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352 of 364 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you've ever been told, "You're too sensitive," read this
In this unique book, research psychologist Elaine Aron breaks new psychological ground by defining a personality trait inadequately explored in the past, a trait that an estimated 15-20% of the U.S. population carries. The trait manifests in a highly sensitive nervous system present from birth and probably inherited, much like other personality traits or physical...
Published on June 12, 1998

125 of 145 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for the Emotionally Sensitive
I was recommended this book, but was severely disappointed. Ms. Aron does not discuss emotional sensitivity at any length and consistently rambles on about over arousal. While I have learned to deal with lights and sounds that bother me, I have not learned to deal with emotional sensitivity and this book did not help. The first few chapters are all nearly identitical, and...
Published on December 27, 2005 by Jody R.

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352 of 364 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you've ever been told, "You're too sensitive," read this, June 12, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Highly Sensitive Person (Paperback)
In this unique book, research psychologist Elaine Aron breaks new psychological ground by defining a personality trait inadequately explored in the past, a trait that an estimated 15-20% of the U.S. population carries. The trait manifests in a highly sensitive nervous system present from birth and probably inherited, much like other personality traits or physical features. Highly sensitive people, or HSPs as Aron calls people who possess this trait, are much more sensitive to nearly everything they experience -- from the sensory characteristics of objects and events, to the subtleties of inner feelings and relationships between people. As a result of this heightened awareness to everything in their environment, highly sensitive people in our culture are often told, "You're too sensitive for your own good," and are admonished to develop a "tougher skin." Ms. Aron discusses the ways in which people with this trait have frequently been mislabeld in the past, often branded as "shy," "introverted," or "neurotic," even by professionals. She goes to great lengths to define and describe the sensitivity trait as it influences an individual's life, providing both research evidence and personal anecdotes from the scores of people interviewed for her work. The evidence illustrates that being a highly sensitive person is both a blessing and a burden, depending upon a number of different factors in the life history of the individual. Possessing this trait can make life challenging at times but Ms. Aron, herself an HSP, emphasizes that being sensitive is not a psychological disorder or a personality flaw to get rid of. The sensitivity trait is merely a part of an individual's personality. Being highly sensitive need not limit a person's enjoyment of life, but it will impact everything from relationships with others to the work one chooses to do. THE HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON is less self-help and more self-acceptance, however, Aron offers suggestions! for contending with the highly sensitive nautre in order to thrive in a society that often fails to appreciate this trait, particularly in boys and men. If you are or know a highly sensitive person, this book offers constructive insights that will bring new perspective to the past, the present, and the future.
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393 of 409 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A path-breaking book, May 17, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Highly Sensitive Person (Paperback)
My husband bought this book for me because he'd read about it and thought that I might be what Aron terms a "highly sensitive person" (HSP). Like many of the other reviewers here, I was amazed to discover that Aron described, and explained, many of my own traits and experiences: sensitivity to noise and dislike of hubbub (strong characteristics of American culture); stress and fatigue from brief and ordinary, though intense to me, social interactions; the ability to sense other people's moods and what is going on below surface interactions more so than others seem to; and the feeling of being the only one who experiences the world as I do. Aron's study is grounded in solid research and persuasive scientific explanations, as well as in her personal experiences and those of numerous subjects she interviewd. This is a path-breaking book that not only validates the experiences of sensitive people but gives specific, thoughtful advice for understanding ourselves, coping in the world (in a variety of situations, including one's job), and making the most of our senstivity. I suspect that the opinionated rants found among some of these reviews are from non-HSPs who don't get it, because HSPs are by nature more thoughtful (rather than boorish and angry) and would offer well-considered, fair assessments of the book. Thank you, Dr. Aron, for giving us this wonderful book.
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422 of 445 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly sensitive people are an asset- not defectives., February 12, 2003
OAKSHAMAN "oakshaman" (Algoma, WI United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Highly Sensitive Person (Paperback)
I truly wish that this book would have existed 30 or more years ago. Almost everthing traditionally written on this subject has been tacitly negative. The highly sensitive, or introverted, personality type was automatically assumed to be defective to some degree for their failure to "adapt" to the extroverted "norm." I think that this is because most traditional American psychological thought has been fundamentally industrial and military psychology- the subject is always supposed to adapt to the environment and never the other way around. Those who cannot adapt are identified and disposed of. That is certainly how military psychology has always been practiced. This book is the first to demonstrate that highly sensitive people are both "normal" and have many valuable traits. Indeed, they excel against extraverts in most areas that make people truly "human." Not only that, but in other cultures without an unnatural majority of extraverts, the sensitive person was seen as the ideal friend and citizen.

