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Player Skills

The Inverted Introvert

Introvert2005 By this phrase, the inverted introvert, I seek to sketch an impression of a particular behavioural space in which many freaks, geeks and associated outcasts find themselves living. I myself have been an inverted introvert, and I expect many of my visitors here will recognise themselves in this description (or perhaps, their friends would…) I do not intend this account as science, nor as philosophy, but simply as personal observation, although I will be drawing on a few scientific props to construct this mental doodle. 

It is a common feature of many psychological models to distinguish between people whose focus is the external (human) world of people and relationships, and those whose focus is the interior landscape of their experience. The former are referred to as extroverts, and the latter as introverts, although it would be fairer to say that the extrovert is one who prefers to spend their time among the external world of people and relationships, since we all express introversion and extroversion in different situations and to varying degrees.

The introvert is happiest within their own head, hence the typical love of books, and often of videogames, which gloriously light up the internal landscape of the introvert’s mind. Some introverts, however, find their interest in the external world, just not in the human world – this aspect of me can be found in my love of nature, and the tremendous time I can fritter away in the company of squirrels and other wildlife. One can confidently bound the domain of the introvert at the interaction with other people, which for most introverts (including myself as a child) is a source of anxiety. 

Yet we all have to deal with the external world of humans – we all have to develop an extrovert mask or persona, even if it is not our preferred state. Some introverted children find they fit neatly into an extroverted space as they grow up – some, in fact, transition from introvert to extrovert at the dawn of adulthood; whether this is a transformation or the unlocking of previously buried potential is a matter of speculation.

But many introverts do not make this transition easily or comfortable. For such a person, rather than learning to be extroverted (which is too terrifying to contemplate), they learn to interact with the human world by a kind of inversion of their mental space – they become an inverted introvert, who deals with the world of people by flipping their interior landscape onto the outside. 

This can manifest in many ways. There are inverted introverts whose internal dialogue is rendered externally, and thus they say all manner of strange things to those around them (usually to their detriment). There are inverted introverts who build detailed models of the world in their heads, and so substitute these models of other people for real human communication (usually with disastrously anti-social results). There are inverted introverts who seek to control their personal space tightly, and when they try to apply this externally they inadvertently become bossy and overbearing (usually driving away those that they would like to have as friends).

Many inverted introverts have an over-inflated impression of their own judgment. It seems to them that they have exquisite insight and taste, and that everyone else is thus deeply flawed by comparison. This comes from the fact that the whole of their world is drawn solely from their internal impressions – so of course, whatever pushes their buttons is magnificent, and whatever does not push their buttons is rubbish. Other people’s reactions are seldom considered, except perhaps to selectively notice when other people’s views accord with their own as a means of reinforcing their personal prejudices. Occasions when such a person is in error are rarely remembered, creating an overly inflated confidence in one’s perceptions that comes across to other people as an unjustified arrogance. 

Or the inverted introvert can fall the other way, and lose faith in their judgment entirely and so tumble into a world of apparently inescapable depression where taking any action is a Herculean effort. Some give up hope, and succumb to suicide. Many linger in melancholy isolation for years not knowing how they might possibly escape from the Stygian hole they have entombed themselves within. And it is not uncommon for the inverted introvert to flip between these two states – overconfidence and desolate self-doubt – trapped in these two desperate worlds, because they can find no way out of their situation.

The pathology of this condition is such that one cannot fail to get into trouble by attempting to use the introverted experience as a substitute for extroversion. True extroversion relies upon either learning the social games that people play in order to join in effortlessly, or communicating genuinely with other people in order to understand their uniqueness. The inverted introvert often thinks that they are getting by at these things, but usually has utterly misjudged the situation and is blind to the social realities of their behaviour. 

A common result of this is that the packs of humans the inverted introvert interact with reject them, want no dealing with such a strange human being. The story the inverted introvert then constructs in their head is one of anger, or of depression (which the psychologist Fritz Perls has called “anger turned inwards”).

“How dare you reject magnificent me!” (goes a typical angry narrative), “you must be deeply flawed and I reject you too.” 

“I must be truly awful for people to reject me like this” (goes a typical depressed narrative), “I will withdraw to the safety of my books, my games, my private world.”

