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The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  39,490 ratings  ·  2,005 reviews
Do you have a keen imagination and vivid dreams? Is time alone each day as essential to you as food and water? Are you "too shy" or "too sensitive" according to others? Do noise and confusion quickly overwhelm you? If your answers are yes, you may be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

Most of us feel overstimulated every once in a while, but for the HSP, it's a way of life. I
Paperback, 251 pages
Published June 2nd 1997 by Harmony (first published 1996)
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Liad Magen Unfortunately, no. There is no easy way to get OTHER people sensitive to you. You can only try to take actions that involves you and your behavior - s…moreUnfortunately, no. There is no easy way to get OTHER people sensitive to you. You can only try to take actions that involves you and your behavior - such as taking some time off aside, and such.
The book clarifies it well, and encourage you to take actions before reaching such a state.

Nevertheless, in my opinion, the more people read the book, the more they will be aware to this issue and maybe become more sensitive to the need of others.(less)
Susan Interesting question. The sense I have is they are often interrelated and for myself, being a HSP (if I am indeed one) may have led to depression. I h…moreInteresting question. The sense I have is they are often interrelated and for myself, being a HSP (if I am indeed one) may have led to depression. I have longer described myself as having depression than as being a HSP and have rarely discussed HSP with anyone. By definition, I am not certain the "experts" would consider me to be HSP. Another concept/"label" to keep in mind is anxiety and depression are often bundled together as well.

Update, after having finished the book: HSPs who had a difficult or troubled childhood are more prone to depression.(less)

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Edible Tapestry
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
It's a godsend. So nice to know why I am the way I am after a lifetime of "loved ones" telling me I needed to be less shy, have more confidence (that's real doable when someone constantly criticizes your inborn characteristics), be more outgoing, worry less, am too thin-skinned, take everything personally (duh, I do take it personally when I'm being attacked), and my favorite, "You are just like your father!". I am just like my father, it's an inherited trait and he's one of my favorite people. ...more
Kalyn Nicholson
I've held off on writing this review because I struggle to find the words to describe how powerful reading this book was. Never has an author reframed such a deep and intrinsic part of myself that I've often felt insecure about into what now feels like one of the most substantial pieces of my being.
This book made me stop hiding my sensitivity away from the world and, most importantly, myself. It halted many of the internal "suck it up" and "don't be so sensitive" mental loops I've been stuck on
Ok, I finished it.

First the good: Aron is at her best when she is helping the reader assess real world challenges and come up with concrete solutions. What do you do when your job overwhelms you? How do you work it out with your spouse or friends when activities they find exciting just overwhelm and overstimulate you? That's good stuff, and I think if you're aware that your personal tendencies are causing you to be stuck in unpleasant or untenable situations, this is definitely a helpful book.
Sep 14, 2008 added it
Shelves: psychology
I'm not really sure how to rate this book (so I won't in terms of a star rating). It's not really what I expected. It’s more of how to get over the stigma of being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) which, personally, I've already done. Where the book sort of let me down is that there are a lot of medical reasons - not just depression (which the author does go into in medical terms) - that can cause someone to be HS. A few that I know (because I have them) are:

*Pernicious Anemia – some symptoms are
Sep 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Thankful that this book exists to support those who have always felt more sensitive to the world around them. Though I enjoy a party every now and then, I do prefer one-on-one conversations and time spent reading books and listening to Ariana Grande. With the popularity of books like Quiet by Susan Cain, society has started to warm up to those who desire time alone and those who get aroused faster by external stimuli. Still, Elaine Aron's The Highly Sensitive Person contributes to our unders ...more
Ruth Barone
Apr 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: other-nonfiction
If you have ever felt like life is too overwhelming and all you want to do is crawl into a cave and hide away from it all, this book might be for you.

This book contains a little too much psychobabble for my taste (too much talk about parenting your inner infant and other wonderful stuff like that - without all of that I would have given it five stars) but I am glad I read it because I finally understand why I am so weird. Now I know why I can be such an introvert even though I love being around
Feb 16, 2013 rated it did not like it
Thoroughly disappointed. As I identify as an introvert, I have become increasingly suspicious that I might be high sensitive (or a HSP) as well.

I felt the book went too much into repeating how different people are HSPs are so at different points of their lives (childhood, adulthood, etc.). I get it already. I had hoped there would be more about how to cope and what HSPs can do.

