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Highly Sensitive Persons & Christianity


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Hi there fellow bloggers,

 

two weeks ago I first ran across the term hsp (highly sensitive person) on the internet. In brief a highly sensitive person is more 

sensitive to his/her surroundings (smells, sounds, light, social cues) which has a neurological base in these individuals have a

propensity for the right side of the brain. The term first popped up in psychology somewhere at the start of this century.

 

Well the case is, in certain ways I find myself applicable to this description if I reflect over my personality: I'm sensitive to music, seeing someone in real life

 or on the television in pian makes me also feel pain/a tensity in my chest/stomage, and I consider myself well aware of other people's feelings/state of mind

when seeing or talking to someone.

 

Though I'm not that interested in matching or not the group of highly sensitive persons, which to some psychologist 1 out of 5 people pertain to, I'm more interested in

if any of you have ever thought about this type of person/personality and, which I allege indulge a more than average interest in life's questions/morality/religion.

 

The reason why I ask this, in my own case from my early teenagers years on I was actively studying the bible, listening to online seminars, reading christian articles/books, solely listening to christian music, etc. Without a doubt this has had an impact on me developing as a teenager and on my surroundings. One of the things I pressume is that highly sensitive people tend to take biblical texts more literally, in my case I was actively trying to 'die of my own flesh' and block out personal worldy/'egoistic' desires.

 

Though my beliefs have changed radically since those years, mainly because of these unhealthy psychological beliefs, I still find myself having this 'pondering nature' and drawn to reflect over life on a daily basis, and even still praying to 'a god/source of life' attracts me. Some of the articles I read on the topic of hsp also state that 'right-sided' persons are more inclined to spirituality.

 

Well I woud like to hear your thoughts/views on this, if you recognize some of the things I mention, and how you give these personal (neurological) characteristics a place in your day to day life. After de-converting from christianity my initial thoughts were to give up entirely on religion/spirituality, praying, etc., however now I find myself coming back on these thoughts since I feel I'm steel drawn to certain aspects of a spiritual life and perhaps just my source/the way it is was nurtured (the bible) during my childhoold and teenage years was not that good/healthy for me..

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What you describe sounds like me. I know what you mean, even after de-converting I still have this spiritual part of me that wants to 'connect' to something. There was a short time after my deconversion where I still wanted to have room for the supernatural, but I don't think I even believe in that anymore. So it's quite a interesting question, for someone like me who still wants to connect 'spiritually'. For me I've been thinking a lot about pantheism. Definition from wikipedia: 

 

 

" It is the belief that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God,[1] or that the Universe (or Nature) is identical with divinity.[2] Pantheists thus do not believe in apersonal or anthropomorphic god, but differ in exact interpretation of the term."

 

 

 

 

This really appeals to my HSP side, so I can still have something to connect to. 

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It's cool, just learn about the occult, esoteric and mystical and you'll see that you can translate everything you once held dear to a new avenue :)

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From what I've read, I fall under the category of HSP. I'm an introvert, loud noises are painful, overstimulation (like a room full of people) really messes me up. That stuff I can handle; the real problem is that I'm way too empathetic and have trouble separating my thoughts/feelings from stuff I'm picking up from the environment and people nearby. It drives me nuts when my family's watching TV but I'm not and I'm nearby; the background music messes with my moods, but without the storytelling of the TV show to go with it. I'll also absorb [my best guess at] the emotions of the people around me; I was once in a room with a happy person and a sad person and got incredibly confused. I need a lot of alone time to separate all of that stuff from my own thoughts; if I haven't had enough alone time, I'll start to forget who I am.

 

So growing up in a christian bubble, hearing passionate radio preachers all the time, being around people who'd be upset if I expressed disbelief... I couldn't imagine being someone other than who they all told me I was. I had a lot of questions and doubts, but other people's certainty overruled those thoughts. Eventually, I met people outside the bubble and starting choosing friends who were more in line with the real me. I still tend to be a reflection of the people around me more than being myself, but it's a whole lot better when those people are already more like me (and who enjoy the ways I'm different from them, instead of trying to get me to conform).