There is a deep irony to this failure to connect to the world, in that in terms of Temperament Theory, the inverted introvert is very likely to be gifted with Strategic skills, which of the four skill sets in this model are those which can lead to the highest salaries, and which are most often envied by those who lack them. Furthermore, many such people have potential access to the Leader interaction style (if they could develop their extrovert persona), which of all the innate skills we can have is the one which commands the greatest earnings potential and respect. The inverted introvert is in a sense blessed – yet they frequently manage to turn their advantages into a curse.

While they remain an inverted introvert, and not a person with access to their extroverted persona, they suffer greatly, both because of their social difficulties, and also the anger and anxiety that springs from this. The inverted introvert is likely to blame other people for their failures, without ever quite realising that the very key to success in this world is the extroverted world of people, and little of significance can be achieved without genuinely connecting with this world.

Perhaps because I was in this space as a younger man, inverted introverts can be found in every corner of my life, wherever I go. The fact that I work as a game designer intensifies this problem, since so many inverted introverts substitute the hollow success of videogame victory for real progress in life, or else hide from the terrifying world of humanity in virtual worlds where they alone have agency, or where the collective activity is so simplistic that little communication is required to make it happen.

If you recognise yourself in this sketch, please heed this warning: you will always struggle to find happiness when you project your internal world onto the people around you. Your models and assumptions will frequently be flawed because they are based on vastly incomplete information, and you can only resolve this problem by learning to communicate. The gateway from inverted introversion to functioning as a human being in society is learning to listen – really listen – to other people. Try having a conversation with someone in which you only ask questions about them, and supply nothing of your own information unless expressly asked. This is a good way to learn basic communication, and until you can do this, you will always be miserable, or angry, or both. 

The inverted introvert is stuck midway between their childhood experience of comfortable isolation in introversion, and the need to develop the extroverted skills required to interact with the world at large and thus get on with life. If, by dint of resolve or the kindness of their friends, they can take this step, many of their most troubling problems will evaporate, or at least decline, but it takes a capacity for trust in other people that can be difficult to attain when one is licking one’s wounds from myriad social nightmares, the memory of which still burns brightly.

Escaping from an oubliette of one’s own construction can seem an insurmountable obstacle, especially when the walls of that prison have been rendered invisible by the accretion of so many assumptions and expectations, so often leading to disappointment. Yet you can do it. You will do it. The process has already begun, or you would not be in the state of inverted introversion in the first place. All you need do is follow through, and for this, you will need the help, love and support of your friends, and the willingness to change.

The opening image is Introvert by Chilean artist Jorge Catoni, which I found here at his MySpace page. As ever, no copyright infringement is intended and I will take the image down if asked.


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I recognise myself up to about age 23/24, when a significant failure at work dropped me into a bout of depression and I eventually got thrown at the University counselling service. That rather forced me to take more notice of what was around me!

Hi! ^.^

I think there is a little over-simplification in this mental doodle. Are you aware of a type of autism called Asperger's Syndrome? It is often characterized as the 'geek disease'. And it's true, the type of people you mention above could all be Asperger's people.

I admit that I developed an extroverted persona to 'wear' when I interact with the world. However, having learned about the autistic pride movement and Aspies For Freedom (AFF) organizations, I have come to feel that how I am IS normal. Since then my co-workers have had to learn how to interact with a mentally diverse person (but then, my employer is very progressive).

Thing about it is, we feel that the neuro-typical world's bent on making everyone the same clashes badly with people who function well, but think differently.

Fang Langford

p.s. I just wanted to expand the perspective of the conversation. ^.^

I have to admit this has me worried and I'm starting to doubt myself. I was definitely an introvert in the past, but somewhere along the way without me even realising it, something changed. When I was first called "outgoing" I remember it stunned me.

I'm now self-searching wondering if really my seeming extroversion is a facade and I've actually become such an inverted introvert. Yikes.
I've definitely been guilty of being bossy and the "over-inflated impression of their own judgment" is something I actively work at even today.

Yet I don't feel rejection from people around me at all - in fact I feel many friends go out of their way to include me, and I seem to make new friends very easily.

So hopefully I'm safe.

I'm going to try that listening test though. Because although I enjoy communication a lot I am notorious for doing the talking.. :-/

The question of where to draw the line between introversion and autism spectrum disorders is one that's been puzzling me for quite some time, so I'm also interested in reading what you have to say about that, Chris.

