I’m a Highly Sensitive Person, Are You?

I'm easily overwhelmed by, well, everything.

I’m a Highly Sensitive Person, or HSP. Knowing this one thing explains a lot about my past, present and (like it or not) my future. HSPism is as fixed into one’s genetic code as eye color or where one’s body stores excess fat. (Aron)

But what does it mean to be a HSP? Take the following quiz.

Score Key:
0 = Me? Not in a million years!
1 = I’ve been known to think/feel this way.
2 = Yup, that pretty much describes me most days.
3 = That’s scary, I didn’t think anyone knew I’m like that–am I being secretly filmed?

How true are these statements for you?

1. I prefer being alone. There are way too many raving lunatics out there.

2. I avoid watching the news. It’s too depressing. No wonder the commercials advertize medications for impotence, insomnia, and indigestion.

3. No matter what the emotion, I cry. I even cry when other people are emotional. Sometimes I cry when I watch those commercials for impotence, insomnia, or incontinence.

4. I startle easily. Loud noises, especially of the cannon or semi-automatic gun variety, make me jump.

5. I have neither a “fight” nor “flight” response. I have the unfortunate “suck-in-a-deep-breath-and-freeze” response. Since I am rarely dressed in camouflage, this reaction to a perceived danger is one that would get me killed in the wild. I stay away from the wild.

5. I hate surprises. People jumping out at me from around the corner scare me. My heart races and my head explodes. Fun for you; torture for me.

6. I avoid conflict at all costs. If saying “I’m sorry” will avoid a fight, I’ll say it–even if the other person started it.

7. Angry people make me nervous, but not angry.

8. I don’t do well under stress. Okay, I freak out when I’m stressed. Where are my meds?

9. I can handle only one conversation at a time. Dinner parties, picnics, keggers, you name it–anywhere large groups of people (6+) gather together and cross-talk, I zone out. Conversations scramble in my head. My eyes glaze over. People wonder, am I meditating or medicating?

10. I’m a “pick up” artist. It’s not what you’re thinking. I have really good intuition about people or situations. My gut is a gut you can trust.

Score Interpretation:

0-5: HIP. You are one cool customer as a Highly Insensitive Person. Don’t take this the wrong way! Well, you wouldn’t, would you? It means that you meet the world head on and you aren’t at all phased by what or whom you encounter. Good for you. The world needs fearless warriors. I’m afraid of people like you.

6-15: SIP. You are a Semi-Insensitive Person–someone who isn’t bothered by the world at large, but has moments of human vulnerability, which probably annoy you.

16-24: SSP. While it may sound like you are a member of an elite foreign law enforcement squad, you are really a Semi-Sensitive Person. You are someone who is definitely affected by the world, but is able to manage fairly well in the midst of the chaos.

25-30: HSP. Just as the world needs warriors, it needs shut-ins like us to watch from a safe distance and gently alert the public to the dangers we see…if we’re not too overwhelmed.

NOTE: I’m reading a book by Elaine Aron, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to thrive when the world overwhelms you. I made up most of this, but got the idea from her book.

~ by Lorna's Voice on June 21, 2011.

40 Responses to “I’m a Highly Sensitive Person, Are You?”

  1. […] #3: I’m a Highly Sensitive Person. I have ESR (Emotion Seeking Radar). Just think of Heat Seeking Missiles, only much kinder, less […]

  2. […] of you who know me, know that I am a Highly Sensitive Person. Bright light bothers me. So do loud noises. I’d rather be in a cool, dark place than, say, […]

  3. […] I’m one of those drivers you may inadvertently swerve into and because I’m a Highly Sensitive Person, I don’t react well to surprises like […]

  4. […] “you” I mean “you” because I don’t watch the news because I’m a Highly Sensitive Person and it’s part of my Plan to a Healthier Me, which, so far isn’t working out very […]

  5. C’est bizarre je comptais rédiger un petit poste semblable à celui-là

  6. Sujet carrément fascinant

  7. Magnifique poste une fois de plus

  8. […] handle the truth? Well, then, I’m impressed. I can’t. How do they know I’m a Highly Sensitive Person and that the truth usually sucks. I mean, have you noticed how many people want to tell you the […]

