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Overstimulation is a colloquial metaphor for an assumed state of the body in which the senses absorb so many stimuli at the same time that they can no longer be processed and lead to mental overload in the person concerned .

This overstrain of the (human) organism or nervous system by sensory impressions affects the senses ( hearing , seeing , smelling , tasting and touching ) individually, in combination, for a short period of time and also in the long term.

The focus of investigations into the situation of humans in the modern world is primarily the acoustic and visual perception as a trigger for overstimulation.

Examples of possible triggers are:

  • Hearing: noise , several simultaneous acoustic sources (e.g. talking in the middle of a crowd)
  • Eyes: variety of colors, flashing lights, quick movements
  • Sense of smell and taste: Overstimulation can also occur with a colorfully mixed meal that contains the flavors sweet , sour, bitter , salty and umami at the same time, so that the flavors can no longer be perceived and assigned individually.
  • Drugs from the group of psychedelics and dissociatives


Overstimulation leads to stress , hectic rush, aggressive reactions and rapid exhaustion. Schizophrenics in particular , but also highly sensitive personalities (HSP) and those affected by autism and attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) react particularly strongly. Persistent overstimulation can cause permanent concentration difficulties , loss of reality or hyperactivity and is a possible cause of learning disabilities . Modern lifestyles, in particular the ubiquitous use of the Internet and other modern media, in the opinion of some bring with them chronic overstimulation and lead to the typical ones for many people Disorders.


In behavioral therapy , a targeted overstimulation ( flooding ) is used as a psychotherapeutic means in the context of confrontational procedures , for example to treat phobic disorders . After preparation, the client is exposed to strong anxiety-inducing stimuli. He learns to endure the frightening situation.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. a b Overstimulation and learning disabilities at ncsr.de learning for life.
  2. Overstimulation: How children become fidgety in: Der Spiegel from August 3, 2009.
  3. Alex Rühle : Overstimulation: Do we become stupid? ( Memento from April 6, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) in: Süddeutsche Zeitung from July 23, 2008.