Very Sensitive People (PAS), a New Personality Trait?

Historically, psychology has based its studies of personality on the factors assessed in the five major traits model and other models that flow from it. The “Big Five” model he defends the existence of five major personality traits that each person has and manifests itself in a certain percentage.

Openness to experience, responsibility, extraversion, cordiality or kindness and stability are the five traits that are assessed in this model and in a large number of clinical assessment and screening instruments that have been developed later.

The sensitivity and repercussions of not including it in personality models

But What if I could add another new feature to consider? We are talking about sensitivity.

Elaine Aron was a pioneer in the study of this personality trait. She herself, based on her own experiences as a person who manifested the blow and then came into contact with other people who believed themselves to be very sensitive, began to look for the commonalities between them and the implications. that the manifestation of this sensitivity in their life. With the results of this research, in which he found that about 20% of the population could be included in this category, he coined the term “very sensitive people” or “PAS”.

Characteristics of very sensitive people

Very sensitive people start to show signs of this sensitivity from birth, babies with this trait have more trouble sleeping, it affects them to be surrounded by a lot of stimulation (noise, light, people, etc.), they tend to have more fears and as the child grows , great creativity is generally observed in them and intuition. Likewise, they are minors who are very empathetic towards the suffering of others, polite, kind and considerate.

They have also been observed differential physiological characteristics between PAS and NO-PAS infantsLike the fact that very sensitive children have a higher heart rate and, under stress, their pupils dilate sooner and their vocal cords tighten more quickly making higher-pitched sounds. In addition to all this, in the brain, they have greater activation of the right hemisphere (emotional) and have higher levels of cortisol and norepinephrine (Aron, 1996). Subsequent studies, in which neuroimaging techniques were used, also revealed increased activation of the amygdala and frontal lobe.

Empathy, intuition, intrapersonal intelligence …

In adulthood, these traits seen in childhood acquire their maximum expression. PAS people are very intuitive and emotional, with a lot of empathy for their own emotions and those of others.

They are creative people who are drawn to the arts and knowledge, both intellectually and who have an almost unlimited capacity for learning, even without being aware of it, as well as on a personal level. they are usually people with great self-knowledge and a very rich inner world, Which sometimes makes them seem introverted, even if this is not necessarily the case.

Is it a good idea to include sensitivity in personality models?

Why is it important to recognize sensitivity as another trait to consider in personality models? The answer is simple. The SAPs who speak of their sensitivity mostly allude to misunderstandings, both personal and in their immediate context and report feeling in a minority position, constantly struggling against a world that transcends them, so far in which they discover that they have this trait and can make a personal reflection from the knowledge of it, identify and come to terms with their sensitivity.

On the other hand, at the clinical and evaluation level, the group of people who possess the trait of sensitivity have been poorly evaluated and diagnosed. They received inappropriate treatment and were “cataloged” with diagnostic labels that did not match them. During childhood, very sensitive children are misdiagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

In adolescence, a stage of very intense personal changes for anyone, but even more so for a hypersensitive person who already has difficulty understanding the internal and external world, problems of depression, isolation or drug use may appear, which can lead to depressive, anxiety or addiction disorders in adults. And all this, because of the ignorance of the personality trait that defines them, of the sensitivity and of their lack of inclusion in the explanatory models of the personality.

Bibliographical references:

  • Aron, I. (2006). The gift of sensitivity. 6th ed. Barcelona, ​​Spain: Editorial obelisk.

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