Who is a supersenser?

A supersenser is a person who was born emotionally sensitive. As everything else, emotional sensitivity is dialectical, and it presents with its own unique challenges as well as benefits. 

To read more about parenting a supersenser click here.

Potential Challenges

Reactions may have a very low threshold for occurrence

Usually, the intensity of a reaction is not commensurate with the situation, and it is frequently not even obvious to others what may have caused the outburst. It can be a thought or a memory or an external event that is so minute, that observers may not even register what happened.

Reactions are intense (from 0 to 100)

Supersensers often describe their emotion as tsunamis that are overwhelming and cause intense emotional pain. Such states can be described as emotional intoxication, where a person (who is kind and empathic in balanced moments), starts to rage, using obscene language, personal malign attacks, threats, physical aggression and destruction of property.

Reactions happen very fast (from 0 to 100 in a split second)

Emotional reactions of supersenser are not only sudden and extreme, but they also happen very rapidly. Within seconds, supersensers can jump from a neutral or positive mood to an uncontrolled rage.

Reaction take a long time to subside

It usually takes a considerable amount of time for an emotional reaction of a supersenser to go back to the baseline. Thus, corresponding behaviors may continue for 20-30 min, and sometimes for hours.

Such reactivity is frequently associated with the following difficulties:

  • Avoidance of tasks that require effort
  • Hyper-reactivity (e.g., verbal/physical aggression, suicidal ideation, self-injury)
  • Difficulty with transitions and change 
  • Low tolerance for delayed gratification
  • Rapidly shifting attention
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity (acting before thinking)
  • Combination of being easily bored and avoidance of new, unfamiliar activities
  • Problematic relationship with parents, siblings, and peers
  • Extreme thinking style (e.g., black and white thinking, catastrophizing)
  • Difficulty with normative responding to social cues
  • Sensory sensitivity (visual, auditory, touch, smell. taste)
  • Difficulty with personal hygiene.

Potential Benefits

Enhanced emotion recognition

Supersensers are sometimes called human X-rays or described as having a “sixth sense.”. They can easily read other people’s emotions, which plays an important role in interpreting information. Emotion recognition helps identify underlying intensions in communications, evaluate the genuineness of responses and motivation behind actions of other people.

Increased empathy

Emotionally sensitive people are usually more responsive to distress signals from others. In balanced moments, supersensers can be very caring, understanding, and empathetic. Empathy is an ability to understand and share the feelings of another person.

Experience of positive emotions on a high level

Just like negative emotions, supersenser are likely to also experience positive emotions on a high level. This especially applies to children. Adults with emotional sensitivity may become emotion phobic over time due to harmful invalidation, low ability to withstand their emotional tsunamis and cope with them constructively.

Increased creativity

Emotionally sensitive people experience much higher highs and much lower lows than people with average emotionality. Thus, they often pick up the little cues in the environment that others may miss. They can see patterns whether others see randomness. They can find meaning in the minutiae of everyday life and experience a world in which there are both more information and more opportunities to create a new synthesis.

In the words of Pearl S. Buck...

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death.”

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