  9. […] of any kind–religious or secular–are simply not my thing. Too much fuss for my Highly Sensitive Person self and enough disturbing memories to just want to stay home alone and do something productive like blog […]

  10. […] don’t like holidays of any kind, secular or religious because I’m a Highly Sensitive Person and holiday gatherings are the equivalent to sending me into friendly […]

  11. […] a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), you know I have many fears. But I am facing down two of them this very week. I can see the Buddha […]

  12. […] in my mind’s eye than in my eye’s eye. All this focusing and noticing were taxing my HSP brain. Mirrors are not my friends; closed eyes are by […]

  13. […] more like marching behind him. Listening to NPR-like reports of church-drama was bad enough for my highly sensitive self. But the end of my church-going days came when he cajoled me into coming to sing one Sunday when I […]

  14. […] think I’m the one who typed in this search. There’s no help out there for this vexing HSP […]

  15. […] know, if you’ve followed my blog, that I’m a Highly Sensitive Person and Animal Communicator Extraordinaire. Well, add Ghost-Whisperer to the list. If you don’t […]

  16. Proud to be HSP for life 🙂

  17. This was a fun read. It is funny when I got to # 4 I felt so much better about my constant “startle so easily” issue ….. AND …. # 5 – made me feel like I was less of a whomp since I, too, lack fight or flight. I tend to freeze like a deer seeing bright headlights. Good job, Lorna.


  18. There once was a fella named Al,
    Who liked being everyone’s pal.
    But if someone was mean,
    He would exit the scene,
    Cause it totally wrecked his morale.

    Does this qualify me for HSP? Hope so.

    Wondering how you got a hold of that picture. I just had it taken last week!

    • Hey Al, I knew you were a sensitive guy,
      All I had to do was look in your eye–
      The one from the picture I picked after many a try
      To find the perfect look of “my oh my!”
      How was I to know it was you, Rhyming Poetry Guy?

      I like your poetry better!

  19. Great read! I would consider myself more sensitive than I ranked. I am very laid back but I can be sensitive at times. Would love to see women vs. men ranks.

  20. Too funny and too true. Life can be rough for us HSPs. I’m going to download a copy of The Highly Sensitive Person… when I leave your blog. Thanks for an interesting read.

  21. Too funny! And too true! Life can be rough for us HSPs. My constant quest for a zen-like state is rarely successful. I’m going to download The Highly Sensitive Person… the moment I get off your blog. Thanks for an interesting read.

  22. Guess what? I’m HIP. We balance each other.

  23. I would guess, based on my answers to the questions, that I am an HSP. I have often worried about my lack of “fight or flight” response, but it just ins’t there. And my instincts are usually spot on. If given the resources, I would probably purchase a compound, never leave, watch the world from the safety and comfort of my little world. I’m going to find this book. Thanks.

    • You sound like me. We are a misunderstood minority–misunderstood by others and ourselves. I know I found comfort in knowing that a psychologist recognized this trait and wrote a book about it. Now when things get overwhelming for me, I just say, “I can’t be here right now, I’m a Highly Sensitive Person and this is making me uncomfortable!” I say it in joking way, but there’s a bit of truth behind every joke, right? I hope you find the book helpful.

  24. […] course updates of my favourite subscriptions. Lorna, for the umpteenth time, has a great entry – ‘I’m a Highly Sensitive Person, Are You?’ Actually, her entry was great to animate and to not think about one more bizarre dream of mine and […]

  25. I’m not sure how much this is correct: I should be SIP – Semi-Insensitive Person :/ I believe this is not completely true as I am very emotional with everything going on in the world!

    • This was very much done for fun, although there is a book about people who are highly sensitive–and I am one of them. The idea is that different people handle the world differently, don’t you agree?

  26. I see you touched upon the social implications of being a HSP. Don’t being a HSP prevent you from warning others of your observations?

    • If we feel safely tucked away (like inside our homes and behind a computer screen), then maybe some of us can venture out and gently suggest the things we observe. But we have to feel the comfort and support of very special people who “have our backs.” That’s the only way that HSPs can contribute–that or years of therapy. Personally, I’d rather have a special person who calms me and keeps me centered…

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