 

As for my current spiritual (or whatever you want to call it) urges, there's a few things I'm doing. One is reading about all sorts of other religions, try to gather enough information to see things through their eyes, to connect with humans (particularly in the past) and their view of the world they lived in. Due to the season, that's been meaning reading about a lot of pagan winter holiday celebrations. This is the season for celebrating life with greenery and parties and spending time with loved ones, and celebrating light by setting things on fire and dreaming of the days when the sun comes back (not only are the days short, it's been overcast for at least 6 days every week. So dreary! And this is even with the benefits of modern electricity and lighting; I can't imagine how depressing it would be to go through this time of year without that).

 

Another thing I'm working on is being more in tune with nature. Some of that means just going outside more, and some of it means reading about biology and the sky and the weather and geology and natural navigation so that I have something to be looking for. There is a lot of data coming at you when you're trying to pay more attention to your surroundings; having specific things to look for lets me experience the outdoors in new ways without being so overloaded that I don't pick up anything.

 

Meditation is nice. I've occasionally run into the problem where I try to be too aware of the thoughts inside my head and get overwhelmed by all of them, so again reading about meditation and following some particular plan for it sometimes helps me to get more out of the experience.

 

Oddly enough, getting exercise also helps. It's very grounding. I tend to space out a lot, get lost inside my head and my daydreams. Exercising triggers so many signals from my body that it pulls me into the here and now.

 

I guess art projects might count. I get depressed if I'm not creating something. As a christian, I decided that "being made in the image of God" meant that I too was a creator, since it made no sense that our bodies would be in the image of a spirit. I recently finished a book called The Artful Universe: An Introduction to Vedic Religious Imagination and it was pretty neat to see how the Vedic religion valued imagination and creativity. The christianity I grew up with had a very uneasy relationship with the arts, so it was nice to see a religion than values that aspect of being human and considers creativity to be a major way of connecting with the divine.

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VacuumFlux, I am going to try many of your great suggestions because I have a personality that is very close to yours. This will probably help me as I think through many issues related to Christianity and God. Some good walks in nature would probably help a lot.

 

Thanks for this. It's a great help.

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In brief a highly sensitive person is more 

sensitive to his/her surroundings (smells, sounds, light, social cues) which has a neurological base in these individuals have a

propensity for the right side of the brain.

In some ways, yes.

Social cues... ehhh... as a child I learned to "live in my head" and withdraw pretty well, and when I do that, I can miss things.  There are other times when I misinterpret things.

But smells, sounds, light, yes.

 

seeing someone in real life

 or on the television in pian 

That can make me literally pass out. Even someone telling a story has done it.

 

I'm more interested in

if any of you have ever thought about this type of person/personality and, which I allege indulge a more than average interest in life's questions/morality/religion.

You might be on to something here.

 

One of the things I pressume is that highly sensitive people tend to take biblical texts more literally,

Well, I was trying to interpret it in a way that made sense and reconciled Christianity with what I knew of science at the time... I thought that in a lot of cases (the creation story especially) interpreting it metaphorically worked better. "One day with God is like a thousand years"... or maybe a million.

in my case I was actively trying to 'die of my own flesh' and block out personal worldy/'egoistic' desires.

I have definitely felt that pull, too, yes.

 

Well I woud like to hear your thoughts/views on this, if you recognize some of the things I mention, and how you give these personal (neurological) characteristics a place in your day to day life. After de-converting from christianity my initial thoughts were to give up entirely on religion/spirituality, praying, etc., however now I find myself coming back on these thoughts since I feel I'm steel drawn to certain aspects of a spiritual life and perhaps just my source/the way it is was nurtured (the bible) during my childhoold and teenage years was not that good/healthy for me..

PlainVince, the path I took was rather roundabout, but the result was that I became more questioning, more comfortable with uncertainty, and after that I eventually returned to being more accepting of my spiritual impulses, even the "strange" ones. Before acting I can question the impulse and evaluate whether it's a good/healthy one or not. If it's not, I try to discover where the impulse is coming from and what the underlying need is. I may be able to meet the need in a more helpful way.

