High Sensitivity and Emotionality

This topic is very extensive and there are many overlaps with other giftedness phenomena.

The scientific community has only recently begun to consider and controversially discuss high sensitivity. If you would like to delve deeper into this topic, I invite you to have a look at this website (https://highlysensitiverefuge.com/explain-high-sensitivity/).

In my practice, I’ve achieved the best results if I conceptualize high sensitivity as a symptom of an extraordinarily fast, intense and strongly intertwined stimulus processing and/or reduced filtering capacity. This may also affect emotional centers, leading to intense emotionality. The latter, by the way, can be positive or negative. Emotions come with attentional focus, specific thoughts, judgement patterns, physiological changes as well as motoric impulses and impulses to act. The more intense an emotion, the more difficult it becomes to question it, distance yourself from it and regulate it. This causes stress in the individual and the environment.

There’s another aspect of emotionality regarding children and adolescents. If someone is gifted, there is a maturity discrepancy between the cognitive and emotional brain areas in younger years. This basically means the following: Imagine a child at kindergarten age overhearing something on the radio. Cognitively, the child is already capable of understanding that what she overheard may lead to war. However, emotionally, this child reacts according to their actual age and is unable to handle the resulting fea

Highly sensitive people are often assigned specific personality traits. However, in my opinion, you should be very careful with this. If you assume personality traits or try to find them, you risk missing the actual, individual personality and you get a “horoscope and putting someone in a box” effect.

Differential diagnostics are equally important: There are mental illnesses that can lead to similar phenomena as high sensitivity. Misdiagnosis can cause stigmatization and long, unsuccessful therapies (cf. Misdiagnosis and dual diagnosis). With respect to high sensitivity, it is necessary to clarify whether its symptoms are, at least partially, caused by trauma, long-term stress and accompanying mental illness, autism spectrum disorder, psychosis, or a personality disorder. These would require other or additional approaches than the mere treatment of high sensitivity.

Da die Ursache der Hochsensibilität ein "Hardware-Problem" zu sein scheint, muß die Behandlung der Schwierigkeiten  darauf abzielen, diese zu beeinflussen und für das, was nicht veränderbar ist, Umgangsstrategien und positive Einstellungen zu finden. 

In my practice, the following methods have proven successful:

  • Finding resources of this particularity
  • Learning to recognize warning signs and finding possibilities to control stimuli
  • Finding ways to relax
  • Practicing methods that enable an active deceleration of the nervous system (e.g. PEP by Michael Bohne, or breathing techniques)
  • Influencing stimulus processing through trance (e.g. wearing a protective suit, applying filters etc.)
  • Strengthen emotion-regulating capacities, e.g. through training emotional competencies according to Berking
  • Strengthening the sense of self-worth
  • Understanding the perspective of normally sensitive people
  • Coming up with individual communication strategies that facilitate constructive conversations about differences in perception and needs.

Information on individual methods and seminars can be found under Counselling and Therapy Concepts under the sub-item Method Recommendations.


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