Extroverts vs Introverts

Isaac Newton

Prior to lockdown, I probably would have objected on some level to the introvert-extrovert dichotomy. After all, it seems greatly oversimplified, given the wide variety o personalities in the world.

But watching people react to lockdown has been very interesting, and I have concluded that some people really do lean toward intro- or extraversion.

The introverts have reported–aside from sensible worries about the virus–feeling better during lockdown. I’ve talked to a couple of people who reported feeling relieved that they didn’t have to go in to jobs they disliked, and others who found being inside for a week surprisingly pleasant.

Most of the people I’ve talked to, however, found quarantine immediately and intensely awful.

Note: This post is not about anyone suffering from real harm during lockdown, like inability to earn money they need to eat. This is only about the stress people feel when unable to get together with friends or generally go out among others.

I’ve now heard that depressives should not self-isolate about a dozen times. Being alone is bad, my friends tell me. I’ve always had my doubts about this. What is so bad about having a little time to myself, to browse the internet or read a book? Of course, I live with my family, so I barely get to be alone in the bathroom–maybe we all want what we don’t have. But at least within the level of quarantine we have, not having left the house in weeks, we have been fine.

I think the difference, at least for some people, stems from the origin of our own source of happiness and self-worth. If you get most of those emotions from within, or from hobbies that you can easily carry on at home (like reading or growing bonsais,) then being cut off from other people can be frustrating, but you’ll be okay. By contrast, if you really don’t produce those emotions for yourself (perhaps due to some glitch you can’t,) then you are more likely to seek them out in others. If your access to other people is suddenly cut off, then you’re in quite the bind: you can no longer access positive feelings.

Most of the time, extroverts seem happy and introverts seem like depressives, and that may be true for many of them (notably, depressed extroverts may fail to go out, making them look like introverts). But I propose a sub-type of extroverts who find time alone intolerable because they are really quite unhappy inside. By contrast, introverts may not share the effusive, bubbly style of extroverts, but that does not mean they are not feeling positive emotions–they just do not feel the need to convey those emotions to others. (And as far as depressed introverts, well, I don’t know if going around more people would make the situation better or worse.)

It is tempting to criticize people for being unable to generate their own positive feelings, but remember that man is a political–ie, social–animal. Our natural state is to live in bands and troops, same as our cousins the chimps, bonobos, and gorillas. We are supposed to want to be around each other, and it is normal for us to feel great distress if we are alone, which is why solitary confinement is so bad:

Solitary confinement has received severe criticism for having detrimental psychological effects[4] and, to some and in some cases, constituting torture.[5] According to a 2017 review study, “a robust scientific literature has established the negative psychological effects of solitary confinement”, leading to “an emerging consensus among correctional as well as professional, mental health, legal, and human rights organizations to drastically limit the use of solitary confinement.”[6]

Research surrounding the possible psychological and physiological effects of solitary confinement dates back to the 1830s. When the new prison discipline of separate confinement was introduced at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia in 1829, commentators attributed the high rates of mental breakdown to the system of isolating prisoners in their cells. … Prison records from the Denmark institute in 1870 to 1920 indicate that staff noticed inmates were exhibiting signs of mental illnesses while in isolation, revealing that the persistent problem has been around for decades.[8]

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, solitary confinement can cause an array of mental disorders, as well as provoke an already existing mental disorder in a prisoner, causing more trauma and symptoms. …

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Human Rights Watch created a report that incorporated the testimony of some juvenile inmates. Many interviews described how their placement in solitary confinement exacerbated the stresses of being in jail or prison. Many spoke of harming themselves with staples, razors, even plastic eating utensils, having hallucinations, losing touch with reality, and having thoughts of or attempting suicide – all this while having very limited access to health care.[10]:29–35 …

As well as severe and damaging psychological effects, solitary confinement manifests physiologically as well. Solitary confinement has been reported to cause hypertensionheadaches and migraines, profuse sweating, dizziness, and heart palpitations. Many inmates also experience extreme weight loss due to digestion complications and abdominal pain. Many of these symptoms are due to the intense anxiety and sensory deprivation. Inmates can also experience neck and back pain and muscle stiffness due to long periods of little to no physical activity. These symptoms often worsen with repeated visit to solitary confinement.[11]

Keep in mind that the alternative to solitary is being around a bunch of criminals, people not generally thought to be terribly pleasant companions.

Of course, some people prefer to be alone. Some people prefer to be with others. If you’re having a rough time in quarantine, well, at least you’re not alone (metaphorically, at least).

Stay safe, stay healthy, and see if you can invent some new math while you’re stuck inside.


