Before I tell you more about myself, there is one thing I have to let you know so that you can better understand me. Did you know that vampires are highly sensitive creatures? Highly sensitive people have all their senses on alert, whether physical or emotional. Everything affects them strongly, positively, or negatively. That’s why we suffer so much from bullying.
Vampire 101: highly sensitive creatures
I know how you see vampires. To begin with, physically, we’re scary.
I’m obviously not talking about the vampires from movies like Twilight. Those vampires don’t exist and never did.
You can see that a vampire is a vampire. You can tell. You can’t meet someone, wake up one morning and oh my, surprise! That person is a vampire! Look at them turn into a… bat? No. That’s not what a vampire is. Vampires are not bats. Vampires are vampires. They are human beings like any other, only with a few distinctive features that set them apart from the crowd.
As a result, everybody looks at them sideways. And that’s the kind of thing that has its consequences.
Let’s start with the physical characteristics of vampires and their abilities.
I can already hear you: “If that’s what vampires are, and they have red eyes, how come we don’t see them? »
20% vampires in the world
So you should know that we represent more or less 20% of the population, including the different species.
Now you’re thinking: “Huh?! 20%? But that’s huge! »
Indeed, there are many more of us than people may think.
But the reason why you don’t see 20% of vampires is that we are extremely good at blending in. We show our true face to very few people. Usually to our own, and then to the few who try to understand us, rather than judge us or be afraid of us.
Years ago, it used to be harder to blend in, so we only came out at night. But now, with progress, we no longer have to live hidden. A wig, colored lenses, a good sunscreen lotion, and holding back from smiling as much as possible to hide our fangs, and we are part of the gang.
Still, it takes a lot of effort.
- The origins of hypersensitivity
- What difference does it make to be a highly sensitive person?
- Are you the proud parent of a little vampire?
The origins of hypersensitivity
Where does it come from? Are we born with it? Or do we become it depending on the childhood we’ve had?
There were two opposed theories on this matter until recently, but since June 2020, a study is reconciling things.
The theory of Saverio Tomasella
According to French psychoanalyst Saverio Tomasella, hypersensitivity is essentially learned, since the intrauterine phase. In other words, we would perceive some of the things that happen outside our mother’s womb. It is that perception of our environment that would alter our sensitivity.
According to Saverio, while your mother was pregnant with you, if there were tensions in her life and environment, you feeling them could have increased your sensitivity. Then, once you were born, if the tensions persisted, if you have suffered from a lack of attention or love, from some kind of abuse, or if you didn’t feel safe, your sensitivity could have developed to the point of becoming… yes, you got it, a highly sensitive person.
All of your senses would have been put on high alert in order to survive your hostile environment.
The theory of Elaine N. Aron
According to American psychologist Elaine N. Aron, hypersensitivity is essentially innate, which means that we are born with it. We would have inherited it from our ancestors, who themselves would have inherited it from the first humans. It would be a remnant of the time when human beings, to survive a hostile world, had to have all their senses, physical and emotional, extremely acute.
I like this theory because, according to other studies, it is not only among human beings that there are 20% of highly sensitive individuals but also among animals. And since I tend to believe that Mother Nature’s got it right…
One can imagine the usefulness, in the animal kingdom, of 20% of animals who hear, smell, see and feel things better than others. They would be the protectors of the group. The scouts of the pack. The ones others rely on to pick up on dangers, opportunities; the intentions of other animals; the smell of prey in the wind; the sound of running water miles away… and whatnot.
It is only a short step between this and thinking that the 20% of highly sensitive human beings may also have a well-defined and valuable role to play among their own kind.
The study that reconciles Elaine and Saverio
In June 2020, a study conducted on 2800 twins by the Queen Mary University of London found that about 47% of hypersensitivity is innate, while 53% is due to environmental factors, thus learned. Now, everybody is happy.
One thing is certain: everything can be scientifically proven.
In the body fluids of hypersensitive children (blood, saliva, urine), there is more noradrenalin (adrenalin from the brain released when the nervous system is activated) and more cortisol (a hormone produced in case of excitement or stress) than others. Their heart rate is generally higher, and violent reactions to specific stimuli can be observed from birth.
But now that we know all this, it still doesn’t tell us how it feels to be different in this way.
What difference does it make to be a highly sensitive person?
In a word: everything.
We react more strongly to emotions and feelings and to everything related to our senses (hearing, sight, touch, smell…). This is called hyperesthesia.
So is it positive or negative? Well, as with everything, there is a bit of both.
I usually start with the positive side of things, but here I’ll start with the negative one only because I want to leave you with the many benefits it has.
The negative aspects
When our senses are heightened, it can sometimes be painful.
We are more sensitive than others to light, noise, touch, smells… A sound that will just bother someone will seem unbearable for us.
But in my opinion, this aspect is the easiest one to deal with. The more complicated one is dealing with our emotions.
We feel everything much more strongly. Therefore, we quickly feel overwhelmed by our own emotions, whether positive or negative, and having trouble channeling them can create misunderstandings and tensions. Others may think that we are overreacting, being “too this” or “too that,” that we go from one extreme to the other.
When we get excited about something, it is in a way that may seem entirely out of proportion. When we are afraid, we are more afraid than others. When we are angry, we can be really, really angry. When we are sad, it’s the end of the world… It’s not always easy to deal with it, neither for us nor for those close to us.
