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Introverted, Shy, or Schizoid?

Uploaded 8/12/2021, approx. 42 minute read

As usual, I love just a door to bash self-styled experts and so-called scholars online. He's a rule of thumb, if they're online, they're not experts, they're not scholars. With one exception of course, me. My name is Sam Vaknin, I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, and a professor of psychology.

Today, I'm going to discuss the god-awful confusion between shyness, avoidant personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, introversion, homophobia, social anxiety and anxiety disorder, not to mention shyness.

Yes, all these psychological constructs are very often confused and conflated to the point of an utter mayhem where people can't tell the difference between being shy, being avoidant, being introverted, being schizoid, and other things.

Socially-phobic, socially anxious, generally anxious, paranoid and so on and so forth. So even mental health practitioners, even people with academic degrees in psychology and even psychiatry, can't tell the difference. And they can't tell the difference because they largely rely on observable phenomena when actually what differentiates these disorders from each other is not the outside, not the behavioral aspect, but the etiology and the psychodynamics.

I can't focus on all these disorders simultaneously in one video because I never make videos longer than 10 hours. So I'm going to focus today on two of these constructs.

One is schizoid or schizoidism or schizoid personality disorder compared to introversion.

What's the difference between an introvert and a schizoid person?

On the surface, they look the same. They avoid social interactions, but are they doing this for the same reasons? Absolutely not.

And so let's plunge right in.

As usual, everything I say is backed by scholarly research and studies. I will place a very short bibliography in the description of the video. You're well advised to follow up on it, but try to purchase these books if the topic for some oblivious reason is of interest to you.

So welcome to the Saint Vaknin narcissism horror show. And this time it's not about narcissism.

Well, at least not directly, maybe my own.

And that's it. We start with introversion.

The dictionary of the American Psychological Association defines introversion this way.

Introversion, noun, orientation towards the internal private world of one's self and one's inner thoughts and feelings, rather than orientation towards the outer world of people and things.

Introversion is a broad personality trait and exactly like extroversion, it exists on a continuum of attitudes and behaviors.

Introverts are relatively more withdrawn, retiring, reserved, quiet and deliberate. They may tend to mute or guard expression of positive affect, adopt more skeptical views or positions and prefer to work independently.

The concept of course was originated by Carl Jung for the study of personality types.

I recommend to you to watch the video I had made about Carl Jung's view of narcissism because Carl Jung says that narcissism is actually a very healthy, a very healthy, as you heard it right, a very healthy investment in introversion.

And he said that introversion is an inevitable and very important phase or stage in the development of what he called a constellated self.

In other words, Jung believed that introversion is indispensable to the formation of a self.

And if you like introversion and if you like narcissism in early childhood, you're going to end up being a selfless person.

Ironically, you're going to end up being a narcissist.

All this is explained in that video.


But today we are focusing on the social manifestations and etiology of introversion.

One thing that emerges immediately from this definition, and it's a very important distinction, introverts are never ever impulsive. They're deliberate, they're slow, they're guarded, they're paranoid, they're skeptical.

Introverts are highly unlikely to find themselves in situations where they suddenly do something because they have an impulse to do it or on a whim or because they can't control themselves or because they're not. They never get drunk to the point of losing control. They never get drunk to the point of acting on an impulse.

In this sense, they're very hypervigilant.

So if you see someone acting impulsively, recklessly, defiantly, even if that someone appears to be introverted and shy and avoidant, he is not.

Introversion and impulsivity. Introversion defines introversion and recklessness. Introversion and contumaciousness do not go together.

To cut a long story short, a psychopath may well be shy. A psychopath may have anxiety disorder. A psychopath may be socially phobic or socially anxious, but a psychopath can never ever be an introvert.

And introverts never find themselves in situations where they had lost control or recklessly abandon all safeguards or act on an impulse or get to the point of acting on an impulse, for example, but is inhibiting themselves with alcohol and drugs. That's not introversion. That is psychopathy masquerading as introversion.

If you were to acquire the wonderful, wildly encyclopedia of personality published in 2020, you would find several mentions in a whole article about introversion and extroversion. And I would like to read to you the summary of this article.

The extroversion introversion personality dimension is a robust and highly inheritable personality dimension that is recognized around the world.

Characterized by both interpersonal and temperamental characteristics, the key features of extroversion introversion are sociability and positive affect.

The extroversion are features, dimensions, when they became well established as a result of the biological basis and the lexical significance in cross-cultural language.

Extroverts encompass approach behaviors rooted in the need for increased stimulation caused by cortical understimulation, while introverts demonstrate avoidance behaviors to inhibit overstimulation.

Similarly, extroverts are more likely to engage in approach behaviors commonly associated with impulsivity, while introverts are more likely to engage in avoidance behaviors commonly associated with anxiety.

So here we're beginning to see the first very important distinctions.

