A very important and wise person in my life introduced me to The Highly Sensitive Person. This concept greatly influenced my regard for what is means to be introverted, emotional, reactive, etc. Furthermore, as a ND, this coincides to a great degree with what in our environment is creating these highly sensitive people? And is it so bad?
First thing’s first, like anything in life, there is a balance. While too much sensitivity can lead to panic, anxiety, and depression, and negative coping styles or behaviors, the right conditions will bring about a balanced person with a healthy degree of conscientiousness, openness, agreeableness, extraversion (or socialism), and emotional lability (this was adopted from the Big Five Personality Model). Usually, the healthy sensitive person will also explore and experience their creative side, and develop much satisfaction from inner and spiritual insights. Sensitive people tend to take their time and are most successful when they learn to appreciate and understand their sensitivity.
Research (Aron, 1997) from the author also looked at sensitivity, emotionalism, and social inhibition. And, how the ability of the sensitive child to cope with their environment through life may be correlated to parenting style (but not always, as many sensitive people express a good childhood as well). Good news for parents, it is also understood that it is difficult to parent a sensitive child.
-insecure attachment style in parenting may generally lead to anxious and avoidant behavior, or neuroticism or emotional instability in sensitive children (although these behavior may appear in non sensitive children as well)
-infant irritability may be the first sign of a highly sensitive temperament
-sensitive boys are most negatively affected by bad parenting, while non-sensitive boys are more resilient
-« sensitive individuals from home environments that support their temperament seem quite successful in their lives and adept at making their sensitivity an asset while avoiding shyness and over-self- consciousness. » (Aron, 1997)
The trends to sensitive individuals general prefer input versus output. Overall, they are sensitive to stimulation in general. They also tend to reflect on outcomes or consequences. They general have a lower impulsiveness, although this may be expressed differently.
What does this have to do with naturopathic medicine? Well, from our viewpoint, a sensitivity may be expressed from a few different factors: familial tendency and the inheritance, chemical sensitivity, food sensitivity, light and smell sensitivity, etc. This area of great importance to me, and much success in managing cases with diet, homeopathy, environmental medicine, and meditation techniques.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
1997, Vol. 73, No. 2, 345-368
Sensory-Processing Sensitivity and Its Relation to
Introversion and Emotionality
Elaine N. Aron and Arthur Aron
State University of New York at Stony Brook