INTROVERTS ARE NOT MENTALLY ILL

One of the biggest differences between introverts and extroverts is how they react to stress.

Some people don’t understand how introverts react to stress. Because of this, they think that all introverts are “neurotic” or mentally ill. Let me explain why this is a misperception. When extroverts are stressed they “act out”. They may smoke, drink, yell and scream, throw a punch, stomp around or generally raise the roof. Although this behavior is difficult and even obnoxious, it is not considered “mentally ill”.

When introverts are stressed, they withdraw. They do this to recharge their batteries, not because they are neurotic. Introverts need time alone to bring order back into their inner world. They give energy to others and receive energy when alone.

Let’s look at some of the things that can stress introverts.

• Introverts are territorial. Someone cannot take your seat, move your stuff, lean on your desk, ignore your closed door or borrow your clothes without making you very angry.

• Introverts need time alone to recharge their batteries. If denied time alone, you may become irritable and depressed.

• Introverts value privacy. When your boundaries are disregarded, when someone has a loud personal conversation on their cell phone in your captive presence, such as waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store, you can be annoyed and offended.

• Introverts fear failure in public and experience deep humiliation because of it. If the teacher grabs you for a demonstration of a new skill or your spouse puts you on the spot to put a bicycle together it can be extremely stressful.

• Introverts prefer to communicate in writing. They may feel exhausted by too much verbal communication that “isn’t going anywhere”. Introverts hate small talk.

• Introverts like to be prepared. If rushed to present a solution or opinion, they may be extremely uncomfortable and sometimes refuse to do so at all.

What are some of the ways that introverts restore balance?

• Introverts need to spend at least half their time alone for optimal good health

• Introverts love long trips, walks in nature and usually enjoy the company of animals. These activities restore their peace of mind and equilibrium.

• Introverts give energy when they are with people and need to be alone to recharge their batteries.

• Introverts need a room of their own with a door that closes.

• Introverts need to give themselves permission to communicate via email or in writing and to ignore a ringing phone (get a good answering machine).

• Decision making should take place without time pressure if possible. Introverts like to be prepared!

• Introverts hate surprises. It’s natural to try and control your own world as much as possible … learn to let the rest of it go!

If you’re an introvert, it’s important to understand your natural reactions to stress and what you can do to restore your equilibrium. Retreats into self are neither neurotic nor mentally ill. They are a natural restorative to introverts.

COMMENTS FROM READERS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE:

4.22.2005 think this paper is kind of byist. it is not true that all extroverts are these loud obnoxsious people who like rock music or whatever. i know a strict introvert who, when pushed a little will talk and laugh just as much as the next person. i think it would only be fair of you to add some kind of middle ground. even i, who many say is introverted, love to have friends and spend time with people, talk to people. maybe the reason that this girl liked classical music when she was 4 had nothing to do with her being introverted.
something to think about.

– Hayden

Dear Hayden: You bet we’re biased. We’re here to advocate for introverts. For centuries 70% of the people have been advocating for extroverts and have messed with our reality. After we get through evening things out, then we’ll be neutral. This website is PRO inroversion. — Nancy R. Fenn

4.20.2005 loved it — Jenna

3.15.2005 Yes! This is SO true. I wish I could really learn to create the “space” I need for sanity in my relationships without appearing inept. It’s a challenge. — “D”

8.02.2004 Thank you for helping me to feel validated instead of an outcast freak. –Gerald

4.05.2004: Thank you, I found this to be an excellent article and I find comfort in knowing that I am not alone in the way I feel about noise and outside distractions. It is terribly grating on the nerves, especially when my neighbor comes a long with her yard crew every two weeks with the noisy leaf blower, weed eater and lawn mower right underneath my window. I cringe until it is all over. Yes, if the T.V. is on in a nearby room being watched by my husband, it drives me crazy to hear it, especially the commercials, because they seem to be much louder. I love the quiet, peacefullness of nature and the birds singing. Now that is happiness. –Heather

6.1.2005 Thank you! I have always felt that people were sucking the life right out of me and now I know it’s true. I like people and like being with them but I need time alone to figure out what all the chaos(conversation?) was all about. I’m an INFJ and need my space, I don’t understand why others can’t accept me and my needs. Power to the introverts. LOL ;) — Wendy

8.13.2005 Thanks to these introvert articles for easing the pain that Introverts experience while they’re attempting to lead happy lives (while surrounded by loud, non-understanding, invasive, herding-type people). — Qouen

8.26.2005 I really liked the article, it’s good to know there are others out there. After going to school/work I feel totally drained and need time alone to restore. Good job. — Tim

9.22.2005 Great article! Although I think some people may read more into it than is actually there. Just because I may “prefer” to communicate in writing in many situations (in order to be able to think things through adequately) does not mean I am socially inept or unable to carry on conversations.

I can easily start conversations with strangers, speak in front of large groups better than most extroverts I know, and mingle well at parties. But, after the party is over, I am drained — and need time alone to recharge.