It seems that introversion is a result of dysregulation, sensory overload, overstimulation. It's a defense. It's an attempt to warn yourself of the world, to firewall yourself in order to avoid a collapse or a decompensation under consistent pressure of environmental stimuli.

What does this remind you of? Yes, you're good students. It's reminiscent of autism spectrum disorders and even more so it's reminiscent of borderline personality disorder.

Introversion, therefore, can be conceived of simply as another name for emotional dysregulation, or at least the observable reaction to emotional dysregulation.

Well, extroversion is actually an attempt to compensate for a lack of environmental stimulation for understimulation and therefore extroversion is much more likely to be associated with externalized personality disorders and personality traits and behaviors such as psychopathy.

Again, impulsivity and anxiety, these are the keys.

If you see someone who is anxious but then acts impulsively, that's a psychopath. If you see someone who is anxious and then withdraws or becomes paranoid or becomes deliberate, very slow and plodding and then avoids life, situations, environments and people, that's an introvert.

Anxiety plus impulsivity equals psychopathy. Anxiety plus avoidance equals introversion.

And so here's a description from this encyclopedia of an extrovert. He enjoys attending all the class parties. He is known for having lots of friends and is open to seeking out new experiences that offer thrilling lifestyle.

This person is energetic, a leader in most domains and is very happy with their life.

And here's the introvert. The introvert tends to stay away from the class parties. He is instead happiest when quietly staying home with a good book.

This second person, the introvert, may have a few close friends but tends to be more comfortable within their organized and routine lifestyle.

So this sounds suspiciously like a schizoid. We would need to differentiate the introvert from the schizoid. We will do it a bit later in this video.


At this stage, the distinction between the shy or quiet psychopath and the introvert rests on the pillar of impulsivity. Impulsivity distinct is a differential diagnosis between these two.

What about shy and quiet borderlines? It's not nonsensical construct.

But borderlines do tend to become secondary psychopaths under stress, humiliation, rejection and abandonment. And when they do become secondary psychopaths, when they do make this transition, when they switch, impulsivity reigns. So then we know these are not introverts but actually borderlines who had switched or transitioned to secondary psychopaths.

But there is such a thing. It's a shy and anxious psychopath.

Increasingly we are beginning to realize this. We are even beginning to dispense with the old view that psychopaths are fearless.

And I recommend that you watch the video, The Myth of the Fearless Psychopath, on my channel of course. Where else? The only channel with scientific proof and foundation. All right, enough self-promotion wackending. You got your dose of grandiosity. Move on for crisis.

Okay, I will. We are about to enter a much more fraught minefield.

The distinctions, the delicate and subtle distinctions between extroversion, introversion and schizoidism and schizoid personality disorder.

But to do so, we need to delve a bit further into extroversion, introversion.

Extroversion, as we said, has interpersonal and temperamental components. And the interpersonal characteristics of extroversion reflect the typical extroverted behaviors.

Sociability, assertiveness, etc.

The stereotype in this case is quite true. The temperamental characteristics of extroversion reflect increased activity level and positive affect.

And so when we consider extroversion, introversion dimension, an extrovert is someone who is outgoing, talkative, social, energized, exactly the stereotype. The introvert is the opposite, who is reserved, squired, passive.

And so Carl Jung, as we said, was the first to propose this dichotomy, the idea of extroversion. He conceptualized extroversion and introversion as two separate types of people.

Jung identified extroverts as having a focus on the outer world, directing an outward flow of so-called personal energy to the social environment.

And Jung said that introverts have a focus on the inner mental world, and they direct an inward flow of personal energy on internal factors, for example, internal objects and integers.

And so extroversion, introversion, started off as a classification, a taxonomy of personal styles, what we call today personality styles, but it had evolved and had become unrecognizable since Jung's time, luckily for us.

Immediately after Jung, there were other scholars who entered the fray and had contributed greatly to the current understanding of introversion and extroversion, most notably Hans Eysink and Jeffrey Gray.

Hans Eysink in the 1980s, he conceptualized a hierarchical personality model with a hierarchy based on traits that Eysink believed to be highly heritable.

I want to make an intermezzo here, the idea that introversion and extroversion and other Eysink types, the five-factor personality model, including, for example, agreeableness, which Jordan Peterson constantly mentions in each and every of his numerous lectures. The idea that all these five factors of personality, including introversion and extroversion, that they are based on genetics, on heritability, is just this, an idea. We do have some indications that, for example, introversion and extroversion run in families, sometimes skipping generations, but it's very weak and frail evidence.

At this stage, it's a speculative hypothesis with very, very little foundation in studies and research. But for some reason, perhaps because it's in vogue, perhaps because it's fashionable, we tend to believe that introversion and extroversion are somehow genetically determined.

