My own investigation—published in peer reviewed journals within the last several years—furnishes evidence that highly sensitive individuals are much more likely than the general population to report feeling an unseen presence, to see or sense energy around people, or to otherwise note anomalous goings-on. Significantly, such people are also more likely to report that immediate family members suffered from the same types of sensitivities, raising the nature-nurture question in a whole new context.
I happened upon this path from an unexpected direction. In my job at the time, I was responsible for interviewing office building occupants who felt they’d been affected by so-called “sick buildings.” (Information from these interviews—and others conducted with building managers and engineers—went to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] to assist in its development of indoor air quality guidance.) Rather than chalk up people’s reports to a hyperactive imagination or some shade of mental illness, I suspected they might have a threshold sensitivity much lower than average. When several individuals confided that they’d also had apparitional experiences, the wheels started turning.
Since then, I have delved deeply into the possibility that a variety of odd sensitivities may have a common neurobiological foundation—stemming at least as much from the body as the brain.
The initial survey I designed drew 62 self-described “sensitives” along with 50 individuals serving as controls who did not profess any outstanding forms of sensitivity. People in the former group were 3.5 times as likely, on average, to assert that they’d had an apparitional experience (defined as perceiving something that could not be verified as being physically present through normal means). Sensitive individuals were also 2.5 times as likely to indicate that an immediate family member was affected by similar physical, mental, or emotional conditions.
Overall, 6 of the 54 factors asked about in the survey were found to be significant in the makeup of a sensitive personality:
Being a woman
Appraising oneself as imaginative
Appraising oneself as introverted
Recalling a plainly traumatic event (or series of events) in childhood
Maintaining that one affects—or is affected by—lights, computers, and other electrical appliances in an unusual way.
Two other factors—being a firstborn or only child and being single—were more prominent among sensitive respondents, but not markedly so.
Interestingly, synesthesia (a phenomenon in which someone experiences overlapping sensations, such as hearing a color or tasting a shape) was reported by approximately 10 percent of the sensitive group but not at all among controls. Since synesthesia is known to run in families (as does migraine, for that matter), this finding gives added weight to the possibility that anomalous perception has genetic roots.
Same with the unexpected result that 21 percent of sensitives reported being ambidextrous against just one person in the control group. Still, a highly sensitive makeup could as easily be conditioned by nurture as by nature. This is borne out by the results of my query into recall of a traumatic event in childhood. Three times as many sensitives as controls (55 percent vs. 18 percent) responded affirmatively to this item.
Furthermore, 14 percent of sensitives reported having been struck by lightning or suffering an electrical shock, whereas none of the control group checked this item. So, perhaps electricity plays a role in acquired sensitivity.
Since ancient times, a variety of native peoples have noted the powerfully transformative effects of lightning. Being struck by lightning constituted a way of being “called” to be a shaman, since it was believed to release the power to heal along with other extraordinary abilities. We shouldn’t laugh this off, since one of today’s foremost medical minds, Dr. Oliver Sacks, has written about a man who, upon being struck by lightning, not only underwent a near-death experience but, upon recovering, began to hear incessant music in his head that he was powerless to shut off. Inspired (and also driven to distraction), he channeled this music into piano compositions that he now performs publicly.
If music can be considered a healing art, this man was turned toward healing. Perhaps there is more to electricity’s interaction with human beings than we now appreciate.
ALSO READ Do Some People Sense the Unseen? (Part 1): Allergic to Ghosts? Strange but Possibly True
Michael Jawer has been investigating the mind-body basis of personality and health for the past 15 years. His articles and papers have appeared in Spirituality & Health, Explore: The Journal of Journal of Science and Healing, Noetic Now, and Science & Consciousness Review. Jawer has spoken before the American Psychological Association and been interviewed by multiple publications. His latest book, written with Marc Micozzi, MD, Ph.D., is “Your Emotional Type.” Its website is www.youremotionaltype.com. His previous book is titled “The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion,” its website is www.emotiongateway.com. Jawer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published by PsychologyToday.com.