Tracy, Social Justice Research

The Purpose of Sensitivity

In Communication, Uncategorized on December 24, 2015 at 5:00 am

Sensitive trailer


Did you know that there is a group of people whose genetic variations cause them to function with much greater sensitivity than the rest?  20% of all humans, and 99 other species, show a genetic trait of High Sensitivity where environmental information actually processes differently, alerting the individual to shifts that the rest of the group does not sense.

Four areas of sensitivity occur in individuals with this trait.  These people (and other species) process information at a greater depth, are more easily overstimulated by sensory information, have a higher emotional reactivity, and are cued to pick up on more subtleties than the general population.  The trait actually assists group survival by allowing a percentage of the population to be much more aware of subtle environmental changes and retaining the knowledge more readily should change in action be required.  Think of it as natural insurance for a group.  If two in ten people sense danger that the rest of the group doesn’t, and lead the group to safety, the entire population thrives.

How does a  highly sensitive person’s brain differ? The insula is activated to process more subtle, and greater volumes of information, while retaining this information readily in memory. However, with such intense activity comes overstimulation.  A HS individual processes more information at a deeper level but is also more easily overstimulated in a shorter amount of time.
Another difference is in mirror neurons. In the brain of the highly sensitive, mirror neurons are more active, allowing the individual to experience greater empathy with others and other life-forms. The greater stimulation of mirror neurons assists the HS to know others’ intentions and feelings in non-verbal ways, again potentially leading to overstimulation, but also allowing the individual to sense hostility or friendliness, thereby cueing the rest of the group.*
 Finally, HS individuals access and process more subtle information, using it to strategize and assist in life’s various tasks. They may have sharper senses (acute hearing, sense of smell) or not, but the HS consistently process the information in a more conscious manner, creating a richer bank of experience to draw upon.
If we are not highly sensitive, then we probably know someone who is.  This is the child who is slow to warm up to new situations, is easily overwhelmed by noise or bright lights, observes more, and ‘picks up’ on subtle changes in the emotional environment.  The adults with high sensitivity are similar, but, with more years living, are, perhaps, better at adapting to the environment.  Close connection with these people reveals their highly sensitive natures, however.
Whether you are highly sensitive, know or work with someone who is, or have a family member who seems ‘sensitive,’ the fact is 20% of human population experiences the world differently to the other 80%.  Join us at Duncan United Church, Thursday, January 21st to watch the landmark documentary about this fascinating genetic trait, and explore our experiences with the highly sensitive.
Jan 21, 7 pm
Duncan United Church
Admission free or by donation
*Some may think that emotions cause illogical thought-processes. But this is not true: recent research has placed emotion at the centre of wisdom. Without an emotional connection to an experience, a lesson is likely to be forgotten, however with an emotional response, it is more deeply embedded and available to inform us in future scenarios.

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