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Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight: What to Do If You Are Sensory Defensive in an Overstimulating World Paperback – December 2, 2003

83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Heller, a developmental psychologist, knows firsthand how difficult life can be for people suffering from sensory defensiveness (SD). Symptoms include flinching from touch; overly acute senses of smell; fear of escalators; irritation at certain lights; and eating disorders. While these symptoms are often present from birth, for many other people they can be triggered by some traumatic event. Adding to the pain is the difficulty in diagnosing this ailment-some sufferers are told they have ADD or autism. Heller briefly discusses her own successful therapy and how it transformed her life. The book includes four sections-the first two focus on an overview of the condition, and the second two examine treatment, including diet, medication and relaxation techniques. Useful appendices list alternative treatments and resources. The writing is clear and relatively jargon-free, and sprinkled throughout the book are anecdotes from patients who have successfully battled SD. Patients who have this condition will find this book reassuring, especially since Heller discusses a treatment and usually follows up with a real-life scenario. For example, the section on light therapy ends with a success story of a woman who had learned to cope with her light sensitivity: "[Anna] realized that her eyes were wide open, no longer slits. She had spent years walking around in a haze, blinded by glare, with her brain taking in only a sliver of light." For people with SD, this title will wonderfully supplement their medical treatment.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“A fascinating account of how sensation can run amok and cause problems. ” (New York Newsday)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (December 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060932929
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060932923
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

To heal the mind I believe one must first heal the body. "...the easiest step toward improving the quality of life consists in simply learning to control the body and its senses," wrote Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Toward this goal, my writing focuses on healing sensory processing problems, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges holistically: optimal nutrition (organic and alive!), nature's pharmacy, detoxification (internal and external), cranial/sacral alignment, movement, sensorimotor activities, and vibrational medicine.
For more information about my books or to inquire about consulting, visit my website www.sharonheller.net or email me at info@sharonheller.net.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

179 of 181 people found the following review helpful By Bert Krages on December 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is well written, comprehensive, and way overdue. If you are a person who gets gets irritated (or loses it) over stimuli that other people seem to tolerate without difficulty, or if you know such a person, then this is the book for you. While other books address the issue of sensory integration in children, this is the only book that I know of that addresses sensory defensiveness as a problem in adults. Among the many strongpoints of the book are its discussions about how sensory defensiveness can be misdiagnosed as other disorders, what it is like to live with sensory defensiveness, and how to improve the ability to cope. The only bad thing about the book is that the five-color dust jacket is a little on the busy side (although not nearly as horrible as the blinking colon signs you see on some digital clocks). Of course, you always have the option of removing the dust jacket. Thank you Dr. Heller.
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161 of 165 people found the following review helpful By Peter Messerschmidt on April 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book was recommended to me by a friend who knows I'm an HSP ("Highly Sensitive Person," as per Dr. Elaine Aron's research), and who thought I might find some new information to help me deal with my sensitivity.

It was an informative and enjoyable read, even though it turned out that Sensory Defensiveness doesn't particularly apply to me. However, if you are someone who is constantly feeling overwhelmed and irritated by environmental stimuli, to the point where others sometimes think you're slightly crazy, I have little doubt that you will find this book to be filled with "aha moments;" leading to a great sense of relief that there is actually a "name" for the confusing and painful feelings you may have experienced all your life.

After a thorough descriptive introduction, the author covers the ins and outs of Sensory Defensiveness in four sections. Part One talks about the basics of Sensory Defensiveness, giving many examples of the different ways people experience the condition. Heller also talks about the brain, and the neuroscience involved, and explains how Sensory Defensiveness falls along a continuum from fairly mild to debilitating.

In Part Two, entitled "Secondary Effects," the author describes the many ways in which Sensory Defensiveness contributes to other issues and illnesses in life. This includes issues from difficulty with maintaining a healthy social life, to actual mental disorders ranging from Anxiety to Social Phobias to OCD and much more.

Part Three introduces readers to the ways we may be engaged in activities that are overstimulating, and offers a range of suggestions for how to "turn down the volume" on stimulation.
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112 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Mab on September 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have spent my entire life dodging bright light and loud music/noise. My inability to handle The simple sound of crunching or a change in the temp. during the day made me feel crazy and lonely. After years of this, my system has shut down so badly that I am physically ill to the point that I have had to take semesters off from school and shut out my entire life just to get by. This is the first time in my entire life that it not only makes sense but it changes it. I can't believe the diffrence it makes just to know what is wrong with me and that it is 't in my head. This book should be read, not just by people suffering this horably debilitating disorder but everyone. When u think your friend is being picky or emotional, it may not be. S/he could be suffering more than u know. Possibly one of the most important books I have ever read.
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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful By sheina on July 15, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you cringe at noises other people don't notice, if you squint even on cloudy days, if you hate the feel of certain things - BUY this book! I have been mocked by friends & family for years for being "oversensitive" & reading this has totally changed my world.

She explains the biology & science of sensory defensiveness as well as techniques & suggestions for reprogramming your brain.

I highly recommend.
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73 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Biographical_Book_Lover on December 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
When in grade and high school, I would receive high grades but only fair marks in conduct due to "doesn't pay attention - in her own world" (all my classrooms had that glaring, flashy flourescent lighting). I got scolded for staring at the kitchen table (where we had a very bright light directly overhead). When I got older, going into Big Box stores with that overhead lighting drove me nuts, but I felt like a jerk because I had to leave the store for reasons other people could not comprehend.

Today, additionally, if someone "grabs" me by the back of my neck or arm when hugging me, my skin crawls. I have an innate "ability" to smell and hear things that others don't perceive until the odor/sound strengthens. Vibrations from HVAC units and 18-wheelers sitting outside my office (located in an industrial area) make my ears ring and I want to come out of my skin. Wearing synthetic materials (or Cashmere, for some reason) is also a big peeve, but not so bad as the others (lighting, vibrational sound and touch). To note, I was not abused as a child or adult; but then nor was I ever a "huggy" person, which upset my immediate family.

As an aside, I am "Type-A" and a born multi-tasker. I am an adjunct professor for a large university, on the Board of Trustees for another and President/CEO of a mid-sized 7-figure company based in the Midwest. I feel that I am a highly functioning person as do those I know personally or am in business with. I also feel I should state that I am a caring person who works with children (I get to hug them on my own terms and they don't "squish" me!
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