45 thoughts on “Extroverts vs Introverts

  1. And then there’s an irony: I have no problem being home alone, but I don’t know if I’m an introvert, according to the various psychology tests that are supposed to test those things. But if I had my way I would find a place in the middle of the mountains and have a satellite dish and never encounter one person for the rest of my life except on the Internet maybe. Lol.

    But the irony is though there’s more people out in about my neighborhood than there was when we weren’t on lockdown. So now as I go and walk around my neighborhood it’s just impacted with people Running riding their bikes playing with their kids. Howling at 8 PM. Omg.


    Liked by 1 person

    • “Normal” is an ideological which references what depression is. People who thus feel different or think that they think different from what is “normal” can have or develop symptoms which become exacerbated because there is this general idea called “normal”. I know what you’re meaning like, humans are a communal category, But “normal” in the modern sent is exactly what makes people dysfunctional, because the modern sat, the category that we call modern says that you have to be a self confident individual amongst individuals, and at that a human being as opposed to an object. The whole series of of supporting structuralism‘s define even what we would categorize as “depressed”.

      And I’m pretty sure there is no direct correlation between being depressed and being an introvert and being happy and being an extrovert; An introvert as someone who gains their energy from being alone, where an extrovert is someone who gains their energy from being around people. It has nothing to do with depression or happiness or anxiety or anything. Btw.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I would argue there is a correlation, because introvertedness can be caused by having less than pleasant experiences from interacting with other people, and the same thing can lead to depression. I hate victimology-oriented approaches to psychology, but if there is something about you that pisses people off and you get treated in a low-status way, that can both lead to avoiding contact with other people and to depression, as depression is very much a sort of internalized low status, a low sense of self-worth.

        The first part is logical – why would someone pursue experiences that are painful – , the second is obvious from how CBT tries to treat it like telling depressed patients to do not think like when they fuck something up “Oh I always fuck up everything, I am such a useless person.”

        Similarly, being extroverted, liking interacting with people has to have some correlation with other people giving you-are-cool feedbacks, i.e. granting status, which in leads to believing you are actually cool and thus not being depressed.

        That energy business is bullshit. People gain energy from things they like and lose energy from things that make them unhappy. Anyone who is saying he or she loves interacting with people but loses energy that way is simply not being honest with himself/herself, most likely deep down they dislike it but they just got used to the idea that you are expected to like other people, because if you don’t, your dislike will be reciprocated, which again leads to the low status, low sense of self-worth, depression direction. Of course people are supposed to say they like interacting with other people, because saying the opposite sounds like saying other people suck. And it gets reciprocated. And because nobody can live in a lie, people convince themselves that they like interacting with other people, even when deep down it is not true.

        I have solved this by embracing my inner asshole. I realized I don’t have social anxiety, I just really think most people suck and the anxiety is coming from pretending to respect them, hiding my inner, very critical opinion. Well, did not exactly solve it, but it pointed towards partial solutions, try to interact with the respect-worthy ones as much as I can, treat the rest with coldly formal professional politeness and so on.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I totally agree with the last paragraph !

        And then: I disagree: extroverted people can be depressed and hate being around people people. And vice versa.

        My own experiences tell me that psychology can not sufficiently explain what is going on objectively or subjectively with me. And it does almost nothing to help me deal with my issues through its explanation. Lol. So also. I doubt that I am unique in that regard.


      • …rather: any most theory of what and why will help with particular instances. Cbt is good for some and explains some, and helps some, while others it fails miserably. To resort back to cbt to explain why some failed is being theoretically myopic and stubborn.


  2. … interestingly enough, when I was 26 years old I was in jail I think for two months in county jail for some stupid driving without a license and a DUI or something like that. I had gotten hepatitis a from my girlfriend who got hepatitis A from a restaurant in the town where we lived. And when I came into jail and they tested me for hep because I had it so bad the test couldn’t distinguish between whether I had have a or B or C and it said I had all three. Anyways, they put me in solitary confinement. And they wouldn’t let me out of my cell except when everyone else was in their cell. I could come out of my cell for an hour to take a shower and just walk around. Dude, it was probably the best time I had in my life. They brought my food to me. I read books that I wanted to read and I wrote and I had the clearest thoughts I had ever had then or since. Lol. Seriously. It was probably the best 60 days I’ve had in my 50 years.

    And I’m not an introvert or an extrovert I’m kind of right in the middle. I really hate the idea of groups and people but when I’m in there I have a fine time.

    I guess what I’m saying is that your analysis and your studies are not really grasping the true picture, because I doubt that I am an exception. Or rather, it is much as I am very deep in my traits and attitudes depending on various situations, I am not an exception.

