New research results on Sensory Processing Sensitivity

(High Sensitivity)

As a pediatrician, I had noticed for many years the sacrificial behaviour of the parents of children suffering from atopic dermatitis. Sensitive and exceptionally impressive, constantly anxious-carefully, they left no eye of their children. What was striking were their very intimate affection, the constant physical contact and the habit of constantly carrying the children. This behavior was very reminiscent of the characteristics of high sensitivity (SPS). In a first pilot study, this hypothesis was confirmed more clearly than expected: parents who themselves suffered from anatopia showed clear evidence of SPS. I initially interpreted the increased responsiveness of parents as a co-factor for the development of childhood atopic dermatitis.

A second, much more extensive study showed that the risk of atopy clearly increases with the level of the SPS. Subjects with very high test results also often suffered from severe mental disorders, especially anxiety disorders and depression. The diseases were clearly dependent on the level of SPS, not the other way around. We found that the level of sensory processing sensitivity is again influenced by gender, age and professional exercise. Women show significantly higher SPS levels than men, the age peak of the SPS is in the 4th to 5th decade of life and subjects with SPS tend to be particularly demanding occupations, in the social and cultural fields. With these results, the increase in these diseases appeared to be a completely new matter.


The dilemma of these people is obviously that from an early age they experience social conflicts and grievances earlier and more intensely than others. Accordingly, they plan and behave rather wait-and-see, forward-looking, cautious and over-protective. Due to the more intensive processing of stimulus, which starts in early childhood, there is a risk of overuse, especially if the requirement changes faster and hardly predictably. According to our results, almost half of the highly sensitive features of over-stimulation now show. This high proportion is explained by the global "acceleration crisis"  and the accompanying social and biographical change and the pace of technical progress.


What is Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS)?

The feeling of a unified consciousness, the feeling to decide and act self-determined, is obviously an illusion. Recent studies show that our thinking and actions are far more influenced by sensory processing sensitivity, meaning unconscious processes, than we thought.