HSP: The Unbearable Lightness of a Discovery

These three letters could easily have stood for a political party but they actually refer to a concept that I recently heard in a conversation. Some of you might be familiar with it already and some of you might be introduced to it through this writing. The piece will serve its purpose if a few people from the second group end up putting together some pieces of themselves because of it.

American psychologist Elaine Aron named her 1996 book The Highly Sensitive Person, which stands for the full form of the three letters. She defines the general qualities of such people as follows: has more sensitive five senses than the general population, has difficulty filtering stimulus, approaches themselves and others with high awareness, gets easily overwhelmed by sounds, crowds and time pressures, and has a sense of responsibility, a rich imagination and good observation skills.

According to Aron, 15-20% of the population belongs to this group and these people have more activity and blood flow in the areas of the brain that has to do with awareness and emotion. Dutch psychologist Karina Zegers reminds us that being sensitive is being human and as such demands the public to stop labelling highly sensitive people as asocial, neurotic or shy.

When I read about all this, something flicked inside of me. Yes, I was also an HSP. The fact that I couldn’t bear certain sounds, I didn’t enjoy rushed jobs, I needed alone time to recharge, I empathized with those around me on such a level that I felt their emotions as if they were mine all pointed in the same direction.

Undoubtedly, this is a medallion. It is difficult to live with such sensitivity but at the same time it allows me to feel like the happiest person in the world when I turn my face towards the sun on a ferry ride. It allows me to experience life on a much deeper level, find meaning in countless things and get over-excited about stuff in the middle of the day.

I wanted this to be an introductory piece as I am not done with Aron or the concept.

With love, to those who have found themselves in this piece.


PS: My sincere thanks to Didem Yalinay who has introduced me to the concept.

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