I especially appreciated the explanation of the biochemistry of "over-stimulation." When sensitive people are forced to interact in unnatural evironments the cortisol levels in their bloodstream increases, making them even more sensitive to their environment than they usually are. Unless they can withdraw, or otherwise calm themselves, it is a virtual certainty that they will overreact. This means that they will act contrary to their usual conscientious, reasonable, and understanding normal behavior in order to escape. Needless to say, inspite of the fact that this reaction is virtually out of their control, this overreaction is dealt with harshly by society- and by employers. Inspite of the fact that highly sensitive people are the most conscientious, hard-working, competent, and even gifted, of employees 99% of the time, this absolute physical need to escape to a less stressful environment can ruin their lives. They are labeled as freaks, as not being "team players"- and as "unemployable." I know this, for like the author, I was also born a HSP. This means that in an unnaturally extraverted society I often find myself wishing that I had not been born at all- inspite of my gifts, inspite of the shear injustice of it all....
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174 of 183 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is Over Stimulation A Way of Life for You?, March 10, 2004
This review is from: The Highly Sensitive Person (Paperback)

Answer true or false to these ten statements as they apply to you:

1. I find myself needing to withdraw during busy days to any place where I can have some privacy and relief from stimulation.
2. I am easily overwhelmed by things such as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens close by.
3. I get rattled when I have a lot to do in a short amount of time.
4. I startle easily.
5. I make it a point to avoid violent movies or TV shows.
6. Changes in my life shake me up.
7. When I must compete or be observed while performing a task, I become so nervous and shaky that I do much worse than I would otherwise.
8. I am very conscientious.
9. When I was a child, my parents or teachers seemed to see me as sensitive or shy.
10. I tend to be very sensitive to pain.

If you answered true to five or more of these statements or if any one or two statements are extremely true of you, then this book may be for you.

This easy-to-read, non-technical book (first published in 1996) by Dr. Elaine Aron, deals with the highly sensitive person (of which Aron is one). Such a person is one that has a very sensitive nervous system and thus has a trait of greater receptivity to stimulation that may cause over stimulation. This trait should not be confused with such things as introversion, shyness, inhibition, anxiety, or fear. (Interestingly, there are also extroverted highly sensitive people.)

This book provides basic, detailed information about this trait, data that is difficult to obtain elsewhere. According to the author, "[This book] is the product of five years of research, in-depth interviews, clinical experience, courses, and individual consultations with hundreds of highly sensitive persons."

If you feel that you are a highly sensitive person, this book will help you understand yourself better and show you how to thrive in today's not-so-sensitive world. Also, this book is written for those seeking to understand those that are highly sensitive, such as a friend, relative, employer, or educator.

This book consists of ten chapters:

*Chapter one helps one learn the basic facts about this trait and how it makes one different (not flawed) from others.
*Chapter two helps you understand your trait.
*In the third chapter, you'll learn to appreciate your highly sensitive body's needs.
*In the fourth chapter, you'll learn ways to rethink your past experiences in a positive light and gain greater self-esteem in the process.
*Chapter five gives insight of how high sensitivity affects non-intimate social relationships.
*Chapter six gives insight of how high sensitivity affects work relationships.
*In the seventh chapter, you'll find insight of how high sensitivity affects close intimate relationships.
*The eighth chapter deals with ways to heal the sometimes deep adult psychological wounds caused when one was a highly sensitive child or adolescent.
*Chapter nine gives information on medications and when to seek help. (The author advocates caution if you desire to use medication.)
*In the last chapter, you are introduced to techniques to enrich the soul and spirit.

