Psychiatry

Popular Party-Pooper

{Port Hueneme Pier}

Introvert = energized by activities alone

Extrovert = energized by activities around people

Introvert tends to negatively associate with being a “loner” or “party pooper” and conversely, one may assume that an extrovert is “the life of the party.”  Growing up in southern CA, I felt pressure to be an extrovert because who really wants to be viewed as a loner or party pooper?  But then again, I was also quite young, naive, and superficial, with minimal sense of self-identity, at the time.  Pretty standard for a growing teen.

I completed a Myers-Briggs personality test during residency and scores revealed that I was an extrovert.  My past young adult self would’ve jumped for joy at the thought of having proof and objective data verifying that I am indeed an extrovert, and therefore NOT lame.  But rather, my older, more mature self viewed the scale as demonstrating patterns observed over the last few years, which is that after a bad, exhausting day, I enjoy doing activities with others (such as dinner with a group of friends) to feel more like myself again.

I’ve had patients, especially college students, treated with meds for social phobia, but upon further questioning discovered that they were urged by family members or friends to seek help.  Their desire to do solo activities were perceived as “abnormal” by those around them.  I educate them about the misconceptions of being an introvert versus extrovert in hopes that they’ll feel less guilty about wanting to stay in for a quiet night at home rather than get wasted at the frat party down the street.  Several introverts are also socially outgoing, but may prefer “down time” to relax rather than impressing partygoers with their best keg stand.  Great introverted talents and leaders (Steven Spielberg, Julia Roberts, Warren Buffett, JK Rowling, to name a few) excel in different ways than extroverts, such as listening, problem-solving, thinking things through, and leading proactive group members.

Thought of the Day:  Which type of activities energize you after an exchausting day?

27 thoughts on “Popular Party-Pooper

  1. I am the quintessential introvert who looks like an extrovert…LOL. I did not realize that part of what I often struggled with in social situations had to do with an internal experience of introversion vs. whatever I look like on the outside. One of my colleagues from the American Group Psychotherapy Association made this astute observation and the proverbial light bulb went on in my psyche that helped me make sense out of what has been a rather confusing experience.

    • Cindy – this post was actually inspired by words from a great group therapist 🙂 That’s so interesting because i had the opposite yet similar experience (an extrovert that looks like an introvert), but once i broke through the shyness barrier, i saw the benefit of participating in more group activities.

      • hey girl,

        just so i understand….are you saying you are an extrovert disguised as an introvert? if so how much of the cultural socialization accounts for the so called ‘shyness”? to me the benefit is in discovering who we are from the inside out and engaging with the world in the most meaningful way we can.

        • more like i always thought i was an introvert because i was so shy…but i didn’t realize until last year how much my culture played a part in that. still in the process of self-discovery 🙂

      • You’re welcome! Thank you for replying. Have you read the How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran? It featured in my book club the other day and although the men in the group found it hard at times to take part in the discussion (I guess out of polite fear of being perceived to be too interested in the topic) it’s a great read that will make you smile more than you’d expect. A:)ex

  2. Hey girl…..I am literally at your old stomping grounds in Davis…staying at the Hyatt on campus…LOL. I can only imagine how challenging it has been to have the cultural interface with a natural inclination to be inward. Now what you said about social situations being valuable(paraphrase) makes sense. Now that I know I am an introvert…LOL….i am basking in my inclination to not be social and not flogging myself for ‘hating to socialize’. You can see why I am mistaken for an introvert…..my lunacy comes naturally…what can I say…god’s gifts =-)

  3. Thanks for such a great explanation of the difference between extrovert and introvert!
    I think I am mostly energized by talking with someone, but not necessarily a large group.
    Interesting concept to think on a bit more…

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