Introversion and Shyness....... .home page: Talent Development Resources


Introversion is not the same as shyness - but they are often experienced together.

Many shy people may continue to experience discomfort in social situations because they limit social interactions to reduce their anxiety, but also if they tend to be more introverted than extroverted.

Being shy can also relate to being highly sensitive - very aware of and responsive to other people's moods and judgments - and to our own inner feelings.
Elaine Aron, PhD writes:

"Because HSPs (highly sensitive persons) prefer to look before entering new situations, they are often called "shy." But shyness is learned, not innate. In fact, 30% of HSPs are extraverts, although the trait is often mislabeled as introversion. It has also been called inhibitedness, fearfulness, or neuroticism. Some HSPs behave in these ways, but it is not innate to do so and not the basic trait."

her site The Highly Sensitive Person.
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Sigourney Weaver on being shy

Sometimes because I am very shy, when I meet a director and they are shy too, we just sort of sit there.

I remember when I met Ang Lee and we were left alone -- we were supposed to have tea with each other ...
 ... I was so shy and he was so shy neither of us said anything to each other for about 20 minutes. Finally, we started talking about "The Ice Storm."

> from article : Keeping us guessing - Drama? Comedy? Sci-fi? Nothing is too alien for Sigourney Weaver - by Susan King, Los Angeles Times Jan 30, 2005

> photo: as Lt. Ellen Ripley in Alien: Resurrection (1997)

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In her post Introversion vs. Shyness: The Discussion Continues (on her blog The Introvert's Corner), Sophia Dembling writes:

The two get confused because they both are related to socializing-but lack of interest in socializing  is very clearly not the same as fearing it.

Schmidt and Arnold H. Buss of the University of Texas wrote a chapter titled "Understanding Shyness" for the book The Development of Shyness and Social Withdrawal.

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Introverts are wired differently from extraverts and they have different needs. Extraverts get their energy from interaction with people and the external world. Introverts get their energy from within themselves; too much interaction drains their energy and they need to retreat from the world to recharge their batteries.

People can be extreme extraverts, extreme introverts, or a combination of both. Since extraversion is the dominant mode in our society, there are no "closet extraverts," but there are many "closet introverts," people who are so ashamed of their introversion that they try to be extraverts.

from article On Introversion - by Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D., Gifted Development Center

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Introverts belong to two distinct groups :

Group A: Self-sufficient, confident, hardworking, with firm goals, self-actualizing, reserved, preferring activities that involve inner experience and introspection; and

Group B: Shy, timid, withdrawn with low self-concept, lacking in communication skills, demonstrating fear of people, dread of doing things in front of others, who prefer being left alone.

From article: Introversion: The Often Forgotten Factor Impacting the Gifted - By Jill D. Burruss and Lisa Kaenzig

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Austria's Elfriede Jelinek won the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday for novels and plays that starkly depict violence against women, explore sexuality and condemn far-right politics in Europe. 

The 57-year-old author, best-known for her semi-autobiographical novel "The Piano Teacher" -- made into a movie in 2001 -- was a surprise winner. She is the first Austrian and ninth woman to win literature's highest accolade.

Jelinek said at her Viennese home she felt "more desperation than happiness" at the news, telling Reuters it would turn her into what she "never wanted to be -- a person in the public eye." 

The reclusive writer, said by one editor to "show no mercy either to her themes or to herself," said she would not collect the 10 million crown ($1.36 million) prize in person. 

"I am not mentally able to withstand that. I have a social phobia and cannot stand these large crowds of people," she said. 

Her unemotional descriptions of the power play in sex and human relations, and outspoken political views, have alienated many in her native Austria but have also won her respect as a fearless feminist writer who makes bold use of language...

> Reuters, Oct 7 2004 / photo by Jacqueline Godany/Reuters

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It was the most terrifying thing I've ever done [her off-Broadway stage debut in The Glory of Living].

I'd been working in front of a camera since I was a kid, but the only live audience I'd ever faced was when I stood up in front of the class and delivered a book review. I'm enormously shy. 

Anna Paquin.... [Parade, Aug 3 2003]


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   excerpt from UCLA news article :

Shyness Can Be Deadly :
UCLA scientists identify how introverts' stress response
increases their risk of infectious disease, including AIDS 

How you react to stress influences how easily you resist or succumb to disease, including viruses like HIV, discovered UCLA AIDS Institute scientists. 

Reported in the Dec.15 edition of Biological Psychiatry, the new findings identify the immune mechanism that makes shy people more susceptible to infection than outgoing people.

"Since ancient Greece, physicians have noticed that persons with a 'melancholic temperament' are more vulnerable to viral infections," said Steve Cole, principal investigator and assistant professor of hematology-oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine and a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute.

"During the AIDS epidemic, researchers found that introverted people got sick and died sooner than extroverted people," said Bruce Naliboff, co-author and a clinical professor at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. 

"Our study pinpoints the biological mechanism that connects personality and disease."

The UCLA team studied the effect of stress on viral replication in a group of 54 HIV-infected men. All of the men were still in the early stages of the disease and in good health. ...

The researchers put each man through a series of stress tests in the lab to measure the response of their autonomic nervous system. 