Near the beginning of this book is a self-test to help you decide if you are highly sensitive. It consists of twenty-three statements (ten selected ones are presented above) of which you answer true or false. (I felt that some of these statements were too general.)

Throughout this book are voluntary activities that the author has found useful for highly sensitive people. As well, there are tips throughout on how to deal with over arousal.

Finally, there are three appendices that consist of tips for health-care providers, teachers, and employers who work with or employ highly sensitive people.

In conclusion, if you are highly sensitive or want to learn about this trait, then this is the groundbreaking book for you!!

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71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get Ready To Have Some "AHA!" Moments!, August 10, 2002
This review is from: The Highly Sensitive Person (Paperback)
Have you ever felt overwhelmed and "jangled" by situations most other people seem to take in their stride? Have you often heard the words "Crybaby" or "You're just too sensitive about stuff?" Do strong smells, bright lights are loud noise seem to affect you more than they affect other people? Do you enjoy people and their company, but feel exhausted after you've been around them for a while? Do you intuitively see solutions to problems other people spend weeks solving? Do prescription drugs affect you more strongly than indicated? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you owe it to yourself to read this book. When I first read it, I had a long string of "AHA moments" with each chapter, and I have since spoken to many others who have had similar experiences.
Dr. Elaine N. Aron's research on High Sensitivity in people is a welcome effort to show the world that "not being the same as the societal ideal" does NOT necessarily have to be labeled as a pathology. This is an important book that will resonate with the millions of people who have spent their lives feeling just a little out of step with the frenetic, aggresive, extraverted, hectic "do, do, do!" aspects of modern society.
The book starts with a Sensitivity self-test, to allow readers to evaluate their degree of sensitivity. The good news is that if the test shows that you ARE a "Highly Sensitive Person" there is nothing "wrong" with you, and Dr. Aron has done a laudable job of helping us understand WHY. High Sensitivity is a genetic biological state you have about as much control over as the size of your feet-- and it certainly isn't a personality "disorder" in need of "repair." Throughout the book, Aron provides background to help readers understand more about their sensitivity, as well as tips and tools for how to improve the quality of their interaction with a world that isn't always tolerant of those who are a little "different."
For some people, this book is a serious eyeopener-- especially those who might have been diagnosed with, and treated for, Social Phobia or Generalized Anxiety Disorder-- while feeling that the diagnosis really didn't seem "right." Just the mere understanding of the characteristics of High Sensitivity could have a "healing effect" for them.
Anything I didn't like about this book? Well, stylistically, the writing is a bit dry and academic-- but then again, the book was not written for entertainment purposes.
A cautionary note: As with most self-help and self-analysis books, I would caution readers not to become TOO absorbed in pursuing the ideas presented in this book. As a long-time member of the "HSP Community" I have observed a number of people adopting their sensitivity as a "lifestyle" with a near-religious fervor, and a somewhat negative "Us vs. them" philosophy. Understanding that you're Highly Sensitive is not "the answer" to every problem in life-- it is merely a way to look at your life from a different perspective and gain some insight into making the most of a situation that sometimes makes you feel like a bit of a "misfit."
Overall rating: Highly Recommended (8.7 bookmarks out of a possible 10), not only for the Highly Sensitive Person, but also for a less sensitive person with a Highly Sensitive child or partner.
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105 of 112 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Highly Sensitive Person, February 23, 2000
This review is from: The Highly Sensitive Person (Paperback)
Assuming the reader is an HSP (probably most are, like me), the author describes us: "It means you are aware of subtleties in your surroundings...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...You pick up on the subtleties that others miss. And so naturally you also arrive quickly at the level of arousal past which you are no longer comfortable. That first fact about you could not be true without the second being true as well. It's a package deal, and a very good package." I would agree. I thought I was from another galaxy. I feel stronger knowing that there are enough people out there like me that someone has finally studied us and identified our traits. And now I know why most people don't see the things I do and come to some of the same conclusions.