And all this goes back to Eysink, because Eysink was the one who said, without any studies to back up his claim in 1985, he was the first to say that introversion, extroversion is heritable and psychophysiologically rooted.

Eysink theorized the concepts of excitation and inhibition in relation to personality and behavior, and he said that excitation and inhibition are actually biological determinants.

In the model of personality, Eysink, he focused on three dimensions of extroversion and introversion. The first dimension was sociability and so on. We'll come to it in a minute.

So his original model had three dimensions, introversion, extroversion, neuroticism, emotional stability, and psychoticism. And so he began with these three broad brushstrokes at the top of the hierarchy. And then he went down, as I said, and within each one, he found subunits or sub sections, sub segments. And he narrowed down.

So he started with these three enormous, with this canvas of three enormous dimensions, introversion, extroversion, roticism, psychoticism, and then he narrowed them down, he hacked, he sliced them into a highly specific list of characteristics.

So for example, in extroversion, he said that the traits are sociable, active, assertive, and sensation seeking. So these are the elements of the factors of extroversion, loading into what he called the E-factor, E-extroversion.

Isaac then proceeded, he spent all of his career actually, breaking down extroversion, introversion, roticism, stability, emotional stability, psychoticism, breaking them down into traits, and then breaking these traits into further traits, and then they're breaking these traits into further traits until we had the laundry list of every conceivable interpersonal and temperamental style elements.

And on the third level of Isaac's model, there is something called habitual acts. Someone who is extroverted is more likely to habitually attend many parties to seek out new adventures, such as, I don't know, skydiving, traveling, and the habitual behaviors together load into a narrow second level characteristic of sociability and sensation seeking. So actually, Isaac's model is a grassroots model. Behaviors coalesce into traits, traits coalesce into dimensions on three levels.

Raymond Cattel expanded on Isaac's three-factor approach. He developed a list of 16 personality factors derived from modern factor analysis of lexical approaches. These 16 personality factors, five of them cluster together to form the higher order of extroversion, including interpersonal warmth, impulsivity, and boldness. And I recommend that you watch my video on MBTI.


But this created an enormous argument. The question was, could such a small number of factors include all the key elements of personality? Are we capturing everything there is to capture, or do we need to continue to add to the list all the time?

And one of the most common personality taxonomies is the five-factor model of personality, referred to as the big five. It is derived from factor analysis of the most commonly used words in the English language, five broad traits, extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness. And within this model, extroversion is assumed to adopt a hierarchical structure with six lower order facets, warmth, gregariousness, assertiveness, activity, excitement-seeking, and positive effects. So this is extroversion.

Everything that's the opposite of extroversion is, of course, by definition, introversion.

There have been many studies which delve into the question of whether these characteristics and traits are heritable, nature versus nature. There was a huge study with 25,000 pairs of twins. There is the big study about ARAS, the ascending reticular activation system. So there are studies of this with introverts allegedly possessing a lower threshold for ARASM compared to extroverts. I will not go into all of this.

Iseng and Gray started this, actually, these kind of studies, and then dreamingly disagreed with Iseng's view of ARASM as a conditioning behavior. So there's a huge row. I will not go into all this.

Let's go back to personality.

Interversion is a robust personality dimension. It's robust in the sense that it's supported by numerous massive studies. It exists. It's real. It's not our imagination. It's not a figment. It's not an artifact of some other, for example, artifact of a test, a psychological test. It's real. It's a real personality dimension. It's dynamic.

This is a spectrum. The extroversion and introversion don't exist in a vacuum. Extroversion interacts consistently with other personality correlates.

And this provides implications for life outcomes and individual differences in behavior.

The substantial evidence that extroverts experience higher levels of positive affect, for example, compared to introverts, introverts were usually prone to negative effect.

And the relationship between extroversion and positive emotions had been replicated across cultures, regardless of personality disposition.

So it seems that extroversion and introversion, while being personality dimensions, are not conditioned or dependent upon what personality type you have, or even whether you have a personality disorder.

At its core, extroversion encompasses the core feature of positive effect. Extroverts react more positively when they are presented with positive stimuli.

And the relationship between extroversion and positive effect is also explained by differences in behavioral tendencies.

For example, sociability is a key feature of extroversion.

Researchers propose that extroverts engage in a greater number of social activities, but they also reap more benefits when they engage in daily social behaviors compared to introverts.

Introverts seem to seem to fail in extracting benefits from social interactions. Extroverts are more likely to view their social interactions and the world in general, positively.

Research has examined the link between personality and psychopathology. And we found that extroversion is negatively related to anxiety and depression.

So these mental health concerns usually lead or are characterized by social withdrawal.

If you're anxious, if you're depressed all your life, you would tend to withdraw socially. You tend to have, by definition, low levels of positive effect.

And this would lead you to a low level of extroversion.

In considering psychopathology as maladaptive extremes of some personality dispositions, some researchers have identified that very low level of extroversion, also known as introversion.