That works pretty well for me. I hope this is helpful to you.

 

 

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Hey there, fellow sensory-type! Trouble with integrating or processing sensory input is more common than you'd think, and we do tend to feel everything more intensely, including emotional states (not always our own).

 

I keep my studio sensory-friendly, dim lighting, low noise levels, nothing too perfume-y. I live in soft fuzzy things like fleece PJ bottoms. Grocery shopping, even making a quick run to the corner store for a pack of smokes, some days that's enough stimulation to leave me hiding away for the rest of the day. I can't go see a movie in theatre -- it's too loud. I can still feel the shirt I put on this morning. It's annoying me. I end up feeling like I'm going ever so slightly mad, because nobody around me understands just what it's like, being forced to consciously process every bit of incoming sensory data, because your brain has no (metaphorical) spam filter.

 

Does anyone have a coping strategy that's better than "hide away in my fortress of solitude", and doesn't involve having a screaming meltdown?

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I think I qualify as an HSP, but not in all input channels.

 

The strongest sensitivity I have is to anomalies in 3-D space (for example, a cluttered environment or people standing too close)

 

Certain visual things are hard to take (for instance, rapid-fire visuals).  I have a really hard time with a lot of action/adventure movies, especially if there are lots of explosions and screams.  I also can't play first-person shooters without becoming violently ill from the combination of sound, visuals and simulated motion.

 

However, I can listen to instrumental music for hours and don't even flinch when there's someone right behind Me with a sax or a trombone.

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Im a HSP, and unfortunately it has cost me dearly not realising this. Only now in my 50's am I realising it and starting to shield myself more.

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Yes, I think I took a test and it turned out I qualify as a HSP. I am sensitive to sounds, lights, colors, overall atmosphere.

I also don't like films that cut rapidly from one scene to another and a lot of jerky camera motion.

 

I don't like sudden noises, particularly when I can't identify what it is, and I don't like shopping too much, particularly clothes because there are too many items. Online shopping is much better for me.

 

PlainVince, what you call a "pondering nature" yes, I have it in spades. I tend to take things toward the literal as well, although when it comes to the Bible, my parents did too, so I am not sure if that is learned or innate.

 

After studying Christianity for many years I gave it up as senseless and switched to Buddhism, which I have been studying the last five years. It seems I have to study something esoteric or "spiritual" or I am not happy. I have the need to belong to some group as well, although I am not very social.

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interesting topic.I would class myself as one too.I am an introvert but the loud noise stuff etc doesn't affect me;i actually recharge in nightclubs just from the atmosphere but I am not keen on crowds in soial settings,perhaps not having music means I dont have my mind filed with other stuff and get anxious.However I am unfortunatly pretty sensitive to other peoples attitudes and rejection and none more so than in the church.i have had to work alot on this and the only way to do so was to get out there and socialise and expereince it more.Works wonders however I am still sensitive to it.I think the highly sensitive persdon classification so to speak would apply to alot of christians.When I think back alot I met were very wounded individuals and christianity kept them and me that way.

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Hmm, I hadn't heard of the term before, and had a little look into it. I'd have to say that I'm a HSP, too.

 

I can't watch Game of Thrones. The suffering of the humans and animals in the story is just too much for me to bear. The same goes for any show or movie. It doesn't matter that it's fiction; I can identify too strongly with the emotions being felt. I can feel how badly it would feel to be in that situation.

 

I don't cope with living with other people. Part of the reason I am such a night owl is because I desire the quiet so deeply. I prefer to work in solitude; just give me my work and leave me to it. Other people talking, background noise, etc, when I am trying to work drives me insane.

 

I can only cope with other people in small doses, and when someone else cries, I cry, too. The thought of hurting another is a devastating prospect. Raised voices upset me a lot.