When I myself exhibit inverted introvert behaviours, I tend far more heavily towards the side of depression than anger (e.g. I more frequently think "there's something wrong with me" than I think "there's something wrong with everyone else"), and I wonder if it has to do with being socialised as a female. For perhaps the same reason, I'm also reasonably good at putting on the extraverted "mask"... which I find is a lot more fun if I think about it as "improv acting" instead.

I like to tightly control my personal space, however this doesn't apply in public, only to my refuge/home. And as I live with others, it only applies to my room really and not the whole house. But that is why I like the virtual world of the internet and video games, because I have control over that space, I can control who interacts with me and how they do it.

I am not that happy having to work full-time, as it means most of my spare time I want to spend by myself, and so I miss out on hanging out with my friends more often than I would prefer. You say if I learn to be more extroverted I could potentially earn much more. But would I be happy? I am trying to figure out how I can balance my life better.

I do think there are many ways introverts adapt to the social world. This "inverted introvert" example is just one way in that an introvert can perhaps not so successfully adapt.

I know that I'm an introvert, and yet I manage to have developed in some sense a persona (or personas?) to inhabit when socializing. But i do recognize the way in which i resemble the "inverted introvert" like I just hook into my internal monologue to my mouth as a way to be social. However, I manage to make that an amusing experience for all often enough to get called funny. In fact, figuring that out might have been one of the first successful strategies at dealing with people.

I tend to just avoid people in real life instead of trying to come up with some inane "interior landscape flipping" or whatever. Obviously there are a lot of reasons, but the way I see it, I have no interest in what they have to say, and they have no interest in what I have to say. Of course this is a generalization, but I think it fits for my interactions with most everyone. And really, it's my fault, not theirs. Thing with me is, my interests are way too restricted. They're basically 1) videogames and 2) uhh...not a whole lot else. So I play games almost to the exclusion of all else. Almost.

What this means is that I can talk at length about games, but you try to engage me in some other topic? Chances are good you'll reach a dead end. Now couple that with the fact that gaming is in its infancy and thus not very widespread, you can see the problem with my interacting with people with more normal and general interests. Sure, I could theoretically "only ask questions about them, and supply nothing of your own information unless expressly asked." like you say, but that's way too much work for something I'm not interested in.

So yeah. Much easier to just avoid people. I'm not saying it's ideal. I mean, even with my top-notch avoidance skills people still try to talk to me and can't leave me alone. Plus the reproaching stares and thoughts aimed at me can be quite hard to endure. I suppose that's a little ironic, since it means I care what others think about me. Maybe that's another reason I avoid people. I reject them before they get a chance to reject me, know what I'm saying?

Haha, I remember back in school I used to wish I could disappear during break times or have a place to hide where no one could find me. Would have been nice. Thank god I'm out of that hellhole though.

"without ever quite realising that the very key to success in this world is the extroverted world of people, and little of significance can be achieved without genuinely connecting with this world."

What is "success"? What is "significant"? What may be significant to you might not be to someone else, and vice versa.

"The fact that I work as a game designer intensifies this problem, since so many inverted introverts substitute the hollow success of videogame victory for real progress in life,"

Psh, forget real life. Who needs it. I'm playing videogames forever >:O!

Dear all,

Thank you for the comments - I clearly rang a chord here, although the tenor of my sketch is such that I have put some people on the defensive, which was not really my intention.

But before I get to specifics, I want to make clear that this is categorically not a description of autism or autistic spectrum states such as Asberger's syndrome. I could write a sketch of these, and it would be very different from the above (although characterising Asberger's is tricky as people who fall under this term are so wildly diverse!)

However, that said, we are talking about a continuum here, with autism at one polar extreme, and conditions like histrionic personality at the opposite pole (although in truth I think we're talking about a landscape here and not a line).

The inverted introvert state lies somewhere near the middle, but on the autistic side of the centrepoint. And key to what I'm describing here is that it is not a permanent state (which Asberger's, for instance, could be seen as) but merely a transitional state - a way to switch from internal to external... but the inverted introvert, as I describe such a person, is stuck midway, and the experience is often excruciating.

I fear perhaps that I was too forceful in my encouragement that such people push on... It might be you are still on your journey, and it's no business of mine to urge you onwards. But I see so many people who have become stuck in the inverted introvert state (even into their 40s), and they are not happy principally because of complications from that state. And it frustrates me, because I want to help but it really is beyond my power to break someone out of a mental space of their own construction.