Introversion is linked with social isolation and with anhedonia, inability to experience pleasure. And very high levels of extroversion have been linked with maladaptive, reckless, risky, impulsive behaviors, such as sexual promiscuity and substance abuse.

These concerns may be linked to the greater likelihood for extroverts to seek out and engage in rewarding and highly arousing activities.

We're coming back full circle. You may be anxious. You may be depressed.

But if you're abusing substances and thereby disinhibiting yourself, if you then engage in reckless behaviors, such as sexual promiscuity and other reckless behaviors, such as extreme sports, especially if your reckless behaviors are intimately linked to your substance abuse, this rules out, precludes introversion.

Introversion is about control. Introversion is a hypervigilant control reaction to internal dysregulation and overload, sensory overload, sensory overstimulation. Highly sensitive persons, HSPs, are introverts.

So introverts don't go out and get drunk and sleep with strangers. They don't do this.

Introverts don't go out and do drugs and then drive recklessly and wreck their cars and their bodies. This is not an introverted behavior. Anything that leads via substance abuse usually to reckless behaviors is a strong indicator of psychopathy.

Primary psychopathy, factor one or secondary psychopathy, factor two, borderline.


Let me read to you something from another book written by Zelensky and Sobokov, the handbook of solitude published this year by Wiley.

So here's a summary of one of the chapters.

In this chapter, say the authors, we review personality differences in propensities for solitude, focusing on the dimension of introversion, extroversion and its link with psychological well-being.

Although extroversion is often linked with greater happiness, many scholars oppose this conclusion. We consider these objections and we examine their veracity with regard to empirical work. Although we ultimately conclude that introversion is indeed associated with lower levels of happiness, our review also provides a more nuanced view of disassociation.

For example, how its magnitude can depend on measurement tools for culture or culture.

Finally, we review and evaluate theoretical explanations for extroverts characteristically higher levels of happiness and we explore the potential of increasing happiness by increasing introversion.

What the authors are saying very gingerly and very carefully is that extroverts are not actually, may not actually be more happy than introverts. It's an artifact of testing and social and cultural conditioning and expectations. We are conditioned to feel happier when we interact socially, even if fundamentally we are actually not happier or even if we are like a vigilant and paranoid.

We just told society kind of brainwashes us into feeling happier when we're with other people, which would explain why many of us, when many of us drink and do drugs when we are with other people.

Perhaps it's not such a pleasant experience after all.

So to summarize this first segment or first section of the video, introverts do not engage in psychopathic behaviors like substance abuse, like promiscuity, sexual and otherwise, reckless behaviors, defiance, contumaciousness and impulsivity.

If you see these things, even if these things happen once a year, even if it happened once a decade, it's a powerful indication that the person is not an introvert, but a shy or anxious psychopath or a secondary psychopath, in other words, a borderline.


And we proceed now to schizoid personality disorder or schizoidism.

Schizoids are exactly like introverts. They stay at home. They avoid social interactions.

Minnie is a schizoid. She never leaves home. I keep telling her, Minnie, it's not good for you. You need to go out. You need to socialize with other mugs. You need to have a life, but she doesn't want to.

She stays at home. She says she's perfectly happy hanging on.

So you know, I do what I can.

What's the difference between schizoidism and introversion?

Outwardly, as observers, we cannot tell the difference. They look identical. Both introverts and schizoids behave in ways which are indistinguishable from each other.

Stay at home, avoid social interactions, hypervigilance and hedonia, depression and anxiety, the empty schizoid core.

Both of them usually have grandiose defenses. It's very difficult to tell them apart.

But let's try.

We start by going again, reverting again to the American Psychological Association's dictionary.

Schizoidism.

Now, lots of behavioral traits that include seclusiveness, quietness, general introversion, indicating a separation by the person from his or her surroundings, the confining of psychic interest to the self and in many cases a tendency towards schizophrenia. It's also called schizoidia and it was originally defined by Erich Bloehler long before Freud.

Actually, Bloehler is a much, much neglected genius, which in some respects overshadowed Freud. I mean, he was even, in my view, in many respects more important than Freud.

Bloehler, BLO-EE-LER. Knock yourself out. Let's go to, let's define schizoid.

So we have defined schizoidism, which is a personality trait. Let's define schizoid.

Schizoid, the same dictionary, denoting characteristics resembling schizophrenia, but in a milder form invoking lack of effect, social passivity and minimal introspection. These are beginning to be crucial differences between schizoids and introverts.

Let me repeat. Lack of effect. Introverts have affect. Sometimes they have inappropriate effect, but they always have effect, mostly negative effect. They're likely to show sadness, depression, anxiety, unhappiness, envy, anger. They have pronounced effect. They don't haveintroverts do not have lifelong or pervasive reduced affect display.

