3 Compelling Reasons the ‘Highly Sensitive Person’ is a complete myth

Editors note: Hi, welcome to Christian Valour. This is an old post. A while back I changed the theme of this blog to Christian apologetics and creation, and as such this post is no longer consistent with my new theme. I’ve kept it here however because it’s a popular post and hopefully still helpful to anyone struggling with this issue. I hope you enjoy it and if you’re interested then feel free to check out some of my other posts.

The ‘Highly Sensitive Person’

Are you a bit of a perfectionist? Do you find it hard to form and keep close relationships? Do you often find that you need to take breaks, feeling overwhelmed by your environment? Do you cry or lose your temper easily?

You might be a Highly Sensitive Person… then again, you might not.

A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is a person whose nervous system has a higher-than-average sensitivity. Based on the work of Dr’s Arthur and Elaine Aron, and Dr Ted Zeff, HSP is a trait which characterizes approximately 20% of the population and is equally distributed across genders.

The following enormous, but not exhaustive, list captures the range of characteristics that a given HSP may associate with:

  1. Sensitivity/aversion to
    • The moods of yourself or others
    • The emotions of yourself or others
    • Stimulants (caffeine, alcohol, etc.)
    • Environmental changes (external stimuli)
    • Excess noise
    • Smells
    • Bright lights
    • Health and mental states
    • Violence
    • Coarse fabrics
    • Chaotic environments
    • Jump scares
    • Stress
    • Change
    • Hunger
    • Discomfort
    • Team sports
    • Excess social interaction
    • Competition/‘male posturing’
    • Conflict
  2. Intuition
  3. Creativity
  4. Wearing your heart on your sleeve
  5. Cooperative behaviours
  6. Gentleness
  7. Compassion
  8. Timidity
  9. A tendency toward egalitarianism
  10. Conscientiousness
  11. The need to withdraw occasionally
  12. Intense ability to focus
  13. A tendency toward the arts and creative endeavours
  14. Being easily startled
  15. Easily overwhelmed by tasks and chores
  16. Perfectionism
  17. Performance anxiety
  18. The classification as ‘sensitive’ by peers and guardian figures
  19. Appreciation for nature
  20. Allergies, skin sensitivity
  21. Heightened senses in general
  22. Low pain threshold
  23. Pleasure seeking
  24. Above average fine motor skills
  25. Below average immune system/responses
  26. Loyalty
  27. Empathy
  28. Calmness
  29. Contemplative
  30. Diplomatic
  31. Sense of justice
  32. Harmonic
  33. Purpose driven
  34. Idealistic
  35. Innovation
  36. Wisdom
  37. Peacefulness
  38. Insight
  39. Spirituality
  40. Seek meaning and purpose
  41. Self sacrificial to a fault
  42. Generous
  43. Fish out of water
  44. Introspective
  45. The ability to Love deeply people/humanity/nature/kittens/etc.
  46. Soft spoken
  47. Relational
  48. Passive, non assertive
  49. Having a rich, complex inner life (seriously)
  50. A sense of duty/responsibility
  51. Being solitary
  52. Intelligent
  53. Hard working
  54. Misunderstood
  55. Underappreciated
  56. Overqualified
  57. Agreeable
  58. Compliant
  59. Effeminate
  60. Vulnerable

A fundamental claim of HSP theory is this:

If you’re a HSP and have lived your life trying to fit into the emotionally stunted alpha male stereotype then you are not being ‘true to your real self’. This has ultimately led you to living a life of intense anxiety and social stigma.

A culture and society which uniformly holds men to an impossible standard of masculinity is marginalizing male HSP’s and holding them back from true peace and happiness.

Examples abound of individual men who grew up being bullied and told that they were weak pussies and needed to basically stop being so sensitive.

This is sad.

I know intimately how this feels.

