One day whilst listening to the BBC Radio 4, I stumbled upon a show that immediately caught my undivided attention. It was a man and a women discussing low self-esteem and sensitivity. This man and woman turned out to be a poet called Byron Vincent and a lecturer, Anna Woodhouse. Anna was talking about how she questioned why she had been so traumatized by her childhood that in hindsight was not so terrible. What she proposed was that this was explained in her area of research, specifically the “resilience gene” FKBP5 that underpinned whether a person was a resilient person (who could cope with an amount of stress) or a sensitive person, highly affected by their environment, prone to depression and PTSD. Apparently only 20% of the population have the gene FKBP5 and she was one of them. (Personally I think if the presence of this gene makes you a more sensitive type, it should be called the “lack of resilience gene”).
A person with the FKBP5 gene is not necessarily screwed. Researchers suggest people with the gene react very positively to nurture.
I, like Anna, have asked myself why I have been so negatively affected by my childhood, and why with copious emotionally painful experiences have not made me stronger. I reckoned (although I haven’t sought out the DNA test) I must surely have this “lack of resilience” gene.
After I listened to the show, I wondered whether people with a Highly Sensitive Personality would also have this gene. Having done some novice research have found resilience and DNA has been researched many times but could not find one that tested HSPs for the presence of FKBP5.
The Highly Sensitive Personality type is a brain child of psychologist Elaine Aron since the 1990s. She found that 1 in 5 people are Highly Sensitive Persons; that’s around 20%, the same as the prevalence of FKBP5 people, duh dah!!
The Huffington Post article linked below describes 16 habits of HSPs and I relate to every single one. I take ages making decisions or I find the decision so unbearable I don’t decide anything. Music moves me so much it can irritate me to the point of rage, or give me joy or move me to tears. Loud bangs are really irritating. I prefer solo sports to group sports. I can’t stand open-plan offices, being in a big office intimidates me. I have been disturbed greatly by horror movies and violent movies so I tend to avoid them. Disturbing movie scenes can replay in my mind at night and prevent me from falling asleep. I get very hurt by people when they let me down or say “no” to an activity I’ve suggested, to the point I either avoid asking or have to psych myself up to it. I take things personally and as a result have dumped quite a few people from my life (and makes me sad to admit).
I am aware some people are dismissive of Psychological research and all the labels that are invented. I however am a believer. What I’ve learned has helped me understand myself and has given me relief knowing there are other people out there like me.
What about you? Are you a sensitive type or can recognise someone you know as being one?