Stony Brook U. Researchers Say They Know Why You Feel So Much More

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — At times, we all take things a little too personally or become very defensive.

But a new discovery shows a greater number of people are born this way. They’re “highly sensitive,” and it doesn’t just affect their relationships.

Now there’s a self test that will tell you if you’re super sensitive.

“I knew that I was more sensitive, that I took things harder,” Ane Axford recently told CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson.

“Really early on I felt things that were heavy,” Sandra Clifton added.

These women are so sensitive they say it’s affected every aspect of their lives.

“It’s hard for me to be in the adult world,” Clifton said.

“It’s a whole different way of being in the world,” Axford said.

Scientists now say they know why some people feel so much more. New research out of Stony Brook University actually proves hyper-sensitive people are genetically different than those who feel a normal degree of sensitivity.

“We’ve done brain activation studies,” clinical psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron said.

“Sensitive people show more activation in these secondary attention areas,” Dr. Arthur Allen added.

Elaine and Arthur Aron conducted the Stony Brook studies, and ultimately found a large portion of the population – 20 percent — is made up of highly sensitive people, or HSPs, as the Arons have categorized them.

“They’re a bit more emotionally reactive. They process things more deeply,” Elaine Aron said.

Are you one of them? You can take the Aron’s self test that includes 27 questions to find out. It contains questions like:

* Are you easily overwhelmed by bright lights and noise?

* Do you startle easily?

* Do other people’s moods influence you?

* Does caffeine have a great affect on you?

(Take the full test here)

Answer “yes” to a quarter of these questions or more and the Arons say you may be an HSP.

“I thought there was something wrong with me,” Axford said.

Axford said getting the label HSP helped her feel better knowing there are other people like he, people like Clifton, who said HSP can be such a burden even the characters from books and television can provoke overwhelming feelings of emotion.

“Sometimes I have to say these are fictional characters, these are characters in a book,” Clifton said.

Axford said living with HSP is like having your emotional and physical feelings amplified a million fold. And like other HSPs, this heightened sensitivity has affected every aspect of her life — from where she lives to her relationships and even her career.

“The volume is turned up on everything,” Axford said.

“There are times when I say just one day, I want to be free from this,” Clifton added.

Despite the negatives, many HSPs say there are plenty of benefits: they tend to notice things most people miss; hey have a greater awareness and empathy for others; and they typically have deeper relationships.

For more useful information on hyper sensitivity, please check out the following links:

Stony Brook Study

Dr. Elaine Aron

Sensitive And Thriving

Clifton Corner

Do you think you are hyper-sensitive? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …

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