    But somehow I think in this post what your grappling with or the way your grappling with it I’m not sure is based in real accurate information. Just sayin, come in from someone who’s getting a masters in counseling and has experience with mental health.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Quite enjoying lockdown. Wonderful being able to spend time with family without wasted time + stress of commuting. Plenty of communication with colleagues via Zoom still. Talking more than usual with family over Whatsapp. Is anyone really not enjoying this?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m an introvert. I’ve been enjoying this: I like being around my wife and our cats. I work from home so I’m busy, and I do a few video meetings a week, so I get some exposure to other people who I get along with well enough.

    Crucially, I enjoy my job. You can’t take that for granted.

    As far as solitary confinement, there was a period of a few years in my life when I was single and had essentially no social life, outside of minimal interaction with other introverted technical people at work. It was a nightmare. Nearly killed me. I’d gladly do chemotherapy again before I’d go back to that.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Im not sure there is any right or wrong of a persons psyche Becuase they like being alone, Though. Or that being around people is healthy and good. Depression can arise from al sorts of strange ideas and behaviors and situations. But I’m pretty sure is mostly ideologically systemic.


  6. Ah. I have never been depressed. Though. But like you said, I think I have and mostly when do suffer from this idea that I’m supposed to be a certain way. But fundamentally for me it’s conflicting ideas that I have about various situations that really fuck me up personally.

    But this does not have to be the case for people that I come across who might be depressed or anxious. It could be that they had adverse childhood experiences. Or it could be that they had one single adverse adult experience. Or it could simply be that they did too much drugs. Or it could be some chemical in balance that they’ve had since birth. It could be any number of things. My point really though is that to attach an all encompassing theory to a single category like “depression” is like saying we’re going to use Neosporin antibiotic ointment on all infections and if it doesn’t work there’s something wrong with the infection.

    Also, my wife totally sees herself as an introvert. But she is one of the most capably social person and generally heart felt warm and loving person towards groups and people that probably I’ve ever met. And she is an excellent educator of all ages. But when she comes home from those types of situations I pretty much have to leave her alone for about an hour because she has to re-coop her energy, so to speak (what the fuck is really energy anyways in this standpoint) or have to somehow re-organize the way that our thoughts are occurring.

    Where is I don’t have that kind of requirement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe your wife is acting in those groups, not meaning it in a bad way. You see, I think women feel a stronger desire to live up to the expectations of other people than men and it leads to a lot of acting. Examples of both:

      1) When I was a boy my mother could be super angry with me and yet able to pick up the phone and speak super sweetly into it in the next second. Fake anger.

      2) Young women often pull longer hours than young men because they want to live up the expectations of the boss 101% while young men often think “I am not paid that well to live in the office”.

      3) Feminists complaining that movies etc. create a social expectation for women to be thin. Yeah, but why do you give a shit? They do. While movies also create a social expectation for men to have big muscles but how much I am gonna work out I decide based on my goal and not based on Stallone movies. I think men are more independent-minded in this sense.

      4) Already at elementary school, girls police each other extremely a lot. Very strong social pressure to wear the same clothes as the other girls, say the same, join the hivemind. Some girls like my wife loathed it and rather hung out with the boys who were more willing to accept someone being themselves.

      All this results in a lot of acting and faking. Not with a bad intent to deceive, but with an intent to live up to other peoples expectations and to fit in.

      BTW my 6 years old daughter is in a strange situation. She wants to fit in with the girls because she is a girly girl and very timid, the aggressivity of the boys scares her. But she cannot, as she inherited my Asperger. She is a girly girl who loves flowers, pretty clothes and dancing and Barbie cartoons, OTOH already forming up to be a huge nerd watching pop-sci and construction documentaries as she cannot yet read well. Strange.

      I think she will be facing some really difficult time with the other kids and I have no idea how to help her. EvoX, maybe do you?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not sure “acting” is an accurate manner of making sense of what occurs with my wife. She is being absolutely authentic and engaged.

        I’m gonna more thoroughly answer you reply in a little bit. 👍🏾


      • ok. Some comments on the strict psychology side of your comment.

        1) i’m not sure if your mother was having fake anger. Why would she not then be fake when she was being sweet? How are you determining which behavior that she is having as fake?

        I’m not sure that the notion of “fake“ is very accurate to describe what is actually occurring.

        2) I am understanding your use of the idea of “acting” as connoting something similar to being “fake”.
        I am not sure that it is an accurate statement to say that young longer hours because they want to live up to the expectations of the boss, for one.

        For also: I think there is a different dynamic going on in your example here besides that someone is acting fake or in authentically. Because I would ask, isn’t it equally probable that women just have a good work ethic and men are lazy privileged snobs?