Others have already gone over the issues in the book, but one part that particularly bothered me and turned me off for
Feb 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the only source I've found that so clearly separates the "Highly Sensitive" trait from simply being an introvert (which I am not). This book helped me understand my own personality in a way I've been looking for since I was little. I feel empowered by this new knowledge, and more able to adapt and adjust to be a happier person, partner and human.
The only reason I gave this 4 stars and not 5 is because I think the author may lose readers when going in depth into subjects like psychotherap
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
I probably didn't like this mostly because it's self-help and I was just trying to get some concept of how to explain myself to other people... but way too much in the way of 'you thought there was something wrong with you, but there isn't!' Seriously, as an introverted person, don't you think most of us (70%) would be able to deduce what it is that makes us different (especially when many of us are also gifted)? Even with a rather tormented adolescence, I never thought there was anything 'wrong ...more
May 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Amy by: Ron and Karen B
Shelves: non-fiction
This, for me, was an amazing book. I will be reading it again eventually, just to remind myself of all the important information that Aron researched and now shares with readers. It has taken me roughly 30 years to learn many things about myself which are clearly explained by Aron's research. I feel more confident about expressing my needs, now that I know I'm not the only one, and now that I have been reminded about the strengths which balance out my weaknesses.

I am definitely a "highly sensiti
Jan 30, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking was much better. If I hadn't read Quiet before reading this book, I may have given it 2 or 3 stars instead. There were a few helpful discussions of sensitivity and the differences between sensitive and non-sensitive people, but overall.. just.. ugh.

The author sounds very stuck in her way of thinking, and the style of writing was very grating. Everything was about childhood trauma (except for the excerpt that said it wasn't all abo
Sep 25, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
EA hasn't written a book about being more sensitive, but about being a psychologically troubled introvert with an inferiority complex. It's full of crap about spirit guides, religion and dreams as guides which imho has nothing to do with exhaustion and overstimulation from normal experiences. Other than that I got really annoyed with the whole 'society needs us' thing about how 'we' are nurturing society and more HSPs should become leaders. I'm not nurturing society, I'm just trying to figure ou ...more
Feb 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever thought you were weird because you couldn't stand to watch movies or read books with a lot of violence in them while other people seemed to love that stuff? Have you ever felt completely overwhelmed from being around a lot of noise, strong scents, or bright lights, especially florescent lights? Have you ever been called "too sensitive" or "too shy?" Are you deeply moved by art and music? Are you particularly sensitive to changes in temperature, body language, and your surroundings? ...more
Apr 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually found this book to be very helpful. The author/psychologist coined the phrase "highly sensitive person"(or "HSP") admittedly in reference to herself and to those whom she has found in her 5 years of research to make up approximately 20% of the human population. Highly sensitive people share many of the same attributes: They are most often introverted (not necessarily “shy”) turning inward for strength and rejuvenation. They are typically highly intelligent, very creative, compassionat ...more
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help
The HSP was first detected in psychology by Jung who considered himself to be one. HSPs tend to be introverted and intuitive and Jung maintained that they had to be "self-protective" due to their high sensitivities and predispositions to over-arousal which causes us to lose our footing. When you are an HSP, loud places and crowds may make you want to withdraw and there are many, many kinds of over-stimulation that others wouldn't notice but is just about debilitating to us sensitives. Jung saw t ...more
Jan 01, 2016 marked it as didnt-finish
1/1/16 $2.99 on Kindle.

DNF - Chapter 5 of 15.

I give up. So far not what I was looking for. I know I'm not "flawed" and my self-esteem is fine. What I was hoping to find here are ways to improve interactions with others, including hopefully ways to help them understand and accept I am not like them, but not "broken" or needing to "try harder" to be more like them.

This book so far has been all over the place. It's talking about "highly sensitive" to outside stimuli, but then talks about sensitivit
Oct 28, 2021 rated it it was ok
Psychologist Elaine N. Aron has produced several books on the subject of highly-sensitive people. This appears to have been her first and is, I suspect, her most commercial. In it, she attempts to introduce the theory that there exists a distinct set of human beings who are genetically wired with a heightened sensitivity to all things sensory. Unlike the introvert, who purportedly thrives in isolation and opts for solitude or smaller groups when given the choice, the highly-sensitive person has ...more
Holly Lindquist
Oct 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: self-help
I remember feeling quite jazzed about this book when I first read it. After all, I was so shy that I didn't really begin to connect with my peers until late middle school. I felt overwhelmed every time I had to leave my house and whenever I was around people I was a tightly wound ball of anxiety and irritation. I always felt I was way more sensitive to nearly everything than most people, and here was a book that seemed to validate my experience and offer solutions.

