What is this ‘high sensitivity’ that is occurring within 20% of the population that makes them different and what role do our emotions play?
In Daniel Goleman’s #1 bestseller “Emotional Intelligence” he mentions this in chapter 11, “Mind and Medicine”:
‘The Body’s Mind: How Emotions Matter for Health’ (pg 166)
“In 1974 a finding in a laboratory at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester, rewrote biology’s map of the body: Robert Ader, a psychologist, discovered that immune system, like the brain, could learn. His result was a shock; the prevailing wisdom in medicine had been that only the brain and the central nervous system could respond to experience by changing how they behaved. Ader’s finding led to the investigation of what are turning out to be myriad ways the central nervous system and the immune system communicate – biological pathways that make the mind, the emotions, and the body not separate, but intimately entwined.”
“The immune system is the ‘body’s brain,” as neuroscientist Francisco Varela, at Paris’s Ecole Polytechnique, puts it, defining the body’s own sense of self – of what belongs within it and what does not. Immune cells travel in the bloodstream throughout the entire body, contacting virtually every other cell. Those cells they recognize, they leave alone; those they fail to recognize, they attack. The attack either defends us against viruses, bacteria, and cancer or, if the immune cells misidentify some of the body’s own cells, creates an autoimmune disease such as allergy or lupus.”
“The field that studies this, psychoneuroimmunology, or PNI, is now a leading-edge medical science. Its very name acknowledges the links: psycho, or “mind”; neuro, for the neuroendocrine system (which subsumes the nervous system and hormone systems); and immunology, for the immune system.”
“A network of researchers is finding that the chemical messengers that operate most extensively in both brain and immune system are those that are most dense in neural areas that regulate emotion. Some of the strongest evidence for a direct physical pathway allowing emotions to impact the immune system has come from David Felton, a colleague of Ader’s. Felton began by noting that emotions have a powerful effect on the autonomic nervous system, which regulates everything from how much insulin is secreted to blood-pressure levels.”
“Another key pathway linking emotions and the immune system is via the influence of the hormones released under stress. The catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine – otherwise known as adrenaline and noradrenaline), cortisol and prolactin, and the natural opiates beta-endorphin and encephalin are all released during stress arousal. Each has a strong impact on immune cells. While the relationships are complex, the main influence is that while these hormones surge through the body, the immune cells are hampered in their function: stress suppresses immune resistance, at least temporarily, presumably in a conservation of energy that puts a priority on the more immediate emergency, which is more pressing for survival. But if stress is constant and intense, that suppression may become long-lasting.
Microbiologists and other scientists are finding more and more such connections between the brain and the cardiovascular and immune systems- having first had to accept the once-radical notion that they exist at all.”
In further reading of Daneil Goleman’s “Emotional Intelligence” in a section titled, “The Neurochemistry of Timidity” he discusses signs of heightened sensitivity:
“One sign of this heightened sensitivity is that, for example, when young men and women who were quite shy in childhood are measured in a laboratory while exposed to stressed such as harsh smells, their heart rate stays elevated much longer than for their more outgoing peers – a sign that surging norepinephrine is keeping their amygdala excited and , through connected neural circuits, their sympathetic nervous system aroused. Kagan finds that timid children have higher levels of reactivity across the range of the sympathetic nervous system indices, from higher resting blood pressure and greater dilation of the pupils, to higher levels of norepinephrine markers in their urine.” (pg. 218)