OK, with that preface let me respond to individual comments.

Peter: I think 18-25 is when most of us who are transitioning from pure introversion are forced into facing up to our situations. Like you, depression was a driver for me. But I never found counselling helpful, for various reasons more to do with me than anything else, and made my own way onwards. It's an ongoing journey... like anyone's life.

Fang: there is some oversimplification in the above, which is why I characterised it as a doodle, but I am categorically not describing Asberger's. I apologise for not expressly excluding Asberger's and autism in the text.

Now I must take you task:

"we feel that the neuro-typical world's bent on making everyone the same clashes badly with people who function well, but think differently."

Excuse me, but are you trying to found your subculture on exclusion of "neurotypical" people - and what exactly do you think is "neurotypical"? It is my experience that there is no such thing as typical neurology, outside of a statistical model or a text book. We are all unique.

I have no interest in making everyone the same - what a hideous proposition! But I have a great interest in trying to help people who are suffering because of a mental trap they have built for themselves. It is for such people that this sketch is written.

If you are functioning well in life, perhaps in unique and wonderful ways, then this sketch has nothing to offer you. But then, neither was this written for such people!

I am no stranger to what is called "mental illness", nor to the far stranger ways people respond to it. I have severe criticisms of the way the medical establishment characterises many of these states. Take the trivial - Seasonal Affective Disorder. Why is this characterised as a disorder, exactly? Most of us are built to run better on sunlight than without it, so why characterise a sensitivity to the absence of sunlight as a disorder and not, say, as being photophylic? The language game that the medical community are playing is one of sickness which they project onto us - there is a pernicious evil lurking in this apparently innocent "scientific" endeavour, and I for one oppose it.

But on this topic, I shall have to bite my tongue for now and save further discussion for the future. ;)

I must ask, though, as someone with ties to the Asberger community, what do you make of Christian Clemenson's portrayal of a lawyer with Asberger's (Jerry Espenson) in the TV show "Boston Legal"? As drama, his performance is magnificent, but I have often wondered how the autism/Asberger community react to this - do you have an impression you can share with me?

Finally, thanks for commenting and bringing this potential misunderstanding to light. Much appreciated.

Rik: I apologise for making you paranoid! From what little you have said here, you seem to have transitioned quite comfortably so don't panic! :)

Deirdra: I hope my comments above have given you some insight on how I would position autism with respect to introversion; I welcome further questions if there's more you would like to know about my opinion in this regard.

And I don't think that gender is necessarily a factor in the split between depression and anger - I ended up going with depression (or so I thought - now I wonder if I went both ways...), and the impression that I get is that this might just be more common in general.

Anger management experts warn that some of the worst cases are women, however, for more or less the reasons who hint at, so there may be a issue here beyond my blunt dismissal.

Also, I think the anger route is more disruptive and more painful, so ironically the pain of depression might be the lesser of two evils here.

Thank you for sharing your perspective of what I'm describing here!

Katherine: "You say if I learn to be more extroverted I could potentially earn much more. But would I be happy? I am trying to figure out how I can balance my life better."

I'm sorry, I did not mean to imply that everyone must learn to be more extroverted. What I meant was, people who are trapped in the inverted introvert state suffer badly from depression and/or anger which might be alleviated if they can move beyond. Only you can decide if this applies to you.

This might not be a description of you - you might just be a natural introvert, one who gets along perfectly fine with life in your own unique way. There's nothing wrong with having strong personal boundaries in one's personal space, nor not wanting to work around people - heaven knows I don't want to work in an office environment ever again! :)

Also, I did not mean to suggest that money = happiness. In fact, I very nearly cut this whole paragraph for fear of this very misconception. The point I was making is that inside the inverted introvert state, one feels valueless, but almost always such a person has skills and abilities that the world values. This is perhaps a difficult point to get across without confusion.

I greatly appreciate you sharing your perspective here, and if there's more you'd like to discuss I will be happy to do so.

Chill: although I could readily see that you were coming from the introverted side of the scale, I found you an absolute delight to hang around with. I think you are blessed with an extroverted persona that others will find a source of delight - I am glad to have met you.

