You can be sensitive without being highly sensitive. HSP just indicates a special form of sensitivity. There are a wide range of people who fit in the sensitive spectrum (15-25%) of the population. Psychologists have done research on a wide range of sensitive traits. The most common one is sensory processing disorder, which is about being unable to filter and process information normally. This is often related to autism. HSP is not a disorder, nor is it something that gives you any noticeable advantage over others. It just indicates a different way of experiencing sensory stimuli.
Research shows nobody understands sensory stimuli the same way. The nervous system is complex, and so are our eyes and our hearing. We all hear music differently, we all see the world slightly differently, but most people experience things so similarly we don’t notice the differences. Elaine Aron writes that HSPs are overall more perceptive and spot subtleties in their environment more easily than others.
HSPs are supposed to have a fine-tuned nervous system and more easily become rattled by too much information at once. Balancing good and bad and avoiding overwhelm is the primary difficulty for a HSP. The sensitivity of HSPs can differ, some more, some less sensitive. While HSP is not bad in itself, HSP paired with trauma can be a more difficult experience, as HSPs respond worse to conflict.
Other interesting traits in the sensitivity jungle are:
- Overexcitability (experiencing everyday things as more exciting than the general person)
- Anxiety (Which can also make sensory experiences more overwhelming & negative)
- Fantasy-proneness (Like to daydream, detach from the world around you)
- Sensory Defensiveness (Dislike being touched, wants to shield themselves from stimuli)
- High vs Low reactors (1/5 children react more strongly to things than average)
HSP has generally become an umbrella term for anyone with any form of sensitivity, but it’s worth to know that the difficulties differ and that not all sensitivites can be treated or experienced the same way.