The literature does distinguish between the stereotype ‘new age sensitive guy’, and the ‘HSP’. The sensitive new age guy is a strawman. Supposedly it is a misrepresentation of the true ‘HSP’ which is a biological reality, a totally genetically determined and immutable character profile.

HSP’s are who they are and they cannot be forced to conform to a masculine ideal that doesn’t suit their biology.

HSP’s are not broken, they’re just misunderstood.

I’ve also come to realise that they also don’t exist.

How do I know?

I am a really sensitive guy…

Before my son was born, I just assumed that I wouldn’t fall ‘instantly in love’ with him. I didn’t feel overly emotional or connected to him when he was in the cauldron. I’ve never been overly emotional at the death of loved ones, movies, or other people’s kids.

Why would having my baby be any different?

But it was.

When I first held my son I almost lost it. I’d never seen anything like him in my life.

To this day I am a broken shell of a man. My son is my kryptonite. For months I would think about him during the day and spontaneously well up because I was just so friggin in love with my little boy.

Some guys, probably a lot of guys, report that they don’t necessarily ‘feel’ anything for their new born’s straight away. Which just means they’re not overcome with obvious emotion.

For these guys it takes time. They need to bond with them over bath times, nappy changes and laughs and other things. That doesn’t mean they don’t love their child. It’s just that they’re not overwhelmed with emotions for them.

But not me. I loved the crap out of my son the moment I laid eyes on him.

Have you seen ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’? There’s a brief moment when Gary is sitting in the hospital waiting room anxiously fiddling with his wedding ring. Gary’s just been strong armed out of his own wife’s cesarean operation because her heart stopped.

He’s sitting there with no idea what’s going on. His child has just been born and he hasn’t even held it yet. There’s nothing he can do but sit in that empty, white waiting room thinking about his wife and child…

Nope… just… nope.

That scene changes when you’ve been through a similar experience, it becomes real. You become Gary.

There are other things too.

I love hugs. I’m unhealthily affectionate. Two of my favourite things on earth are:

  1. When I pick my son up out of bed in the morning and he drapes himself over my shoulder like a blanket
  2. Just watching movies on the couch with my wife.

I take criticism to heart. I get hurt, distant and deflated.

I’m a creative, thoughtful, introspective, introvert.

A friend of mine once charged me with the exact phrase ‘stop being so sensitive!’.

Is any of this familiar to you?

In many ways I am the textbook example of a ‘Highly Sensitive Person’.

But on the other hand

I am really insensitive

Some time ago I was trying to get work done in my office. I asked my wife nicely to keep my son from distracting me for an hour or so while I got this work done. He then proceeded to come and bang on the door every minute or so. I put up with it for a while but eventually I got so frustrated that I snapped.

I stormed out and rudely lashed out at my wife. She got visibly upset. I later apologized, and she apologized and it was all very good, but at the time I was cold as ice.

As I said, I don’t think I’ve ever shed a tear over a deceased person.

I’m concerned about the pain and suffering of others, but this is a very objective and pragmatic concern. I don’t cry myself to sleep.

I value truth, justice and rationality far more than tolerance, peace or encouragement.

I do take criticism to heart, yet I seek constructive criticism like a ravenous wolf. I would honest-to-God take one thoughtful, reflective criticism of my writing before a thousand adoring well wishes.

Some of my greatest academic achievements are the direct result of my response to criticism. Yes it hurts, a little bit, for a little while.

But you know what? You get over it, and it transforms you. The more you get used to it, the less it hurts.

I love violent movies. I love pop culture icons of masculinity: marvel movie’s, nineties action hero’s, spaghetti westerns, war epics. One of my dream Christmas presents is to get the entire collection of Rawhide in a box set.

I’m sporty…ish and I’m competitive… when I feel like it.

The myth of the ‘Highly Sensitive Person’

If my life went any differently than exactly how it did I might’ve considered myself a HSP too. But I’m not a HSP and neither are you.

You’re a normal guy who’s different from other guys. Maybe in some ways you’re really different. You copped a hard time as a boy when others didn’t.

