The term sensibility is taken in the sense of a capacity to resonate, to be affected, to be emotional, to resonate and to react to physical and psychological stimuli. The sensibility is considered to be a pivotal centre of the personality. It is very close to the body, to be sure, but where the psychological lived experience (notably the affective) is especially present. This pivotal centre puts the “I” in relationship with the external world through the intermediary of the five senses. Through the sensations, it also links the “I” to the interior world, to the other pivotal centres of the person. The stimuli touching the senses or the sensations coming from the psyche (the being, the sensibility, the “I”) and felt in the body, reach the brain through the nervous system, physical medium of the sensibility, comparable to a “conductive fluid” for these messages. As scientific discoveries of the last decades have confirmed, the nervous system acts somewhat like a “tape recorder”, keeping track of all the events of the subject’s lifetime from the time of conception. The sensibility therefore plays a fundamental role in the process of self-knowledge because of its functions: to feel, to resonate, to transmit, record and reproduce messages.
The sensibility is present and reactive from the beginning of life. It is coloured with the individual’s personality. On the one hand the potential of the sensibility differs from person to person, and on the other hand, the degree of this sensibility differs according to areas, for example it reacts more in the areas where the being aspires to live, as well as in the sectors where it is hampered in its development. The sensibility is also marked by the cultural context which awakens it by making it resonate to certain values, interest centres, persons or things (beauty, actions, nature, literature, altruism, money, science…). The sensibility is also influenced by the two affective registers: what it likes, what attracts it or gratifies it, and the reverse, what displeases it, offends it, wounds it, frustrates it or repulses it. Finally the sensibility is marked by the joys and sufferings of one’s life, which generate reactions and biases that are favourable or unfavourable, depending on the imprint left by previous experience.
Two zones in the sensibility
Two zones can be distinguished in the sensibility based on the depth of what happens in this pivotal centre.
A superficial zone
This is a very epidermal superficial zone, outright reactive, at the very instant that the sensibility is affected. Such reactions are often ephemeral, unforeseeable and amplified as though the sensibility were acting as a resonance chamber of external or internal reality. The annoyances of life barely scratch this zone, at times causing relatively superficial wounds; the pleasures of life gratify it momentarily; the absence of turmoil or pleasure leaves it outwardly peaceful.
A deep zone
This is the deep zone of the sensibility, characterized by more stability. There, reactions are less primary, sensations being felt less superficially, more loaded with psychological content. It is a zone irradiated by the being, where one experiences peace, life, deep aspirations and all of the manifestations of the being. However, when a person is confronted with a harmful environment in which fundamental needs are not satisfied, or hardly so, a suffering or even a wound can be produced at this deep level of the sensibility and a defense mechanism sets in to protect the being.
Also at this level, pockets of suffering can be observed, often not conscious. These originate from past wounds, particularly those which have affected the fundamental aspiration of the being to exist, either in its totality or in some of its aspects. When those wounds are reopened, they generate great anxieties which are propagated throughout both the epidermal and deep sensibility. They hamper, sometimes even block, the actualization of the potentialities of the being.
Thus two zones of the sensibility include healthy parts, with adjusted reactions due to the absence of traumas, and wounded parts, which have become either hypersensitive or insensitive.
(Persons and their growth p. 99-101).