past can lead to solid self-esteem, and self-esteem is especially important for HSPs, for it decreases our overarousal in new (and therefore highly stimulating) situations.Reframing is not automatic, however.  That is why I include "activities" at the end of each chapter that often involve it.3.  Healing.  If you have not yet done so, you must begin to heal the deeper wounds.  You were very sensitive as a child; family and school problems, childhood illnesses, and the like all affected you more than others. Furthermore, you were different from other kids and almost surely suffered for that.HSPs especially, sensing the intense feelings that must arise, may hold back from the inner work necessary to heal the wounds from the past.  Caution and slowness are justified.  But you will cheat yourself if you delay.4.  Help With Feeling Okay When Out in the World and Learning When to Be Less Out.  You can be, should be, and need to be involved in the world.  It truly needs you.  But you have to be skilled at avoiding overdoing or underdoing it. This book, free of the confusing messages from a less sensitive culture, is about discovering that way.I will also teach you about your trait's effect on your close relationships. And I'll discuss psychotherapy and HSPs--which HSPs should be in therapy and why, what kind, with whom, and especially how therapy differs for HSPs.  Then I'll consider HSPs and medical care, including plenty of information on medications like Prozac, often taken by HSPs.  At the end of this book we will savor our rich inner life.The Research Behind This BookAs knowledge about my trait changed my life, I decided to read more about it, but there was almost nothing available.  I thought the closest topic might be introversion.  The psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote very wisely on the subject, calling it a tendency to turn inward.  The work of Jung, himself an HSP, has been a major help to me, but the more scientific work on introversion was focused on introverts not being sociable, and it was that idea which made me wonder if introversion and sensitivity were being wrongly equated.With so little information to go on, I decided to put a notice in a newsletter that went to the staff of the university where I was teaching at the time.  I asked to interview anyone who felt they were highly sensitive to stimulation, introverted, or quick to react emotionally.  Soon I had more volunteers than I needed.Next, the local paper did a story on the research.  Even though there was nothing said in the article about how to reach me, over a hundred people phoned and wrote me, thanking me, wanting help, or just wanting to say, "Me, too." Two years later, people were still contacting me.  (HSPs sometimes think things over for a while before making their move!)Based on the interviews (forty for two to three hours each), I designed a questionnaire that I have distributed to thousands all over North America.  And I directed a random-dialing telephone survey of three hundred people as well. The point that matters for you is that everything in this book is based on solid research, my own or that of others.  Or I am speaking from my repeated observations of HSPs, from my courses, conversations, individual consultations, and psychotherapy with them.  These opportunities to explore the personal lives of HSPs have numbered in the thousands.  Even so, I will say "probably" and "maybe" more than you are used to in books for the general reader, but I think HSPs appreciate that.Deciding to do all of this research, writing, and teaching has made me a kind of pioneer.  But that, too, is part of being an HSP.  We are often the first ones to see what needs to be done.  As our confidence in our virtues grows, perhaps more and more of us will speak up--in our sensitive way.Instructions to the Reader1.  Again, I address the reader as an HSP, but this book is written equally for someone seeking to understand HSPs, whether as a friend, relative, advisor, employer, educator, or health professional.2.  This book involves seeing yourself as having a trait common to many.  That is, it labels you.  The advantages are that you can feel normal and benefit from the experience and research of others.  But any label misses your uniqueness.  HSPs are each utterly different, even with their common trait. Please remind yourself of that as you proceed.3.  While you are reading this book, you will probably see everything in your life in light of being highly sensitive.  That is to be expected.  In fact, it is exactly the idea.  Total immersion helps with learning any new language, including a new way of talking about yourself.  If others feel a little concerned, left out, or annoyed, ask for their patience.  There will come a day when the concept will settle in and you'll be talking about it less.4.  This book includes some activities which I have found useful for HSPs.  But I'm not going to say that you must do them if you want to gain anything from this book.  Trust your HSP intuition and do what feels right.5.  Any of the activities could bring up strong feelings.  If that happens, I do urge you to seek professional help.  If you are now in therapy, this book should fit well with your work there.  The ideas here might even shorten the time you will need therapy as you envision a new ideal self--not the culture's ideal but your own, someone you can be and maybe already are.  But remember that this book does not substitute for a good therapist when things get intense or confusing.This is an exciting moment for me as I imagine you turning the page and entering into this new world of mine, of yours, of ours.  After thinking for so long that you might be the only one, it is nice to have company, isn't it?Are You Highly Sensitive?  A Self-TestAnswer each question according to the way you feel.  Answer true if it is at least somewhat true for you.  Answer false if it is not very true or not at all true for you.I seem to be aware of subtleties in my environment.Other people's moods affect me.I tend to be very sensitive to pain.I find myself needing to withdraw during busy days, into bed or into a darkened room or any place where I can have some privacy and relief from stimulation.I am particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine.I am easily overwhelmed by things like bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens close by.I have a rich, complex inner life.I am made uncomfortable by loud noises.I am deeply moved by the arts or music.I am conscientious.I startle easily.I get rattled when I have a lot to do in a short amount of time.When people are uncomfortable in a physical environment I tend to know what needs to be done to make it more comfortable (like changing the lighting or the seating).I am annoyed when people try to get me to do too many things at once.I try hard to avoid making mistakes or forgetting things.I make it a point to avoid violent movies and TV shows.I become unpleasantly aroused when a lot is going on around me.Being very hungry creates a strong reaction in me, disrupting my concentration or mood.Changes in my life shake me up.I notice and enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, works of art.I make it a high priority to arrange my life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations.When I must compete or be observed while performing a task, I become so nervous or shaky that I do much worse than I would otherwise.When I was a child, my parents or teachers seemed to see me as sensitive or shy.SCORING YOURSELFIf you answered true to twelve or more of the questions, you're probably highly sensitive.But frankly, no psychological test is so accurate that you should base your life on it.  If only one or two questions are true of you but they are extremely true, you might also be justified in calling yourself highly sensitive.  The rest of this book will help you understand yourself better and learn to thrive in today's not-so-sensitive world.

From Our Editors

A national bestseller in hardcover, this groundbreaking book identifies and defines a whole new personality type and shows readers how to overcome the limitations and maximize the strengths of this common trait. "This remarkable book gives a fresh perspective, a sigh of relief, and a good sense of where we belong in society".--John Gray, author of "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus"

Editorial Reviews

“I wept through almost every page of this book out of sheer self-recognition. To say this book changed my life would be an understatement. I am forever grateful to Elaine Aron.”--Alanis Morissette, singer, songwriter, activist"This remarkable a fresh perspective, a sigh of relief, and a good sense of where we belong in society." --John Gray, author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus"Elaine Aron's perceptive analysis of this fundamental dimension of human nature is must reading. Her balanced presentation suggests new paths for making sensitivity a blessing, not a handicap."--Philip G. Zimbardo, Ph.D., author of Shyness: What It Is, What to Do About It"Enlightening and empowering, this book is a wonderful gift to us all."--Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and the Blade