Other boys cast you aside. You internalized your experiences and the world made you cry sometimes.

Everybody kept telling you to stop being sensitive, be a man. But no one ever actually taught you how. So you grew up surrounded by other boys acting like brutes, fighting and playing sports and generally just being rude assholes.

You were bastardized for not being competitive or ‘tough’. You were the ugly duckling. No one seemed to understand that you just weren’t like those other boys.

You distanced yourself from other men. You learned to ‘hide your feelings’. You made friends with girls because they were nicer, or you made friends with your school library, and buried your head in books, or video games.

Your whole life you just felt kind of… broken.

You came to believe that being a man simply meant not being you.

Then you discovered you were a HSP, and everything changed. All of a sudden you had an explanation for everything. It felt like you’d just lifted a lifetime of burden, confusion and brokenness off your shoulders.

I get it. If that’s you, then you need to know I’m not here to bastardize you. I’m not here to say that actually, you are still broken. You’re not.

I’m here to tell you that what you’re looking for, will not be found in HSP theory.

Even if you identify with many of the traits. Having grown up as the ugly duckling you found comfort and belonging upon discovering after all this time that you’re just a HSP.

So if there are so many guys who have identified with this trait and it’s been studied by psychologists and is all scientific and the like, then what is the problem?

I see at least three major problems with HSP theory:


1. The ‘alpha jock’ does not exist; it’s invented by fiction, by Hollywood

This was the most confusing aspect of researching HSP’s… what’s the alternative?

Perhaps it’s best described by the popular coined term ‘toxic masculinity‘, which according to many is the source of all the worlds problems. This toxic masculinity is embodied in the ‘alpha-male’ or as I prefer ‘alpha jock’.

What constitutes the ‘alpha jock’?

The ‘alpha jock’ is this sort of warrior type, doesn’t care about feelings, doesn’t have feelings, does what he wants to get what he wants kind of beast. He shrugs everything off and roughhouses his way through life succeeding by way of his assertive, dominant prowess.

He is impervious to emotional stress. He always knows exactly what to do in every situation and can make decisions with unflinching resolve, no matter the personal cost. He’s strong, courageous to a fault and almost always violent. He’s sporty and active, and loves doing ‘manly’ things like hunting and football. He’s a real life Gaston…

But Gaston isn’t real. Neither is this mythological man’s man.

It doesn’t exist. It’s the masculine equivalent of the models in women’s magazines. It’s kind of based off reality, but is photo shopped into an ideal.

HSP’s have never been able to live up to the picture of masculinity to which they’ve been held their hold lives, because no man can.

Toxic masculinity may formally describe a legitimate problem that affects some men, and can lead to issues of self-image. This makes sense because if it’s impossible to be the perfect ‘masculine ideal’ as defined by toxic masculinity, then it’s sure to lead some men astray. But that just further emphasizes that it’s not a true trait. It doesn’t really exist and men who aspire to it fail.

This is a problem for the HSP theory, because the HSP is an identity that’s designed to contrast itself with some meaningful real life alternative. But the alternative is not an existing thing, it’s just an ideal, one which most people understand to be unhealthy.

So if there’s no such thing as an ‘alpha jock’, then there’s probably no such thing as a HSP either.

2. It makes highly spurious assumptions about what’s genetic

There is a belief that true happiness is found only when we are being ‘true to ourselves’.

This belief is so ingrained in our culture today that no one challenges it. It’s a very intuitive and attractive idea. Supposedly there is some ‘self’ that perfectly captures your inmost being, and is unique to each individual. There are countless variations but the overall theme is that we need to just ‘be ourselves’. If we’re not doing this then we’re destined for a lifetime of unhappiness and misery.

It’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even cross our minds to question it.

The HSP theory wholeheartedly embraces this platitude. You were born sensitive, you’ll die sensitive, so just accept it and learn to love yourself. A HSP is completely genetically determined and immutable.