        3) The question of why women should give a shit about whether movies and popular media create a distorted expectation for women to look at particular way appears to me to be in a certain framework of thinking that understands human beings as “essentially equal in their humanity”. It is a very common idea that everyone is not only capable of thinking rationally but indeed that rationality is some sort of perfect standard for how people are supposed to be. I think what you are not seeing is that the reason why women would give a shit about media portraying unrealistic ideals about how women should be it’s because women, and I would had people of color, have been told something is inherently wrong with them their whole lives not only by popular media, but also ideology and social norms.

        I would suggest, from the position of myself as a white male, that I view the world as something that is inherently given to me on a sort of neutral Playing field. The question of why women should give a shit about these media messages seems to me to come from a few upon the world that understands that everyone should think like me; which is to say that as a white male I pretty much can do what I want, think what I want, say what I want, and can be ultimately responsible for how I behave in the world because I automatically view the world as given to me in that responsibility.

        The fault, or the problem that women for example, but also people of color, are indicating through these kind of “feminist” critiques, is that the white male person Is telling everyone else that they must think like me, that is, like a white male who has ultimate ideological privileges throughout the globe.

        What these people are saying by giving a shit about these messages that tell them that somethings wrong with them is really that the white male is not understanding the actual lived experience that they are having and have had their whole lives as a group and as a culture.

        They are fighting against the white male ideal that humanity is Must fall into the white male categories of what is right and correct so far as how to be in the world.


      • I don’t like privilege-talk, it is postmodern, leftist and anti-scientific. Talking about the idea that there might be sex, race or culture differences in giving in to group pressure is a testable idea. For cultures, you can for example refer to the individualism measure of the Hofstadter scales.

        Privilege-talk reverses the whole thing, instead of talking about potential and thus testable group differences, the idea is that people beloning to different groups have different experiences because “society” treats them differently, which is something inherently subjective and untestable and awfully close to the oppression olympics approach.

        It also assumes that privilege “blinds” and makes one literally uncapable of understanding the viewpoint and experiences of others which is absolutely untrue. It is maybe true in those certain cases where people live in a very strong bubble, yet, even in that case getting a bit inside outside the bubble should be fix it quite quickly.

        I am a white male but in my neck of Europe people rarely think about themselves as whites as all native Europeans, without migration background are more or less supposed to be white so it is not much talked about, people identify with their nations or just general Europeanness. For what it worths, I have the large size and pale complexion of Nordics, the round head of Alpines and eyes that hint at steppe admixture, my mother kinda looks quarter-Chinese due to that.

        I don’t really see people living in bubbles over here. For example there is no such thing as a dividing line between university students and “townies”. I think I understand the Turkish kebab seller – because he reminds of the European proles of yesteryear who have almost disappeared now. Who worshipped association football clubs, often wore gaudy clothes and jewelry and greased hair, liked buying big but 12-15 years old Audis just to show off, tended to be loud, suspicious of outsiders but very reliable to their friends, and I have 70 years old relatives like that, I can relate, I think.


      • Yes. In the US there is something else going on. A good friend of mine of actually African American, her father was a Nigerian king who had 99 wives. My friend was born in the US New York but has been around the world. She also does not see race in the way I describe. But she does see being a woman and femininity in that way. And she understands how people have different experiences that indeed are valid.

        I’m not going to be able to explain to you all that would other wise become apparent here. If you are interested you can read the inexpensive book by Robin Deangelo “what does it mean to be white”. IT is very accessible read.

        The short of it is this: there is a difference between “should be” and “is”. I get you, I understand you Becuase for 40 years I thought exactly like you. You speak about what should be, how everyone should just get over it. I get it. But what is actually the case is that people are actually responding the way they are despite what “should be”. So we have a choice: we can sit in our self righteousness and deny peoples actuality. Or we can have kindness and act with love. And see that the reason, say, my daughter might be depresssed and self harms, say, is Becuase her body does not look like the model and stars in All the magazines and tv. I can keep telling her get over it, but inevitably or often She will grow to have self esteem issues and maybe mental issues and probably resent me. Or I can support her and listen to her about what she is actually experiencing without telling her “just how it is”.

        We have a choice to make.

        Am I right Becuase this is the way i see the world ? And everyone just needs to get over it? Or do I perhaps need to get over myself?


      • I am interested in neither self-righteousness nor love and kindness. I am mostly amoral, except a respect for truth and a hatred for lies.


      • As so many of us. Perhaps read my blog; I am all about truth as opposed to relativistic opinion. Lies I can deal with; I just hate idiocy. Lol.