This was a terrific article — some of the things described me so perfectly, and I hadn’t even realized they were related to my introversion (such as my tendency to let the answering machine pick up the phone so I don’t have to). Thanks! ~ Susan

2.26.2006 I spent more time in the library of the cruise ship that my mother had me accompany her on than anywhere else – except my room – and I had a fun time, too! Mum, on the other hand, seemed to feel the need to excuse my behaviour to her friends. What they never considered was that I felt superfluous during their small talk on the deck and in the bars, and only felt that my company was truely required during the daily Trivia games run by the ship’s crew. My mental health suffered immensely during my formative years when I strove to live up to expectations; now (after years of counselling) I am confortable with who I am, and can enjoy such a holiday with my extroverted mother, on the understanding that we go our separate ways throughout the day, and meet at the dinner table.
3.08.2006 This article changed my life overnight. every question was answered, I’m 33 years old, but feel today as if I finally found myself. ~Tim Zeipekis

5.29.2006 I’m so glad I found this website. After reading an article in our local paper about introversion, I finally realized that I truly am an introvert. I’ve always felt so inept when I’m having a conversation about something that I’m truly interested in or know alot about, and all I can do is nod or say “I know” or “no kidding” or “exactly” when all these intelligent thoughts are rattling around in my head. I’m 31 years old, and hope that more people (intros and extros) can learn from websites like this. It’s so supportive of intros like us, and maybe some extros can learn a few things that will help us to feel more accepted. Thank you, Nancy.

10.20.06 Very good article.Helped me to understand a little more about myself! ~RC

12.04.06 I “knew” most of this but it was one of those days I needed reinforcement. I really saw myself in your account of what the “I” must endure in the social world. Thus, I have learned an important truth all over again. Thank you. ~Jane

1.06.2007 This article is right on! This is 100% me. It is a great feeling to know someone out there understands. ~Anon.

1.16.2007 An excellent article. I’m an introvert and can relate to everything written. I’m happily married to an extrovert because we respect each other’s differences.

I think there are degrees of introvertedness and some characteristics may apply more to some introverts than others.

Someone described an introvert to me this way one time: If someone says, “I’m going to punish you by locking you up alone in a library for a month,” the introvert will reply, “Can you make it three?”

2.14.2007 I found this very interesting. I am an introvert as is my younger son. I sent the link to him and he wrote back saying he does almost all of the things you mentioned to recharge. {As do I, as it happens.} I also sent the link to my son’s girlfriend in case she has not yet caught onto the fact that when he goes off alone, he is not rejecting her but just doing what introverts have to do.

So, thanks, Patricia

2.14.2007 I love it. Good article !Anon.

2.19.2007 Thanks Nancy. A lot of this seemed to describe me. ~Patrick

2.21.2007 This was so interesting! Thank you. Clearly, very few introverts or extroverts are mentally ill. Isn’t it nice we’re all NOT alike! The world takes and needs all kinds of people. This article startled me in that I now realize I’m really an introvert and my wife an extrovert. We thought we were just the opposite. I have no fear of crowds and noise and can speak before two or two thousand people without a second thought. I have no self-doubts I guess. Where my wife needs me with her to attend social functions to “break the ice” and get her into a group. BUT, once that happens, she loves to make small talk for hours and make new friends. An hour of that to me is like a day. I’d rather go home and read a book. Am I self-centered not finding much of interest in most other people? I hope not but maybe I am. To others, I’m the most outgoing person they know. In fact, I make my living in an extroverted job (sales). To me, I’m quite comfortable, and actually prefer, being alone with something interesting to read, watch or do. I’ve been alone for extended periods in my life but can’t say I’ve ever been lonely. My wife needs to be with people constantly and can become lonely in hours, not days. We apparently are, down deep, just the opposite of what we thought we both were. Thank you again for this revelation. It won’t change my life but it will cause me to look at myself and others diferently than I have in the past.
2.25.2007 Yeah! No booby hatch for me! I’m just like tons of other introverts! Heck………maybe even some of you psychiatrists are too! Weeeeeeeeee! I’m free! Now leave me alone….I need to be alone.

3.03.2007 I found this article with stumbleupon.com. I read this and immediately thought of my daughter. Poor thing was raised in a family of extroverts- and I received an email from her after sending this to her saying “THANK YOU! IT IS THE ONLY THING I’VE EVER READ THAT EXPLAINS ME”! Thanks for making my daughter’s day!!

3.15.2007 i loved the article , it described me perfectly and i had only a slight idea i was an introvert until i read this
article. thank you

3.26.2007 This article reminds me a lot of myself. Many people don’t understand introverts because they expect them to be quiet and shy, but this isn’t always the case!! I can be very friendly and talk when I have something to say, but when it comes to stress each of those criteria are descriptions of me! Thanks

4.1.2007 Spot on. Anon.

5.14.2007 Thank you, thank you. I am so tired of trying to explain myself. Now I need only refer my spouse and others who accuse me of being aloof and anti-social to this article. Thank you!

6.12.2007 I CAN RELATE TO EVERYTHING THAT WAS SAID IN THIS ARTICLE ,AND I FIND IT VERY USEFUL THAT OTHERS FEEL SAME .
~Melissa

6.20.2007 Thank you for your excellent article. I am just beginning to learn more about my introverted nature and how it has shaped me over the years to make me the person I am today. I am becoming a stronger individual because of this insight since for years I thought my introversion was simply shyness and I was raised to believe there was “something wrong with me” Thank you again for sharing your insight on a topic which more people need to be aware of (both introverts and extroverts). Tracy

10.10.2007 “Introverts are territorial, need privacy and time alone…” Thank you! As a definite introvert living in a house shared with 6 (extroverted) flatmates, three shop owners, a work man and a cleaning lady, these three ideas were like music to my ears! so now I know: I’m not mad after all, just a perfectly normal introvert!

10..15.2007 just recently heard the terms “introvert/extrovert” and have read a book on the topic. Your article was much shorter and clearer! Thanks! I only wish is was required reading for everyone else.

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~ by nancyfenn on October 18, 2007.

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