Peer support subsequent to trauma contributes to full recovery

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) -- including complex trauma (cPTSD) -- is debilitating, breaking down the body through anxiety and stress, and it poses a significant suicide risk in sufferers. MyPTSD seeks to help and inform those who are directly or indirectly affected by these conditions through peer-to-peer support and educational resources.

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Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)

Discussion in 'Other Symptoms & Disorders' started by SeaBreeze, Jul 6, 2010.

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  1. SeaBreeze

    SeaBreeze New Member

    ANY OTHER HSP'S HERE? per Elaine Arron PhD (psycology) discovery of this minority group.

    Being born with a highly sensitive nervous system towards stimuli, and adding ingredients of trauma, would put us at the greatest risk of developing C-PTSD. DARWINIENS & EINSTEINS, I need you here?

    Seabreeze - tonight balmy
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  3. anthony

    anthony Master of none!

    HSP is a Highly Sensitive Person, which it is theorised that around 5 - 15% of the worlds population fits within. Being highly sensitive does not fit you within the realms of CPTSD. Being highly sensitive is not the same as actual physically and emotionally suffering childhood / long term Abuse. Trauma by itself is just that, trauma. It does not mix to become long term trauma unless it actually is long term trauma, regardless how sensitive or not a person is.

    I believe you are trying to fit something in by choosing words or via your interpretation, but that is not what doctrine on HSP, PTSD or CPTSD outlines at all. Beyond being highly sensitive, you would need to outright show where abuse occurred long term that physically manifested behavioural changes outside of what HSP already outlines, ie. shyness, social anxieties, inhibition, etc. Yes, HSP can create some aspects of fearfullness, though that does not equate to meeting the criteria of PTSD or CPTSD by itself. Being HSP does not equate with actual trauma to CPTSD. It just equates to HSP + PTSD.

    I will say... interesting theory though and certainly something to be mindful off if long childhood abuse was also present with some degree of longevity.
    Whitneys story, Nadia, Anna and 2 others like this.
  4. mumblinword

    mumblinword New Member

    Seabreeze, I had never heard of HSP's before, but after reading Anthony's description, I think I may have those characteristics in my personality as well.

    Unfortunately, I think that rather than cultivate and nurture them within myself, I distorted them in an attempt to obliterate them by forcing them to become extroverted traits in order to measure up to social expectations, which favor extroverted character traits. In my early life, I would do anything for recognition and approval, even destroy my own natural tendencies, in order to appear 'acceptable' in the eyes of others. Pretty sad, eh?

    Thanks for raising this topic, and giving me a new angle to ponder.

    Warm regards,

  5. krillco

    krillco New Member

    Beware of the 'Barnum Effect'. I read the Highly Sensitive book, and one thing that can be said is that far more than 5-15% of folks will relate to the descriptions of being 'highly sensitive'.
    reallydown and emmat like this.
  6. anthony

    anthony Master of none!

    Right on the money, which I am about to reflect to Ron below.

    Everything you just said Ron, steers you completely away from being HSP. You stated completely normal peer group, social and society pressures. Every person goes through this. A HSP is typically a very passive and placid person beyond being just quiet.

    Don't try and fit yourself into things, as most people could fit themselves into most diagnosis if they tried hard enough. You can pick-up a book and fit yourself into specific aspects you read, then suddenly you are diagnosing yourself with something you don't even have. Very dangerous.
  7. SeaBreeze

    SeaBreeze New Member


    My C-PTSD was caused by a sociopathic spouse of 30 yrs., who only became physically abusive at the very end. The last 6 years I watched as Dr. Jeckle very slowly & subtley became Dr. Hyde. My C-PTSD fully developed because it was supported by 3 different Psychiatrists I saw over this 6 years.

    I now understand why the author named this other persona Dr. Hyde, because after all, that's only one of the things they excel at. Hiding.

    The love of my life never raised his voice, didn't use profanity, drank only socially, didn't put me down or verbally abuse me. In fact, I am certain he would be the nicest man YOU could ever meet.