Schizoids do. Schizoids are totally flat. They have exactly like psychopaths, flat affect. They never ever show emotions of any kind ever, like ever.

That's the first difference.

Second thing, social passivity. The schizoid is socially passive. In other words, he or she are likely to respond to social cues, for example, being invited somewhere, but are very unlikely to initiate social interactions. That's the schizoid.

Introverts are different. They sometimes initiate social interactions with one or two good friends or family members. And finally, the schizoid has no introspection. He's utterly incapable of introspecting, of seeing himself or herself as he is or she is.

Schizoid has zero self-awareness. Schizoid would deny the most obvious facts about his or her life and personality.

The introvert is exactly the opposite. The introvert spends an ordinary amount of time, actually most of his life or her life, introspecting.

Introversion is another name for exaggerated, out of control, dysregulated introspection. The introvert spends 80% of her resources on studying herself, on minutely documenting every quirk, every dimension, every mishap and every happening within her soul. She is the chronicler of her own internal environment, including her internal objects and introjects.

Introvert is focused like a laser beam on herself and does little else. The schizoid is exactly the opposite. Schizoid rejects self-knowledge and self-awareness, defends against them.

Schizoid has alloplastic defenses and an external locus of control. Schizoid is unlikely to acknowledge shortcomings, failings, mistakes. Schizoid would defend ferociously against any attempt to define him or her, to describe him or her, to provide him or her with insight.

So schizoids are against insight. They reject insight. They become almost psychopathic, almost defined when you try to introduce insight and self-awareness into their lives.

Introvert welcomes insight and welcomes self-awareness. It's very common for an introvert to latch onto a therapist, for example, and overtax the therapist, become very clinging and demanding and needy because the therapist can provide insight.

The introvert's need for insight, the introvert's need for self-awareness, the introvert's need for self-knowledge is insatiable. There's no limit. And if you let the introvert, she will take over your life demanding minute responses and demanding repeated reassurances and analysis.

The introvert overthinks herself.

Schizoid is the absolute exact opposite. He doesn't want to hear anything about himself. Schizoid is a surface phenomenon. Surface is he has no depth, schizoid has no core. It's emptiness masquerading as presence.

Schizoid is about absence. Introversion is about too much presence. Introvert is too present in her own life and she sucks other people in like a black hole, but it's not a black hole. There's a lot there. She sucks them in because she wants additional insight. She wants input. She wants feedback.

The schizoid is exactly the opposite. Schizoid pushes people away because he does not want to know anything about himself. He wants to remain on the surface because all he has is a surface. If anyone goes deep, they find a black hole, void, emptiness, howling winds.

Schizoid personality disorder is defined in the dictionary of the American Psychological Association as a personality disorder characterized by long-term emotional coldness, absence of tender feelings for others, lack of desire for an enjoyment of close relationships, an indifference to praise or criticism, and to the feelings of others.

The eccentricities of speech, behavior, or thought that are characteristics of schizotypal personality disorder are absent in those with schizoid personality disorder.


Let's delve a bit deeper.

Howard Corbyn is the editor of Review of General Psychiatry, published by Prentiss Hall. He says, the person with schizoid personality disorder sustains a fragile emotional equilibrium by avoiding intimate personal contact, thereby by minimizing conflict that is poorly tolerated.

Schizoids are often described even by the nearest and dearest in terms of automatons, robots.

Schizoids are uninterested in social relationships. They are utterly turned off by interactions with other people. They have a very limited emotional repertoire.

It is not that they do not have emotions, but they express emotions poorly and intermittently, they have poor affect or lack of affect or flat affect.

Schizoids appear cold, appear to be stunted, flat, zombie-like, dead inside.

The most common phrase when people come across as schizoid, they're likely to say she's dead inside. She had died a long time ago. She just doesn't know it and doesn't realize it.

Consequently, exactly like introverts, schizoids are loners.

Schizoids confide only in first-degree relatives, but maintain no other close bonds or associations, not even with their immediate family.

So they have a single friend or a single family member, and that's just about it.

Naturally, schizoids gravitate into solitary activities and they find solace and safety in being constantly alone. Their sexual experiences are sporadic and limited, if at all.

Finally, they cease altogether.

Schizoids are unhedonic. They find nothing pleasurable, nothing attractive, but they are not necessarily dysphoric, sad or depressed.

Some schizoids are asexual. They resemble the cerebral narcissus.

Schizoids pretend to be indifferent to praise, criticism, disagreement and corrective advice, but deep inside they're not. They get hurt. It's painful.

Schizoids are creatures of habit, frequently succumbing to rigid, predictable and narrowly restricted routines. For example, they're very unlikely to travel. They're very likely to be afraid of travelling because they feel unsafe. They feel at risk.

Now, if you are an introvert, you're unlikely to engage in reckless behaviors, impulsive behaviors, you know, unlikely to disinhibit yourself with substances. But if you're a schizoid, you're likely to do all this.

