Thursday, July 30, 2015

More on introversion, and "ordinary people"

Continuing my “morality walkthrough”, I wanted to note the effect of introversion (as in my review of Laney’s “The Introvert Advantage” on Books, Jan. 22, 2007).  I recall a clinical psychologist friend, a Ph D at about age 28, in Dallas in the 1980s, who saw his own aloofness as a good thing.  And he liked the same quality in me.  He had been married before “coming out”.

There is a continuum, among different psychological entities:  introversion, the “subjective feminine personality” in Rosenfels, the schizoid personality (less ominous than “schizotypal”), mild autism (or Asperger’s), and often extreme caution and avoidance of danger in the way one conduct’s one’s life.  That can include resistance to intimate relationships that others normally expect (such as closeness to blood family).  It does not mean the person does not experience emotion, but that the emotion tends to be confined to a relatively limited area, often related to fantasy.  The person does not find a lot of value in connection to “average Joe” people, or in reproduction for its own sake.

It’s interesting that various studies report that extroverts tend to be more “reckless” (like buying more home than they need and falling for shady loans like during the subprime bubble) and more likely to get into serious debt.  That makes introversion look good, right?

So the introvert is viewed as not “liking people” enough. The extrovert may believe he or she is “helping people” by contacting them to sell them services, but may be pushing pyramid-based scams without realizing it.

There is a danger that the introvert gets a free pass on the hidden sacrifices of others, leading to “bad karma”.  That can get ugly at the end, if things break down.  That’s an idea I’ve had to contemplate a lot more in recent years.

Jeffrey Kluger has an interesting article in Time, “In Praise of the Ordinary Child”, p. 54, August 3, 2015, link here (paywall).  Remember the 1980 film "Ordinary People"?  David Callahan had written about the unsustainable expectations of parents that all their children excel in “The Cheating Culture” back in 2004 (Book Reviews, March 28, 2006).  People take a big risk when they have children, as columnist George Will wrote in 2012 about his own family, here. Not everyone is gifted, so it gets hard for everyone to find value, unless others play along.  Introverts like me sometimes don’t.  

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