Thursday, August 29, 2013

Being An Introvert Is Not Abnormal

It wasn’t that long ago that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) was considering classifying ‘introverted personality’ as a disorder by listing it in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, commonly known as the DSM-5, which is used to diagnose mental illness.

!

This hit a nerve with a lot of people since it is estimated that anywhere from 25% - 50% of the population is introverted. It certainly hit a nerve with me. And even though there is growing conversation and awareness around introversion, and the proposal from the APA to label introverts with a disorder quietly faded, it remains a very misunderstood personality trait.

If you are an introvert like me, you’ve undoubtedly heard at one time or another something like this:

“You should be more confident around people.”
“You need to get out there.”
“Don’t be so antisocial.”


...and on and on and on...ad nauseam...

After awhile, you become tired of defending what comes naturally to you.


Listen; there is nothing wrong with being an introvert. Just because we prefer to exercise our minds a lot more than our jaws doesn’t make us abnormal. We have strong social skills, but prefer to devote that energy to close friends, colleagues and family. We listen more, talk less, think before we speak, dislike small talk but enjoy deep discussions, express ourselves better in writing (introverts thrive in the blogging world) and have such a strong inner life that we are rarely bored or lonely.

We are not antisocial. Or depressed. Or in need of therapy or medication.

We are simply introverts. And that’s okay.

This is what happens to us when we don't take time alone to re-energize.

42 comments:

  1. I agree that there is this odd stigma about introversion. I've never understood why people think there's something "wrong" with introverts. Seems the world could use more people that take time to think and not always speak :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's an extrovert's world, and because introverts function so differently, they are hard to understand. Still, that doesn't mean there is something wrong with them.

      Delete
  2. Oh, the APA of all organizations ought to know better! Carl Jung must be rolling over in his grave.

    "This man was talked to death" -- LOL! You find the best images to illustrate introversion!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I ran across that image purely by mistake and loved it! It fit so well with this post.

      Delete
  3. I enjoyed this... I am an extrovert personified. I have never ever thought there was anything whatsoever 'wrong' with an introvert other than ... hello? are you there? haa.. oh, me my husband is an introvert. We have had a very interesting life together and apart for 29 years. a real hoot

    "We listen more, talk less, think before we speak, dislike small talk but enjoy deep discussions, express ourselves better in writing..."

    I try but it's very hard. I do enjoy small talk and love deep discussions … I do listen after I take my foot outta my mouth and I love to write.

    I have never liked to label people or categorize them. The 60s brought out a lot of labeling issues ... I learned then that ... I'm okay ~ you're okay... I still subscribe to that. As long as we cause no harm ... I say, we're all cool.

    Since I suffer from hoof and mouth disease, I have to have a strong sense of humor ... and I do.

    I can't imagine being an introvert or an extrovert would be cause for psychiatric intervention. It's just a personality trait ... who we are. I can tell you, learning to accept the consequences for being an extrovert is a lifelong challenge. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I'm okay - you're okay" That is exactly what I subscribe to, as well. Yes, introversion and extroversion are simply personality styles. There is nothing wrong with either one, and the world certainly needs both!

      Delete
  4. I'm an extrovert to the nth degree - is that a social disorder as well?
    WHY WHY WHY does our generation have to label every single freaking thing..............
    When we were kids - there were shy people not shy people, period
    Now everyone's either an introvert or worse A.D.D. or O.S.D. or...............
    It's ridiculous really - just ridiculous!
    Great post Martha ( you introvert, you )
    XXX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It truly is ridiculous, Suzan. So many people are on one drug or another these days for the labels we have created!

      Delete
  5. When my very extroverted mom was alive she could never understand me and was always trying to tell me to go and make some friends. This from a woman who had over a 100 women in her address book and kept in touch with ALL of them. She was an insanely extroverted person. She used to keep pads of paper in her purse just in case she me someone new that she felt was worth knowing. I am not sure how I ended up being her daughter but neither of us understood each other in that aspect of our lives. Interestingly though, my biological father is one of the most introverted people I have ever known. He is 69 and has had the same 2 friends for at least 40 years. That is it. No more friends. But he loves classical music, reading, making bamboo fishing rods (a practice of patience), fishing, camping and going for walks. Way more like me that my mom and I were.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think extroverts will ever really understand us. They can't relate to the way we live, and it kind of freaks them out...LOL... But then, I can't understand how they live either. Their world seems much too busy for me.

      Delete
  6. How in the world would being an Introvert possibly be considered a disorder? That's ridiculous and one hell of a way for the field of psychology to make a heck of a lot more money. Imagine everyone being diagnosed with Introvert Disorder and having to go to therapy to bring them out of their shells. Oh, and the medications that would flood the market.

    Being autistic, I'm very introverted, but I do love people, too. I just don't have a need to be surrounded with them all the time, talk like crazy, and I really don't like people who talk and talk and talk at me, either. Many people I know are extroverted and can't understand that solitude and peace is something I love, crave, and thrive in. That's not to say I don't get out and get around people. I do that as well. But I like more of the solitude and peace to be with my thoughts, reading, creating, writing, etc... It's just who I am. I live in a house full of introverts, hubby, myself and my son, and four cats. I hear ya, Martha! It's no disorder. It's order in the midst of chaos for many of us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can you believe it, Bird? I just recently ran across this. I really never had any idea. It's truly disturbing. How awful it would have been if this had passed. Yes, the medications would flood the market. Perhaps that was one of the reasons for this!