How convenient.

Almost as soon as you think about this it seems obviously false.

Do you expect me to believe that everything about who you are is not in the slightest way influenced by your environment; not by your diet, friends, family, culture, background, location, profession or most importantly your personal decision-making ability?

Random science fact (Warning: there is jargon):

It is basically the consensus view in genetics today that the vast majority of ‘traits’ are complex, which means they are influenced by a combination of both genetic and environmental factors. Furthermore, individual genetic variants can only explain a tiny fraction of the variability for a complex trait (HSP would unquestionably be a ‘complex trait’ if it was real), except in cases of very rare, high effect genetic mutations. So when HSP advocates argue that some gene has been discovered that associates with HSP, at best this will have a negligible effect on an individual.

You might be tempted to think that if you try to be someone you’re not you will just box up all your feelings and all of your hurt and pain, put on a brave face and it will then eat you up inside until you let it all out.

Nope. I’m sorry, but that’s wrong too.

Feelings don’t bottle up. Feelings come, and they go. When you lose control of your emotions it doesn’t make them better, it doesn’t make them go away. In many cases it makes them worse right?

You can build resilience over time with effort and practise.

Self proclaimed HSP’s themselves are proof of this.

“It was simply too dangerous to my well-being to allow my sensitivity out into the open any more than I had to, so I tried to harden myself up. I got fairly good at it over time, good enough to survive through adolescence and into young adulthood, but I felt lost most of the time, and I was. That’s the inevitable price of denying any core element of who we are.”

Notice the recourse there to ‘who we are’.

HSP’s attest to having to ‘learn’ to ‘hide’ their sensitivity. For the vast majority of cases you can bet that this just means learning not to be socially awkward and needy. More importantly though, it can be done.

This is just an important part of being a well-adjusted, conscientious, socialized man. It simply means learning how to express feelings in a meaningful, socially appropriate way, and allowing them to pass naturally; like farting.

If you can hold in a fart, you can hold in a feeling.

There’s no such thing as being ‘true to yourself’ because who you are, is almost completely within your power to define and actualize.

Don’t let anyone try to tell you what you are.

3. The HSP criteria

The third and possibly the worst problem with HSP theory is the criteria itself.

The character profile is simply enormous. It is far too large and general to be useful. There are so many things on this list that it could easily apply to anyone.

It contains traits which are seemingly unrelated. What do ‘fine motor skills’ have to do with being ‘compassionate’? Nothing. I doubt being creative and being a more cooperative person have any causative genetic relationship.

Many of the criteria are vague and poorly defined.

What is a ‘complex inner life’? That’s not even a thing. How do you measure intuition? You don’t. Intuition is a relative term, and is context dependent.

Some of the traits are simply character virtues. Compassion, loyalty and a sense of justice are all things controlled by your personal decision-making, not your genetic personality. Sure your level of ‘compassion’ might vary depending on your personality, but you either choose to show it, or you don’t. Compassion is not a part of ‘who you are’ unless you will it to be.

Some of the traits are contradictory. How can one individual have both a ‘high ability to focus’ and be ‘easily distracted’? These are literally the opposite of each other

When two characteristics appear mutually exclusive, they are no longer describing the same trait.

The selection criteria is a mix of obviously physiological traits (like sensitivity to the environment), and obviously psychological traits (like perfectionism), but it’s not clear how they are related or why they supposedly describe the same types of individuals (HSP’s).

Advocates combine these characteristics to give the impression that they describe the same trait. Anyone who is soft-spoken or timid has license to categorize themselves as ‘highly sensitive’, although it may have nothing to do with their nervous system.

Based on the size and the vagueness of the HSP criteria, anyone could be forgiven for thinking that they might be a Highly Sensitive Person.

In short, the ‘Highly Sensitive Person’ is a myth.

Why is this important?

There’s lot of reasons. I could talk about how the HSP has been used to excuse poor parenting, or how I think mostly this whole thing is just a huge cash grab.

