If you answer “yes” to 8 or more of the following questions, then you are a “highly sensitive person,” as described in Elaine Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person. If you answer “yes” to at least one of the questions, the odds are you have that affliction but have adapted pretty well:
1. Does the power indicator light on the TV at the foot of your bed keep you awake?
2. Do you always hear strange noises in a car when you’re driving or riding in it, even when the radio is on? Motor noises? Wheel and tire noises? Chassis creaks?
3. Do you smell things nobody else can smell? Smoke? Gas? Cinnamon? Hominy?
4. Do perfume and cologne irritate your nose? Even the scent of shampoo in your own hair?
5. Do you see things on the periphery of your vision that no one else can see? Lights? Shadows?
6. Are you unable to sleep in an airplane seat even in Business Class?
7. Is it always too hot for you in the upper balcony at the Chicago Civic Opera House or Chicago’s O’Hare Airport? (Chicago is often freezing cold, but neither of those establishments ever is.)
8. Does an Ikea store give you a panic attack?
9. Do you prefer ATMs to live bank tellers, because they don’t ask you for personal information (such as an ID picture) to cash a check?
10. Is one Godiva chocolate too many?
My condolences, if you answered “yes” to 8 or more of these very serious questions. On second thought, my condolences if you answered “yes” to 2 or more. Gagging at the smell of cinnamon is no laughing matter.
My congratulations if you did not.
And, if you’re highly sensitive, you should avoid jury duty!