Except the solutions didn't rea
First of all, I have to clarify for the record that The World is not, thankfully, (at least at this point in my life), "overwhelming" me.

But I have often been told that I'm being "too sensitive" about a comment someone made about me.

And I got intrigued by this book when I saw it referenced in Oprah magazine. (Well...full disclosure, I didn't just "see" it. I took the quiz "Are You A Highly Sensitive Person?" while I was getting a pedicure. And I got a score that landed me in the Yes zone. So I
Feb 12, 2011 rated it liked it
With a box full of books to read and only so much spare time, I've implemented a new rule of thumb; generally, if the book doesn't hook me by the first few chapters, I stop reading it and try the next one. I am a fast reader, so I don't feel I am asking too much of a book to keep me interested for twenty minutes.

This title kept me engaged for about one third of the book. After that I started skimming, and when I had to force myself to keep going I said "Hey, what's up with that, I might as well
Mar 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those learning about people
Ever wonder why some people perceive almost everything while others seem oblivious? Ever wonder why some folks seem overwhelmed at times while others see to manage through those markets and crowds without a care? Ever wonder why some are told they are just too sensitive, which makes them distance themselves from others?

If you do, this book will help answer those questions about the 10-20% of our population that has the unique gift or curse of being Highly Sensitive People.
Jul 09, 2010 rated it liked it
3 stars because I found reading this book to be tremendously validating and meaningful, but at the same time I had a lot of criticisms of it. This book describes that percentage of the population whose systems are easily (over)stimulated by sensory information. Wow, do I wish someone had given me this book to read, like, 10 years ago.

The criticisms:
- Wanted more specific techniques and suggestions.

- She's really into how Highly Sensitive People are super important to society and we should all fe
Jan 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
i am highly sensitive but i won't think of myself as an infant/body self ever. ...more
Jul 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book helped me realize what I had already suspected.....I was in fact a highly sensitive person. And more was ok.....for I had good reason for being that way.
Nov 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
Aron has caught on to the fact that some of us are more susceptible to stimulation than others. Rather than use standard medical terminologies such as obsessive compulsion, depression, or bipolar disorder, she calls people afflicted/blessed with this frame of mind "Highly Sensitive Persons" or HSPs.

Aron probes the personality of that 10 to 20% of persons who are especially sensitive to stimula. She offers a checklist of characteristics that might indicate that you are highly sensitive including
this book had a lot of helpful info in it. i felt like i was finally understanding my own perpetual feeling of overwhelm. and then at the end — SUDDENLY (not kidding) there was one absolutely random chapter written from a factual perspective in which a woman claims she was benevolently observed by an alien as she slept????? what in the world!!! what. in. the. world. how is this not in every single review??????????
Joy D
The author started studying what she calls the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) in 1992. She counts herself among HSPs and estimates it pertains to 15 to 20 percent of the population. “Most people ignore sirens, glaring lights, strange odors, clutter and chaos. HSPs are disturbed by them.”

I was interested in this book to find out more about people that experience “sensory overload” in situations with lots of sights and sounds, such as arcades, casinos, and even department stores. They need signifi
May 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
I learned that not only nothing is wrong with me because I am "too sensitive", and that I don't need to develop a "thick skin", but that being highly sensitive is a gift that I should be proud of. ...more
Morgan Stewart
Jul 30, 2021 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Hi, yessss… this is me. As an HSP (highly sensitive person), this book was very illuminating. This books gives some coping tools and helpful tips for navigating the world as an HSP.

This is a late entry, but I’m finally going back and adding these books to my GRs!

I finished this book as part of a “book boot camp” challenge! See my full video review below ❤️📚

I Read 7 Best-Selling Books on Anxiety and had this *breakthrough* with my panic disorder...
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inspirational

Seeking a sense of self!

[...] Alas, when being watched, timed or evaluated an intuitive-sensitive goes into themselves and the inability to function is lost...


This illuminating read is full of profound insights, into the mind and experiences of the intuitive-sensitive being. If anyone so desires to feel and experience what it is like to be this --then look no further; for it's all here in front of you.

As a personal side note, having rated 99% HIGH on everything, clearly I knew
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“We are a package deal, however. Our trait of sensitivity means we will also be cautious, inward, needing extra time alone. Because people without the trait (the majority) do not understand that, they see us as timid, shy, weak, or that greatest sin of all, unsociable. Fearing these labels, we try to be like others. But that leads to our becoming overaroused and distressed. Then that gets us labeled neurotic or crazy, first by others and then by ourselves.” 49 likes
“All virtues have a shadow.” 33 likes
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