Highly sensitive Person with Aphantasia


I have aphantasia. I am also a highly sensitive person with traits validated by Elaine Aron's research. One of these traits is sensory processing sensitivity. I am sensitive to pain, sound, smell, lights, touch, temperature, etc. As a young woman, I excelled in mathematics, enjoying the experience as a way of distancing myself from a turbulent emotional environment. I have good spatial skills and have experienced aphantasia most of my life. When focusing on research, I am less distracted by externals, but when my mind is free, I am aware of named distractions. Recently I read that "Aphantasics experience lower levels of sensory sensitivity, overwhelm from “sensory inputs that might be bright lights, loud noises, or the smell of perfume,” says Carla Dance, a doctoral researcher at the University of Sussex in the U.K." I was puzzled by this finding and so would like to put this question out to the community. Does anyone in the community with aphantasia also experience sensory processing sensitivity or identify as a HSP. To clarify, sensory processing sensitivity differs from sensory processing disorder.
Thank you for your response to this inquiry.

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In the section below Carla Dance’s article in aphantasia.com, there are several comments from people who say that they have HSP, so I don’t think you are alone. I also don’t think you should react too strongly to statements about how people with aphantasia experience the world. Most studies that describe differences in distributions of traits between different populations (such as people with and without aphantasia) are based on statistical analyses even to be able to show that difference. It is fairly rare to find something that completely differentiates between two populations, meaning that everyone in one group clearly falls in one range and everyone in the other group falls in a different, non-overlapping or minimally overlapping range. That means that conclusions about populations cannot be reliably applied to any individual, even if the distributions are skewed. So when I read categorical statements about what people with aphantasia are like, I dismiss those statements as being far too simplistic, especially if I think they do not apply to me!

The graphs in Dance’s article to my eye only show a difference in overall distribution, not an absolute difference in range. The individual data points are not indicated, and I believe the bars show 95% confidence limits for the mean GSQ scores, so I’m not entirely sure even how to interpret them, other than there is a statistically significant difference. If that difference has any practical implications for most people is an entirely different question.

I am aphantasic. I don’t think I have HSP, but I too am a bit sensitive to statements that seem to oversimplify the implications of aphantasia, which is why I am responding.