    I fell into the mental health trap as many real victims of abuse do. This trap held me hostage and overmedicated me, never cared to listen to me, never asked me why I recently had developed a voice impairment, put me on a seizure medication used as a psychotic med, to learn that seizure meds given to persons without seizures is a risk and can cause a full blown seizure. This is what happened to me and involved an ambulance and emergency center. And I learned about the extremely dangerous drugs modern day witch Dr.s had me on, because this is what they do to beautiful healthy successful self made women who at the time was a Person Trainer and fit for 25 years straight. My BP was never above 120/70 and my pulse rate at rest was 56 BPM. Now that's athletic!

    Who can relate with watching your Pychiatrist's face in their moment of enlightenment? When they try to hide from your eyes when they finally wake up and relize that they have been dupped by a Master Of The Game, a sociopath. The next month this same Dr. traumatized me so badly, even with a witness, that I ran for my life because I knew he was going to put me away in a nuthouse for good just to keep my mouth shut and prevent him from loosing his license.

    I look back now at how many opportunities I had to place hugh law suits on so many. But when you are this broken, and you ask for help to help you, you might have to learn that nothing is in place for this, especially after you have been FRAMED, BLAMED AND SHAMED, as I have. The love of my life took everything, and everyone in my entire life away from me. I went from simple small town high school grad, to becoming very successful in a business we built from scratch, lived a rich lifestyle, loved deeply, traveled, explored, adventured til my heart overflowed with immeasureable joys. My childhood was the happiest too.

    When you fall this hard, and your made out to be the abuser, you learn that this is exactly what a sociopath does. When they begin to blame you, and you say this isn't true of me and you know it, this is because they deflect themselves onto you when they cast blame.
    They have a language all their own and its what is known as "Crazy Making Language".

    A woman's shelter told me about having been GasLighted. So I went out and rented the movie called "GasLIght" that is an old black & white movie where Ingrid Burgram recieved an Academy Award. It was a psycological thriller when it debuted in the 1950's. The movie wasn't that hard for me to find.
    I learned from the women living in this shelter, (I went to a group support 1 night a week for nearly a year) that I had the most difficult domestic violence to overcome.

    Women who had been seriously battered physically, were telling me this. Whew! Was I confused. I couldn't understand for the life of me what they were talking about, or why my divorce attorney advised I go, even when she wouldn't tell me why.

    No I'm not crazy. Just spiritually raped, financially ruined, betrayed, and abandoned by everyone except 1 nephew who is smart enough to know who I am.

    I lost every other member of my two families, all of my other 22 nephews and neices, my friends and our friends, even lifelong girlfriends, lost my home that was paid in full from the divorce, recieved no alimony after 30 years marriage, and was left alone. This is when I got on the internet, purchased books from other countries, spent countless hours at libraries researching and references like only a HSP can. Need a researcher, insist on a HSP. Better yet, hire me. Ha!

    HSP's are gifted, did you know that? We are conscientious and have the capacity to deeply appreciate beauty, art, and music. We are intuitive and tend to have deep spiritual experiences. We will notice potential danger, such as feeling a tick crawling on our skin sooner than a non-HSP. We are very aware of safety issues and will be the first one to know how to exit a building in case of an emergency. We are concerned about the humane treatment of animals. We tend to be kind, compassionate, and undersanding, making us Natural Counselors, teachers and healers. We have an enthusiasm for life and thus can experience love an joy more deeply than non-HSPs, if we aren't feeling overwhelmed. The majority, non-HSP culture sometimes negatively judges our sensitivity. The HSP is a minority in all societies, which usually favor the majority non-HSPs (Aron 1996) Ted Neff, a HSP, PhD, and author of The Highly Sensitive Persons Survival Guide, says that HSPs need to develop new friendships with other HSPs, and try not to spend time with judgemental non-HSPs who make us feel flawed. He says that its also very important not to compare ourselves or try to compete with non-HSPs.

    The only person I ever competed with is myself. I have achieved and earned 4 beautiful prestigious awards of honor in my works. 3 of them are State wide awards of honor, the other "Small Business Person of the Year Award" from a large city. I am the worlds worse lier. I have studied C-PTSD around the globe and have more knowledge in it than all of the therapists and shrinks combined I've met. After all I am living C-PTSD and I am a Highly Sensitive Person. Careful now, you don't really want to take a walk in my shoes. This combination makes practical sense to me for several reasons. Yes I believe I do suffer with it more than a non-HSP with the same experience would. And Yes, we need to locate other HSPs.