Sirc: thank you for your detailed description here, and I apologise if what I wrote seems to be putting pressure on you to change. If you are happy how you are, it's none of my business. I am really trying to help people who are not happy in their state - only you can decide if this applies to you.

I really recognise your description of school here - although I was fortunate to find other introverts with whom I forged strong bonds. But even then, there were times when I just had to hide away from it all. Solitude sometimes is the only relief for us introverts.

"What may be significant to you might not be to someone else, and vice versa."

I would never deny this aspect of existence. But again, this is a piece about people who are not happy with their situation - some of which, for instance, have grand schemes that they want to pursue, and don't seem to realise that they need the co-operation of others to make those schemes come about. This was the point I was trying to make here, but I can see how it could be taken the wrong way.

It may be that you can be happy with the whole of your life built around games, but if you ever find yourself falling prey to depression (or anger) and feel yourself losing control of your life, perhaps this sketch will be waiting for you then to help you.


Thank you all for your comments, and once again I apologise if I seem to be placing pressure on people. The urgency of my tone is borne out of a desire to help those who know they are trapped in unhappiness - it is not meant to impel everyone on a particular trajectory. We each have our own path in life - it is up to you to discover it. I simply wanted to share a perspective that I thought, perhaps, might prove useful. If even one person finds this piece and it helps them out of a dark hole, it will have been worthwhile.

Best wishes!

Your response to Fang was similar to what I came up with as I researched Asperger's; though I'm pretty sure I don't exhibit all of the characteristics of an Asperger case, I found that I had more in common with that than the portrait of the "neurotypical", who seemed to be described as an extravert who "innately" understands social cues. I don't know about other introverts, but I grew up needing to be told how to behave in public, and to this day, I find I understand human behaviour best if I read about it in a psychology book or if someone explains it to me. An innate ability to socialise with others was always something I perceived as a special gift, which my younger brother possesses; in turn, he lacks many of my own strengths, such as book learning. Even though I grew up thinking he was "normal" and I wasn't, subsequent conversations in adulthood detailed that he envied my abilities in exactly the same way as I envied his.

Anyway, here's a question for you: Given that we're all on a continuum, where should one draw the line between expecting those having trouble properly integrating into society to "correct" their disruptive behaviour (as we would with someone who's just plain being a jerk), and deciding that said behaviour is something that must be understood and accepted as-is (as we would with an autism spectrum case)?

dj i/o here...

Chris, in reading your article I recognized a tad bit of my own behaviour, especially in my late teens... But more disturbingly, it resembles a lot of my little sister's behaviour, and she is now in her mid 20's.
I had never heard of "histrionic personality", so I did a bit of wiki-reading on that... and interestingly enough, that seems to match my sister as well. She's some weird destructive hybrid of the two. I and the whole family are worried about her, but she seems to far gone to accept help from anyone. When we do try to help, she usually pushes us away. A treacherous situation. I have no idea what to do. But perhaps reading and trying to understand her will give me some insight.

dj i/o: Thanks for sharing this here. I am not a mental health professional, so I will share my thoughts here without meaning to claim any authority.

It sounds as if your sister is experiencing a cyclic personality condition of some kind - possibly a mild form of bipolar such as cyclothymia, or a temporary cyclic condition perhaps brought on by certain life stresses. If she turns all help away, it can be very difficult to take any reasonable course of action, but I must also say that at 20 years of age she may just be trying to find her own feet right now - and may resent interference from her family.

Attempting an intervention of some kind will probably make matters worse - one thing I might suggest (but judge for yourself - I've never met your sister, remember) is telling your sister that you love her, and you'll always be there if she needs someone to talk to. That may sound like non-action, and it may be that she will abusively disdain you for taking such a course of action, but it might just be what she needs to hear from you right now.

Best of luck!

Deirdra: It's too soon to tell, but it's seeming as if empathy and ability to socially synchronise may be a mirror neuron function, something that appears to be focussed in the frontal and parietal lobes (the top of the brain); you, as someone who I am imagining from your descriptions and work expresses the Rational temperament, are probably more focused in your orbito-frontal cortex (the decision centre of the brain, directly above the eyes). It might be that a heavy skew of this kind (which occurs in less than 10% of the population) interferes with the ability to tap into the natural functions in the upper lobes of the brain. But I'm no neurologist, so I'm only speculating!

