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Elaine Aron, PhD has led our empirical understanding of the normal trait in humans she calls 

"Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs)".  In animal model research, this same trait has been dubbed

"Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS)", and has been demonstrated in 15 to 20 percent of a population,

in over a hundred species. Dr. Aron's website ( ) is rich in resources to begin the journey of learning about this trait, whether you have this trait, or live or work with someone who does. 


When highly sensitive children are raised in supportive environments, they thrive and become creative and trusted leaders--even more so than the 80 percent of children who are not highly sensitive.  Sensitives benefit more from positive experiences, such as therapy (this is called 'vantage sensitivity').  In contrast, when highly sensitive individuals have experienced negative or adverse childhood events, such as neglect or trauma, they suffer more than children who are not highly sensitive (differential susceptibility).  In competition with non-sensitives, who are by comparison, impulsively aggressive, sensitives are unlikely to procure available rewards.

To summarize important basic aspects of high sensitivity or SPS,

Dr. Aron offers the helpful acronym:  "D.O.E.S." 

D is for Depth of Processing (*or Digging Deeper, or Details).  We process experiences more thoroughly and deeply than others do, so appreciate not feeling rushed by time pressure or changes to routine.

O is for Over-stimulation or Overwhelm (*or Over-arousal of the Sympathetic Nervous System--our fight, flight, or freeze/fawn response, which exposes us to cascades of stress hormones that can weaken our resilience over time; we are moreso attuned to be hypervigilant to avoid negative consequences for ourselves and for others).  We are more easily overwhelmed by our environment and bothered by loud noise, chaos, aggression, bright lights, strong smells, certain fabrics, clothing tags, or seams in the toes of our socks :-).

E is for Emotional Reactivity and Empathy (*or Energetically-Sensitive.  We experience deep limbic empathy and activation of mirror neurons in our brain.  Judith Orloff, MD, describes those with extreme empathy as "emotional sponges" who actually feel in their own bodies the emotions and sensory perceptions of others, such as with medical or "physical intuitives." Our abundance of deep empathy and open-hearted porous boundaries have been cited as reasons for our being targeted by those who lack empathy:  the 'dark triad' of sociopaths, malignant narcissists, and psychopaths).  We are easily moved by beauty in art, music, and nature, and cry easily.  We experience all emotions, positive and negative, deeply. Processing our thoughts through our emotional perception facilitates movement of experiences to long term memory.

S is for Sensing the Subtle (*or Sensory Sensitivity, or Sensory Neuro-divergence, such as synesthetes, who seem to have unusual connections between their senses.  For example, synesthetes report seeing colors associated with musical notes, or personalities of numbers).  Those with 'mirror-touch' synesthesia feel what is happening in the bodies of others, whether from trauma or in medical illness.  We are also sensitive to pharmaceuticals, and tend to do better when started at very low doses.  We don't usually require normal doses, which instead often produce serious adverse effects.  We resonate better with whole health plant-based medicines, including food.  We sense information at a lower threshold than others are able to perceive (a super power)!  As such, we are like the roses historically planted around vineyards to give early warning of factors that, unchecked, would impede optimum health.  *We are nurturing healers who excel at making the world a more beautiful place..


*not part of Dr. Aron's model.

In traditional medicine, rose quartz is a stone associated with the heart chakra.  It is said to be healing for Highly Sensitive Persons, who when well, are generally deeply heart-centered and spiritually-attuned.

Dr. Coffman engages coherent heart energy (heart rate variability and positive imagery) for BIOFEEDBACK and mindfulness training, as an easily learned and effective coping strategy.

Even more reasons to love sacred roses (copy and paste into your browser):

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