But more than that men need to know that being a bit sensitive, or having a sensitive side doesn’t make you a ‘Highly Sensitive Person’, and it doesn’t mean you’re not a man.

If you’re reading this and have always considered yourself a sensitive guy, then know that this does not exclude you from true manhood. You’re not broken, or different, or a weak sissy… but you’re not off the hook either.

All men, no matter how tough or stoic they think they are, have the capacity for sensitivity.

You’re still a man even if you’re a book-worm, a sketch artist or a hugger. If some movies get you choked up, or you happily show your feelings, or you’re compassionate and loyal or all of the above, no problem.

When you look at the world around you, and sometimes the injustice and evil in the world overwhelms you to the point of tears, or anger, you’re still a man.


There’s nothing manly about being emotionally manipulative. There’s nothing manly about hiding inside a shell of vulnerability and expecting the world to do you a favour.

Do not use your emotions, or ‘sensitivity’ to justify failure, weakness, inaction or cowardice.

Being sensitive is not an excuse to be pathetic, and being emotionally resilient is not an excuse to be an asshole.

We all have the capacity for malice, apathy, weakness and selfishness.

The question is not ‘am I sensitive man’, but ‘am I a manly man’? These are not opposites.

Embracing your masculinity is a lot harder than simply ‘accepting who you are’. It requires making hard choices, consistently. It means being honest when no one else is. It means working out when you don’t feel like it, going to work when you don’t feel like it. It means getting a job, even one you will hate, if you need one.

To be a man is to fight the grain of nurture and to chase difficulty, adversity and excellence.

None of this depends on whether or not you think you’re sensitive.

You all have the capacity to do what must be done, regardless of your feelings (or lack of feelings).

Stop trying to define your life and personality as a reaction to a non-existent, impossible ideal and start understanding what it truly means to be a man.

Jon Morrow, basically the guy when it comes to blogging, says this:

You can do everything all the blogging authorities tell you to do, and you can do it absolutely correctly, and you’ll still fail. I guarantee it.

So, does that mean you’re doomed?

Not necessarily. Here’s why:

This isn’t about genetics. This isn’t about inborn talent. This isn’t about fate.

It’s about deciding who you want to be and then making yourself into that person.

Jon wasn’t born smart, and no one would’ve ever believed it if he didn’t put the effort in:

I was not what you would call a “bright” kid.

I goofed off in class. I failed tests. I skated through with mediocre grades.

But… I got fed up with myself and decided to change things…

Because that’s who I wanted to be…

By the time I was 16, I graduated high school with college credit, a full two years early. In college, professors regularly called me a prodigy.

Oh yeah, Jon also has SMA. Jon is one of the crazy few who made enormous achievements, despite crushing odds being stacked against him. Imagine if he just rolled over instead.

Winston Churchill is another perfect example. As an incredibly sickly kid, he would’ve seemed destined to a life of mediocrity, and no one would’ve blamed him for it. Fortunately for Western Civilization he didn’t. He fought tooth and nail his whole life, against his own biology, to become one of Britain’s greatest ever Prime Ministers and a model of manhood for men everywhere.

There is nothing special about these men, except that they willed there life into what it was.

I’m not saying you have to become the Prime Minister, or the world’s greatest writer, but you can be a better man… every day… by taking small deliberate steps toward a life of action, a life that is not shackled by the perception that you have a glass ceiling.

Do not learn to be OK with who you are. Don’t accept it, and don’t blame your genes.

Train every day to be the best possible version of yourself

The question is not, what can you do?

The only question is, what are you going to do?

Fight to be better. The world needs you to.

The world needs men.

Subscribe and share.

Did you seriously read the whole thing? You're amazing!

If you enjoyed this post then you might like to join my mailing list. If you do you'll get a free copy of my cheat sheet immediately sent to your inbox:

5 Powerful Reasons to Believe in the Christian God 

One post per fortnight, and I'll never SPAM you... ever.