Chances are you *can* access your empathy - but you might not discover it in full until later in life, when some life event will trigger it. We all change throughout our years.

I'd like to address your question in two parts:

"Given that we're all on a continuum, where should one draw the line..."

I find this sentence structure to be fascinating - the point of the continuum image is to work against the drawing of a line, since this divides into two what is better seen as a landscape! :)

But that said, I know what it is you are gesturing towards, so I shall press on...

"...between expecting those having trouble properly integrating into society to "correct" their disruptive behaviour (as we would with someone who's just plain being a jerk), and deciding that said behaviour is something that must be understood and accepted as-is (as we would with an autism spectrum case)?"

This is one of the ultimate questions, and there are no easy answers.

The starting point must surely be to approach any situation with love for the person concerned. Here are some briefly sketched thoughts:

Does their behaviour make them unhappy? Then an attempt at change is surely worth attempting; if this proves impossible, then acceptance is the only remaining course of action.

Does the behaviour make other people unhappy? Then by collective decision, an attempt at change may be attempted (an intervention). We respect individual autonomy, but this is not the highest value for most of us. Again, if change proves impossible then acceptance is all that remains.

My experience of autism is that no action of any kind can resolve this state of affairs, so expecting change is beyond the bounds. But when a person is simply behaving badly (as we all do from time to time), we have no reason to assume that they cannot change, thus a push for the attempt can be made.

Thanks for such an interesting question!

dj i/o - have a read around bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia and rapid-cycling bipolar. Then broaden to the links from there (bipolar's sometimes very hard to tell apart from other conditions, or indeed "normal" behaviour - a diagnosis is, in many cases, an educated guess). Current estimates in England are that 1%-2% of the population would fit a diagnosis of bipolar I or II - it's pretty common. It also places some people who are pretty normal into the ghetto of "sickness", as Chris points out above.

http://www.mdf.org.uk may also be useful.

(Background: My wife's full-on bipolar I, though luckily without rapid cycling. I know at least one bipolar II rapid cycler - very hard indeed for her partner and her, several other bipolar I, and a bunch of cyclothymics who can be among the most creative and also most irritating people in my social circle.)

Too late I have begun to recognize the value of the original concept of a university: a monastic, cloistered community of scholars, cared for throughout their entire lives by servants. This is how Oxford and Cambridge were founded. They were sheltered from the world, but because their original purpose was to turn out priests, not business people or scientists, it didn't matter much.

How I envy them their quiet, their solitude, and their freedom from care!

Of course, small isolated communities are not without their own twisted and sometimes abusive social and political systems. Part of the reason for the fearsome, but formal, Rule of St. Benedict was to establish a fixed system so that something worse would not arise by accident.

Am I an introvert because I long for that silence? Not really. I'm happiest when I'm in the company of good friends who love me. But the Internet has brought me into the company of hideous, awful people whom, without it, I would never have encountered. It is the realization that such people exist -- and vote -- that drives me towards introversion.

Also, as a teacher, I find it tiring to have to seem wise and insightful all the time. At the end of eight hours of concentrated attention, always trying to give my students the very best, there is no more welcome sound than the silence of the empty hotel room.

Peter: thanks for adding some additional details here.

Ernest: I find it hard to believe you were not an introvert also in your earlier life, but I surely appreciate what you mean by the welcome silence of the hotel room! I don't do anywhere near as many speaking engagements as you, but I'm always grateful when I'm away on business, lecturing or conventions to have some precious time to myself.

Best wishes!

As another person with Asperger's Syndrome (There is a problem with saying it's something I "have", but I refuse to call myself an "Aspie"!), I relate very much to what you're talking about here. But I think there's a much simpler solution. The introvert is "inverted", so to speak, when he tries or pretends to be an extrovert. If he'd be satisfied with being an introvert, he could have a fulfilling life.

Many unabashed introverts have accomplished great things, especially in the arts and sciences. And how can you say an introvert won't be happy? He has such meaningful experiences as videogames and books and creativity! He can construct worlds around himself, and revel in worlds constructed by others! What does the extrovert have he doesn't, a lot of idle chit-chat? I have been very happy when I was on my own, and there are only problems when I am forced into social situations.

