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The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You Paperback – 16 Aug 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Thorsons; 6th Printing edition (16 Aug 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0722538960
  • ISBN-13: 978-0722538968
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

How to cope when the world overwhelms you.

For those people who:


have a keen imagination;
• are labelled too shy or too sensitive;
• who perform poorly when being observed even though they are usually competent;
• have vivid dreams;
• for whom time alone each day is essential;

and find they are quickly overwhelmed by noise and confusion, crowded parties, hectic office life……
this is the book to help them understand themselves and how best to cope in various situations.

Highly sensitive people are often very bright and creative but many suffer from low self esteem. They are not ‘neurotics’ as they have been labelled for so long. However, high sensitivity can lead them to cease to engage with the outside world.

The book offers solutions for a happy and fulfilling life. Particularly in the way an HSP perceives his or herself: the book helps to ‘reframe’ past events, such as a difficult childhood, or how they see themselves – ie. shy.

Particularly strong material for those raising a sensitive child.

About the Author

Elaine R. Aron is a highly sensitive person herself who has a Master’s degree in clinical psychology and a doctorate. She has researched the subject using 100s of detailed interviews with HSPs. She lives in San Francisco and New York.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

355 of 361 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Sep 2004
Format: Paperback
I'm a cynic and not one for self-help books, preferring psychology to explain any issues - and I was wary that this was a self-help book. It had all the traits; a bit of a nauseating title laid out in a bad font on a bland cover, had an accolade from the author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus on the back etc...but, it's a very good book, in the vein of Irving D. Yalom. It uses a sympathetic tone to diagnose in a balanced manner, the pros and cons of this personality type, using case studies, cognitive therapy and good old common sense. I'd been struggling with some 'things' and came across the highly sensitive person theory on the internet, which apparently has only come about in recent years, and the more i read about it, the more i felt it totally explained my characteristics. When i saw this book, one of only a few out there as far as i can gather, i thought 'what the hell, it won't hurt'. I was expecting to sift through some bumpf and fluff and get the odd helpful insight, but I've found it to be an amazingly helpful book, which has had an effect like few others. This is the first time i've ever felt compelled to write a review on amazon and I can't recommend it enough. So if you think you're perceived as shy even though you know you're not, if you feel overpowered for some reason, if you feel you have insights that other people don't see, if sometimes you feel like things have lead to you having low-self esteem without knowing why or having a particularly good reason, then give this a go.
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125 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Wade Miller Knight on 8 July 2006
Format: Paperback
One of the three truly sustaining, and 'un-puttable-downable' books I have read this century.

Aron says a lot of "highly sensitive" people don't appreciate this quality in themselves. The core idea is that some of us are in tune with the subtle, the spiritual, the gentle, loving and kind, and enjoy quiet .... and the flip side is that we are easily overwhelmed (and maybe flare up) by excess stimulus. Whereas most of humanity, in the West anyhow (and especially Americans), appreciate lots of stimulus -- as can be seen from the restless noise everywhere in our cities and the cultural enthusiam for what is "new", "exciting" and an "adventure".

If you are "highly sensitive" (you can find and use Aron's test online to find out) and don't know it, or if you know it but don't love it in you, you may find warmth, comfort and encouragement to be yourself through this book. If someone you love is "highly sensitive", perhaps you will come to understand them better.

Valuable for counsellors too for the same reason: helpful for understanding people.
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67 of 70 people found the following review helpful By shpadoinkle VINE VOICE on 16 Dec 2007
Format: Paperback
I came across this book on a 2nd hand bookstall, and the title jumped right out at me - I had to have it! I had never come across the trait of 'high sensitivity' before, but knew it would be relevent to me. I had always thought I had a slightly 'defective' personality: instead of going out to noisy pubs and clubs, I'd much rather be reading a book, or watching a DVD, or having a quiet dinner with friends. But this is not cool when you are a teenager or in your twenties, especially in our boozy British culture, where even the girls are expected to be 'blokey' ie. drunken, horny and loud. Plus Id always been told I was 'too sensitive' by my family. I had a feeling this was somehow related to me being so different.

But as I read this book I was amazed. Not only did someone seem to understand exactly who I was and what I'd been struggling with my whole life, they were saying there was nothing wrong with me! Apparently I was normal, and there were lots of others like me. Being an HSP I now know is a positive thing, not a disorder. Like many other traits, there are pros and cons, but there is nothing 'inferior' about being a sensitive person. I realise there are many things I can do as a HSP, that the more thick-skinned 'normal' people can't.

Basically this book has validated a part of my personally that I was ashamed of, and has helped me learn who I truly am. It has raised my self-esteem just by reading it, and without having to do any tedious self-helpy exercises. It has also given me permission to avoid loud and smelly parties without feeling like a social reject. Thank you Elaine Aron!

If you feel that you are even slightly more sensitive than the average person, I think you will find this book invaluable.
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163 of 176 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Mar 2001
Format: Paperback
Assuming the reader is an HSP (probably most are, like me), the author describes us: "It means you are aware of subtleties in your surroundings...It also means you are more easily overwhelmed when you have been out in a highly stimulating environment for too long, bombarded by sights and sounds until you are exhausted in a nervous-system sort of way...You pick up on the subtleties that others miss. And so naturally you also arrive quickly at the level of arousal past which you are no longer comfortable. That first fact about you could not be true without the second being true as well. It's a package deal, and a very good package." I would agree. I thought I was from another galaxy. I feel stronger knowing that there are enough people out there like me that someone has finally studied us and identified our traits. And now I know why most people don't see the things I do and come to some of the same conclusions.
Highly sensitive doesn't mean that we cringe and cry at every little thing that happens or doesn't go our way. It means we are introverted -- we don't get our energy from other people, but from ourselves, from within. This means we require more time to ourselves than most people (about 20% of society is introverted). It doesn't mean that we don't like other people -- we are extremely social beings. What it does mean is that we pick up on slight non-verbal and verbal types of communication that slip past most folks. To complicate matters, it is no secret that Western society does not favor the introverted, and the value of HSPs is generally unrecognized. In fact, the role of many HSPs throughout history has been among the ethical thinkers and leaders, the givers of inspiration.
Aron herself is a research psychologist, psychotherapist, and an HSP.
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