Take a Pebble

A stone hits the surface of a pond and sends out a circle of ripplesSensitive: The Untold Story is making waves. Gentle waves, in keeping with our subtle sensibilities, but discernible (to us, at least) nonetheless. How can I tell? Articles about sensory processing sensitivity are not only becoming more frequent, they are becoming more accurate.

Here’s one from Huff Post. The article is just a brief summary – the real content is in the video, which is a nice blend of first-hand account from an HSP, the scientific perspective, and then there’s the co-producer of the film, who isn’t identified as such, but she’s wearing the movie t-shirt.

Perhaps the distaste for being watched is more a trait of introverts than HSPs – I can’t really tell, being both. But other than that, there is not much to quibble at in the Huff Post video, which is rare and refreshing.

Cover of Kelly O'Laughlin's book, A highly Sensitive Person's LifeI’m not sure I’ve heard of Kelly O’Laughlin – the HSP in the video – before. Her memoir, A Highly Sensitive Person’s Life, came out earlier this year, and she’s raking in the positive reviews on Amazon. One reviewer noted that the book content is mostly from her blog, highlysensitiveperson.net.

I love that her most recent post is a self-described rant about a recent article on HSPS that also irritated the heck out of me. I never quite feel like I ought to be ranting, not that that ever stopped me. Thank you, Kelly, for modeling that it is OK for HSPs to rant, and feel good about it :)

BTW, Diana Hereld, the researcher featured in the video, is a grad student in music psychology. Check out her research page (scroll down for papers). HSP, right?

A drawing of a T-shirt with the words Sensitive, The T-shirt on the frontBefore I forget, I received an updated link to stream ($4.99) or buy ($9.99) Sensitive: The Movie. I just want to say again how much I appreciate that it is affordable.

If figuring out how to make a living is not your life issue, as it so inexorably is mine – first of all, take a moment to be seriously grateful about that! Then, ripple on over to the Sensitive movie merchandise page, and pick up a hat, mug, t-shirt or candle to support the Foundation for the Study of Highly Sensitive Persons in continued research and education.

The title of this post is also the title of an Emerson, Lake and Palmer song, which you can hear here. Kick back and take a meditative journey through the golden age of folk-rock. The video of which it is the soundtrack, though entirely unrelated, is an interesting journey too.

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Sensitive Movie Released

A screenshot from the website and trailer of Sensitive - The Untold Story showing two people standing together in a natural settings watching a sunsetSensitive – The Untold Story is now available on demand at the very affordable rate of $4.99 for 3 days of unlimited viewing, or for purchase as a digital download ($9.99). Here’s the link.

DVDs (with subtitles for several as-yet-unspecified languages) should be available before the holidays.

Here is an in-depth review of the film on HuffPost by Sezin Koehler, whose reactions were so similar to my own that I probably don’t need to write one. Like her, I felt some discomfort with random images of children of color in developing nations interposed among interviews with predominantly white HSPs and researchers from the U.S. and Europe, and with a somewhat bizarre enactment of a disagreement between a couple on how to respond to their son’s sensitivity.

It should perhaps be noted that the whole project was initiated by Elaine Aron’s African-American neighbor, Will Harper, who read one of her books and realized he was an HSP.

In any event, as Ms. Koehler says, while the film’s flaws must be acknowledged, we can choose to focus on the interesting and instructive aspects of the film, which are many. It’s definitely worth seeing, whether you are an HSP or not. If we make up 20% of the population, you probably know someone who is.

A Sensitive Subject

That would be me. Sensitive: The Untold Story was fine. I would buy it and show it to people, which I think is what it’s for. I am still processing it (naturally!) and will have more to say about it later.

Photo of an inspirational wall plaque with the message "Don't let anyone EVER dull your sparkle."As for the premiere, nobody paid any attention to the dress code, as far as I could see. Guests arrived in everything from jeans to red carpet attire. I dressed for comfort more than display, and was glad I did. Several times during the discussion that followed the film, Elaine Aron advised HSPs to “do what you need to do” to take care of yourself, regardless of what people say, so that’s all good.

I’m still disgruntled that we were told how to dress. A reminder not to wear scents would’ve been a lot more useful. I had to change my seat due to a woman doused in so much perfume that it gave me an instant headache from 4 rows away. And then I felt bad about doing so, because she was also there alone, looking uncomfortable, and I didn’t want her to feel rejected!

I surveyed the crowd and tried to determine if there was anything different about it. This was hampered by the fact that I don’t have much basis for comparison, as I avoid crowds assiduously. Maybe there was a little more automatic consideration of others. Conversations were animated, but not loud. And only a very small handful of people came alone. Other than that, I couldn’t really tell I was in a roomful of HSPs. I’ll have to work on my sensitividar.

