Have you ever had a friend or spouse who is not only sensitive to smell, touch, and light, but also very sensitive to the way you speak and act, as well? This kind of sensory defensiveness can play out as Avoidant Behavior in relationship if you don’t see that Sensory Sensitivity can easily become Emotional Sensitivity.
Individuals who exhibit sensory defensiveness demonstrate unique, individualized responses to sensory input and may include patterns of avoidance, sensory seeking, fear, anxiety and aggression (Wilbarger & Wilbarger, 2006, p. 2). These difficulties arise from inefficient processing of sensory information however they are often misdiagnosed as being emotional in origin.
While it is important to differentiate the different origins and underlying dysfunctions of sensory defensiveness and emotionally based difficulties, it should also be noted that sensory responses never occur in the absence of emotion. In fact, while the disorder in sensory defensiveness is rooted in sensory processing, its ramifications if left untreated extend quickly into the domains of emotional and mental disorders.
In layman’s terms the Sensory Defensive person is one who has a large amount of sensory responses to every action in life. It’s as if you send 5 Defensive Lineman in and 30 come instead. (Did I just use a football metaphor? This gay man is out of control!)
If you get hit in the arm and you hurt at 100%, you can imagine that the sensory defensive person would feel 200-300% pain. When you are not a sensitive person, it’s hard to imagine or have compassion for the people in your life who are extremely sensitive. Coming from someone who has dealt with “You Are Just Too Sensitive!” my entire life and having 1000s of clients who are of the same ilk—THIS IS REAL!
If you asked each sensory defensive person if he or she would or could change themselves and their sensitivity, I’m sure they would all answer yes. I’ll give you an example of a scenario that might play out in the life of a Sensory Defensive Person.
I go to a restaurant with some friends. I order some food. Next to me is a table full of smokers. They are not smoking at the time, but they had just come in the restaurant from a bar and smell of cigarettes and reeking of booze. I’m sitting next to them, too close. The smell is so repulsive that it begins to give me a headache. By the time we order, I have asked the person on the opposite side of the table to trade places with me. When the order comes I already have a fully-manifested migraine and can’t even eat my food, which would lead me to frustration and anger.
If I don’t know that this is what happens to me because of a diagnosis, I may lash out in anger at a friend or the waitress, because my order isn’t correct. Ultimately, if I’m not being observant of my behavior, I will get out of control. Everyone around me will simply think that I am tightly wound.
Misperception of ourselves and our relationship to this sensitivity is why I want to help people become aware of this disorder. It is on the spectrum of Autism. I say that because I want you as the reader to understand it really has beginnings in the neural make-up of the brain. This disorder has not been studied much, but it should be. I would venture to guess that almost 40% of my clients have been dealing with this disorder most of their lives. Some have turned to alcohol and drugs to diminish the sensitivity, because drugs like Pot will slow the neural pathways to the point where you feel normal.
If you sense you need to talk to someone for these issues, give me a call. I’ve become an expert on the subject and can help you with many tried and proven suggestions and hypnotherapy, as well. 954-253-6493.
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