There appear to be two different meanings of the word 'sensitive' when describing people's behaviour:

  1. that the person being described lacks the emotional resilience to cope with an everyday situation.
  2. one who is very observant of people's behaviour, and able to display empathy in a way that connects with people. One who treats people with care, with great sensitivity to their situation.

Now I wonder if the English language is giving us some insights here. It seems reasonable that people in the first bucket have less maturity than the second. But they share a common ability to sense the subtleties of the situation. It is almost as if they are the same thing on a spectrum of maturity.

My question is: Is there evidence to suggest that the different and contrasting behaviours we collectively call 'sensitive' have a common root cause?


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