Sensitivity to sensory processing is a relatively new psychological construct developed primarily by psychologists Elaine and Arthur Aron, who began writing about it in the 1990s.
The implications of this phenomenon in people’s lives have since been explored, which we understand today as a feature that overlaps with personality traits and neurological predispositions.
Very sensitive people, who are those who have a marked sensitivity to sensory processingThey have a nervous system with a greater intensity of reaction to stimuli and emotional processing, which means that although they do not have to suffer from a disorder, they experience a series of needs, problems and problems. recurring characteristics.
How are people very sensitive?
As we have seen, sensitivity to sensory processing it is not a mental illness or disorderRather, it is a personality trait that is perhaps shared by around 15% of the population.
On the other hand, it has been observed that people with high scores in sensitivity to sensory processing tend to have more activated brain regions associated with the regulation of attention and the integration of sensory information, as well as empathy and task planning.
All this corresponds to the behavioral and psychological aspects that have been observed in very sensitive people; let’s see what they are.
1. Acute and intense sensory perception
As noted, very sensitive people they are able to perceive with greater intensity a wide variety of sensations and stimuli originating from their environment, as well as capturing a greater number of differential nuances between them.
2. They are most affected by intense stimuli
In addition to feeling emotions intensely, very sensitive people are also affected by intense stimuli, such as strong lights, smells, or loud noises.
3. Strong emotionality
Another characteristic of this psychological predisposition is the intensity with which very sensitive people experience any type of alteration related to their own emotional environment or that of another person you are interacting with, especially if it affects a close friend, family member, or loved one.
Being very empathetic people, they are able to put themselves in the other’s shoes at any time, they can perceive small emotional changes in the other person and they feel all kinds of emotions (positive and negative) more intensely. . The negatives).
4. Predisposition to seek calm and solitude
It is relatively common for social situations that others find normal to cause them anxiety and stress. because of the amount of information they receive, especially if they are in a place where there are a lot of people around them.
In addition, these people have a harder time concentrating when in the company of other people, so they generally prefer to work alone. However, this does not necessarily imply that they tend to be shy, because in this case the characteristic feature is the fear of making mistakes in front of others, not the sensitivity to emotions and stimuli.
5. Tendency to saturation
this it is due to the flow of information and sensations that they receive daily through their environment and also to the intensity with which they experience these sensations or emotions. This can lead to problems with concentration, as well as anxiety.
6. Ease of artistic expression
There are studies that suggest a greater predisposition to art and crafts by very sensitive people. This corresponds to the idea that these are individuals of a sensitive, creative, contemplative and strongly emotional nature, which would make art an area in which they feel comfortable and in which they can express. whatever they feel. At their own pace. and the rules.
Likewise, creative and artistic professions require ideal solitude and recollection for people with high sensitivity.
Sensitivity to sensory processing shouldn’t be a problem
Many people with sensory processing sensitivity don’t even consider themselves to have a distinctive psychological trait and deserve to meet a number of needs that others easily cover. Others find themselves overwhelmed by their daily experiences, but even under these circumstances it is possible to lead perfectly normal lives.
The cases of people with high sensitivity who undergo this phenomenon with a very strong intensity they can overcome these kinds of difficulties with psychological support. In therapy, they can ‘train’ emotional processing and attentional focus management skills such as:
- The ability to anticipate when they will be mentally “saturated”
- The ability to manage anxiety in the short and long term
- The ease of creating work environments that don’t pose a problem for them
- Learning guidelines for managing personal relationships by adapting them to their sensitivity
- Creative use of one’s own potential to capture nuances of one’s emotions
Are you looking for psychological assistance?
If you wish to benefit from professional psychological support, I invite you to contact me. I am a psychologist specializing in cognitive behavioral psychology and have spent years helping people with difficulties in aspects of life such as managing emotions or personal relationships.
- Acevedo, BP et. at. (2014). The highly sensitive brain: an MRI study of sensory processing sensitivity and response to the emotions of others. Brain and Behavior, 4 (4): pages 580-594.
- Elst, TV, et. at. (2019). Who is most vulnerable to stressors and work resources? Sensitivity to sensory processing as a personal resource and vulnerability factor. PLOS One, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0225103.