Highly sensitive doesn't mean that we cringe and cry at every little thing that happens or doesn't go our way. It means we are introverted -- we don't get our energy from other people, but from ourselves, from within. This means we require more time to ourselves than most people (about 20% of society is introverted). It doesn't mean that we don't like other people -- we are extremely social beings. What it does mean is that we pick up on slight non-verbal and verbal types of communication that slip past most folks. To complicate matters, it is no secret that Western society does not favor the introverted, and the value of HSPs is generally unrecognized. In fact, the role of many HSPs throughout history has been among the ethical thinkers and leaders, the givers of inspiration.
Aron herself is a research psychologist, psychotherapist, and an HSP. Being highly sensitive is her trait, too, and she is right in there with us as she brings credibility to the various problems and issues discussed in this book. She offers facts, case studies, coping and transforming behaviors, and discussion on understanding the trait, general health and medications, re-parenting yourself, social interaction, career choices, relationships and gender issues, and spiritual considerations.
I'd make this book required reading for teachers, employers, therapists, and everyone else. Don't ever tell a child they're too sensitive for their own good or help them "overcome" their sensitivity. Revel in it, celebrate it, and support it. Everyone wins.
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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THANK YOU Ms. Elaine Aron, August 18, 2001
This review is from: The Highly Sensitive Person (Paperback)
Before I read this book I mistakenly labeled all of my over-stimulated times as anxiety (though some over-stimulation can lead to anxiety for me!). How wonderful to know I am not crazy (or going there) - nor am I alone in my high sensitivity.
This book is an honestly written, thoroughly researched, deeply felt look at high sensitivity from someone who has experienced this trait herself.
I was always told I was "over-sensitive" and believe me this was never a compliment. I aggravated people (still do)! Sensitivity is rarely considered a strength. I was relieved to discover, through this book, why and how I can be comfortable, content and even happy with who I am.
I did not read much of ch.9 about meds because, for me, it was N/A. I have fibromyalgia and take Paxil because I do not get restorative sleep without help. For those with fibromyalgia, it is imparitive that we get restful/restorative sleep, otherwise our symptoms are much more severe.
I absolutely ate up the first three chapters. I was enthralled. My mother picked this book up in the bookstore and handed it to me... she knows how sensitive I am and how much I have struggled through my 30 years of life. When I saw the title I literally snatched it from her hands and exclaimed "I am buying this one!" I knew instinctively this book was going to affect me greatly. I was as right as I have ever been. No one has ever explained me to me so well before!!!
I love that I now feel ok and even good about being sensitive. I am a very sensitive person, emotionally, physically, spiritually... you name it. I have often wished I would not care so much, but knew that I would be unhappy that way... though glad that I would not be hurt so much and often.
It has taken me many years to learn to live with the way I am. I have limitations and that is ok. I rarely feel that I am missing out, though I know many people who think I limit myself and don't live life to the fullest. I feel that I do. Even though I deal with overstimulation EVERYDAY... I still do things and go out of my comfort zone often. It is hard... but I know I am a better person for it.
For me crowds, dr. visits, driving alone, traffic, loud music, sirens, and flashing lights are huge stimulants for me and I often close my eyes and/or plug my ears to get away. Ms. Aron talks about this very thing in her book... the need for HSP's to have time alone. Time to rest and deprogram from activity.
I believe I come from a family of HSP's and I intend to loan this book to many of my family and friends. I think it is important that people are aware of HSP's and the way we are different from non-HSP's. No one is superior or inferior here... just different and we should celebrate our differences.
My husband and I have a unique relationship. I am HSP and he is ADD and this makes for a very very interesting mix and some interesting cross purposes and ways of living. He thrives on activity and marginal chaos and I am worn down by it!!! Thankfully he is moderately sensitive and I am sensitive to his needs and have read about adult ADD and can understand some of why he is the way he is... so we are able to make things work.
Anyway!!! The Highly Sensitive Person is a must read for everyone. Those who are HSP, moderately HSP, those who live with HSP's, work with HSP's, have HSP friends or are just plain curious should read this book! I highly recommend it. This book is phenominal and unfortunately rare for this subject. This subject needs to be investigated and researched further!!!
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful and enlightening, October 22, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Highly Sensitive Person (Paperback)