In school (This seems to be becoming a theme.), I absolutely did become "inverted", trying to understand other people by imagining that they were like myself somehow. And as you say, this led to problems and unhappiness. It took me a very long time to realize I shouldn't be going in that direction at all! I enjoy listening to monologues, but the ordinary speech patterns of ordinary people hold no interest to me. The people who surrounded me were friendly, but they were not the right people to try to be friends with. Now I am friends with only one person, but he is a person very much like me. That's enough. Now that I'm not being forced into a social situation, I am reasonably happy and content (not to mention occasionally accomplishing things).

So you're pushing the inverted introvert in entirely the wrong direction. He should not be trying to be an extrovert. He only needs to stop pretending.

Oh, I forgot to say: "Asperger's" is written with a P.


I must respectfully disagree with you here.

Yes, introverts can be perfectly happy people, and yes introverts can achieve great things. But learning to operate in an extroverted space is not pretending to be something other than an introvert. It is exploring the fullness of one's capabilities as an introvert.

Developing an extroverted persona is not pretending to be an extrovert - it's learning a set of skills that most introverts are perfectly capable of learning, and that most people stuck in the inverted space need to learn to get to the core needs they are unable to fulfil.

People in the inverted introvert space are generally very unhappy. Some, perhaps, should heed your caution and might indeed be better off accepting introversion. But this appears to apply more at the corner of the landscape where the autism spectrum conditions can be found, and so represents perhaps a couple of a percent of the population while introverts make up almost *half* of the population.

I feel it is unfair of you to expect that all inverted introverts would do better to pretend to have autism spectrum conditions - which is a possible implication of what you are saying - that strikes me as an ill advised solution to this issue for the majority of the people affected.

Most of the people to whom I am addressing this piece have desperate need for membership, belonging and companionship - and most if not all of them are perfectly capable of developing extroverted skills to enable them to get what they desire. I feel it is justifiable for me to encourage them to continue to push in this direction - with the caveat that some people are in a different part of the landscape, and to them your caution is worth considering.

I have been an introvert my entire life, and I have been around introverts my entire life. I feel that advising introverts not to try and develop extroverted skills is an insanely blinkered proposition. My experience is that the vast majority of introverts do make it through the inverted introvert space and are happier on the other side.

This is not to say that everyone must make this journey, nor that everyone should. But if your message to inverted introverts is "give up and make do", then I feel you are condemning a great many people to something that would make them quite unhappy.

(I also feel that you have no appreciation for the beauty of the extroverted space; it is not where I am on the landscape, but neither is it the shallow parody that you present in your comment).

If I overstepped my mark in this piece, it was not to leave the back door open - to acknowledge that some people's path does not lead to the acquisition of extroverted skills, and this is perhaps especially so for people who experience autism spectrum conditions.

But it would be even more unreasonable to make that back door into the only path on offer as you seem to want to do - most introverts make the journey successfully. Most that struggle in the inverted introvert space would be ill served by taking the back door when the path of their life is pulling them in the other direction.

If I had to synthesise our positions in some Hegelian manner it would be this:

"Only you can decide which path is right for you. Do not give up trying to develop extroverted skills prematurely, as they could be just within your grasp, and your path may lie in this direction. But don't be afraid to discover that your path lies back to introversion, if that's what rings true for you. You must be the captain of your own destiny - all we can do is make you aware of the available routes."

Finally, I apologise for typing Asberger instead of Asperger. I am forever typing homonyms or creating homonymic miswords - I think it's a product of my typing speed. :)

Thanks for sharing your perspective, and best wishes!

This is a new term for me, inverted introvert. I've read of extroverted introverts and introverted extroverts but not the topic of your blogpost here.

I do believe it serves those of us more introverted to learn some extroverted skills. Still it's more important to our self-esteem, self-confidence, all those self-kind-of-words that we recognize, acknowledge and use our natural introvert strengths first.

I'm just getting ready to post about such at my own blog but the bottom line is: we HAVE strengths that help us to do and be what we want. And those strengths are the balance to the extrovert. Take our ability to listen, plan, research - my goodness look at how you are showing up here with those strengths.

There are too many negative myths about introverts that even introverts believe to the degree that many may now be memes.

Thanks so much for this new perspective.

Pat Weber: thank you for your comment! I completely agree that the skills of the introvert are an important balance for extroverts. Indeed, when an extrovert - who has previously been quite contented - hits a rough patch in life, it is often the introvert who they turn to for help getting their head together.

Best wishes!

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