VUB home to world’s first congress on highly sensitive people


Experts are gathering at VUB this week for the first-ever scientific congress on highly sensitive people

World leaders in Brussels

The Free University of Brussels (VUB) has organised the world’s first international scientific congress on highly sensitive people (HSP). The two-day conference started yesterday and finishes with the graduation ceremony of VUB’s first class of HSP professionals.

American psychologists Elaine (pictured) and Art Aron, who coined the term HSP in 1997, are in Brussels for the conference. The pair identified four crucial conditions in defining someone as highly sensitive: capable of deep sensory processing, quickly over-stimulated, extremely emotional and having an eye for subtle detail.

About 15% of the population is thought to be highly sensitive, which is caused by the central nervous system. Along with giving an overview of their research and practical experiences, the Arons will discuss putting high sensitivity to good use, both personally and professionally.

Congress organiser Elke Van Hoof will also present her recent research, which indicates that high sensitivity cannot be determined solely through four identifying aspects. She also puts in-depth processing of information more central, calling it a cause of over-stimulation and heightened emotional response.

“If people structure their daily routine to include time away from sensory stimulation,” said Van Hoof, “learn to deal with stress, adjust their communication and focus on the positive aspects, high sensitivity can have many advantages”.