First, the scientists monitored the subject's response to a tiny stimulus, such as an unexpected beeping sound. ....

"Shy persons didn't adapt to the beeps as fast as other people," Cole said. "Their heightened nervous system response indicated that the sound was more irritating to them."

image: representation of human 
immunodeficiency virus from

..related page:....intensity / sensitivity

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Nancy Fenn, TheIntrovertzCoach:

The biggest difference is that extroverts deal almost exclusively with a world outside themselves while introverts take the world within to process it. 

If that sounds a little mysterious, the best way to tell in a heartbeat is that extroverts get energy interacting with other people and with the stimuli in the environment (noise, lights, motion) while introverts get very drained by this. ...

I have a word of caution for introverts here. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Why not raise a little consciousness instead? 

Explain to your friends and family that you're an introvert. They may not know what this means and a little educating goes a long way. ...

It's time to stop apologizing for yourself and your legitimate needs and interests. Introverts like Warren Buffett, Michael Jordan and Steven Spielberg made it to the top by being exactly who they are and you can too.

 from interview in November 2003 GLOBAL:EQ newsletter 

Nancy Fenn site
"tips, resources and support... a series of ebooks: "You Can be an Introvert and Win" etc

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It is not inertia alone that is responsible for human relationships repeating themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and unrenewed. 

It is shyness before any sort of new and unforseeable experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope. 

But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes nothing, not even the most enigmatical, will live the relation to another as something alive.

...Rainer Maria Rilke. Letters to a Young Poet

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Shyness Shows Up in Brain Scans, Study Finds - 
Kids May Inherit Shyness, Study Suggests
Reuters & AP stories -- Jun 19, 2003

The brains of shy people overreact when they see strange new faces, which may explain personality differences and also offer ways to treat anxiety disorders, U.S. researchers said on Thursday. 

Even people who have seemingly overcome their innate shyness have an extra-strong reaction in the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain, when shown a new face, the researchers found.

People who had been judged as toddlers to be inhibited showed in the scans that the amygdala structure in their brains responded much more actively to unexpected sights than did those subjects who had been judged as children to be more outgoing, said Jerome Kagan, a researcher in the department of psychology at Harvard University.

"That is support for the notion that the reason they were shy, timid and reserved when they were 2 years old is because they had an excitable amygdala," said Kagan. 

This suggests that shyness is a temperament that can be inherited, but the researcher said this temperament does not necessarily determine one's eventual personality.

"They are now 22 years old," Kagan said of the test subjects. "A lot of the ones who were fearful aren't fearful anymore. They have overcome it. But the question is, did they still have a very active amygdala."

Based on the brain scans, Kagan said, the answer is clearly yes. 

Tests were conducted on 13 people who had been evaluated as shy as 2-year-olds. The results were compared tests on nine people who had been evaluated as children to be outgoing and bold.

"We had assumed, but never measured, that ... the shy, inhibited group had inherited a certain chemistry" in the amygdala, Kagan said. ....

Although some children are shy and others are outgoing, he said, these traits can change with time and life experiences. "People overcome their shyness," Kagan said. "You can also acquire shyness."

> book .Psychology: An Introduction -- by Jerome Kagan

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Dr. Carl Jung described introversion and extroversion as two in-born ways that people gain and lose personal energy. 

He understood that introversion and extroversion are on a continuum. 

At one end are introverts. They feel depleted by too much external stimulation and are energized by internal sources (ideas, impressions, thoughts). 

Extroverts, at the other end of the continuum, are energized by external sources (activities, socializing, things) and lose energy during down time.

Some people use both sides of the continuum almost equally. We all possess both ways of increasing and decreasing energy but most of us inherently require more introverting or extroverting to accumulate our energy resources.

Shyness is often confused with introversion but it is social anxiety and either introverts or extroverts can be shy.

Marti Olsen Laney, PsyD, MFT - 
from her site: The Introvert Advantage

...The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World

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I see Lucinda as someone who's definitely reaching forward but there's nowhere for her emotion to go. Peter wrote about the sensation she had sitting inside a corset, which he described as a "crinoline cage." 

That's such a metaphor for how she exists in the world: She keeps banging into things, and doesn't know why she keeps bruising herself. She meets Oscar, who's got no skin on his emotions and no skin on his bones - Ralph [Fiennes] lost quite a lot of weight for the part: he was a stick insect. 

Really isolated people don't develop skin the same way that people who are more socialized do.

Cate Blanchett...[Interview, Jan. 1998] - about portraying her character in movie 
based on the book Oscar and Lucinda - by Peter Carey

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Acting always seemed like an odd choice for someone as shy as I am. I don't really start conversations with strangers. I am a big homebody. But I get so excited about bringing a character to life and imagining what their world is like that I forget to be nervous. I guess I hide behind a role.

Alison Lohman.... [ 2003]


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*more:**introversion / shyness : page 2****introversion / shyness : page 3*****

....................introversion / shyness resources : books  sites  articles 

*related pages:......anxiety........identity.......self-esteem / self reactions / interactions

Anxiety Relief Solutions - Multiple drug-free self-help products and programs to relieve social anxiety, stage fright, performance anxiety and other forms of anxiety.

Highly Sensitive site 

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