Hypersensitivity is Due to Psychological Insecurity

There's psychological insecurity behind a susceptible, fragile person to whom everything hurts, bothers, and frustrates. Thus, they must learn to manage their emotions.
Hypersensitivity is Due to Psychological Insecurity
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

The psychological insecurity that makes a person hypersensitive isn’t a wound, but a symptom. Anyone who overreacts or reacts negatively to things isn’t only hypersensitive but has problems managing their emotions. There’s also insecurity behind it, especially when a person distrusts their competencies and abilities and, therefore, responds negatively to the world.

Those who share space with these types of people are well aware of how complex these interactions are. However, you must try to understand them instead of judging them. Keep in mind that every person can, at any given time, display this kind of reactive behavior. This is because a stressful experience would be enough trigger to do so.

Vulnerability and psychological insecurity are behind those who are angry at the world and sort of offended by excessive happiness. They’re broken and need to pull themselves together. Understanding this reality can help a person deal better with these characters and also understand themselves a little better.

“Often those that criticise others reveal what he himself lacks.”

-Shannon L. Alder-

A man looking out the window.

Psychological insecurity is behind hypersensitivity

The field of psychology has long been studying susceptibility. As we pointed out at the beginning, it’s a symptom of a deeper reality, rather than a dimension of its own. However, in your daily dealings with people, you’re only left with the behavior of those who’re easily offended, some for no reason at all.

However, work such as that conducted at the University of Psychology of Ruhr-Universität Bochum, in Germany, reveals something important. Everyone’s environment is an influence on them but the same one doesn’t affect every person in the same way. Highly insecure people have a greater tendency towards certain psychological disorders.

Actually, this reactivity may be due to genetic factors. It may be that the brain experiences an alteration in the production of serotonin. Thus, there’s a greater tendency to discourage and to always be in a state of alertness and defensiveness. In other words, one can’t rule out a biological factor. However, hypersensitivity responds to a deficit in emotional management and psychological skills on average.

Psychological insecurity and defensiveness

Personal insecurity is an emotional reaction to a negative self-perception. This feeling sets in when people don’t trust their competencies to thrive in the world. In other words, when they feel at a disadvantage or don’t appreciate themselves as they should.

This combination of low self-esteem and the feeling of frailty directs their focus on the need to protect themselves, hence their defensive attitude. They feel damaged, offended, and even threatened by the behavior of others at the slightest opportunity. It’s as if everything stuck to them.

Likewise, the person defined by hypersensitivity doesn’t trust others either. This chronic insecurity makes them believe that others will surely let them down at some point.

The susceptibility hypothesis

Why is it that some people are hypersensitive while others aren’t? Well, there’s another interesting theory worth considering in addition to the aforementioned low self-esteem. The differential susceptibility hypothesis describes how some people are more sensitive to stress, due to their biological, temperamental, or behavioral characteristics.

Studies, such as the one conducted at Birkbeck University in London, indicate that some people are more susceptible to environmental stressors. In contrast, some people worry about everything, overestimate any situation, and feel overwhelmed by almost anything. This hypersensitivity produces a high level of distress and may have a biological trigger in certain situations.

Traumatic experiences yet to overcome

As we mentioned above, susceptibility is, in most cases, the symptom of some unattended psychological reality. For that reason, anyone can experience them at any given moment, even though such reactions and behaviors are annoying and problematic.

It’s normal to feel susceptible when you’re going through a complicated, painful, and even traumatic moment. This is because hypersensitivity is a wound that hurts upon contact. It’s the reaction of those who feel trapped by distress, incomprehension, and loneliness.

Sometimes, it involves reacting negatively to others when you feel bad about yourself. These are realities you aren’t willing to confront and, thus, haven’t learned to manage.

It may involve reacting negatively to others whenever you feel bad about yourself, for example. These are unaddressed unmanaged realities that become encapsulated and hurt at the slightest touch, at any word or expression from others.

As you can imagine, anyone can go through a similar situation. This is because this dimension can be either innate or acquired. In fact, the first refers to the aforementioned hypothesis of susceptibility, which has a genetic origin. The second arises as a reaction to complex experiences or to a childhood based on hyper-demand or lack of attachment.

A woman hugging herself.

How to deal with susceptibility

People almost always worry about how to deal with psychologically insecure people. However, what if it’s you who’s annoyed, offended, and basically hypersensitive to nearly everything? Well, you could approach it in the following way, if so:

  • Identify the origin of this feeling and confront it.
  • Work on your self-esteem.
  • Learn some emotional management techniques.
  • Work on your self-acceptance and self-assurance.
  • Improve your internal dialogue and make your self-criticism positive.

On average, hypersensitivity is a trait people acquire in childhood. Thus, don’t hesitate to ask for psychological help if it hinders your well-being and relationship with your environment.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Belsky J. Theory testing, effect-size evaluation, and differential susceptibility to rearing influence: The case of mothering and attachment. Child Development. 1997;68: 598. pmid:9306638
  • Belsky, J. y Pluess, M. (2009). Más allá de la diátesis-estrés: susceptibilidad diferencial a las influencias ambientales. Boletín psicológico, 135 (6), 885-908.
  • Boyce WT, Ellis BJ. Biological sensitivity to context: I. An evolutionary–developmental theory of the origins and functions of stress reactivity. Development and psychopathology. 2005;17: 271–301. pmid:16761546
  • Sicorello M, Dieckmann L, Moser D, Lux V, Luhmann M, Neubauer AB, et al. (2020) Highs and lows: Genetic susceptibility to daily events. PLoS ONE 15(8): e0237001. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0237001
  • Monroe, SM y Simons, AD (1991). Teorías de diátesis-estrés en el contexto de la investigación del estrés vital: implicaciones para los trastornos depresivos. Boletín psicológico, 110 (3), 406-425.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.