    And Yes, our world needs us more than they know. History called us the Priestly advisors. We are gifted with foresight.

    Kings and Emperors would call on a Priestly advisor before they engaged in wars. These advisors, I would also call SEER's and other wonderful names like philosophers, poets, writers, nurturers, visionaries, wiseman, prophets and astrologers, etc......
    So if I may, allow me to find other HSP's for reasons that may not be clear right now. Let us find each other so we can show you. When I wrote Darwinians & Einsteins, I need you here - Well a HSP would understand this, what can I say? I have a weath of information to share here. If I said that in therapy I was the teacher, who would believe me, except for those therapists and an HSP?

    A horse is a highly sensitve animal. You saw how those animals were broken in the past. Now take a highly sensitive human and break them down until they are broken.

    Then add non-HSP, M.D.'s to this equation who aren't interested in finding cures for PTSD, and prefer to play God with our lives as if we were a one rat theory experiment.

    Now add societies who view Dr.s and University higher education as the ones to listen to, because after all they spent all these years studing and earning their status, right? I don't agree here. I have worked in the field with PhDs in ecology, botany and conservation who had great knowledge. Only trouble was, they didn't notice the things I noticed. Over and over I saw this. I could never understand it, until now. Review the movie "Patch Adams" and see how Patch and I think. If you ever need a nurse, wouldn't you want one to be kind, gentle, attenative, safety concious with meds etc... you would want your caretaker to have a heart like ET wouldn't you? I don't know, maybe not. But that's want I need right now. I need love and understanding. My own families wouldn't even listen to my truths or offer me the validation I remember desperately needing. To this day I have no words that can be written or spoken, that could begin to express how painful this reality has been for me.
    I know this much though, I want Dr. Elaine Aaron, Dr. Barry Jaeger, or Dr. Ted Neff to be my therapists.

    I'm ready to do the "brain storm dance" and work out ways of healing for us. I want to develop places for PTSD people to go and feel good again, to go outside and play together in sports, go fishing, go dancing, play golf, enjoy fabulous foods together, and live. I want them off of all the drugs and I want to offer them the websites that will show how dangerous these drugs are, how addictive anti-depressents are, how drugs cause voice impairments, how drugs cover up domestic violence, and I want to teach them HOW TO SAY NO TO THESE DRUGS. There are options for us. There is healing for us. There is a better way than this USA mental health dinosaur age.

    I am working on how I can develop this place. I wish to find others who are ready to work on our solutions and find ways to end our sufferings. Anthony, I commend you. You are a Pioneer. But so am I. AA and NA has worked for many people. I once heard a therapist say that she felt AA was a cult. Then I reminded her of the fact that it has worked for many to find a higher power and sobriety and rebuild their lives, and this is a GOOD THING!

    We are all unique & individual. And we are primates. Ha! I have to remind myself of this regularly because it's all making more sense to me now. Hey Darwin, are you out there? Lets chat!
    Nadia likes this.
  8. mumblinword

    mumblinword New Member

    Sorry folks, I can't quite swallow your interpretations of what I was trying to get across in my message.

    Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like people are thinking that I've cemented a verdict about HSP against myself.

    That's not the case.

    From my perspective this was definitely not a case of the 'Barnum Effect' and me skipping merrily down the garden path, arm in arm. :wink: Knowing myself as intimately as I do, and the history of my psychic evolution, I can attest without a doubt that in the earlier years of my life I was by nature a very introverted child. That's really all I was saying, and I felt prompted to say it because someone held up a new filter through which to observe that certain characteristics which are shared by the HSP condition were part of my own natural personality traits. I never thought to diagnose myself as having the condition per se.

    Rather, the topic of HSP being raised caused me to reflect and recall my true nature, which had been forgotten because I had buried it beneath a compensatory need to be recognized. It was truly a survival skill being employed at a very young age, and stemmed from many of the PTS experiences I had up to that point. Whether others agree with my deduction or not, is beside the point, because it couldn't be more clearer to me that indeed I abandoned my inner child (with his quiet, docile nature) and sold him out in exchange for false security.