Always on the lookout
Sometimes all it takes is a change of tone in someone’s voice, a look in the eyes, a lack of punctuation in a text message or a threatening period at the end of a line, and our alarm goes off: why is he talking to me like that? Is he mad at me? Does he not like me? What have I done? Am I in danger? Help!
Because of this kind of emotional escalation, many highly sensitive people are prone to anxiety, anguish, and even panic attacks.
We can also take a simple comment the wrong way because it hurt us deeply. Some of the comments made by our family or friends, often without any intention of hurting us, can become words that will haunt us for the rest of our lives. And since others don’t always understand us, criticisms abound, which can seriously undermine our self-confidence and growth.
Other people don’t always understand our need to withdraw and remain alone while processing all the information, energy, and emotions that we receive.
Imagine walking into a room with thirty people. As soon as you step in, those thirty people rush towards you and start yelling what they think, feel and do into your ears. Not only are you not going to understand a thing, but you are going to feel assaulted.
That’s how we sometimes feel, and feeling exhausted by the flood of information, feelings, and energy, we need to isolate ourselves while the tsunami recedes and we recharge our batteries a bit.
I can’t tell you how many times, at a family reunion, birthday party, or wedding, I went to lock myself in the bathroom just for five minutes to take a break.
Although the need for solitude is a common trait for most of us, it is sometimes misinterpreted as shyness or introversion. 30% of hypersensitive people are, in fact, extroverts! Yup, that’s right.
When we don’t match what others expect from us
In her book The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You, Elaine N. Aron recounts a study conducted among elementary school children in Canada and China.
In Mandarin, the words “shy” and ” quiet” do not exist. They are translated as “good” or “well-mannered,” which immediately gives a much more positive connotation to these character traits.
This study showed that in China, shy and sensitive children are the ones who are the most respected by their peers, while in Canada, they are the least respected, in favor of the more extroverted and loud ones.
In Western countries, even psychologists generally consider these personality traits as “faults” or “problems.” Therefore, it is easy to understand that a child who grows up in an environment that does not have respect for who he or she is, nor consider him or her to be anything close to the “ideal child” cannot develop properly. And that’s a shame, because…
Being hypersensitive is great
There are so many benefits to being hypersensitive – when we’re allowed to grow in understanding and acceptance of who we are – that the whole world would benefit from seeing more highly sensitive people who are comfortable in their own skin.
Hypersensitivity has often been reduced to a pejorative female character trait: hysteria, vulnerability, and fragility. But while everyone can be affected, men and women alike, there is no reason to consider this temperament a problem. Why? Because the truth is hypersensitive people have always contributed to making the world a better place. Among artists, philosophers, teachers, volunteers, empaths… plenty of highly sensitive people. Behind our apparent fragility, we possess this strength born from the will to do better, see better, love better, help better, and grow better.
Empaths and proud of it
Empathy is the intelligence of the heart in its purest expression. Empathy towards others, whether they are the same or different, familiar or unknown, human, animal, or vegetable.
The animal species that are considered the most advanced, the most intelligent, are the ones that demonstrate the most empathy to their fellow creatures, but also to other species.
Can you imagine a world governed by empathy? By way of apprehending life, all life, like an empath? With care, gentleness, and compassion? Wouldn’t such a world be stronger, more loving, more tolerant, more egalitarian, more beautiful, more… poetic? I think it would be.
I believe that if we were taught to respect the uniqueness of hypersensitive children and people, if they were allowed to develop without thinking of themselves as abnormal, weird, or excessive, but instead as positively different; if we helped them understand and accept their own way of functioning, we would be creating an army of human beings in the service of the beautiful and the good.
Humans with senses and hearts sharpened like Japanese saber blades, in full possession of their means, who would enter this world with their hands filled with solutions and inspirations. Solutions and inspirations born from observation, compassion, empathy, and the dream of a nicer, kinder, better world.
Are you the proud parent of a little vampire?
Here are some of the signs that you may be parent to a highly sensitive human: your child reacts badly to change, often sleeps poorly; has reactions that seem out of proportion ( tantrums, intense excitement…); is particularly sensitive to noise, light, and smells; doesn’t like to wear clothes made of certain materials; doesn’t like to get his/her hands dirty; is curious, observant; likes to be alone; is creative, a perfectionist, intuitive, a good listener; he or she may also be having problems at school (with grades and/or bullying)…
If you recognize your child in some of these points, do him and all of us a favor… start reading about hypersensitivity right away 😉 You can also take Elaine N. Aron’s tests: the test for adults and the one for children.
Hypersensitivity is often hereditary. If you are the parent of a little vampire, you might be a vampire too, without even knowing it. 🙂
- Ph.D., E. A. N. (2020). The Highly Sensitive Person : How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You. Citadel.
- Ph.D., E. A. N. (1999). The Highly Sensitive Person’s Workbook (Workbook ed.). Harmony.
- Ph.D., E. A. N. (2001). The Highly Sensitive Person in Love : Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You (First Printing Underlining ed.). Harmony.
- Tomasella, S. (2016). Hypersensibles (Psychologie et Développement personnel) (French Edition). LGF.
- Daele, V. I. D. (2019). Un coeur gros comme une maison (Parentalités) (French Edition). DE BOECK SUP.
- Assary, E., Zavos, H. M. S., Krapohl, E., Keers, R., & Pluess, M. (2020, 3 juin). Genetic architecture of Environmental Sensitivity reflects multiple heritable components: a twin study with adolescents. Molecular Psychiatry. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41380-020-0783-8