I’ve just finished reading The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron. Aron is a psychologist who’s studies in temperament have led her to the discovery that about 15 – 20% of the population have been born with a highly sensitive neurology (HSPs). That means they sense, process, and experience the world in different ways than most people. For example, a child will shriek and wail when a rough, woolly blanket is placed over it, because it is too much stimulation. Loud noises, crowds, pungent smells, and pain can be overwhelming. Aron portrays the trait as value neutral, meaning it is neither a good thing or a bad thing.
This kind of sensitivity is highly correlated with introversion, high intuition, and high IQ. HSPs need to spend large amounts of time alone, processing their experiences. It can also lead to a rich inner life of fantasies and day dreams.
The flip side of the coin is over-arousal. HSPs can become frazzled quickly, which leads to a retreat from life and stimulation. It also means an overactive fight/flight response, which can be triggered by insignificant events. It is also strongly correlated with neuroticism.
All in all, it is a very interesting read.