    What I do realize, is that at some point, I rejected certain qualities of my nature, because I feared they would not serve my need to be affirmed and valued.

    Understanding that now, causes a desire to rise in me, urging me to explore exactly what was sacrificed in relinquishing those tendencies.

    I'll likely never think about HSP again unless it crosses my path somewhere along the way, but meeting the topic here for the first time as given me fresh insight into some of the facets of myself that otherwise may have remained unrecovered.

    Warm regards,

    Abstract and Whitneys story like this.
  9. James B.

    James B. I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    *Highly Creative* is a part of the HSP criteria, and there is some evidence to support the notion that this is a learned trait - coming from determination and 100% commitment.

    Picasso's mother saw the determination in him at a young age and knew he would be great at something, a political leader, a general...something.

    Also, "highly creative" suggests "gifted" so it stands to reason there is going to be some quantifiable proof, commercial or consensus.

    Can identify with what Ron wrote about reflecting on the lost/inner child: I did that today when I read the stuff on HSP. Thanks for sharing this Ron. My truama explains most of this stuff, and my hypersensitivites to sensory input might even stem form my lifelong Anxiety disorder - adrenaline over-production? IDK.

    Overall, I agree w/ Anthony and krillco...

    SeaBreeze, medications are helping a lot of people get grounded and do their healing work for the first time in their lives, am one of them. But I did have some really bad experiences with meds many years ago, too.

    Also, I test within range for Aspergers, but a lot of it really manifests when my anxiety disorder is through the roof. HSP/AS - whatever...I got trauma and my Dx of CPTSD is for sure.

    Fun discussion everyone...
    Abstract, Whitneys story and Anna like this.
  10. krillco

    krillco New Member

    For me, the bottom line is that the survivor really does know themselves best; it's best to be very cautious about using one or even one or even just two methods to 'blanket' approach to stress disorders.
  11. Elizabeth72

    Elizabeth72 New Member

    I was diagnosed with PTSD about 3 years ago after leaving a physically/mentally abusive relationship. I'm 40. I am a survivor of an extremely traumatic childhood and have been living with PTSD, in reactionary threat survival mode, most of my life. My first Memory is when I was in diapers, I witnessed my father smack my mother down to the ground, sit on top of her and bang her head into the ground as he choked her. She suffered a concussion that night. I was forced to go with the big scary monster that was my father that very night, off into the dark unknown, leaving behind my mother and my brothers.

    My father was a narcissistic abusive alcoholic who turned his abuse on me after he and and my mother divorced when I was 8 (after having made up/broken up several more times in fiery dramatic fights - the last fight my mother was chasing my father around the house with a chef's knife). Growing up in that environment was frightening, to say the least. I recall my mother trying to get me tested for autism because I was so incredibly shy and introverted. My teachers all noted how quiet and withdrawn I was. The IQ tests had me at about 136 (back in the early 80's), I was a straight A student, just could not socialize with people very well at all.

    I'm just now discovering the idea of being an HSP and to me it makes a lot of sense, in fact, I wonder if some of what I interpreted as being traumatic was simply sensory overload with all the yelling, hitting, fighting, drama. My family frightened me horribly yet they always projected the defect on to me. Funny how that works. I think I was the only sane one in the bunch, recognizing their behavior as being dysfunctional and in doing so, isolated myself from them.

    It can be very complicated and each person's path is quite unique. I would be cautious when discounting someone's discovery process. Just because they identify with something now doesn't mean they will embrace that label as the whole of who they are - there is a learning curve, to be sure. If anything I've found that the truth usually sticks and will continue to come up until it is recognized and processed. The passing fads, or that which is not truth for us, usually fade fairly quickly. If someone does need to embrace that label as being who they are, then so be it, it's their show, not yours, they are going down that path because they feel drawn to it for very personal reasons that they aren't always able to verbalize in a way that makes sense to you.

    Anyhow, that's my take on this thread. I honestly would have liked to see more exploration of PTSD in an HSP and less worry about the dangers of jumping on a bandwagon.