Schizoids have these bouts, especially if they are also psychopaths.

You remember that the schizoid core is at the heart of narcissism, at the heart of psychopathy and ultimately at the heart of borderline personality disorder because it's a form of emotional dysregulation coupled with psychopathy.

So the schizoid core is an engine. It's empty, but it's exactly like a black hole. It has a lot of energy. So it's like an engine.

And sometimes with the schizoid, this core generates impulsive, reckless, disinhibited behaviors, dysregulated, unboundaried behaviors. It never, ever happens with an introvert.

It's a crucial distinction. The introvert never engages in dysregulated, unboundaried, impulsive, reckless, defiant behaviors. Never.

Introversion is a state of being predominantly interested in one's own mental self, one's own personality, one's own psychosocial and psychobiological history. It's a preoccupation with the self. It's constant, obsessive, compulsive introspection.

Introverts are perceived as reserved or reflective because they're busy. They're busy thinking about themselves. You could conceive of introversion as a dimension of extreme narcissism.

Some psychologists characterise introverts as people whose energy tends to expand through reflection and dwindle during its interaction.

It's like Jung. Jung said the same, although he focused on what he called mental energy. Don't ask.

Some modern conceptions of introversion disagree. They say that actually introverts find pleasure in solitary activities such as reading, writing or meditating. An introvert enjoys time spent alone, finds less reward in time spent in large groups of people. You are very unlikely to find an introvert at a club or in a bar or in a party. An introvert would never do this, ever.

And if you see an introvert in this location, someone in these locations and he looks shy and anxious and withdrawn and avoidant, that's not an introvert. That's someone with social anxiety or social phobia, or it's someone who is a psychopath.

So introverts are easily overwhelmed by too much stimulation from social gatherings and engagement. Introversion is about being quiet, minimizing stimulating external environment. Introverts absolutely avoid a singularly and religiously environments with multiple people. Introverts concentrate on a single activity at a time. They are likely to kind of observe situations before they participate in these situations. And they're very, very hypervigilant and very careful and very cautious and very paranoid and very reticent and very reluctant and so on. They're very analytical. Before they say anything, they analyze it like a thousand times and they analyze it in conjunction with and in respect to their perception of themselves. So kind of how would it reflect on me or does it reflect me accurately?

Susan Cain had written the book Quiet, The Power of Introverts and she defines introversion and extroversion as preferences for different levels of stimulation. She said, and she's correct, it's nothing to do with shyness. Shyness is a fear of social judgment, fear of humiliation, and therefore it's a very close cousin to avoidance, avoidant personality disorder, for example. It has even affinity with covert narcissism.

But introverts are not like that.

When we mistake introversion for shyness, it's a common error.

Introversion is not shyness, it's not avoidance. Introversion is a preference, it's a choice.

Shyness stems from distress.

Introversion leads to strength. Introverts prefer solitary to social activities, but they don't fear social encounters the same way that shy people do. They just don't want, they're overwhelmed, they're overstimulated, so they avoid them.

So Susan Cain argues that modern Western culture misjudges the capabilities of introverted people, and that is very wasteful of talent, energy, and happiness.

Cain describes how society is biased against introverts and that people are taught from childhood that to be sociable is to be happy. We are conditioned. If you're in a group of people, you should be happy. If you're not happy, something's wrong with you.

Introversion is now considered somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology.


Back to Iseng, who is the father of all this and also the culprit, the perpetrator of most of our misunderstandings and nonsensical perceptions of introversion and extroversion.

Iseng, to remind you, described extroversion and introversion as a degree to which a person is outgoing and interactive with other people. So Iseng's kind of three-tiered, three-tier personality structure is heavily dependent on observations. In other words, it's anecdotal, it's phenomenological, if you wish to be charitable.

Later iterations of Iseng's model were even less rigorous because they relied on dictionaries, I'm not kidding you're not, on words in dictionaries, in lexicons. These behavioral differences are presumed to be the result of some brain physiology, which had never been demonstrated or proven.

Iseng, associated for some oblivious reason, cortical inhibition and excitation with the ascending reticular activation system, a pathway located in the brain stem, stem, mind you, the reptile part.

Extroverts, he said, seek excitement and social activity in an effort to raise their naturally low arousal level. While introverts tend to avoid social situation, in an effort to avoid raising their naturally high arousal level too far. So Iseng designated extroversion as one of his of three major traits, as I said, there's the PEN model, yeah, psychoticism, extroversion and neuroticism.

He originally suggested that extroversion is a combination of two major tendencies, impulsivity or impulsiveness and sociability. Later Iseng added several other more specific traits, liveliness, activity level, excitability, etc.

And these traits are further linked in his personality model to even more specific habitual responses such as partying.