15 thoughts on “3 Compelling Reasons the ‘Highly Sensitive Person’ is a complete myth”

  1. The writer of this article seems to have grabbed a broad range of descriptions from various sources that were probably not scientific, but somehow tied into side categories having to do with ideas like empaths and ESP, which are not proven.

    It is very likely he has pulled from articles written by people who are simply trying to drive traffic to their blogs, and people who are not HSP but wish to be. Simply for the special “snowflake” label. My guess is there are definitely a lot more people out there claiming they have this when they don’t.

    If you are going by these categories, and I don’t know the source of this very very broad range of indicators, anyone can compare this to how astrology works, which is baloney. Of course you can see how ridiculous a newer theory like HSP would be if presented that way, but a quick Google search will show you that a lot of these things are not included as indicators.

    One “contradiction” you list has to do with being able to focus well yet being easily distracted. Someone with HSP immediately knows that they are, in the right environment, able to focus very well on one thing and easily distracted in the wrong environment. So some of these things come down to context.

    Brain scan studies have shown that the brains of highly sensitive people operate differently. Consistently. You can attribute that to what you want.

    Everyone, no matter their situation (provided they are not too severely mentally disabled) should practice constraint with emotions, in a healthy way. It is not healthy to hold in strong emotions. “He that hides anger is a liar”. Your emotions will make you sick if you do not tend to them appropriately. Many men mentioned in the Bible are depicted as having sensitivity and crying. There is nothing wrong with being nurturing as a man, but there is a way a man does this differently than a woman, and it is a beautiful thing. Just think of Jesus.
    And of course we all know that while having and processing emotions is normal, it is not OK to be controlled by your emotions to the extent that you are out of the will of God.

    There is immense amounts of scientific evidence showing that men have more sensitive nervous systems than women. And why does the article not mention women?

    HSP is not a pass to avoid responsibility. No one is claiming that it is.

    When I first heard of HSP my very first instinct was to believe that it was made up for money making purposes. I did a lot, A LOT, of research and contacted professionals who question modern psychology and those who administer prescription drugs. The common view is that it is in fact legitimate and genetic. And I do understand that there is “science,” and then there is science.

    It is very handy to have select individuals in society that can spot where the masses and leaders are going wrong. Traditionally, that might be someone who is made to be a profit. Think Jeremiah and someone one on a Christian site has suggested possibly Joseph. And of course, typically, no one listens to those individuals. Even though they are gifted by God to see what is wrong and what everyone is missing.

    I understand completely where you are coming from, but I feel like you are pulling from too many unreliable sources in regards to this topic. I believe the heart of this article is good, but I suggest taking a second look at the subject.

  2. Where is your scientific research backing up your claims HSPs don’t exist? You are just perpetuating incorrect beliefs in people… I don’t see where are this anger is coming from.

  3. I agree with your closing statements of “Do not learn to be OK with who you are. Don’t accept it, and don’t blame your genes. Train every day to be the best possible version of yourself…The question is not, what can you do? The only question is, what are you going to do?” BUT I do think you are off in recognizing what HSP is. High Sensitivity is biological, while Hypersensitivity is a coping style. My husband is Highly Sensitive and it shows in his biology and the way the environment affects him (noises, crowded spaces, etc), which in turn can effect him emotionally. For me that is something that is very hard to understand because I’m not affected by environmental stimuli in the same way, but having an understanding of how an HSP experiences the world differently is extremely helpful – especially when sensory overload is involved. I found this article extremely helpful in understanding the difference https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ironshrink/201411/the-difference-between-highly-sensitive-and-hypersensitive. I also don’t agree that the criteria could apply to anyone. I took a test and only checked 3, while my husband checked 18. Maybe it takes the extreme to see that HSP is indeed valid and helpful in understanding the differences in people. Before hearing of HSP I could not even wrap my head around what my husband often told me was difficult for him because it seemed so different from the way I am. It’s almost like he’s on a heightened state of awareness 24/7, with all the senses working together physically, neurologically and emotionally to affect him considerably. Knowing this, it allows us to use a different set of tools to grow and be better. Sort of like addressing the range in different learning types.

