Saturday, July 2, 2011

Is Shyness a Disorder?

Last week's NY Times Sunday section had an interesting article on shyness.
The author comments on society's emphasis on outgoing, loud people and the growing diagnosis of social anxiety disorder, a disorder described as a person being uncomfortable in most social situations to the extent that it negatively impacts their life.
Susan Cain, the author, then goes on to explain that being shy is not a disorder, and not only negative. There are many positive aspects to being a bit more withdrawn, from the ability to be a good listener to being more perceptive. Introverts pick up on more information and details because they are not as busy "doing" so they have the ability to sit and observe.
Many leaders and creative personalities are introverts and their temperament may be part of what brought them to success. Cain's main point was that while social anxiety disorder certainly exists, not every person who is shy has this disorder, and that being more quiet should not be viewed as an "illness".
I very much related to this article, because I definitely fall more into the introverted/shy personality range. I am often more comfortable expressing my thoughts in writing rather than through speaking, hence this blog :)
I have often felt that shyness is viewed by people as a "bad" thing and that being a social butterfly is what society values. There have been times when I was not hired as a doula, because I wasn't engaging, loud or outgoing enough at the interviews. I think it is a shame, because people do not get a chance to meet the "real me" in that short timeframe.
Still, we live in a mostly extroverted world and I do think that in order to succeed in certain realms, us introverts need to learn to adapt a bit. But I agree with Cain that this "adaptation" has to be done in a way that reduces the negative slant towards shyness and celebrates the many positive aspects that come with it.
Have you read the article? What do you think?


  1. I agree with you! I'm introverted too, and so is my husband. All four kids appear to be extroverts thus far (though Riley might turn out to be introverted), which makes us crazy. And makes us laugh. Life can be pretty funny sometimes!

    Its strange to me that people would not choose a doula because she is quiet. Isn't it better to have a doula who is calm and quiet and observant? Birth is easier the calmer and more peaceful the atmosphere, in my experience!

    I have a photo for you on my camera of Amarys in the sweater you knit her. I will send it soon! =)

  2. I would love to see a pic, when you have a chance.
    About hiring a doula- I definitely agree that having a calm and quiet doula is an advantage, and that is one of the strengths I try to emphasize when I meet with potential clients. But often, I find that they are more interested in instantly "clicking" and connecting with someone, which extroverts have an easier time doing.