Mental hyperactivity, and how it is… to think too much

30 July, 2019 / Mateusz

Do you have the impression that your mind is overcrowded; with thoughts, questions, conclusions and emotions? Are you constantly told that you are “oversensitive” and react too emotionally to everything around you? Or maybe you have the feeling that something is wrong with you? If you answer these questions affirmatively, you may be mentally hyperactive.

“I’m parking my car. I wonder if you park yours in the yard or on the street. I’m going through the gate trying to find out which car belongs to you. Do you like cars? I think you do. And yet I don’t notice anything interesting. I tell myself that I’ve made a mistake. I’m about to buzz the intercom. On the mailbox or on the bell your name is written in a different font than the names of other osteopaths. Which means you didn’t start working here at the same time as they did. Why? Where did you practice before? Further away from your home? At your place? Do your patients mind you changing your address? I’m going in. The second bell is not working. It needs to be fixed. Why hasn’t anyone repaired it yet? […]” – this is a description of a patient’s feelings who is struggling with mental overactivity (Christel Petitcollin, I think too much).

The right hemisphere is at fault

Mentally hyperactive people, like the patient from the quoted fragment of the book, are bombarded with information, remember the smallest details, analyse all possible scenarios for one event (typically, “what would happen if…”) and have an extremely developed intuition. As a result, one of the most frequently heard sentences is, “you are oversensitive, it’s not the way you think it is “. Meanwhile, according to specialists’ research, it is estimated that around 20-30 per cent of people suffer from this type of ailment. What is to blame? Scientists are blaming the improper structure of the neurological and hyperactive systems and the right hemisphere of the brain. This is logical because the right hemisphere is responsible for instinct, sensory integration, emotions and everything we feel and cannot see with the naked eye. This is the complete opposite of the left hemisphere which is linear, methodical and verbal. The right hemisphere feels and the left one determines and describes it. Unfortunately, mentally hypersensitive patients are often confronted with misdiagnoses that can lead to mental illness and disorders.

More, harder, faster

Receiving more information than the average person has its own scientific term, hyperesthesia. This means the possession of extremely sharp senses, a constant state of alertness and presence of mind. In a sudden stressful situation, such characteristics are very useful for us, however, it is not so useful in ordinary, everyday living, to have a sense of danger. Such people may be disturbed by specific smells, flavours, noises or textures.

– In most cases of mental overpower, hyperesthesia is combined with synaesthesia, that is, with hybrid activation of the senses in the brain. For example, people suffering from synaesthesia see colourful words or convex numbers – Christel Petitcollin explains.

Hyperesthesia is also demonstrated by a poor ability to select and segregate sensory information. The minds of most people automatically exclude unnecessary information and leave only the vital information that will be relevant in any given situation. This process is disturbed in people with hyperesthesia, and the selection of information must be done “manually”, that is, with the help of our own conclusions or analysis. That is why such people may have problems with concentration, constantly needing to process and filter information-overload within a specific framework of work or social life.

Diagnosis and what next?

Living with a mental overactivity doesn’t mean that you should give up professional plans or your own dreams. Such people have a number of positive attributes, resulting precisely from their “uniqueness”. They love contact with others, they can talk about every topic and do several things at once, they have wide knowledge in various fields and are characterized by above-average creativity. So, what can you do… to not go crazy?

The author of the book recommends creating maps of thoughts, schedules and plans or anchoring (associating external stimuli with the internal state). It is also important to work on your self-esteem, controlling feelings of loneliness and appreciating the smallest achievements. But the most important thing is understanding – accepting that our brain works differently and getting used to it.