    • It still amazes me that this is without doubt my most interactive post.

      Scoring high on some test doesn’t mean you have a ‘thing’. It doesn’t mean HSP is something that actually exists that needs to be ‘managed’ or ‘treated’. It just means you and your husband are different.

      The other issue is that what you’re describing is considerably different from other characteristics I’ve heard and read about that have been described, thus the criteria is really broad and poorly defined.

      Thanks so much for your comment, I always appreciate constructive opinions!

  4. I have to concur with the two comments above. As I read your argument, it seems like it was based on a misunderstanding of how both science and culture work. It also seems to ignore that (regardless of what culture says), science is the study of God’s creation, whether the scientists themselves realize it or not. If anything, the biological findings supporting HSP (or, on the other end, Asperger’s or Autism) speak to the diversity of the body of Christ that Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians. Don’t judge what you don’t fully understand (or just follow Christ’s command to not judge). I’m sure you mean well, but it’s this kind of speaking-without-understanding that creates the culture of alienation within the church that turns the lost and the hurting away instead of welcoming them in hospitality. (And, unfortunately, it’s been an issue within the church since before Galileo).

    • If you’re going to accuse me of misunderstanding how science works, then you should do a little more to explain exactly what it is that I don’t understand.

      “science is the study of God’s creation” – agreed

      Based on my lifelong experience of church and Christianity I’ve yet to find a church culture that is anything but warm, inviting and compassionate.

    • Hello,
      All this HSP ideology is new to me. Quite frankly it rings true and I find it highly relatable. That being said I too agree that even if it is true it can’t be used as an excuse for floundering in life. I do sense that you are angry with even the notion that it exists. My question to you is this: why are so angry about a possible HSP diagnosis? Is it because you think it gives people an excuse to be pathetic? You are right, in that, regardless of sensitivities, we must buck up buttercup. However; no one can tell another person how deeply they feel or how strongly they are affected. Pain is still pain, all you can control is your attitude, turn to God or don’t.
      One more question: rather than continue in a sarcastic manner which is thinly veiled cruelty and defensiveness, what are your qualifications to make the above conclusions? I have no qualifications and therefore would like to know if I can trust yours.

      • Hi Tara,

        Thanks for the great comment.

        I don’t really think about HSP as an ideology. I think of it the same way I think of human height. Some people are tall, some are short. It’s nothing special or unique, and it doesn’t need to be given a name, but I’m not angry about it.

        Good point, I also agree that attitude is crucially important, but I don’t think people who claim to be HSP’s are pathetic, not at all.

        Since you asked, I have a dual degree (genetics and philosophy), with honours in statistical genetics. I’m currently in my final year of my PhD in psychiatric and statistical genetics.

        I’m no psychiatrist, but I am a scientist, and I understand how to think critically about these kinds of ideas, but I’m not really asking anyone to ‘trust’ my conclusions. I would hope that people think about the arguments I make, and consider the problems for themselves.

        At the very least I hope I inspire people to be able to ask some simple questions like,

        > Why are ‘gentleness’ and ‘compassion’ characteristics of a HSP? Those are perfectly normal, healthy, and *good* qualities that any person should have. They don’t make you highly sensitive, they make you a nice person.

        > How can it be perfectly evenly distributed across gender? Every psychiatric disorder that I’ve ever heard of differs across age, sex and a host of other population demographics. For example schizophrenia and ADHD are both more common in boys, and anorexia and major depression are more common in girls.

        > Why is everyone so desperate to explain their own uniqueness? Just because some people are more sensitive, and wear their heart on their sleeve, doesn’t mean we have to diagnose them with something.