I recognize my fear was exacerbated by being an HSP. I knew it while I was I writing my last post, but that didn’t reduce my anxiety one iota!

As someone who has benefited so greatly from Elaine Aron’s work, I felt I was not being entirely nice to raise class issues in that post. I wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings. Yet, the issue is a valid one, so would it be fair to myself not to raise it, out of fear of offending or swimming against the tide? Fair vs. nice, always a challenge!

Ultimately, I let the critique stand, along with the fear, as an example of HSP thinking. Aron knows this thinking all too well, so I think she will understand. She is, after all, a psychologist!

There are a couple of other things going on with me lately that I haven’t written about yet due to the impending premiere. I’ll talk about them in upcoming posts.

HSPersona non grata

I am troubled by the dress code for attendance at the premiere of Sensitive: The Untold Story tonight. Yes, you read right, there’s a “business casual” dress code to attend a movie. We were informed in the same email that audience members might be filmed for the live stream.

Regular readers will remember what a revelation it was when I realized I could dress like myself at a new job. “Business casual” is exactly the standard that had kept my best-loved clothes in the closet (literally). We’re not talking studded g-strings and nipple pasties* here, just a little more color and individuality than “business casual” generally encompasses.

I made something I was particularly proud of recently, and was planning to wear it in celebration as I attended a film about my kind. I still plan to wear it, and being in San Francisco, it will probably be fine, despite the creeping Marinism**. But the unlooked for transformation of my act of self-sharing into an act of defiance takes all the joy out of it.
peacock at the gate 350x230
Coupled with the location that is not friendly to public transit, I am feeling less and less welcome at this event, and am really wondering if it is meant for me at all. I can understand the desire to put the best face on high sensory processing sensitivity at its coming out party. But how are HSPs who don’t fit the definition of “professional” supposed to feel when they are asked to put on a false front for the livestream-viewing public, as if their real selves are somehow too undesireable to be associated with the film? Wasn’t the whole point of this film to promote HSPs being who they are? Or was it?

This will be my first experience in a room full of mostly HSPs. In fact, this will be my first experience interacting in person with anyone who self-identifies as an HSP. Regular readers will know that a previous attempt at virtual interaction with other HSPs did not go so well. I have no idea what to expect, and I’m attending alone. Frankly, I’m scared.


* Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but scanty outfits would obviously be inconsiderate attire for an HSP event, as they would cause everyone else in the room to feel cold.

** Marin County, home to Elaine Aron, is known for being one of the most affluent and least racially diverse counties in the greater San Francisco Bay area.

Update on HSP documentary livestream

An email I received from Elaine Aron’s e-list this morning announces that the streaming option for Sensitive: The Untold Story, will not jump from $20 to $30 today as previously announced, but will remain at $20 through the premiere date of the film. Go to the movie website and click “watch on livestream” to buy your virtual ticket.

The film premieres in San Francisco on Thursday, September 10th. It’s sold out, but you can stream the premiere in real time and for 48 hours afterwards for the above-mentioned $20. The film’s producers want to keep the film affordable for international viewers, especially since the DVD will not be immediately available.

I kinda wish I’d known about the streaming option when I bought my ticket, but it hadn’t been announced yet. The venue for the premiere is scenic (see above photo of the Golden Gate from the Legion of Honor grounds, which used to head this blog), but not so easy to get to and from. Well, I guess it’ll be a great opportunity to compare a roomful of HSPs to a busfull – and a trainfull, and another busfull – of everybody!

I confess I’m a little anxious about the film, as my attempts to discuss high sensory processing sensitivity with people in my own life have met with mixed results. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this documentary will make that easier, not harder.

Speaking of which, if you have a minute, I’d really appreciate your responses to the poll at the end of my previous post.

Highly Sensitive Movie, and a poll

Movie poster for Sensitive - The MovieThe Sept. 10th San Francisco premiere of the new documentary on high sensory processing sensitivity is sold out. Apparently distributors have balked (as distributors will) at releasing the DVD before Sensitive: The Untold Story has finished its theatrical run, but there will be a livestream during and for 48 hours after the premiere, which will allow you to stream it as many times as you want within that 48 hour period. The livestream is currently $20, going up to $30 on Sept 7th. You can join Elaine Aron’s email list for HSP-related news here. Hopefully we will soon hear something about other cities where the film will be shown.

I was discussing HSPS with a friend recently. I have always felt “highly sensitive person” was a problematic, if accurate, label, and proposed my own, “deep engager.” This seems equally descriptive but more neutral to me. My friend disagreed. Continue reading