Iseng compared extroversion to the four temperaments of ancient medicine with choleric and sanguine temperaments equating to extroversion and melancholic and phlegmatic temperaments equating to introversion.

And today our view of introversion and extroversion is heavily influenced by Iseng's model and by his tendency to link it to some mysterious hitherto to be proven dynamics in the brain, which are supposedly genetically and hereditarily determined.


Okay, what about shyness?

Shyness is a tendency to feel awkward, to feel worried, concerned, tense during social encounters, especially with unfamiliar people.

Severely shy people have physical symptoms. They blush, they sweat, skin conductance changes, the heart pounds, blood pressure, upset stomach, you name it. They develop negative feelings about themselves. They develop worries about how other people view them and they tend to become avoidant. They have a tendency to withdraw from social interactions.

The thing is that most people are shy all the time. Whenever you meet someone new, whenever in a new situation and so on, you tend to be shy.

Shyness seems to be a reflexive and very common response.

But when it is intense, dysregulated, it takes over. That's when we begin to discuss a kind of pathology.

So as the Encyclopedia of Psychology says, most people feel shy, at least occasionally. Some people shyness is so intense, however, that it can keep them from interacting with others, even when they want to or need to, leading to problems in relationships and at work.

Shyness is a personality trait. It's most likely to occur, as we said, in unfamiliar setting, environments and situations. But it hinders, it obstructs, it's dysfunctional and it metastasizes.

So it starts as a kind of hypervigilant response to unfamiliar settings, but it takes over.

And then you begin to be shy in familiar situations and relationships. You begin to avoid objects.

I mean, other people, you begin to be apprehensive, you begin to feel uncomfortable in act, you develop a low or fluctuating sense of self-worth, low self-esteem, negative self-image, etc. It becomes cancerous. It becomes malignant.

Shyness perpetuates and enhances itself. It's a self-reinforcing mechanism.

Sometimes shyness vanishes, fades away, but that's actually extremely rare. There's a lot of data in studies that suggest that three personality types, evident in infancy, easy, slow to warm up and difficult, tend to change as children mature. Extreme traits become less pronounced and personalities evolve in predictable patterns over time.

But the tendency to internalize or externalize problems, this tendency remains pretty constant.

And by the way, also attachment styles, they're pretty constant.

So individuals who are shy, they're shy because they tend to internalize their problems. They dwell on problems internally instead of expressing problems, sharing, communicating their concerns. And this internalization leads to disorders like depression and anxiety.

Humans experience shyness in different degrees in different areas.

But if it's all pervasive, if it permeates everything, ultimately you will end up developing depression and anxiety.

So shyness is a form of discomfort. Very often it's because the person feels clueless. The person misinterprets social and sexual cues, is bound and apt to misbehave, to react wrongly.

So people with autism spectrum disorder, for example, also tend to develop shyness. It's the difficulty of knowing what to say, what to do in social situation, a crippling physical manifestation of an easiness which can culminate in severe anxiety and panic attack.

Shyness involves symptoms. It's quite devastating. It's the person feels that she's boring or that she's bizarre or then she attempts to overcompensate to try to create interest and this alienates people further.

So she doesn't know when to smile. She doesn't know what how to engage in conversation, when to assume a relaxed posture, when to make good eye contact, when to respond to sexual cues and which social cues to respond to and how to do that.

So there's a lot of dysregulated and boundary sexual promiscuity.

Shyness becomes not only a second nature, it becomes the first nature. It determines actually the manifestation and expression of all other personality dimensions, traits, and it is a behavioral determinant.

It's also socially self-reinforced because people tend to perceive shy people negatively. People react very negatively to shy people, especially in cultures that are extroverted cultures like for example the west, the United States, the United Kingdom. Sociability is considered a sign of health, especially mental health, and if you avoid people, if you withdraw and so on, something's wrong with you.

Shy individuals are distant, they are not conversational, and other people form poor impressions of shy people, consider them standoffish or snobbish or crazy or stupid or something. People who are not shy are affirmed, they may even be aggressive, but they're perceived as okay. These are perceived as variations on a healthy theme, but everyone is critical towards shy people. Everyone is trying to get shy people out of their shells kind of, motivate them to not become shy.

So when people try to draw out shy people, a shy person, even if they're kind, even if they are well intentioned, the exercise backfires because it focuses attention on the individual who is shy anyhow and increases self-consciousness, a sense of awkwardness and shyness.


But what's the difference between shyness and introversion?

Shyness actually captures a family of afflictions, a family of disorders including timidity, apprehension in meeting new people, bashfulness, diffidence, reluctance to assert oneself, apprehension and anticipation, dissipatory anxiety, general fear of potential interaction, intimidation, object of fear, not a low self-confidence but fear.