In person, I come across as a cheerful extrovert. But I've long been bothered by traits I viewed as signs of immaturity: Being in the spotlight makes me feel "depleted" and "wired" at the same time (I used to teach evening classes that ended at 9 PM, but afterwards I couldn't get to sleep until 1 AM!). If I happen to read a horror story (true or fiction), or see a frightening or violent picture, it haunts me for days. I can't stand loud noises: I once went to the Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco, and after a couple of hours of firecrackers I was a nervous wreck. Although I enjoy being around my friends and co-workers, I spend most evenings holed up with a book or writing in my journal. And I prefer to travel, and go to concerts and museums, by myself rather than with a friend. So I found this book very enlightening: not only did it explain why I have these reactions, but it gave me a more positive view of them. I found the book somewhat repetitious: she makes most of her points at the beginning, and from then on she just reiterates them; on the other hand, if I were the parent of a child or adolescent with these traits, I'd probably find her discussion of HSPs at various life stages more useful. But in general the book is very helpful, and I'd recommend it to anyone: HSPs who want to feel better about themselves, and non-HSPs who want to understand their fellow human beings better.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking reasearch into the subtleties of personality, October 9, 1996
By A Customer
Through solid research and observations made in her own therapy practice, Dr. Aron uncovers the facts about being highly sensitive. It does not mean being a crybaby, a 90-pound weakling or a scaredy-cat but rather possessing a sensitive nervous system -- an inherited biological trait. This book is about the 15 to 20f us who experience life at one end of the human spectrum. Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) process sensory input more finely and to deeper levels than average.Being aware of subtleties in your surroundings can be a great advantage. It may also mean that stimulating environments can bombard an HSP's system until s/he is exhausted. This trait, like any other, clearly has advantages and disadvantages.Dr. Aron addresses the impact of cultural ideals on the life experiences of HSPs by examining learned coping behaviors, common experiences and the self esteem struggles of those who have been constantly chastised to "toughen up." While providing practical advice on crafting a lifestyle that is suited to helping an HSP thrive, this book covers social interaction, career choices, personal health, gender issues and spiritual matters. For those struggling to survive in an aggressive culture that devalues the subtle abilities so central to the nature of an HSP, Dr. Aron has written an thoughtful, helpful, non-judgmental examination of ourselves. Parents, teachers and therapy professionals should also read this book. Don't despair, The Highly Sensitive Person is scheduled to be reprinted in paperback by the end of 1996.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What an incredible book, February 5, 2003
This review is from: The Highly Sensitive Person (Paperback)
Being a highly sensitive person, I started to understand my traits through the years, but here in this book is where it all comes together and is acknowledged in a way like never before. For anyone who is highly sensitive, this book let's you know that it's perfectly ok to be exactly who you are, in the clearest way imaginable. I am very grateful that it is here. It is a very validating thing.
For those reviewers who found this book to be off the mark or a bad thing, then it was probably not written for you. I'll echo the many who have said that if you are the kind of sensitive person that this book speaks for, it will resonate within you deeply. It brings peace to me, and if anything, it gives me more courage and strength to thrive in this world. Those who said that this book does more harm than good by "sinking you into your sensitivity" are truly missing the point. That is like telling someone not to be themselves, and is the very thing that sensitive people have been painfully dealing with in this culture for a long while. When I become more of who I am, I will only be better for myself and better for the world. Being more accepting of myself within, is something that will bring me more comfortably out into the world, not push me further back from it.
One reader thought that this book was written from the "female perspective" and therefore not as useful to males. I am a male and find that it was very fitting to the person I am, so it may just depend on the individual.
If you are a sensitive person and you have ever compared yourself to most others in the society we live in, you understand that you do not fit the mold. What this book delivers is the point - "it's ok" and in doing so it helps one to deal with oneself in a much kinder and constructive way in the world. I don't think this book is a miracle worker, it does take personal steps to be fully accepting of self, but this writing is a big help to the sensitive soul. My wish is that everyone who needs it, finds it.
To all those gentle, kindred spirits out there, I offer my heartfelt best wishes for much happiness and peace. I plan to order a couple of copies of this great book for friends whom I know will surely love it.
Thank you very much, Dr. Elaine Aron. Great job.
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The Highly Sensitive Person
The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron (Paperback - June 2, 1997)
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