    Since I am just now beginning to ponder this in myself, I'm afraid I don't have much insight to offer other than "ya, me too, maybe". :) I am going to start a diary thread where I think I can further explore this potential combination.

    A good way to see if you really might be an HSP is to know your Myers-Briggs classification. Mine came up INFJ and so it's very likely I could be an HSP.
    Abstract and kal like this.
  12. circe47

    circe47 Well-Known Member

    The criteria that differentiate C-PTSD from PTSD are:
    • chronicity of trauma and inability to escape from it, i.e. childhood abuse, poverty, domestic violence, slavery, witness to long-term War, etc.
    • dissociative tendencies
    • disturbed sense of self
    Although many symptoms are present with both disorders, it is the chronicity and disturbances of personality that really set the two apart and make treating C-PTSD more complex, hence the C. It is really a matter of treating multiple traumas and sense of self issues that create the complex nature of C-PTSD. A person who has suffered a single trauma, like car accident, house fire, mugging, or rape that sufferes from PTSD can have a high self esteem, adequate resources, and wonderful support system that often lead to easier treatment and faster healing. People with C-PTSD often have alterations to the brain that make treatment more complex and long-term, and healing a lifelong process.

    I think it is reasonable to say that persons with C-PTSD and PTSD are BOTH capable of being HSP. Being HSP is inherent, whereas the two disorders are illnesses that develop by way of trauma. Being HSP is no indication whether you will develop C-PTSD or simply develop PTSD. It is the chronicity factor and more severe symptomology that decide which diagnosis is more appropriate.

    To surmise it all, I would have to say that while some people are more resilient and can go through trauma without developing PTSD, the other side of the coin might seem that a Highly Sensitive Person IS more pre-disposed to developing PTSD and/or C-PTSD. In saying so, It would also make sense that HSP's would manifest more severe severe symptoms of either disorder, just because their neurological systems are so much more sensitive than someone who isn't an HSP.

    Oh, and I am a HSP, by the way.
    Abstract and Nadia like this.
  13. kal

    kal Member

    Thank you so much for this post! I have learned a lot from it!
  14. anthony

    anthony Master of none!

    Don't lose sight of what I also mentioned below that post you quoted, being:
    Whitneys story likes this.
  15. trace101

    trace101 New Member

    Hello, I am new at this. I have both HSP and PTSD. I can tell you it's the worst thing in the world. I really need to post this first and see if it posts, and then I will write about my story.
  16. trace101

    trace101 New Member

    Okay well here goes nothing. I see the last post was posted on Jan 14, 2012, which makes me wonder if anyone really goes on this site any longer...

    Anyway, I am a HSP with PTSD. It's so severe that I cannot even function any more. I cannot even find the strength to go to the doctors any more since not too many of them even know what I am talking about. I leave there leaving more Depressed than going there. I remember once leaving a Endocrinologist's office with tears pouring down my eyes, passing nurses and doctors along the way with them just stopping and staring. No one asked me if I was okay or if I needed help. I blew through the front door right into my car, where I sat there for probably 20 minutes crying uncontrollably. I really thought that that doctor's appointment was going to be the answer to my misery in which I thought I had a hormonal imbalance. The doctor told me there was nothing wrong with me and basically told me it was all in my head. I waited almost an month for this appointment. It was a devastating experience.

    Fast forward...I've been to holistic doctors, modern day doctors, psychologists. you name it....I've gotten no where. I've read so much that I find myself actually educating many different professionals in their own fields. I don't want to sound egotistic, as I am the FURTHEST thing from being even remotely smart, in fact, writing this sucks the life out of me to just find the right words. My brain is exhausted. My heart is drained. And my inner soul has no place to feel safe or at home. I don't know how else to put into words....I am just lost.

    I've been through the following in a very somewhat short amount of time: an alcoholic ex husband, a divorce, a sociopathic boyfriend who stalked me and beat me, my only sister who died suddenly from a brain hemmorhage, then shortly my father died of a heart attack. I married a man who sensed my vulnerableness and coerced me to marry him (in such a short time) this was right after my sister died. I had NO idea what I was doing, I believe that I was in a "disassociative disorder" type deal where I didn't feel anything, only later to find him sitting on top of me on our honeymoon trying to strangle me...long story. MY only brother, who is one of the most amazing guys you'd meet, was wrongfully found guilty and sentenced to life. (another long story) The only thing I have left is a mother, a mother who has lost everything including her ability to help help herself, let alone, me. She has cried for 13 years everyday ever since my brother was taken away in handcuffs.

