High Sensitive Person (HSP); what is it?

High Sensitive Person (HSP); what is it?

(Last Updated On: December 27, 2020)

HSP is a term that sounds familiar to people, but of which they often do not know what it is exactly. What does HSP (High Sensitive Person) mean? 

The term HSP

HSP is an abbreviation for High Sensitive Person. In the Netherlands, we call it a highly sensitive/sensitive person. This person is more susceptible to impressions and stimuli than average, and he/she notices more details and signals. The impressions he/she makes are extensively and intensively filtered.

Many people together / crowds or music that is loud can quickly become too much for an HSP. There is then an over-stimulation. There are too many incentives for this person.


About 20% of people are HSPs. It is thought to be hereditary, and it occurs just as much in men as in women.

Elaine Aron

Elaine Aron is a research psychologist, professor, psychotherapist, and novelist. What is important to report is that Elaine is HSP herself and is, therefore, an experienced expert. Elaine once heard from her therapist that people differed in the extent to which they endured incentives and also in the area to which they were open to the deeper meaning of an event, whether positive or negative.

Elaine decided to read more about this topic. After a while, she posted a message in a newsletter from the university where she studied. She asked whether anyone who felt hypersensitive, introverted, or very emotional wanted to participate in an interview.

She soon had many volunteers. Based on these interviews, she made a questionnaire that she spread over a lot of people. She has had many glimpses into the private lives of HSPs and gained a lot of knowledge about high sensitivity through research. She has also written a few books on this subject that you can find in the book list below.

Characteristics of HSP

The attributes of HSPs are:

  • More detailed, subtle and intense perception
  • Very sensitive to external stimuli
  • Have more difficulty processing impressions and need more time for that
  • Have a deep and rich inner life; lots of dreaming, fantasizing and considering
  • Being able to feel moods and atmospheres well
  • Be stirred more than average by nature, art, and music
  • Own emotions are experienced more intensively, but also the feelings of others
  • Having trouble planning and getting the structure
  • Shy seems while they are not
  • Being dutiful and perfectionist
  • Being able to function less well during observation or evaluation
  • Being caring and responding to the needs of others; have difficulty setting limits
  • More and faster suffer from stress, tension and physical complaints such as headache, allergies, stomach / intestinal complaints, chronic fatigue
  • Higher risk of mood swings, depression, fears and addictions

There are even more features. And know that not every HSP is the same. The one person who is HSP can have different characteristics than the other person. It does not mean that if you are HSP, you must have all of the above features. It is about a certain percentage.

Are you highly sensitive?

Do you recognize yourself in what characterizes HSP, and do you want to know if you are HSP? This can only be determined by a psychologist or psychiatrist. You can do an HSP test on the internet from which you can determine whether or not you are an HSP.

Highly sensitive children

If you suspect that your child is HSP, check the following characteristics and you may recognize some:

  • Curious; ask many questions; do more research than their peers
  • Noticeable; certain things stand out faster, for example, what is missing; tired, crying and yelling
  • Intense; can intensely enjoy small things; can also get angry intensely
  • Communicative; want to give 100% attention and get back; catch duplicate messages and do not know what to do with them
  • Sensitive to moods and emotions of others; sense what is going on in a room; know what kind of mood you are in
  • Fantasy; particularly associative capacity
  • Intuition; do things that they and others do not yet understand; wise for their age
  • Thinking; constantly wondering why something is happening; weigh everything before they make a choice
  • Group feeling; curious about other people; tend to withdraw; getting nervous when suddenly getting attention

The following also applies here: the child does not have to have all of the above characteristics to be HSP. And there are also more features that the child can have with HSP.

Being an HSP is no deviation

People sometimes think that being a HSP is a deviation, just like having ADHD or being autistic. This is not true. Too many people with this characteristic are born to be able to call it a deviation. HSP is an innate trait and a consequence of the natural variation in sensitivity that occurs in humans.

See HSP as something positive

When you can deal with being an HSP (which is difficult in the beginning and you mainly see the disadvantages of it), you can start to see it as something positive and get the benefits out of it. HSPs see a problem and potential risks faster. HSPs live consciously.

They have a strong intuition and are creative in coming up with solutions. An HSP reflects before he/she takes action. HSPs can also coordinate well with others because they often feel how others feel.

HSP and spirituality

Many HSPs are interested in spirituality. They want the world around them and want to understand themselves better. Also, they are more likely to be spiritually developed themselves than people who are not HSPs. They feel things much better, are very sensitive. For example, you have HSPs that deal with aura reading and are interested in what you do not see, the world that we cannot see but can have contact with if you have that gift.

Literature list about HSP

Many books have been written about HSP. See here a number of those books:

  • Elaine N. Aron – Highly Sensitive people; How do you survive if the world overwhelms you?
  • Susan Marletta-Hart – Living with High Sensitivity
  • Elaine N. Aron – The workbook for highly sensitive people
  • Elaine N. Aron – Highly sensitive persons in love; How do you deal with relationships when the world overwhelms you?
  • Marian van den Beuken – High sensitivity as a challenge
  • Marian van den Beuken – High sensitivity as an art of living
  • Susan Marletta-Har – Full life with high sensitivity
  • Elaine N. Aron – The High Sensitive Child; Help your children grow up in a world that overwhelms them
  • Barrie Jaeger – Stay in charge of your work for highly sensitive people

HSP on the Internet

Not only can you find a lot of information about HSP in the above books, but there are also websites on the Internet that can tell you a lot about this subject.

Do you suspect that you are an HSP, and are you messing with yourself? Then go to a psychologist who specializes in this trait. Not because you are ‘crazy,’ but because you learn how to deal with it and how you can get the benefits out of it. The world will become a lot clearer to yourself if it comes true that you are HSP.

Editor in Chief

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