“I’m very sensitive in real life. I cannot not cry if someone around me is crying…even if it’s not appropriate. I have that thing in me, a weakness or sensitivity.” Jessica Chastain
Such a powerful, dynamic and emotionally expressive actor, in films including “The Tree of Life”; “The Debt”; “Lawless,” and “The Help,” (for which she was nominated for an Oscar), Chastain has made a number of comments that relate to high sensitivity, as well as being introverted and shy:
“I’m inspired by people who are so sensitive and vulnerable that they try to cover it up.”
[on rehearsals] “They’ll say, Save it, save it. I tell them: Don’t worry. I have a bottomless well of tears.”
“I’m not the girl at the club on the table. I’m going to be the one in the corner, quiet and so I don’t call attention to myself.”
“I was the girl who cut school to go to the park, and the other kids would be smoking and drinking and I’d be reading Shakespeare.”
“I walk the dogs, I play the ukulele, I cook. I’m not a girl who goes to big parties–I’m shy.”
“For me, fashion is incredibly emotional. I go to shows in Paris and try not to cry. Fashion is the expression of, This is how I am feeling today.”
(Quotes are from The Internet Movie Database IMDb.com).
Her comment about “weakness or sensitivity” probably reflects the kinds of disparaging attitudes and criticism many non-sensitive people have about those who are sensitive.
Crying is a form of being intensely emotional that many highly sensitive people share. Over the course of some twenty years reading interviews with talented actors and other artists, I have been struck by how many of them talk about crying as almost a part of their personality.
Elaine Aron, PhD is one of the leading writers and researchers on the personality trait of high sensitivity (sensory processing sensitivity; present for about 15 to 20 percent of us), and she declares that HSPs (highly sensitive persons) “do cry more readily than others. It was a strong finding in our research. The only reason it is not on the self-test is that women answered yes to it more than men did, and we didn’t want items with a gender bias. I am sure that most HS men cry easily, too, but for various reasons suppress it more.”
Her Self-Test “Are You Highly Sensitive?” includes some items – such as “I am deeply moved by the arts or music” – that indicate the kinds of intense feelings which can lead us to cry, or become tearful – which I certainly do, often enough, watching movies – even trailers.
Dr. Aron also quotes Victor Hugo from “Les Miserables”: “Those who do not weep, do not see.”
But she notes that “Crying easily can be a problem in many situations: in doctor’s offices, when under pressure at work, or just when something touches you that is not having that effect on those around you.”
She goes on to give advice on how to interact with others, especially those who are probably not HS (highly sensitive), and communicate so they will better understand this aspect of high sensitivity.
See the November 2012 issue of her Comfort Zone newsletter, titled About Crying Easily.
Of course, strong emotionality such as crying is not a defining indication of being a highly sensitive person; there can be other medical or psychological reasons.
We may cry in response to many different kinds of experiences, but emotional sensitivity and intensity are qualities shared by many creative people.
Dr. Aron writes about some of her own experience: “In college my life became far more difficult. After many stops and starts, including a four-year marriage undertaken too young, I finally graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California at Berkeley. But I spent my share of time crying in rest rooms, thinking I was going crazy. (My research has found that retreating like this, often to cry, is typical of HSPs.)”
From her book The Highly Sensitive Person.
Crying and being a high sensitivity personality – includes quotes by Robin Tunney and Mandy Moore, and director Luc Besson about Milla Jovovich in “The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc”: “She can cry for an ant on the street.”