So shyness is a catch-all umbrella term, but in some cases what appears to be shyness is actually reservation or introversion. It's a character trait which causes an individual to voluntarily avoid excessive social contact because of overstimulation, causes an individual to be terse and abrupt and curt in communication.

But introverts avoid social contact, minimize communication, not because of discomfort, fear, anxiety, apprehension or lack of confidence.

I repeat this because it's again a crucial differential diagnostic feature.

Introverts avoid people, not because they experience discomfort, not because they're apprehensive, not because they lack confidence, not because they hate people. Introverts avoid people because people overstimulate them.

So introverts are not shy, but they simply have a preference in order to avoid overstimulation.

Schizoids avoid people because they derive no benefit from social interactions. They find social interactions boring.

So schizoids are bored, introverts are overstimulated, shy people are anxious and fearful. Introversion is a personal preference.

Shyness is a form of distress.

Bernardo Cauducci, professor of psychology, emphasizes that introverts choose to avoid social interactions because they are under pressure in social interactions owing to overstimulation, because they derive no reward, no other reward.

So there's a surplus of sensory input. It's overwhelming, but they're getting nothing to compensate for it.

Shy people are simply afraid. They're anxious.

There's been a lot of research which had demonstrated that shyness overlaps with introversion and neuroticism, negative emotionality, but only very, very mildly, only in the fringes.

In other words, these are not the same phenomena. Low societal acceptance of shyness or introversion reinforce shy or introverted behaviors owing to a lowering of self-confidence, but the etiology, the motivation, couldn't be more different.

Schizoids are not introverts. Introverts are not shy.

Shyness and introversion outwardly manifest as social withdrawal.

This tendency is to avoid social situations, especially unfamiliar ones, but research is clear that shyness and introversion possess clearly distinct motivational forces, lead to uniquely different personal and peer reactions, and cannot be described as the same.

Again, I refer you to Susan Cain's book, Quiet, published in 2012. She deserves introversion as involving being differently social, preferring one-on-one or small group interactions.

The introvert is not antisocial or asocial, but simply has a preference for one-on-one. The introvert will never go to a party. The introvert will never go to a club. The introvert will never go to a bar. The introvert will try her best to not travel with big groups of people, organized tour.

So unique physiological responses are also attendant upon these states.


What about social phobia? So extreme shyness may amount to social phobia.

Actually, in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in 1980, they identified social phobia as a form of malignant shyness, extreme shyness.

But when the DSM-IV was published 14 years later in 1994, it was converted to social anxiety disorder, and they said it's nothing to do with or little to do with shyness.

But today, more recent studies demonstrate a very close correlation between shyness and social anxiety disorder. So it seems that social anxiety and social phobia are correlated with shyness.

Social inhibition, they are correlated with shyness.

Back to introversion.

Introversion is a basic personality trait. It's a preference for the inner life of the mind over the outer world of other people.

One of the big five dimensions that define all personalities includes introversion. Introversion is a continuum. The opposite is extroversion.

Compared to extroverts, introverts enjoy subdued and solitary experiences. Introverts do not fear others. Introverts do not dislike others. They're not shy. They're not plagued by loneliness. They never feel lonely.

So introverts are going to avoid crowded situations, clubs, parties, bars, overcrowded workplaces. These are torture for introverts because of the overstimulation. They enjoy one-on-one engagement in calm environments. It's a nervous system issue probably.

Evidence suggests that the brains of introverts are a bit different as far as dopamine. But again, it's scanned evidence.

And so I hope that I made the distinctions clear. It's not easy to distinguish these. You need to be clinically adept. You need to be exposed to these various disorders.

But the rules of thumb are pretty simple. Introverts avoid overstimulation and overstimulation environments.

Skisways avoid all environments with other people. Introverts avoid environment.

Introverts avoid other people, not because they don't like other people, not because they don't enjoy the company of other people, but because they need to take it one person at a time.

Skisways avoid other people because they don't enjoy the company of other people.

Introverts are incapable of impulsive, reckless, defined behavior. Skisways are.

Skisways are capable. Introverts cannot survive in an overtaxing, overstimulating environment like a nightclub or a cruise. Skisways can and often do, actually.

Psychopaths seek such environments occasionally if they are anxious or depressed.

So the behaviors tell a part.

The introvert is heavily invested emotionally, analytically, intellectually in analyzing herself all the time. That's her main preoccupation.

The skisway never does this, avoids it actively because there's nothing there. It's a surface phenomenon, a shimmering pond of no depth. The psychopath doesn't even understand what is introspection or self-awareness. He wouldn't understand it if you try to communicate.

So introvert, the introverted person is a benign phenomenon, not a pathology, while psychopathy and schizoidism are extreme pathologies on the border of psychosis in some respects.

Same goes for borderline personality disorder, which combines the worst of both worlds, emotional dysregulation and psychopathy, the tendency to act psychopathically when she decompensates.

Thank you for surviving this.

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