 

On the up side, though, I have always worked well with mistreated cats. I have rehabilitated a few, and I think a lot of it comes down to the sensitivity that I have. I know how to make them feel safe with me, because I can read where their boundaries are and respect them. A lot of people don't even think about how their shoes or the way they walk can be intimidating.

 

But I digress. I, too, took the bible literally, and was obsessed with being "radical" for christ. But I am not spiritual in any way, shape, or form now, and I don't have any lingering desire to be, either. I'm simply too rational. I always have had a rational core, and since I lost my faith, I have been exercising that rational core. 

 

For me, being rational and objective helps me to deal with my emotional sensitivity. It helps me to regain perspective, and lessens the ability of my emotions to control me. It helps me to know when to walk away, change the channel, or put down whatever I am reading. Being objective helps me to understand myself. Reality is where I find my peace.

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Hmm, I hadn't heard of the term before, and had a little look into it. I'd have to say that I'm a HSP, too.

 

I can't watch Game of Thrones. The suffering of the humans and animals in the story is just too much for me to bear. The same goes for any show or movie. It doesn't matter that it's fiction; I can identify too strongly with the emotions being felt. I can feel how badly it would feel to be in that situation.

 

I don't cope with living with other people. Part of the reason I am such a night owl is because I desire the quiet so deeply. I prefer to work in solitude; just give me my work and leave me to it. Other people talking, background noise, etc, when I am trying to work drives me insane.

 

I can only cope with other people in small doses, and when someone else cries, I cry, too. The thought of hurting another is a devastating prospect. Raised voices upset me a lot.

 

On the up side, though, I have always worked well with mistreated cats. I have rehabilitated a few, and I think a lot of it comes down to the sensitivity that I have. I know how to make them feel safe with me, because I can read where their boundaries are and respect them. A lot of people don't even think about how their shoes or the way they walk can be intimidating.

 

But I digress. I, too, took the bible literally, and was obsessed with being "radical" for christ. But I am not spiritual in any way, shape, or form now, and I don't have any lingering desire to be, either. I'm simply too rational. I always have had a rational core, and since I lost my faith, I have been exercising that rational core. 

 

For me, being rational and objective helps me to deal with my emotional sensitivity. It helps me to regain perspective, and lessens the ability of my emotions to control me. It helps me to know when to walk away, change the channel, or put down whatever I am reading. Being objective helps me to understand myself. Reality is where I find my peace.

 

I swear Pudd you are my soul twin sister!! I 'ditto-ed' every sentence.  I detest confusion of any kind. I have always been a very sensitive person...I could never even step on an ant. It is only within the past 5 years that I have taken the measures to guard my world a little. Animals 'ground' me. People drain me......the less I see  right now, the better. I've socialized my whole life as a hairdresser. I have had coffee with approximetly 53 thousand people (mostly woman) over the last 40 years. I'm done talkin'. My career ruined me for wanting to socialize. I have nothing left to really say, so I just try to be pleasant to everyone I meet. I let them talk. I really am quite a loner. I like it that way. I am most serene when I'm by myself. I also realize that 'no man is an island' so I have a select few people in my life that I like to be around. That's enough to keep me happy. No more big functions or even tupperware parties for me...I also did enough  belonging to the church. My whole life has been socializing.

 

 I love to go out in the malls, where I can hear, see and watch all the people in action. I love to 'people watch' from a distance. I like to be part of the world. I actually like that. I just don't really want to talk to anybody. I can put on a good show for people's sake, I still don't like to hurt anyone's feelings...but really - I am a loner by nature.

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The strongest sensitivity I have is to anomalies in 3-D space (for example, a cluttered environment or people standing too close)

Yes, that one really gets me, though clutter per se is another issue (my own house is cluttered, though yes, I do feel much better when it's not). 

 

People standing too close, definitely.  It gives me the willies pretty fast and unfortunately one of the people I enjoy talking to at work does not have good "space boundaries" in this sense.  She's unintentionally backed me into walls several times.

