Book Review: The Highly Sensitive Person

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4-out-of-5-stars

Before I read this book there wasn’t a shred of doubt in my mind that I’m what Dr. Aron would call a “Highly Sensitive Person.” I’ve been labeled “sensitive” my entire life. But before I discovered Dr. Aron’s website in high school, I thought that “sensitive” was only an appropriate term for someone with strong negative reactions. When I took her “HSP Test,” which you can find on her webiste and in this book…aaand which I’m now realized sound like an STD screening… anyway, after I took the test I recognized that I have strong reactions, period. I don’t only get upset easily, I also get happy easily, scared easily, tired easily, hungry easily, cold easily. *insert your own emotion here* easily probs also. And if this sounds like you, you’re probably Highly Sensitive too. And you’d benefit from reading this book.

Yah, HSP isn’t a medical label, so you might be skeptical about buying into whatever’s written in here. But the fact is, some people are more in touch with their emotions than others. I’ve seen it in myself and in others to varying degrees. And living as a sensitive person is different from living as an “average” person, as Western culture accepts only a certain amount of controlled sensitivity. You shouldn’t need a “self-help” book to tell you that. But Dr. Aron, who identifies as Highly Sensitive herself, has some great insights on Highly Sensitive life and some awesome tips on how to come to terms with your sensitive self.

I wouldn’t say I love everything about this book, but there is quite a bit to love. It was refreshing to read a generalization about the average Highly Sensitve person’s experience and think “that is totally me.” For example, there’s a little section about how sensitive kids are often labeled gifted in elementary school, and then struggle with living up to that label for the rest of their lives. There’s also a bit on how Highly Sensitive People often get too attached in romantic relationships because they feel love more intensely than the average person and they also value close friendships more than the average person. But of course, this is a kind of “self-help” book, so it’s not as scientific or as detailed as I would have liked. There’s also a whole chapter on “spirituality” that I didn’t care for. I’m not really agains the term “spiritual,” but I don’t like it when people use it to only label people who believe in a kind of ethereal higher power despite not being religious. Yea, I would consider people like that to be spiritual, but I would also consider people who have good relationships with the natural world (really good meditators, people who love going on long hikes, y’know) and believe that science can eventually explain everything to be spiritual as well. I feel like Dr. Aron implies that all HSP believe in some kind of god, which clearly isn’t true… cuz I don’t.

But I will definitely be checking out The Highly Sensitive Person in Love and The Highly Sensitive Person’s Workbook. Everything I can do to make the transition into adulthood easier, amirite?

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