Are you a Highly Sensitive Person?

Have you ever felt that you were just a bit more sensitive than those around you? A pint of  beer leaves your head Stressed womanswimming. A cup of strong coffee sends you through the roof. Itchy socks have to be replaced. Sometimes all you want is to be on your own, in a dark, quiet room. And of course you feel guilty and a failure for wanting this. You feel that there is definitely something “wrong” with you.

So here is the good news. Maybe there is nothing wrong with you. It could be that you are one of the 15-20% of the population that has a very finely tuned nervous system, and are what has become known as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). The concept was first talked about in the mid-1990s by Drs. Elaine and Arthur Aron. Elaine Aron went on to write the international best seller ‘The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You‘.

Having felt easily overwhelmed since childhood, the idea had real resonance for me. It also explains why hot, cold, alcohol, any external stimulus seemed to affect me more than others. I can now proudly call myself an HSP.

Elaine Aron developed a simple questionnaire to help you determine whether you are an HSP. Try the questionnaire here.

The Pros stressed manand Cons

The Pros: HSPs are extremely sensitive on all levels which makes them empathic, creative and highly attuned to what is going on around them. They make great therapists, artists, musicians, but also visionary leaders – their highly attuned senses making it easy for them to understand other people and situations.

The Cons: This same sensitivity can make the world an overwhelming experience to the HSP, where too much information can be received by the person. This can lead to burnout and exhaustion.

The cynical amongst you may say that everybody is sensitive and we could all do with some decent downtime in an increasingly frazzled world. I think this is definitely true, but there does appear to be a scientific consensus that the HSP does actually exist on a biological level too.

I enjoy working with HSPs and often find that helping clients reframe their life, allowing for their individual gifts and weaknesses leads to a much more satisfying life. If you suspect you could be an HSP, or just feel frazzled in a busy world, please do contact me.

© 2016 Arieh Kronenberg

Images courtesy of stockimages & nenetus at

Depression – the last taboo?

Stephen Fry - Time to Change

Is it my imagination or has depression become quite trendy lately?

I was at my gym the other day and saw this poster of Stephen Fry. It started me thinking about how attitudes to depression have really changed lately.

It may have started with Stephen Fry coming out – not as gay, but as bipolar. Fry became mental health charity Mind Champion of the year in 2007 for his excellent documentary The Secret Life Of the Manic Depressive. In this he bravely explored his own experience of bipolar disorder and spoke to others of their experiences. These public displays by celebrities, while dismissed by some as merely publicity seeking, have a huge effect on how the general public view mental health. Here was a very successful, hugely popular and highly functioning person admitting to mental health problems. What a great way to update old fashioned stereotypical images of mental health.

Or maybe it started earlier. In the 1990’s Diana, Princess of Wales’s public admissions of self-harm and eating disorders allowed anyone suffering from these illnesses to share more openly what was happening for them.

Earlier this year Freddie Flintoff, ex-England cricket captain presented an amazing documentary on the BBC about his depression. Freddie Flintoff – Hidden Side Of Sport showed Flintoff trying to understand his depression which had paralysed him while captaining England during 2006-2007. The film had him talk to a host of internationally famous sports stars, all revealing their own stories. I felt that Flintoff and the other contributors were particularly brave. Within the world of professional sport, where everyone is a winner, there is not normally room for this type of self-reflection.

Freddie Flintoff

Andrew Flintoff reveals battle with depression and alcohol dependence – Article in The Guardian

The times they are a changing
In the documentary, Piers Morgan, ex-editor of the Daily Mirror, was interviewed by Flintoff. Morgan admitted that during Flintoff’s troubles he found no sympathy for him at all. He mocked him in the Daily Mirror – Flintoff was captain of England. What right did he have to be depressed? Morgan now reflects that this was an unfair way to treat him and admits that his own lack of understanding was at the root of the mocking.

The recent tragic suicide by the Welsh national football manager Gary Speed was handled in a much more sensitive way by the media. Within the football profession as well it was taken seriously. The PFA (Professional Footballers Association) acted immediately by sending out 50,000 booklets offering advice on depression to all ex-players. Now that seems like a great improvement to me.


Time to Change is an anti-stigma campaign run by the leading mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.