HSP (highly sensitive person) is a relatively new psychological concept. The American psychologist Elaine Aron was the one who coined term in 1991. The way you figure out if you are a HSP is by doing a test that was formulated by Aron herself. A HSP is born, they´re not necessarily made and in essence they are more sensitive to the world around them than other people.
A HSP can easily be bothered by light, sound or touch. They are easily stressed and often need alone time to be able to regenerate. They have a difficult time filtering out unnecessary information and are highly receptive.
Many times they are also very compassionate, considerate and emotionally sensitive but this can also make them crave alone time just because they are so empathic and other people´s emotional states affect them deeply.
HSP is a personality trait and not something to be treated with medication and therapy. However HSP can have tendencies’ towards anxiety or depression, so they may need help in those areas. One could say that people who are HSP simply are wired differently than others and have an extra sensitive nervous system.
Personally I do not believe in this term. Not only does it overlap too much with autistic traits/Asperger but it also resembles things like autoimmune disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome, anxiety, C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) codependent personality, or introvert personality.
It is believed that people who are HSP need more support as children than other children who are not highly sensitive. But couldn´t it be so that people who later on believe they have HSP, simply didn´t get much support in the first place?
Now, yes one can have autistic traits which means that your nervous system is in fact differently wired but then it usually means that you have autistic traits, not that you are HSP. And by the way, exactly how does one measure that you are “Highly Sensitive” other than you being given a test where you are to answer a couple of questions?
Many times people believe that they are empathic, very sensitive almost on the verge of being psychic when they in fact have other underlying issues. To brush over those issues by saying “I´m just a HSP” seems very unhealthy. It is absolutely possible for you to experience that you are a HSP but as said it is more likely that something else is in behind this, which you may fail to notice because you think you´re just highly sensitive.
There is a “scientific term” for HSP and that is Sensory Processing Sensitivity but the term was coined by Elaine Aron as well. Many times HSP are told to work on their confidence but why not simply realize that you may have some confidence issues rather than that you are highly sensitive?
They´re also told to not be as self-critical but where does this over self-criticism come from? Well, it tends to come from adverse family conditions, not because you were born overly sensitive.
HSP also tend to have issues with stress but like said previously this can have many other causes such as anxiety, sleep problems, anemia or undetected allergies or poor relations with family and friends.
Marwa Abaz who did a Ted Talk on HSP claims it has been validated by several scientific studies. But these studies are simply based on questionnaires. There are other Ted Talks claiming that HSP have a gentle power and that they don´t need to change, that there are many advantages to these traits etc.
In the end this all sounds like a bunch of nonsense. It is just another way to try and place people in boxes same as which was done with the Myers Briggs test or other so called type A, type B and the rest of the alphabet personality phenomenon.
Whenever you try to place yourself in a box, you do so because you feel lost and you´re starting to lose your ground which is why you´re looking for a space where you can fit in. Many people who are HSP claim they want validation for being HSP. And why is that?
Well, because they were never validated in the first place, told that something was wrong with them, something was wrong with the things they liked or the things that they did. And of course if you´re told something is wrong with you then it´s not exactly a surprise that you start adopting traits that make you seem overly sensitive.
If you think you are a HSP and you believe that this notion helps you in some way, then that´s great. But it’s probably less helpful to think that you are a HSP when in fact you have other problems that can be solved by being with dealt with, rather than brushed off as consequences of sensory sensitivity.