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  • HSP & The Cultural Ideal

    Posted by John on 03/18/2024 at 5:17 pm

    As part of an ongoing discussion, I keep thinking about how powerful “cultural ideals” are. Dr. Aron talks about it on page 15 of The Highly Sensitive Person (“What You Don’t Realize WILL Hurt You”).

    In reference to the idea that as much as 30% of the general population has highly sensitive physiology, someone in this community just said:

    “I’m just thinking about the dominance in the culture of all the stuff that HSPs don’t like and how there is little protest or push back. How can all the harsh, garish shopping environments, violent movies, rock music in the background and multiple TV monitors in so many restaurants– how can all this be profitable if one out of three people doesn’t really like this? It’s impossible to imagine. I feel like I have to constantly be on the defensive with media and Commercial environments, and I’m not ultra sensitive.”

    That got me thinking about Japan again. The first image below shows the global, monthly search volume for the term “HSP.”

    First of all, the search volume in Japan is 500% of what it is in America. Secondly, the population of Japan is about 122 million people. That’s roughly 36% the size of America’s population. Population adjusted, the term HSP is being searched about 1500% more than it is in America. Think about that for a second. 1500%.

    So, knowing that “sensitivity” is a cultural ideal in Japan, and seeing the profound impact that has on general awareness of the topic of HSP, here’s a question to anyone that has been there: Is the culture less garish? Does it reflect the sensitive aesthetic more strongly?

    As a side note, the population of Japan is in decline. I’ve attached a second image showing this.

    Regarding the question: “how can all this be profitable if one out of three people doesn’t really like this? It’s impossible to imagine.”, I think there are at least a couple possible answers:

    • The power of the cultural ideal. If your perceptual and cognitive model of reality has not been mirrored back to you your entire life, you don’t end up telling people to change the culture, you end up trying to fit in.
    • Approximately 70% of people with HSP are introverts.

    John replied 3 months, 3 weeks ago 3 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • Frank

    03/19/2024 at 1:33 pm

    Japanese culture has much to admire. Haiku. Valuing diligence, skill, courtesy. The custom of verbalizing thanks for the people and animals who brought your meal to you (itadakimasu).

    But this is the same culture that sends ships into the ocean to gratuitously murder whales (see Whaling in Japan), and the same culture that corrals dolphins into a bay for the same fate (see Taiji dolphin drive hunt).

    Maybe these are a sort of cultural outlet to balance their admirable qualities, and the muted energy of herbivore men.

  • Frank

    03/19/2024 at 6:53 pm

    I just remembered another atrocity I witnessed in Japan: a sushi chef serving peeled, but still live shrimp, still heads-on and squirming. It was a local custom that a real sushi fan, after beheading the still-live shrimp, would return the heads to be tempura fried, then the heads would be served back to the customer for consumption.

    To be fair, I suppose few shrimp have a comfortable death in the ice hold of a fishing vessel. So perhaps it is a form of honesty to let the consumer be involved at that level.

    Japanese sensitivity is on a wide spectrum.

    • Celyne

      03/23/2024 at 7:38 pm

      True, these people and their culture are extremely unique. Not to mention Tokyo is the #1 most dense population in the world. I think their adaptation to high sensitivity is how they can take on being so well-functioning and an ideal place to live.

  • Celyne

    03/23/2024 at 7:35 pm

    OMG, I just wrote about this weird experience I had on my short trip to Tokyo. On the subway, since it was packed, I held onto a handrail over the seats. This would be completely normal in NYC… but as I was standing over a Japanese man in a suit, I awkwardly felt he was staring at me the entire time. I could tell he was literally squirming. It was uncomfortable, and awkward, and made me wonder if I was doing something wrong. I think Japanese people do this thing where they stare at you if you look different. Maybe they think you are doing something wrong if you look different. This experience was so excruciatingly awkward for me that I walked away with a new vow to myself that I would never be so overly aware as they seem to be. I grew up very self-aware of how my body language and movements can signal signs and energy to others. Now, I’m like, I’ll just do what makes me feel good.

  • John

    03/25/2024 at 10:07 pm

    I have a very large correction on this thread. In fact I should probably take it down.

    It turns out there is a type of work visa in Japan called “highly skilled professional” (HSP). And apparently, that is what is responsible for the high number of searches for “HSP” in Japan.

    Furthermore, I misremembered the original statement from The Highly Sensitive Person, page 15. Dr. Aron is talking about the Chineses, not the Japanese!

    I really botched that one. 🙃

    My apologies.

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