    Anyway, you can't make this stuff up, but I wished that I did. I have never been diagnosed with HSP, but my whole life, I've always felt extremely sensitive to EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE. I was diagnosed by a psychologist with PSTD in the past, and I believe that it had been lingering ever since.

    I do NOT know where to turn, or where to go. My boyfriend doesn't understand, and I hate having him see me this way. And to boot, I have PMDD. Which for those who care to know, it's severe PMS. And it's really bad this time around. I've read that a lot of HSPs may get PMDD due to it's a sensitivity issue and the "professionals" again do not know why and what causes this, but it's very very tough to deal with.

    I am contemplating admitting myself into a hospital, but I am not crazy. Nor do I want to come out crazy...which is what will probably happen if I go there. SO, if anyone reads this, and if anyone can share their advice, I would be greatly appreciative.
  17. Hashi

    Hashi I'm a VIP

    trace, have you seen psychologists or other mental health professionals specifically for PTSD? I may be misunderstanding your post, but you seem to have hoped for help on the basis of high sensitivity and to be identifying this as your main, or your major, mental health issue.

    HSP is not a mental health condition that has diagnostic criteria and needs treatment. PTSD is.

    I am wondering if you have been mistakenly identifying PTSD symptoms as being caused by high sensitivity, or at least whether the two have become confused with each other.

    I wouldn't put HSP first here at all. If you've been diagnosed with PTSD I would put PTSD first, and mention that you also identify with being a HSP. PTSD does not go away over time and it needs to be treated. HSP is a factor in your emotional makeup, not a disorder to be treated. Many people who identify as HSP have good mental health or only minor issues.

    As you've identified, you've posted in a thread with little traffic. That's because the issue of being a HSP is important in understanding yourself, your history and what approaches are helpful to you, but the mental health issue is PTSD. If you've tried therapy/treatment specifically for PTSD and have been unsuccessful in that, I'd suggest posting in the therapy section of the site for advice and suggestions. If you haven't tried therapy/treatment specifically for PTSD then I'd suggest that's what you need to seek.

    HSP would not be a consideration other than choosing a trauma therapist who feels right for you, just as anyone has to given their emotional makeup, and then to look at the influence of it in your history, just as anyone looks at the influence of their personality and sensitivity on their experiences.
    Away From The Sun likes this.
  18. Don't trip

    Don't trip Active Member

    So glad I found this thread, although it's pretty vacant.

    I AM an HSP. My therapist refers to this as Sensory Integration Disorder. This is real and while its references are mainly targeted to children, there is information online with regards to adults who have this disorder. My therapist believes I have this and fit the criteria to a T.

    This does not eliminate my C-PTSD and is not co morbid with it. Being an HSP is hard wired into my personality. This also means I need to approach my C-PTSD differently than most, as well as the abuse I have suffered.

    I believe HSP is very REAL. It DOES aggravate my PTSD. While I could argue about the DSM all day long insofar as defintions as to the disorders I have, whether they are official or not and so on, it really doesn't matter when it comes to my ability to cope. It's all the same to me. Putting a label on it doesn't suddenly turn on a coping light.

    I know now, what helps me with my PTSD. Unfortunately, this is not supported by those who have it. Tough shit. They aren't me and I'm not them. I just know that the ways I have decided to cope with it, remove my resistance to having PTSD and being an HSP. I feel the greatest peace I have ever experienced in my life. And as with many HSP's, I have to filter external noise by others who think I should be healing in a certain way.

    I'm talking out my butt here as there is reason for saying this. Anyway..

    HSP and PTSD are not co morbid disorders. Nor is HSP a recognized disorder at all anyway.

    I don't agree that it doesn't have a powerful impact on my life, because it does and always has. I pick up subtleties that others don't. It's hard to live in a world where one is trying to understand how to cope with their PTSD and recently realized they are also HSP. It's a might overwhelming...
    circe47 likes this.
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