0
Get Alert
Please Wait... Processing your request... Please Wait.
You must sign in to sign-up for alerts.

Please confirm that your email address is correct, so you can successfully receive this alert.

Article   |    
SENSITIVITY
EUGEN KAHN; HELEN G. RICHTER
Am J Psychiatry 1939;96:609-622.
View Author and Article Information

The Department of Psychiatry and Mental Hygiene, Yale University School of Medicine.

text A A A
PDF of the full text article.
Abstract

We have discussed four varieties of sensitivity which have the common denominator of a "considerable degree of emotionally charged impressibility." This we consider the essence of sensitivity. Sensitivity is experienced in different ways by the individual and by the group. Vulnerability is a dominating personality trait; the pattern of the vulnerable is withdrawal. The social group is disinterested in such non-participants. Touchiness is a spotted sort of sensitivity; it is manifested in episodic aggressiveness. The touchy is apt to project his hurt feelings. Although it is not a dominating personality trait, it is so common and familiar that the group tolerates it well. Empathy is characterized by cool curiosity; it permits the establishment of a one-sided relationship in which the empathetic contacts without being contacted himself. Empathy is socially accepted. Symphoria is sensitivity in the medium of human warmth; the communication and participation of the symphoric with his fellowmen determines the high esteem he enjoys among them.Emotional impressibility rests on hereditary-constitutional grounds, which does not mean that it can be dealt with as a Mendelian character. It is shaped within the whole makeup of the individual and definitely modified—essentially in its expression— by the social group in which the emotionally impressible person grows and develops. Any variety of sensitivity has a bearing on the individual's attitude towards other people, towards the group. This attitude is fed (given content) by social-cultural forces, by living and experiencing with and in a group. The group may either foster or prohibit overt expression of any of the varieties of sensitivity. It may taboo any kind and number of cultural factors which serve as sources and contents for the expression of emotional impressibility. Hence we have to judge an individual's sensitivity according to the social-cultural background on which he learns to express or to suppress it. The individual somehow realizes how his group expects him to behave. If he does not or cannot conform to the group's expectation, he feels uneasy, insecure, anxious—such feelings are obviously expressed by the vulnerable and the touchy. On the other hand, the empathetic and the symphoric conform, their very sensitivity is helpful in their overt adjustment; they can and do experience it, each on his own terms, as an asset of their personality and as an asset for the group.

Abstract Teaser
Figures in this Article

Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.
Sign In Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.
Sign In to Access Full Content
 
Username
Password
Sign in via Athens (What is this?)
Athens is a service for single sign-on which enables access to all of an institution's subscriptions on- or off-site.
Not a subscriber?

Subscribe Now/Learn More

PsychiatryOnline subscription options offer access to the DSM-5 library, books, journals, CME, and patient resources. This all-in-one virtual library provides psychiatrists and mental health professionals with key resources for diagnosis, treatment, research, and professional development.

Need more help? PsychiatryOnline Customer Service may be reached by emailing PsychiatryOnline@psych.org or by calling 800-368-5777 (in the U.S.) or 703-907-7322 (outside the U.S.).

+

References

+
+

CME Activity

There is currently no quiz available for this resource. Please click here to go to the CME page to find another.
Submit a Comments
Please read the other comments before you post yours. Contributors must reveal any conflict of interest.
Comments are moderated and will appear on the site at the discertion of APA editorial staff.

* = Required Field
(if multiple authors, separate names by comma)
Example: John Doe



Related Content
Articles
Books
Gabbard's Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders, 4th Edition > Chapter 50.  >
Gabbard's Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders, 4th Edition > Chapter 50.  >
Gabbard's Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders, 4th Edition > Chapter 52.  >
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment, 4th Edition > Chapter 3.  >
Textbook of Traumatic Brain Injury, 2nd Edition > Chapter 13.  >
Topic Collections
Psychiatric News
APA Guidelines
PubMed Articles