The care and feeding of special snowflakes

Courtesy of a link at Instapundit, I was led to this article on ‘highly sensitive’ people.  Here’s an excerpt.

Most days, I’d rather I was less of an emotionally raw person. I would be so much less exhausted at the end of the day if I weren’t so heavily internalizing devastating headlines, or concerns over my friends’ problems, or hurt over wounds I wish I’d have moved on from already. But if I weren’t this way, would I be such an empathetic friend? Would I be as perceptive? Would I even have the same talents? Would I love as hard as I do and would I still be as good at trusting my gut? The other side of feeling emotional pain so strongly is that in happy moments, I feel joy just as intensely. Would I lose my capacity to bask so fully in the good times if I had the ability to trade away the bad? Being sensitive is as much a part of my personal make-up as my shoe size, and it surely had a hand in shaping my who I am. It doesn’t make me better or worse than other people, it’s simply what it is, and considering what life might be had I not been born with this trait is pointless. Like any other trait or aspect of my life, I can decide to either celebrate or work around it – or, as I do now, decide to employ a little of both.

There’s more at the link.  If you’re that interested, you can take a quick online test to determine whether you’re ‘highly sensitive’.  (I suspect most readers of this blog, and its author, don’t qualify.)

One’s at a loss where to begin.  A more self-absorbed, “me-me-me” approach to life is hard to imagine.  I can just imagine how my drill sergeant would have responded if I’d tried to tell him, during military basic training, that I was ‘highly sensitive’.  He’d have highly sensitized my backside with his favorite boot – so hard it would have been more tenderized than sensitized!  Heck, it’d probably have needed surgery to remove his foot!

Hmm . . . highly sensitive bloggers.  Who among my friends might qualify?

Perhaps not . . .



  1. Eh… a lot of the questions on that test seemed more "introvert" than "extra-special highly sensitive."
    And, yeah, I check quite a few of those boxes (on a second look: there's a lot of redundancy; apparently advocates for the highly sensitive aren't into meticulous checking of their lists). But these are problems to be overcome or worked around, not special qualities that make me special, duh.
    …Now I'm thinking we need a positive-sounding term for "psychopath", and a handy on-line "are you a [fill in said term here]?" test.

  2. OK, I will play this one straight.

    "Sensitive" can be code for "excessive reactivity". "Excessive reactivity" is code for aggression.

    There are medications that can help. Because of co-morbidity with anxiety/depression, a combination of a SSRI like sertraline and an antipsychotic like risperidone can be highly effective.

    In the absence of access to prescription drugs, beer, chocolate and watching hockey playoffs can be effective ways to self medicate.

  3. Oh, Good lord. I hate reading crap like that, where the author just cares SO HARD. "Special Snowflake" indeed. Dr. Captain Paul (I'm a volunteer holistic field gynecologist) recommends two rounds of getting away from Daddy's Trust Fund and a 50/50 blend of Get Over Yourself admixed with concentrated Realize No One Gives A Shit.

  4. So now I go back and actually look at the article, not just the short-form test….
    Yeah, I've known some Highly Sensitives. (See also: Roderick Usher.) They combine over-sensitivity to intense or confusing stimuli (a flaw which I share to a large extent) with a generous dose of self-righteousness.
    Result: they don't get along with anyone, and often get confrontational about People Being Different.
    The fabled super-extra empathy is just that: fabled. Yer basic HSP doesn't really see other people as real, three-dimensional people, and just can't accept that there are decent people who are {hunters | Republicans | NASCAR fans | gay | Christian | white | Muslim | working-class | successful | male | otherwise outside a narrow comfort zone}.
    Somehow, these Poe characters have now become paragons of virtue whom all right-thinking people must accommodate and even emulate, despite their conspicuous deficiency in the tolerance division.
    All of which makes about as much sense as feminists and progressives supporting ISIS, I suppose.

  5. So where is MY safe space, as a straight white married male, where I won't be bothered by all the hyper-sensitive pinheads, accused of every evil without fear because I'm white man (and therefore have, by definition, huge PRIVILEGE and must be stood up to and shouted down, because WHITE DUDE!)? Where can I speak with only the content of my words and actual individual character(as opposed to my group identity stereotype) being discussed, not the melanin levels of my skin?

    Who will rid us of these troublesome special snowflakes?

  6. As a card-carrying introvert I am numb based on that test.

    Could be my up-bring, my parents didn't suffer fools well or 40 years of employment in manufacturing. (We need so many widgets an hour, figure out how to do it or hit the road.) Or life in general. (God doesn't give you more than you can handle; wish He didn't trust me so much.)

  7. I just wish that every so-called introvert I know would quit making a big scene by running up and shouting about how introverted they are. :/

  8. Re the short version of the test: Oh sweet jeebus. Is this serious or some sort of parody? For example: "I am easily overwhelmed by things like bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics,or sirens close by." Italics my emphasis. I suppose I'd be "overwhelmed by coarse fabrics" if someone dropped a burlap hood over my head, but otherwise, overwhelmed, seriously?

    I do have to admit to checking a few of the boxes, however. "I am made uncomfortable by loud noises" indeed applies to me, if the noises are rap. On the other hand, the great pipes suit me just fine. Not sure what to make of that.

    TL;DR: For me the take-home message from that lengthy screed was "do whatever you can to avoid HSPs because after their amusement value fades (I'd expect a maximum of 15 minutes or so) they'd piss me off."

  9. @Mike_C Overwhelmed by coarse fabrics? Christ! I can understand being overwhelmed by soft and fluffy fabrics though, or kittens for that matter.

  10. Mike C and m4, there are a few people who have over-sensitive nervous systems, for whom coarse fabric or bright lights and stuff are overwhelming, because their sensory system is set wrong (for lack of a better term). But that is rather different from being a Roderic Usher type of modern emotional sensitive. (For whom I have very little sympathy.)


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