Living Against and Persistence of Being: Poetic Sharing of Being Sensitive Within Antagonistic Worlds

  • Ana Cecília Bastos
  • Glenn E. Rucker
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Creativity and Culture book series (PASCC)


The lived reality of people with a special liminality for enacting sensorial responses to stimuli is linked to so-called highly sensitive persons. Here, rather than looking at high sensitivity as a diagnostic label, the authors explore the poetic experience of being highly sensitive and growing up in a semiosphere marked by social directions and values that establish potentially antagonistic vectors. The analysis is based on diary entries shared by two friends, focusing on the affective-semiotic strategies constructed to cope with ambivalent and antagonistic cultural orientations—namely, those ones established by racism against African descendants, in two countries. The results are discussed through the concept of living against, defined as the development of positionings and strategies to favor the persistence of being.


  1. Abbey, E., & Surgan, S. (2012). Coming closer to the phenomenon: Better understanding the process of human meaning-making. In E. Abbey & S. Surgan (Eds.), Emerging methods in psychology. New Brunswick, NJ and London, UK: Transaction.Google Scholar
  2. Aron, E. (1996/2013). The highly sensitive person. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp.Google Scholar
  3. Bastos, A. C. S., & Rabinovich, E. P. (2009). Realities of living: From poverty to poetry, and beyond. In A. C. S. Bastos & E. P. Rabinovich (Eds.), Living in poverty. Developmental poetics of cultural realities. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar
  4. Batista, L. E., Werneck, J., & Lopes, F. (2012). Saúde da população negra. Brasília, DF: ABPN–Associação Brasileira de Pesquisadores Negros.Google Scholar
  5. Chang, H., Ngunjiri, F. W., & Hernandez, K. C. (2013). Collaborative autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
  6. Frankl, V. E. (1969). The will to meaning: Foundations and applications of logotherapy. New York, NY: New American Library.Google Scholar
  7. Jedema, H. P., Gianaros, P. J., Greer, P. J., Kerr, D. D., Liu, S., Higley, J. D., et al. (2009). Cognitive impact of genetic variation of the serotonin transporter in primates is associated with differences in brain morphology rather than serotonin neurotransmission. Molecular Psychiatry, 15, 512–522.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Lehmann, O. (2015). Poetic instants in daily life: Towards the inclusion of vertical time in cultural psychology. In B. Wagoner, N. Chaudhary, & P. Hviid (Eds.), Integrating experiences. Body and mind moving between contexts. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar
  9. Licht, C., Mortensen, E. L., & Knudsen, G. M. (2011). Association between sensory processing sensitivity and the serotonin transporter polymorphism 5-HTTLPR short/short genotype. Biological Psychiatry, 69 (Supplement for Society of Biological Psychiatry Convention and Annual Meeting, abstract).Google Scholar
  10. Lovecky, D. (1986). Can you hear the flowers sing? Issues for gifted adults. Journal of Counseling and Development, 64, 572–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Nöth, W. (2015). The topography of Yuri Lotman’s semiosphere. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 18(1), 11–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Paz, O. (1987). The bow and the lyre. The poem, the poetic revelation, poetry and history. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  13. Rabinovich, E., Bastos, A. C., Silva, M. A. V., & Leal, T. (2016). Morar, brincar, pertencer. In E. Rabinovich, A. C. Bastos, M. A. Silva, & T. Leal (Eds.), Autoetnografia Colaborativa e Investigação Autobiográfica. A Casa, os Silêncios e os Pertencimentos Familiares. Curitiba: Juruá Editora.Google Scholar
  14. Valsiner, J. (2007). Culture in minds and societies. New Delhi and London: Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Valsiner, J. (2014). An invitation to cultural psychology. Los Angeles and London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Winston, C. E., & Winston, M. R. (2012). Cultural psychology of racial ideology in historical perspective: An analytic approach to understanding racialized societies and their psychological effect on lives. In J. Valsiner (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of culture and psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Zittoun, T. (2012). Life course. In J. Valsiner (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of culture and psychology (pp. 513–535). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Zittoun, T. (2016). Reflexivity, or learning from living. In G. Marsico, R. A. Ruggieri, & S. Salvatore (Eds.), Reflexivity and psychology. A volume in the yearbook of idiographic science (pp. 143–167). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana Cecília Bastos
    • 1
    • 2
  • Glenn E. Rucker
    • 3
  1. 1.Federal University of Bahia (UFBA)SalvadorBrazil
  2. 2.Catholic University of Salvador (UCSAL)SalvadorBrazil
  3. 3.Montgomery CollegeRockvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations