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Is everyone with MS a sensitive person?

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

Young crying woman in blue shirt

Some people have sensitive natures, often putting others ahead of themselves - usually at the detriment of their own wellbeing.

Often, they will repress their responses to difficult or confrontational issues / people / situations.

They may feel that they don't fit in, or that they are imposters. Many people feel unloved or unlovable. But they are highly empathic, tuning in to the emotions of others with almost a psychic ability.

Qualities like thoughtful, loyal, compassionate, creative are often paired with such individuals. They may experience overwhelm on a regular basis, struggling to let go of things or forgive others easily. They may generally be reflective, take feedback personally, seek meaning and purpose in life.

Such traits were categorised as a personality type known as Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) by Elaine Aron in 1991. A clinical psychologist by profession, Elaine researched these traits and concluded that around 20% of the world population fits into this category. These qualities can seem like negatives and are often spoken of in this tone by others.

It would not surprise me to find that a lot of people struggling with mental health issues might fit this grouping.

But I’ve also noticed that a fair few people with #MS seem to exhibit or confess to having a lot of these qualities. I’ve been wondering for a while whether there might be any correlation between MS and Highly Sensitive People, but I didn’t know of any study having been undertaken in this area.

So, I was very interested to read in Gabor Mate’s book ‘When the body says no’ that he had undertaken some small research and found that there did seem to be a correlation between autoimmune conditions and emotional repression. This feels significant to me, and whilst I recognise that I don’t know the sizes or nature of his research, this could be a crucial area for undertaking further research. It would be highly valuable, as it would allow us to do something preventative for anyone who might have that predisposition to autoimmunity.

Modern culture in the western world (and societies that emulate western culture) doesn’t really prioritise emotional health; And we certainly don’t prioritise teaching people to express their emotions freely, or indeed how important it is for our overall health. Yet this could provide one easily accessible route, especially to those at risk of or predisposed to autoimmune conditions like MS, for better health and wellbeing.

I don’t know if there’s any substance to my thinking, but I feel called to put it out there – perhaps to see if it resonates with anyone. If it does, please let me know; equally if you think I’m talking rubbish, let me know (nicely though please as I am a HSP).


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