Four Characteristics of HSP by Dr.Elaine Aron


In a previous article, I discussed my theory about HSP.

But there is a definition of HSP by someone who named it HSP.

So I will briefly summarize the “official definition” in this article.

And I will add my view to explain it.


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What Are DOES?


“HSP” stands for “Highly Sensitive Person.”

The term became widely known to the world in 1996 when Dr.Elaine Aron wrote the book “The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You.”


She often uses the word DOES when she talks about HSP.

This word is an acronym for the four characteristics of HSP that she advocates.



D: Depth of Processing

O: Overstimulation

E: Emotional Reactivity

S: Sensing the Subtle



Process Everything in the Depths of the Mind


When HSPs take in information from the outside or make a decision about something, they try to process it deeply in their minds.


This tendency is especially evident when HSPs start something new.

In such cases, they take a long time to get started because they contemplate many things.


It can be frustrating for those around them.

But at this time, HSPs seem to stop, but actually, they are trying to understand things more deeply than anyone else in their minds.


But those who don’t understand this often look down on HSPs.

However, HSPs are surprisingly quick to take action once they grasp the idea.

The speed at that time is sometimes so fast that no one can keep up with them.


But unfortunately, the world often doesn’t wait for HSPs to become skilled at things.

So it often ruins the potential of HSPs early on.



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Receiving Too Many Stimuli at Once


HSPs are sometimes said to have keen senses.

But that saying is not accurate.


There are many people with acute senses.

However, they can use their senses appropriately.

They can enjoy stimuli caught by their sensory organs.

For example, they can enjoy auditory stimuli such as music or visual stimuli such as pictures.

On the other hand, they can ignore unpleasant sounds such as construction noise.

(Although this is difficult in the case of excessive noise)


In the case of HSPs, however, they receive both pleasant and unpleasant stimuli equally.

They cannot ignore unpleasant sounds in moderation.

Thus, the nervous system becomes very busy.

So the nervous system is overloaded.

That is why HSPs get mentally exhausted soon.


This characteristic is the weakness of HSPs, but they will recover soon after enough rest.



It would be better if they could choose the stimuli that come into their minds, but it is difficult for HSPs to do so.

They are not good at closing the shutters in their minds.



Others’ Emotions Invade Their Minds


In the brains of primates, including humans, there are what are called mirror neurons.

As the name suggests, the role of these neurons is related to the ability to “copy others into themselves.”

To put it more simply, they are neurons related to the ability to empathize.


The mirror neurons of HSPs are very easily activated.

Therefore, not only do they empathize with other people’s feelings, but they also feel the same things that the other person is feeling.


You can say they can reproduce other people’s feelings in their minds.

Or, to put it another way, the feelings of others invade their minds without their permission.


This characteristic may be beneficial.

In any case, they can understand other people’s feelings.


However, HSPs will be exhausted because they have to experience the same things as others in their mind.

That is probably why HSPs sometimes want to be alone.



Even the Little Things Bother Them


HSPs often notice and care about the little things that others might overlook.

However, this does not mean that their senses are superior in particular.


HSPs’ senses indeed tend to be more acute than average.

(In fact, some HSPs are “unusually” keen in these senses.)


But that is not the point of “noticing the little things” here.

As mentioned before, HSPs try to process things deeply in their minds.

As a result, HSPs notice things that ordinary people would not.


However, HSPs do not consciously do this kind of work in their brains.

For the individual, it is “I don’t know why, but I just think so,” but their thoughts are often correct.

So the HSP may think, “I have intuition.”

In reality, however, it is not intuition, but the correct answer is coming out because of processing going on so deeply in their brains that they are unaware of it.



Relevance of HSP to MBTI or Jungian Typology


In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about HSP and MBTI.

Some people wonder which type of HSP is the MBTI.

However, while HSP has been the subject of research by psychologists, MBTI is not within the scope of psychologists’ research.

It would be more accurate to say that it is more like “fortune-telling.”

So I think there is no point in pursuing the relevance of these two.



Others have studied the relevance of HSP to Jungian Typology.

I believe the “Depth of Processing” characteristic of HSPs has something in common with introversion.

However, I do not think there is much relevance between HSP and the typological classification of personality.



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