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The Highly Sensitive Person (original 1996; edition 1997)

by Elaine N. Aron Ph.D.

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1,01658,374 (3.89)27
Member:steph40
Title:The Highly Sensitive Person
Authors:Elaine N. Aron Ph.D.
Info:Broadway Books (1997), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 251 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron (1996)

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Showing 4 of 4
When today's frenetic world overwhelms me, I often find myself thinking of Willian Wordsworth to myself:
"The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!"

So, the subtitle of this book ("How to thrive when the world overwhelms you") had me buying a copy immediately.

Although, I found it hard to read and, at times, Aron's habit of talking to a Highly Sensitive "Inner Child" was distracting, there was much useful information included in this book, particularly in helping to identify whether one is or isn't an HSP. By the end of the book, I did feel more accepting that what I've always seen as my "silly neuroses" are rather symptoms of having more fluid psychic boundaries than some other people. My new mantra from this book is "boundaries take practice!"

Some interesting observations about how today's (Western) culture places a higher value on more aggressive, less sensitive types and how HSP's are more spiritually attuned (rather than bound by religion) made this a worthwhile read. ( )
  JudyCroome | Jun 9, 2013 |
When I read Aron's The Highly Sensitive Child about six years ago, the friend who'd recommended it said I'd really only need to read that one to get the main ideas of this one. I pretty much agree with her.

There were several things I found useful in this book. The first is a simple one. Aron suggests that, while we may be used to tensing our shoulders up by our ears even in sleep as an attempt to block out excess stimuli, we try situating our bodies in a posture consistent with relaxation. Even if we don't initially feel relaxed, if we move our shoulders down and back and center our heads over our shoulders and hips as though we were relaxed, our minds will gradually follow and calm down, too. I've found this to work for me to a degree.

The other really helpful thing is just to focus on the stimuli in my environment, trying to maintain a balance between very stimulating things and calmer things. When I become overwhelmed, I tend to lash out and yell. Then I bad-mouth myself for my lack of discipline or control and tell myself that I'm a bad person for yelling at my wonderful children. This new focus, though, seems to be more productive (surprise, surprise). Instead of trying to identify when I'm feeling angry (which is difficult for me), I try to identify when I'm starting to feel overwhelmed. Then, if I have enough presence of mind, I can look at the various stimuli in my environment and try to cut out one or more of them. Sometimes this means turning off the radio or asking my children to speak one at a time instead of making their requests simultaneously (you can guess which one of those is more effective).

Along with these helpful things, though, I found the book to be very repetitive. In addition, she uses a different definition of "introversion" and "extraversion" (her spelling) than the one I use (mine's more a Myers-Briggs definition about whether we get our energy from inside ourselves or externally, while hers seems to be more a matter of where we direct ourselves, which is a subtle but significant difference), so her discussions about HSPs in relation to introversion and extraversion were a little irrelevant to me. She also seems to go on a lot of tangents (something of which I'm guilty, too) and spends a lot of time really rah-rahing for HSPs, which feels a little unnecessary to me. Sure, talk up the positives of the trait, but I find a cheering section a little patronizing.

Aron puts a lot of focus on healing insecure attachments in childhood, to the point that one of her exercises is suspiciously like a re-birthing exercise. That's all a little woo-woo for me, but it might float someone else's boat. Oh, and the anecdote she tells about the highly sensitive child who grows up, goes to college, and hangs himself...yes, that was a little jarring and I think I'd kind of rather not have that story in my brain.

But despite all of this, I did find the book gave me insights into the kinds of things that overwhelm me and how to manage them in my everyday life. Doesn't mean I always follow her suggestions though. I mean, right now I'm trying to type a book review while sweating in a bathrobe that's way too warm and while one child is strewing paper clips all over and the other is yelling from the bathroom that she needs more toilet paper even though there's an extra roll just a couple of feet from the toilet. The stimulus I ought to cut out is the book review (or maybe the bathrobe, or maybe I ought to just give my child the toilet paper), but am I doing that? ( )
1 vote ImperfectCJ | Dec 31, 2012 |
I knew from what I'd heard of this book that it was a book for and about me, so when I started to read it there was just a sort of comfortable affirmation. There were a few early chapters that were way too heavy on the psycho-babble to sit well with me, talk about regressing to your infant self and trying to imagine how you saw the world, then a whole long chapter about your "infant-body", a term that just made me want to throw the book every time I came across it (which was quite often). I've figured a lot of this out for myself over the years though, so I suppose if this was all new information to someone, this approach could be useful. I also thought the overall tone of the book was a bit coddling and/or condescending, but I suppose a lot of people need that kind of hand-holding in therapy, and the book was written by a psychologist.

Once I got past those chapters on early childhood there were enough moments of stunning revelation that reading this book proved to be an invaluable and life altering experience for me. Most of the experiences in my past that still troubled and/or puzzled me are re-framed in a new way now that I can see how differently things would've likely played out if I weren't such a highly sensitive person. I am deeply at peace with myself and my past like I never would've thought possible. I no longer suspect/fear I'm half crazy. Most importantly, I can see the benefits to having this kind of a nervous system, and I now have an even better awareness and some new tools for getting a grip when the world starts to overwhelm me. I am relieved, soothed, educated and prepared.

I've always thought it would be awfully handy to have an owner's manual to give to my loved ones so they might better understand why I get in certain moods and say and do certain things. I've found two books previously that filled that need extremely well, and this book is definitely volume three of my personal series of owner's manuals. I truly love this book for the changes it's brought about in how I think about myself, my history and my future. ( )
6 vote seph | Aug 28, 2007 |
While, I expected more insight from this book, I did discover that there really could be other people out there who seem to feel the way I do. I hoped this book would offer me some insight as to why I feel that way, but it really didn't. It just said that I do feel this way...and that's all I'm going to be able to do about it. ( )
  luvdancr | Nov 18, 2006 |
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Epigraph
I believe in aristocracy, though - if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power... but... of the sensitive, the considerate... Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but the power to endure...

E.M.Forster, "What I Believe," in Two Cheers for Democracy
Dedication
To Irene Bernardicou Pettit, Ph.D. - being both poet and peasant, she knew how to plant this seed and tend it until it blossomed.

To Art, who especially loves the flowers - one more love we share.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553062182, Paperback)

Are you an HSP? Are you easily overwhelmed by stimuli? Affected by other people's moods? Easily startled? Do you need to withdraw during busy times to a private, quiet place? Do you get nervous or shaky if someone is observing you or competing with you? HSP, shorthand for "highly sensitive person," describes 15 to 20 percent of the population. Being sensitive is a normal trait--nothing defective about it. But you may not realize that, because society rewards the outgoing personality and treats shyness and sensitivity as something to be overcome. According to author Elaine Aron (herself an HSP), sensitive people have the unusual ability to sense subtleties, spot or avoid errors, concentrate deeply, and delve deeply. This book helps HSPs to understand themselves and their sensitive trait and its impact on personal history, career, relationships, and inner life. The book offers advice for typical problems. For example, you learn strategies for coping with overarousal, overcoming social discomfort, being in love relationships, managing job challenges, and much more. The author covers a lot of material clearly, in an approachable style, using case studies, self-tests, and exercises to bring the information home. The book is essential for you if you are an HSP--you'll learn a lot about yourself. It's also useful for people in a relationship with an HSP. --Joan Price

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:03 -0400)

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A national best-seller in hardcover, this book identifies and defines a new personality type -- and shows readers how to overcome its limitations and maximize its strengths.

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