“Highly sensitive people are all creative by definition.”
Elaine Aron, PhD adds that it is “because we process things so thoroughly and notice so many subtleties and emotional meanings that we can easily put two unusual things together.”
Sensory sensitivity also comes into play in many creative endeavors. When Therese Borchard of Beliefnet interviewed me (her Huffington Post column has the title 5 Gifts of Being Highly Sensitive), one of the “gifts” I mentioned is the richness of sensory detail that life provides.
The subtle shades of texture in clothing, and foods when cooking, the sounds of music or even traffic or people talking, fragrances and colors of nature – all of these may be more intense for highly sensitive people.
(Of course, people are not simply “sensitive” or “not sensitive” – like other qualities and traits, it’s a matter of degree.)
Years ago, I took a color discrimination test to work as a photographic technician, making color prints. The manager said I’d scored better, with more subtle distinctions between hues in the test charts, than anyone he had evaluated.
That kind of response to color makes visual experience rich and exciting, and can help artists and designers be even more excellent.
See more in my post Gifts and challenges of being highly sensitive.
In her article Highly Sensitive Persons – High Sensitivity and Creative Ability, psychologist Susan Meindl, MA writes, “A temperamental connection has been observed between between high Sensitivity and creativity. Individuals may manifest extreme sensitivity to stimulation, or psychic over-excitabilities, in any of five areas: intellectual, psychomotor, imaginational, emotional, or sensual.”
(This is a reference to the work of Kazimierz Dabrowski, MD, PhD – see my information page Dabrowski / advanced development.)
She says the three areas of emotional, intellectual, and imaginational excitability “have been theorized to be most indicative of developmental potential and creative expression.” But, she notes, “Sometimes over-excitability can cause difficulties.”
That is something that Elaine Aron and many others address in their work.
For example Lisa A. Riley, LMFT (Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist) writes:
Throughout my practice, I have encountered a connection between highly sensitive people and their own creative impulses.
This characteristic does not discriminate between painter, actor, or musician—they all appear to have one thing in common: they experience the world differently than the average individual.
Creatives often feel and perceive more intensely, dramatically, and with a wildly vivid color palate to draw from, which can only be described as looking at the world through a much larger lens.
Without a substantial filtration system firmly in place to screen out most of the busy noise, these people tend to receive a far greater amount of stimuli directly into their psyches.
As a result, they frequently become more attuned to subtle details in their environment, to the people they deal with, and especially to their own internal process.
From her guest post on my Highly Sensitive site: Highly Sensitive Personality and Creativity.
Another therapist, Ane Axford, MS, LFMT, writes in her guest article Are you drowning in a sea of sensitivity? It’s time to walk on water about dealing with our high sensitivity:
I have often heard an analogy in the psychology field that creative geniuses and those who experience mental disorder are in the same water. The difference is that one is swimming and the other is drowning.The initial quote is from my post: Elaine Aron on Creativity and Sensitivity.
The image is The Artist’s Hand – by The odd Note. I also use it for the cover of my short Kindle book Being Highly Sensitive and Creative.