        If you are interested in truth in the area we are discussing, then Perhaps check out that book. “What does it mean to be white”. For instance: Do you know what it means to be a woman? If you don’t know what it means, then perhaps do some investigation into what others have found.

        But on another note: you have a daughter. And probably a wife then. Do you not love them? And you folks?


      • Institutional Racism is real. These men were first acquitted in thier first trial. Because the DA argued the men were justified in killing the black man because he faught back. And the jury sided the DA. But the men were following him with guns. The man was out for a jog.

        This is not exceptional. And it is not just humans vs humans. It is institutionally embedded racism. Supported implicitly by white people who want to think “we are all humans and all lives matter”.

        Such sentiments are denying the True reality of the situation for the sake of maintaining the historical white privilege.

        And I would argue it is the same for women also.

        Myopia is not an option. And indeed it will be selected against in evolution.



      • It is actually your privilege talk. Becuase you as a white man have the power and privilege of demanding that everyone have the same world as you, but the truth is, they don’t. And they are tired of people like me “proving” all this stuff about them and how they “should be”.


      • There is one, objective world, not one per observer.My goal in life is figuring it out. I could not give less shits of who is tired of what. I do not preach and whenever someone does not like my ideas I am happy to oblige them in any way to not have to listen to them by Twitter unfollowing or any such thing, for both of us to our own ways. I believe a society of segregated subcultures is healthy. If someone is not content with that, we will fight. I will never ever be entrapped into being bound by compassion.


      • There may be a one objective truth. I wonder when we will find it? 10000 years? 100000? Tomorrow?

        I am very interested in objective truth. As you might see in my blog. But maybe you won’t see. What does that mean then? Check it out. Let me know.


      • …I understand the ‘science’ part of it too. That is not the issue though. Science does it find “truth”. Many studies are constantly finding there is inherent bias in the way studies are designed. Even supposedly ‘neutral’ computer algorithms. As you prob know.


      • Ok. I don’t know if you indeed are a white male, but it just sounds to me like you are. If you are not, then the discussion could move in a different direction.


      • … One last thing that I would add: learn to want to know who and what you are. And learn or try to learn to show kindness to yourself as a parent. You are doing the best you can.


      • I just realized that I am. It sure who is who in this thread. But oh well. 🤣

        Reading over your comment: it sounds like your daughter is wonderfully individual. See that as an asset !


      • Why would your mother yell at some random person on the phone if she was mad at you and not them?

        I think the best thing for your girl is to arrange 1-on-1 playdates with the girls she wants to be friends with, at least once a week. This will give her a chance to develop friendships outside the context of group dynamics (which are hard for aspies to figure out) or the noise/distraction of recess. Some days the other kid comes to your house, some days she goes to theirs.

        It’s also useful to have some sort of girl-oriented skill, like the ability to do a cartwheel or play hopscotch. Then she can teach her skills to the other girls/play these games with them.

        Good luck.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “Because anger is supposed to be a state of mind, and body, high blood pressure and all.”

        It is, but it’s a bad idea to yell at random people and so people force themselves not to.


  7. All right then.
    So far as your daughter. You should know first that I am not a licensed psychotherapist yet; I am halfway through my masters program in counseling, a.k.a. psychotherapy. But I do work in a mental health hospital and run groups and engage with patients there from mild to very acute.

    We do have an adolescent unit. Those patients range from 11 years old to 17years old, but I do not commonly work that unit. But I do on occasion.

    I do not have very much experience with mental health involving younger children.
    My particular experience in that area is really from that of being a parent of a daughter myself.

    But I can, in good conscience, offer you some general guidance from what I know learning in counseling.

    Support your child. Whatever her interests are, support them and encourage her. I am a firm believer that all it takes for a child to succeed through their life is the support of thier parents.

    I would try not to judge your daughter for how she might have to be for any instance or circumstance.
    From what I have read about child development and psychology is that the parents are the number one influence in the development of Self-confidence, self-esteem, and thier attitude and approach upon life. And how this is shaped depends on the presence of the parents of how the parents show up in a child’s life.

    Resilience is modeled through support. Being there with your child, and I mean this emotionally, in those struggles and difficult moments, will allow her to see that she can get through difficult times.

    Honestly, I would not worry too much about whether or not she is social or not. Personally, I understand your daughter’s desire to have friends and yet have difficulty with “fitting in”. If your child views you as someone who is safe, and can guide her and support her, Then I think she will succeed in life in the long run, and I think that’s what we’re really after.

    I’m going to stop there because I don’t want to overstep my knowledge and ability by trying to appear to you as something that I am not, or having some wisdom that I do not have.



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