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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You
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404 of 412 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2004
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
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
VINE VOICEon 16 December 2007
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. Btw the hsperson website has a quiz to see if you are an HSP, and some great free articles.

And since HSPs are very good at enjoying their own company, I will also recommend a brilliant book I have just read: 'Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto' by Anneli Rufus. For me it had similar uplifting and validating qualities as 'The HSP'. And it's very fun to read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 21 June 2015
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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175 of 190 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2001
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. Being highly sensitive is her trait, too, and she is right in there with us as she brings credibility to the various problems and issues discussed in this book. She offers facts, case studies, coping and transforming behaviors, and discussion on understanding the trait, general health and medications, re-parenting yourself, social interaction, career choices, relationships and gender issues, and spiritual considerations.
I'd make this book required reading for teachers, employers, therapists, and everyone else. Don't ever tell a child they're too sensitive for their own good or help them "overcome" their sensitivity. Revel in it, celebrate it, and support it. Everyone wins.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2001
What a relief to read this. One of those books that you want to read in one go. One that makes you look at life differently. Having such sensitivity acknowledged and accepted is exciting. The book provides useful coping tools for times when 'it's all too much' and makes you feel less isolated. A good one to dip into when you hit a low patch.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2011
Life-changing book! 15-20% of the population are mentally wired differently, and become bombarded (and exhausted) by stimuli that the other 80% find enjoyable or exciting. You aren't going mad - you are gifted, perceptive and sensitive in the best meaning of the word. The author (an American psychologist who is herself a 'sensitive') deals with the subject in a stepwise, workbook style that helps readers learn to value their gifts and discover how to live with them in a world largely catering to, and operated by, the other 80%. This is properly researched material, and should be widely read, not just by the 'sensitive', who have probably spent a lifetime sadly wondering why they feel so different, but also for counsellors, doctors and psychologists, who may otherwise label 'sensitives' as 'social phobics' or give them other unhelpful titles and therapies.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
This book explains why some people become 'overwhelmed' or 'frazzled' by, for example, loud sounds around them or a great deal of social contact in one day. It's been very helpful to me, mainly because I was accused of all the things Aron lists, such as being a 'crybaby' or 'too shy' and had grown up thinking that my sensitivity was a kind of handicap or something to be ashamed of. 'The Highly Sensitive Person' successfully reassures the reader that there are advantages and disadvantages to having this kind of disposition and gives some good tips for dealing with those 'frazzled' times. It also makes the interesting point that highly sensitive people are not more unfriendly or unsociable than others; they just have a different tolerance level for certain stimuli. I am certainly glad to know that I'm not alone, and wish I'd read this book when I was younger!
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on 2 July 2001
This book has changed the way that i see myself, and has made me value character traits that i had once seen as weaknesses or flaws. Heightenned sensitivity may make one feel more vulnerable, fragile and isolated, but if valued and directed properly then sensitivity is actually a gift and a source of incredible strength. The way in which this book is written is refreshing, especially for those who have been labelled with certain psychiatric disorders or anxious personality disorders which would be far better understood if they were looked at from a point of view other than that of a purely medical and detremental one. I would love to see a book that deals with this issue in even more depth. I recommend this book to all those who feel themselves to be emotionally fragile and 'different'
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 August 2013
There are lots of helpful reviews of this book already, but I feel strongly that anyone who thinks they may be sensitive, or have been made to feel that they are thin-skinned, shy, easily overwhelmed etc. (and find the world can be a brash place a lot of the time) should read this.

I am not a fan of the 'self-help' genre, finding the few books I have leafed through either generalised to the point of nonsense, unrealistic or mere common sense. Although this is written by an American aiming at an American market, with some 'new-age' hippyish phrases, if you can ignore those or skim them, then this book is a worthwhile read. Aron has made a study of a neglected area and presents some interesting findings and wise advice.

In common with many readers, I suspect, I came to this having experienced much of the bewilderment and feelings of inferiority that she describes. It was only when reading about an 18th Century lady who "was so sensitive that she couldn't even bear anyone rustling a newspaper nearby" that I searched under 'sensitive' in Amazon and came up with this book. Why didn't I think of it before? It has genuinely changed my perception of myself and made sense of things that have happened in my past. Aron uses apposite metaphors to explain her theories, not least the 'warrior class' vs. 'scholar/advisor class' one. She also makes clear that while HSPs share many aspects of the trait, we are all individuals (hallelujah) and can't be lumped together. In short, this book is about learning to trust what your mind and body are telling you about when and how you feel comfortable in the world, and letting go of the need to strive to be like a perceived majority who pursue - even require - constant external stimulation.
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