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Being an Introvert in an Extraverted World

 by Keith Goetzman

Tags: psychology, introverts, extraverts, social psychology, happiness, emotions, Psychology Today, The Atlantic, culture, politics, Keith Goetzman,

Psychology Today Sept-Oct 2010It seems that extraverts increasingly rule the world: People tell all on reality shows, long to be the next American Idol, and rush to share everything about their lives via phone, e-mail, and the Internet. But psychotherapist and Introvert Power author Laurie Helgoe reminds us in Psychology Today that introverts haven’t gone away. We’re just quietly dealing with the demands of living in a loud, in-your-face society that doesn’t understand us—even in its insistence that it just wants us to be happy:

If you’re saying “Right on!” then you too are probably an introvert, whose ranks compose a full half of the populace but whose behavior still seems suspect to many—including mental health professionals, apparently. The World Health Organization still pathologizes introversion, and the American Psychiatric Association is “considering a proposal to include introversion in the next edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5),” Helgoe wrote with Nancy Ancowitz on the Psychology Today website:

It seems that things haven’t gotten a whole lot better for introverts since Jonathan Rauch wrote his short essay “Caring for Your Introvert” for The Atlantic in 2003, a deftly written manifesto that was widely circulated.

Helpfully, Psychology Today drops a few tips on what not to say to introverts:

• “Why don’t you like parties? Don’t you like people?”

• “Surprise, we’ve decided to bring the family and stay with you for the weekend.”

• Above all, says one life and leadership coach, “We hate people telling us how we can be more extraverted, as if that’s the desired state.”

Sources: Psychology Today, The Atlantic