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

140 customer reviews

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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: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,354 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

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

402 of 410 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Sept. 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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141 of 145 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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88 of 92 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By alimarcam on 21 Jun. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After coming across a very helpful website called The Highly Sensitive Person, I realised how I felt and acted was because I shared many of the traits with HSP's. I decided to buy a self help book, particularly as I have been having some challenges recently in the workplace and given the reviews of this book by Elaine Aron and the fact that she is an HSP herself, I chose this one. I have to say, while there are some helpful insights, overall it was not for me for a number of reasons as follows.
1) As Aron has also written a book called 'The Highly Sensitive Child', I thought this book would focus on the experience of adults and not devote several chapters to babies and children which was not relevant for me. I know what happened to me as a child and adolescent and would have found more case studies devoted to adults of more use.
2) While I wasn't looking for a short cut, I was hoping for practical suggestions to help with some of the challenging situations I am facing at the moment but found the instructions too vague.
3) I agree with other reviewers that there is an element of Aron being stuck in a particular mind-set that I found difficult to relate to. For example, she assumes everybody has a religious aspect to their lives and actively practices in their own particular religion. While I have a spiritual side, I am not an atheist and found her assumption that everyone is religious, presumptuous and somewhat narrow minded.

If I was 18 and not 48, I would probably give this 4 stars but otherwise, it wasn't for me.
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