 

One of the things that really gets me about space issues is... for lack of a better way of describing it, "balance."  Details involving comfortable proportions and placement.  There are times when if furniture is arranged "uncomfortably" -- say too far to one side or another for a given space (I notice this more in restaurants) -- then I get agitated.

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Hmm, I hadn't heard of the term before, and had a little look into it. I'd have to say that I'm a HSP, too.

 

I can't watch Game of Thrones. The suffering of the humans and animals in the story is just too much for me to bear. The same goes for any show or movie. It doesn't matter that it's fiction; I can identify too strongly with the emotions being felt. I can feel how badly it would feel to be in that situation.

 

I don't cope with living with other people. Part of the reason I am such a night owl is because I desire the quiet so deeply. I prefer to work in solitude; just give me my work and leave me to it. Other people talking, background noise, etc, when I am trying to work drives me insane.

 

I can only cope with other people in small doses, and when someone else cries, I cry, too. The thought of hurting another is a devastating prospect. Raised voices upset me a lot.

 

On the up side, though, I have always worked well with mistreated cats. I have rehabilitated a few, and I think a lot of it comes down to the sensitivity that I have. I know how to make them feel safe with me, because I can read where their boundaries are and respect them. A lot of people don't even think about how their shoes or the way they walk can be intimidating.

 

But I digress. I, too, took the bible literally, and was obsessed with being "radical" for christ. But I am not spiritual in any way, shape, or form now, and I don't have any lingering desire to be, either. I'm simply too rational. I always have had a rational core, and since I lost my faith, I have been exercising that rational core. 

 

For me, being rational and objective helps me to deal with my emotional sensitivity. It helps me to regain perspective, and lessens the ability of my emotions to control me. It helps me to know when to walk away, change the channel, or put down whatever I am reading. Being objective helps me to understand myself. Reality is where I find my peace.

 

I swear Pudd you are my soul twin sister!! I 'ditto-ed' every sentence.  I detest confusion of any kind. I have always been a very sensitive person...I could never even step on an ant. It is only within the past 5 years that I have taken the measures to guard my world a little. Animals 'ground' me. People drain me......the less I see  right now, the better. I've socialized my whole life as a hairdresser. I have had coffee with approximetly 53 thousand people (mostly woman) over the last 40 years. I'm done talkin'. My career ruined me for wanting to socialize. I have nothing left to really say, so I just try to be pleasant to everyone I meet. I let them talk. I really am quite a loner. I like it that way. I am most serene when I'm by myself. I also realize that 'no man is an island' so I have a select few people in my life that I like to be around. That's enough to keep me happy. No more big functions or even tupperware parties for me...I also did enough  belonging to the church. My whole life has been socializing.

 

 I love to go out in the malls, where I can hear, see and watch all the people in action. I love to 'people watch' from a distance. I like to be part of the world. I actually like that. I just don't really want to talk to anybody. I can put on a good show for people's sake, I still don't like to hurt anyone's feelings...but really - I am a loner by nature.

 

 

Oh, I love people watching, too, Margee! I don't get out at night much, but when I do, the pub is the best place to watch people interact. They're full of grog, so they're easier to read because their inhibitions are lowered, and they're less likely to notice that I'm watching them :P

 

I'll be going back into the workforce early in the new year after a five-year hiatus, so I've been thinking a lot about what sort of job I'd like to do. Initially, I wanted to go back to office work. But I've come to realise that that may not be the best option for my sanity. I'm a night owl, and I like to be left alone when I work, so I've been thinking that I might actually be better suited to stocking shelves at night in a supermarket, or working in a service station at night.

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I think almost anyone could be HSP if they wish to identify themselves as such. Seems to apply to "left brains" as well, though the "right brains" are more likely to fret over it. Who doesn't dislike huge crowds, loud noises, seeing others in pain, and general sensory overload? It gets worse with age, too. I think people who are comfortable with extreme stimulation are the exception. But, we do love our three and four letter disorders!

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I think almost anyone could be HSP if they wish to identify themselves as such. Seems to apply to "left brains" as well, though the "right brains" are more likely to fret over it. Who doesn't dislike huge crowds, loud noises, seeing others in pain, and general sensory overload? It gets worse with age, too. I think people who are comfortable with extreme stimulation are the exception. But, we do love our three and four letter disorders!