      Delete
  7. Interesting discussion, Martha. I had no idea introversion was considered a "condition", but fully aware our hyper-sharing society has turned it into an oddity. Though I have always considered myself a fundamental introvert, I also have no qualms about singing in public (I was a church soloist for years). I completely agree with your point about blogging (and other internet communication) being a boon for introvert expression. How cool that I can say what I want and not be interrupted LOL. Responding to the opinions of others is also totally voluntary. This is an introvert's dreamworld IMHO. A final point: 2 or 3 real friends (whether online or in the flesh), is infinitely more precious and valued than 200-300 FB "friends". Thanks for listening to my opinion and not interrupting, Martha *TeeHee*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not surprised you would sing in public. Introverts may be quiet, but it doesn't mean they are shy. That's another misconception. Yes, it is very cool to be able to say what you want without being interrupted. That is what usually happens when an introvert is surrounded by extroverts. You can hardly get a world in! And so, I agree wholeheartedly that this is an introvert's dreamworld. Our stage. Our voice. Whenever we want.

      Delete
  8. Love that last joke ~~~ that happened to me the other day ~~ I came home and slept for what seemed like hours to recharge. Why can't "THEY" leave us alone !? LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahahaha...yes, why can't THEY leave us alone!

      But I know what you mean. It's happened to me at times. Some people just can't stop talking!

      Delete
  9. I have learned to appreciate introversion thanks to my partner!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes having a close relationship with someone that is different is exactly what we need to understand!

      Delete
  10. Too often we underestimate the power of silence and listening ears, which have the potential to turn a life around!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Quiet time is so important. Truly.

    I'm glad they dropped it as being a mental illness. Seems to be too much of that going around. Label this, label that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right. Everything seems to be labeled these days. Just let people be.

      Delete
  12. Hey, hey for introverts! We learn to cope but sometimes it's a pain. We must remember that there are degrees of being introverted. Have you read "The Power of the Introvert?" I can't remember the author. It was a fascinating read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you mean "The Power of Introverts" written by Susan Cain? If so, yes! My daughter who is also an introvert bought me for as a Christmas gift. I really enjoyed it. Susan Cain has brought a lot of attention to the introverted personality, and we are just starting to be noticed...if not, appreciated :)

      Delete
  13. This is all so true, I'm an introvert myself.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Are you serious, Martha? I had no idea they wanted to add "Introvert" to the DSM. I recently learned that it was written mainly by the drug industry/psychiatrists. There you go. They want EVERYONE on drugs - including introverts. Thousands of clinicians and organizations petitioned against the DSM-5, too. But that did nothing; we still have to use it as our Bible. (I'm a clinician; luckily I don't have to diagnose. I probably don't agree with anything in it.)

    I'm with you. The world needs more introverts. Years ago, I read a book called the Highly Sensitive Person. It was very eye-opening and validating for me.

    Have a nice weekend, with some solid, heavenly alone time.
    xoRobyn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is exactly what I was thinking... Seems these days so many people are on one thing or another. Those pharmaceutical companies are huge organizations, and very powerful. Imagine how much money they (together with psychiatrists) would have raked in if this had passed. It's ridiculous.

      Delete
  15. I can so relate to the last illustration! I have felt exhausted and "Talked to Death" at social occasions, family reunions etc. I need hours sometimes days, to recuperate from the ordeals!! My husband is an extreme extrovert and it was a challenge at first but we compromise on our social activities and are still married after 20+ years. Thanks for a great post Martha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An extrovert and an introvert that team up often compliment one another. The key is exactly what you are doing: compromising!

      Delete
  16. And besides, without us introverts, there would be no extroverts. :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. i can relate, i am very much of a loner and if i dont have enough time to myself (in silence) i actually feel off balance especially around avid speakers. what is wrong with silence? lol maybe it is fear of it for some, fear of what one may see within once the background sound is gone. I feel some cant handle silence as in silence they have to be with themselves and listen to the chattering mind which may require some readiness, lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is so much truth in what you are saying. Yes, some people fear what they may discover if left alone with their thoughts.

      Delete
  18. I think this is such an important subject to talk (write) about. I've been having some very important conversations with my family since I completely blew up on an aunt a few weeks ago for making fun of my need to be alone. And it has demonstrated to me, again, the importance of making more people aware of what introversion is and means.
    I don't generally approve of putting people into neat little drawers with neat little labels on them, but this was one label that was so important for me to discover, because it came with the knowledge that there are plenty others who feel like me, and no, I don't need to "pull myself together" and "get out more" and "live a little". Such a relief!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand completely what you're saying. I've had moments like that as I'm sure all introverts have had. People are constantly trying to 'fix' us even though we are not broken. It can be infuriating. It's hard to keep your cool, but don't let these types of people get to you. Instead, tell your aunt (or anyone else who is 'confused') to pick up a copy of the book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts" by Susan Cain and educate themselves...and stop being so ignorant :)

      Delete
    2. I will have to see if there's a German translation of that book...

      It was actually a very good conversation (much as I had been dreading it). My aunt was not just far more understanding than I expected, but we also discovered that, deep down, buried under decades of trying to "adapt", she also seems to be an introvert.
      ... which is really a sad thought, and one of the reasons why I'm trying to talk about introversion more. It is not something shameful to be hidden and suppressed!

      Delete
    3. It is wonderful that you had such a positive conversation. And it must have been quite a surprise to discover that about your aunt. I can imagine how difficult it was for her to try to adapt and suppress her true nature. That's how it's been until recently for all introverts. Things are changing, but very slowly.

      Delete