I was reading this very interesting post about The Highly Sensitive Person at the blog of my fellow scanner Alexia Petrakos. My response is really too long for a comment, so I’ve decided make a post out of it here instead.
Like Alexia, I also have a lot of the signs of high sensitivity mentioned in her post, and in the embedded video by Dr Aron. For example, I can’t stay in the room if there’s a horror film on TV, or one with a lot of violence. I was even scared of Dr Who when I was a kid, although my younger sisters loved it. I have a tendency to overreact to minor events, and I’ve been told off for being too sensitive. Those self-critical voices in my head are still very active, even though I’ve lost much of the shyness my school teachers used to comment on.
But I’m wondering whether high sensitivity is a separate characteristic, or whether it’s part of being a Scanner/Renaissance person. Here’s what Hank Pfeffer has to say about sensitivity and emotional intensity in people with “Too Many Aptitudes” (TMA).
Being a TMA is a very mixed blessing. Strong talents are extremely powerful internal forces. One of the most important implications of my aptitude research is the strong possibility that emotional intensity is directly correlated with the intensity of a talent. Someone operating at a high intensity level of talent (including reasoning) will also be operating at a high intensity level of emotion. Every thought, memory or perception is directly connected to emotion – a wholistic phenomenon.
It is quite possible that TMAs are continually operating in a hypersensitive manner. People hypersensitive to external and internal data in many forms and operating at a high emotional intensity level might very well become overstimulated.
Ongoing overstimulation could explain the paralysis felt by some TMAs. They are so overwhelmed by perceptions, memories, thoughts and feelings that they can’t commit themselves to anything. Many of them need a lot of time alone to regenerate. Yet, this same turbulence can also lead to great insight and creativity.
The existence of a powerful force implies difficulty in learning to harness that force. Having a lot of strong talents is a bit like dealing with high voltage. You can do a lot of things with high voltage. However, it can also fry you. It takes a lot more knowledge and more safety precautions to work with high voltage rather than low. A lot of that voltage for TMAs is emotional. Few people know how to handle normal emotion, let alone powerful, ongoing emotion.
That’s an extract from Hank Pfeffer’s article The Too Many Aptitudes Problem which I told you about in a previous post.
I find it particularly interesting because, in our society, there is a stereotype of highly intelligent people as lacking in emotion and relying purely on reason. Hank suggests, on the contrary, that high reasoning ability and emotional intensity go together.
He doesn’t quite agree that TMA people are the same as Scanners, but there seems to be at least a large amount of overlap between the two groups. People with multiple interests are likely to have many aptitudes too. Barbara Sher says in her book Refuse to Choose that aptitude tests often don’t work for Scanners, because they test high for everything.
I’d love to read your own thoughts (and feelings) about this in the comments here, or over at Alexia’s blog.