 

 

..........you are 'right on' again ( as usual!) mister florduh!!

 

Hug for you today!

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I think Florduh is right too, and I am skeptical of these categorizations of people. Everyone is different and we are all so complex that its really impossible to fit someone into a neat category as if by doing that we can get a handle on why people act the way they do.

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I worked out a while ago that I am a lot more intense than most people. I feel things more deeply, just the way my brain is wired. It was a problem because I could not understand why others were not as intense as me, and often felt I cared about people more than they did about me. If I'd had a grip on the fact I was so very sensitive, I would have done a lot of things differently. I would have realised I had no emotional protection and organised some, and shielded myself from a lot of things.

 

These categories just help us to understand ourselves a little better. 

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I agree with both Galien and Florduh here. While it is true that we can make ourselves fit into any box if we try hard enough (and that other people believe that they can make us fit into any box with enough effort), sometimes these labels can help us to gain insight and understand ourselves. We cannot change negative behaviours or thought patterns if we have no understanding of why we think and act the way we do, and that is the benefit of such labels.

 

I've come to a point now where I don't really care if a person actually has a certain condition or not; if having a label helps a person to understand themselves, and is actually beneficial to them, then I see no harm in it. In the case of HSP, there is no medication involved. So applying the label to oneself won't really have any detrimental outcomes that I can really see. I think all it will do is help some people to accept themselves as they are and perhaps help them to navigate through life. I have no reason to take issue with that.

 

At the end of the day, who the fuck really cares if someone identifies with HSP?

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@Blackpuddin -- I dunno, I'd like to reserve the label for those who have an actual diagnosis of sensory processing disorder.

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@Blackpuddin -- I dunno, I'd like to reserve the label for those who have an actual diagnosis of sensory processing disorder.

 

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying, WMD- would you mind clarifying for me?

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@Blackpuddin -- I dunno, I'd like to reserve the label for those who have an actual diagnosis of sensory processing disorder.

 

Is that really the same thing as being a HSP?  That's not what it sounded like from the OP.

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Having a word for something is useful for understanding and accepting yourself, but it can also be useful in social situations. I've seen a lot of people helped out by, for example, the terms "extrovert" and "introvert" in understanding why they the other person either won't give them enough attention or won't leave them alone. It also helps to depersonalize the conflict; instead of it being one person's wants vs another person's, it's "third parties have confirmed that there are good reasons for each of us to be the way we are and no offense is intended by either party". It would, of course, be ideal if human being would just respect each others wants, needs, and differences, but since that often doesn't happen, it's nice to have words to use to categorize yourself and diffuse tension. Humans seem to really really like having words for things, and will treat something as more real once it's got a label.

 

It's also convenient when you're looking for support and advice on the internet ("support" simply in the sense of knowing you're not alone, not as in making any 2-way human connection). You get the magic search term, and suddenly you find that all sorts of people other than you have had the same frustrations, and have worked through them. It's nice to be able to learn from other people's mistakes and successes.

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My girlfriend absolutely has sensory integration/processing issues, and also is highly.emotionally sensitive and extremely empathetic. Call it what you will.

 

Among the issues she has is synesthesia, which, combined with the extreme empathy results in her literally seeing other people's emotions. She will tell me that I look bubbly, or cracked, or spikey, and she is describing a literal visual experience she is having, which corrosponds to a real emotional experience *I* am having.

 

I think it's really interesting, because anybody raised in a less scientific household than she was would interpret the experience as "seeing auras," and they would be absolutely sane, and honestly describing a real and valid experience they were having. The only.thing they'd be wrong about is in describing the experience as spiritual, rather than neurological.

 

Even having grown much more skeptical in the past several years, I've become much more open to hearing out people's own interpretations of.their inner life since knowing her, because even if I don't agree with their world-view and the way they frame a particular experience, the experience they have is quite likely real.

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