The Highly Sensitive Person

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Back to Comfort ZoneMay 2007: Comfort Zone ONLINE
A Letter from Elaine
Happy Summer to HSPs


Dear Fellow Sensitive Persons,

First, here are some things that should interest you:


There is an HSP Gathering coming up in June in Marin County. Click on Gatherings for more information. I cannot emphasize enough how valuable it is to go to at least one of these, to see how it feels to be in a group that consists only of other sensitive persons. It can change your perspective on your entire life.

I know the idea of going to a strange place to meet a lot of strangers does not sound inviting to many of you, but it is not expensive and you could always leave if you just hate it, and enjoy the countryside around Walker Creek Ranch. If you have never explored western Marin County, that is worth the trip in itself. Redwoods, rolling golden hills with dark oaks, Point Reyes National Seashore, endless hiking trails, along with great restaurants and the wine country if that appeals to you.


I know I have not been out in the world much, given that I have been writing two books at once. But I will be speaking at:

  • The June Gathering about my new book on love and power and how that relates to sensitivity.
  • The Gathering around the weekend of the 6th of October, in Colorado. This is another opportunity to go to an amazingly beautiful place and a gathering, at the same time.
  • At Kripalu in western Massachusetts April 4 through 6, the usual weekend seminar.

I will also do the same course at Esalen, Big Sur, in early spring, but the date is not yet set. If you like community hot tubs (that is, nude or feel like a prude) that dangle over the ocean, this is the one for you.


In the store you will find Jan Kristal's Temperament Perspective, reviewed in the last issue. To give you a taste of her style, there is an article in this issue by her. This book is perfect for parents, teachers, therapists, health care workers, and anyone else who works with infants and children. It is simple, clear, but professional in tone. (It is being used as a text book for university courses on the subject.)

[EDITOR'S UPDATE 2016: this book is no longer available in our store.]


Of the many who did choose to answer, 99% of you wanted the newsletter to continue. (Of course those who did not respond may not have?) I was very glad to have the feedback, so here's another issue.

I am trying to keep my articles shorter, however, more for you than for me. We all are so busy--I'm sure it is less trying to have shorter articles, even if you want to read them. So I will try to keep my mind from running wild with whatever subject I am into.


It turns out that in the same year we published our article (Aron, Aron, & Davies, 2005, see on the research page), others were doing almost identical research (M. Liss, L. Timmel, K. Baxley, and P. Killingsworth (2005). Sensory Processing Sensitivity and its Relation to Parental Bonding, Anxiety, and Depression. Personality and Individual Differences, 39, 1429-1439) . They replicated our finding exactly, which is superb. They gave the HSP Scale to a large group of people and also asked them about their childhoods. They found the same interaction we did, except we found HSPs with good childhoods were no more anxious and depressed than others. They found the interaction was true for depression, but not as much for anxiety. That is, HSPs still had some anxiety, but less, when they reported a good childhood. We had not used separate measures for the two negative emotions so we did not see this. Probably the result is due to questions on an anxiety scale sometimes being true for all HSPs, since we do all avoid risks, which is something like being anxious or worried about outcomes. In that case, a good childhood would not make us like non-HSPs, as it does with depression.

Perhaps the best news here is that others are taking an interest in studying "sensory processing sensitivity" (SPS, our scientific name for it) and finding it gives them valuable insights.


The years roll around, each a gift. Meanwhile, can we ignore the spiral? The world is a steadily heating, violent mess. We do what we can. And we witness these times and the deeds in which humans are engaged. Have you ever wondered how we could be individually so nice and kind, and still have these huge social problems, like war, mass killings, and global warming? I suppose the problem is that we evolved to reserve most of our effort and concern for the people and groups dear to our hearts, not for an entire planet. And, some do not even feel much concern for anyone.

But culture is another way that humans evolve to meet the challenges of their ecological niche--in this case, the entire planet. That is what we are watching--the struggle to evolve, to broaden the range of those who are "ours." And to deal with the selfish ones. Since we were hunter gatherers we've been trying socially to make the strong men use their power for the good of all--share the meat, protect the weak--rather than take advantage of their advantage. Come on, team. We can DO it!

In the meantime, I think it will not hurt to enjoy life. Nothing is made better by being depressed or pessimistic--not that you should feel bad about feeling bad, if that is where you are today. No one knows why there is a creation, except perhaps for the fun of it.

So I do mean it: Happy summer!


P.S. Always remember, to make my life easier (and to be a role model in doing just that) I do not proofread these newsletters as perfectly as an HSP normally would.


May 2007 Articles:

A Letter from Elaine
Summer Reading for HSPs:
Cather's One of Ours, Mitchell's Black Swan Green, and Forrest's Help is on its Way
Coping Corner: A Meditation for HSPs on Criticism, the Killer
Sensitive Children: Working With Sensitive, Withdrawing Children
By Jan Kristal


More Comfort Zone Email Newsletters

May 2007 Articles:

Summer Reading for HSPs: Cather's One of Ours, Mitchell's Black Swan Green, and Forrest's Help is on its Way

Coping Corner: A Meditation for HSPs on Criticism, the Killer

Sensitive Children: Working With Sensitive, Withdrawing Children
By Jan Kristal

A Letter from Elaine