        • Well said, there is just too much over the top labelling and personality diagnostics going on in this world. There is truth that worldwide anxiety levels are on the rise. In Max Lucado’s book “Fearless ” he states that “ordinary children today are more fearful than psychiatric patients of the 1950s”. Perhaps a lot of these diagnoses are a way to help gentle people deal with their fears and anxieties. But why!? Giving it a label doesn’t really help you cope. I am a worrier, daily I overcome anxieties, I must let go and let God. We don’t need a label, we need a greater connection to Jesus. Peace be with you.

  5. You are not highly sensitive. You brainwashed. Look up empathy.
    Look up gift of empathy of holy spirit. Smh

  6. They do exist. It’s just a new label. You aren’t one, just like you aren’t a genius no matter how hard you try. People are different and just because someone notices and puts a new label on things, doesn’t mean it’s not true and does not exist. We are all thinking, but not at the same level or ability. You seem to think it’s a snowflake excuse to whine about things. No, it’s not. Maybe that is just the experience you have had from the sociopath that tried to manipulate your emotions by using HSP to excuse them. Try all you want to be better, you can only be and do what you are able. Tell the born blind to see, then let them tell you they understand colors better than you or that colors don’t exist because they have no way to grasp it. You are like a blind person speaking your views. You are stuck in your concrete thoughts. You cannot grasp something, so therefore it must not exist. That is ignorance, not enlightenment.

    • I agree with this comment. This article reads you are resentful at ever being labeled “Highly Sensitive” to begin with. You don’t have to buy into it but you do not possess the education qualifications to debunk an established psychological term nor even the ability to understand some of the traits you dismissed. For example, “rich, inner world” makes perfect sense to me as someone who has met many people who are all talk with little thought behind the things they say versus people who very much dwell inside their own minds and are deep in thought over things others never consider. Levels of depth and introspection between people vary wildly. Just my 2 cents.

      • Hi George,

        Thanks for your two cents.

        I have to say I’m surprised that you know what my education qualifications are, given that we’re complete strangers. I’m almost scared to ask, but since you seem to know, I wonder if you could possibly tell me what my qualifications are? Just to make sure you’re not mistaking me for someone else.

        I certainly agree that there are people who like to talk and be social (extroverts), and people who are more introspective (introverts). I also agree that these qualities are complex and on a spectrum.


        – This is not necessarily what it means by ‘rich, inner world’, that’s just your understanding. That’s the problem with vague terms, they can mean different things to different people. ‘rich, inner world’ is certainly not a valuable scientific description, but then again, I don’t possess the education qualifications so my word should taken with a grain of salt.

        – It also doesn’t necessarily mean that being an introvert has anything to do with being ‘highly sensitive’

        • I have to agree with George here. People who are HSPs definitely understand what “rich inner world” means. And people who aren’t HSPs think it’s sounds hokey.

          We were being told our son was autistic or has Aspergers or something. Counselor wasn’t really sure what. But then I ran across Elaine Aron’s book again, and it suddenly all made a lot of sense. When I explained to my son what an HSP was and let him see a list of characteristics, he burst into tears of relief. Finally somebody who understood him and what it’s like to BE him and that there’s nothing defective in how God created him. He just happens to be in the minority of boys, and most people (those who aren’t HSPs) don’t “get it,” but that’s okay.

        • Hi Meg,

          Just because HSPs supposedly ‘understand’ what ‘rich inner world’ is, doesn’t make it a valid diagnostic criteria. It’s not that it’s ‘hokey’, it’s the fact that it has no formal biological meaning.

          That’s probably a good reason why councillors don’t have the authority to diagnose psychiatric disorders like autism or Aspergers (now both considered together as ASD, so far as I’m aware).

          Your son doesn’t sound at all defective. Being different to other guys is not a problem. That doesn’t mean your son is a ‘highly sensitive person’ it just means he’s different, and it doesn’t mean that other guys are ‘normal’.

          Thanks for the comment!

Comments are closed.