Successful types

I got my medals, in part, because I did brave acts, but also, in part, because the kids liked me and they spent time writing better eyewitness accounts than they would have written if they hadn’t liked me.

I was thinking, recently, how “success” comes in this world to those who are more extroverted. Of course a person who tends toward taking the initiative will create more opportunities for himself, so making more connections with people, placing oneself in more “fertile” social settings, etc. will presumably be more fruitful than not doing those things. A person who is extroverted and thus finds social contact more appealing will more likely notice social dynamics, such as conversations nearby and their topic content, relationships and interactions that are revealing themselves nearby, etc. Finally a person who is extroverted and/or more socially skilled will likely be more attractive socially. Such a person will have a higher probability of being approached for conversation, advice, notifications, etc. This all leads to having access to more information and potential information, as well as to paths to actualization i.e., the people themselves who can help or otherwise do things for the person.

The extroverted and/or socially skilled person, however, is not necessarily more wise, principled, knowledgeable, generous, compassionate, patient, insightful, skilled, etc. Of course they may have these characteristics, but being extroverted doesn’t necessarily mean that you have them. But in reality, there are many people who are overlooked socially – despite being more skilled, compassionate, etc. – because they are not extroverted and socially visible.

Furthermore, because of the irrational bias toward thinking better of the extroverted person i.e., visible and familiar, there is regarding the more introverted person negatively. A person who is socially less attractive or visible may unwittingly be associated, or associated more easily, with negative characteristics, such as being mean, unkind, impatient, secretive, scheming, condescending, eccentric, odd, etc. (Of course there is a rational component to people forming such an impression of a quiet person – namely that such a person is giving out less information about himself.) Unfortunately, associating negative characteristics with a person quickly becomes synonymous with thinking ill of the person, thinking that something is wrong with them, and pathologizing them.

I’ve been noticing a lot recently – perhaps because of how the social structure and dynamics of Japan are foreign and therefore conspicuous to me – how people must either find social niches for themselves or somehow achieve a minimum of conformity to occupy a niche that is not the most optimal for them. A quiet, maybe even schizotypal, person can more easily do a construction job or vending machine re-filling job, in which they are left alone for most of the day. In Japan, I think even many blue-collar jobs are somewhat more socially demanding than in the US.  I believe I often see such quiet people in more typical roles such as salary-man and husband/father. There seems to be an implicit, semi-conscious accommodation in large organizations (eg companies) for such people – as long as they don’t cause too much trouble, they are accepted as part of the group.

The sad bit for me is when a person himself believes the all too common social message that there is something wrong with him, just because he doesn’t want to go out drinking with them after work, eg. In addition to believing that there’s something wrong with himself, he may wonder how to cure it and have feelings, motivations, and experience like “normal” people. Self-reflection and self-improvement are always valuable for every person. However, unwaveringly and/or blindly accepting certain criteria or goalposts as absolute, without reflection or examination, and forcibly working toward them can lead to a life of needless suffering and exhaustion.

‘Shy’ children at risk of being diagnosed with mental disorder

Children who are merely shy or sad are at risk of being diagnosed with mental disorders and given powerful drugs, experts warn.

Psychologists say that new guidelines being developed in America will lead more young people seeing their common problems regarded as illnesses that must be treated, rather than just being given support.

They fear that pupils who are quiet at school could be diagnosed with “social anxiety disorder” while those who become withdrawn after suffering a bereavement are classified as having a “depressive disorder”.

Children who just talk back to adults or lose their temper regularly could be diagnosed with “oppositional defiant disorder”.

As a result, those found to have these increasingly broad mental disorders could be prescribed powerful medication such as Prozac or Ritalin to control or alter their behaviour.

Now the pressure is increasing for a national review of the use of such drugs on schoolchildren as well as more research into their long-term effects, following a vote at the TUC Congress on Wednesday.

Kate Fallon, general secretary of the Association of Educational Psychologists, told delegates: “Behaviours develop over a long period of time, often with a range of complex causes; we can’t ‘cure’ the behaviours we don’t like with a quick fix of medicine. They usually require careful management by all the adults around the child.

“In 2013 we’re expecting new criteria for the definition of mental illness to be adopted here in the UK. These criteria will lead to many more children being diagnosed as mentally ill, based on reports of their behaviours.

“A shy child could be diagnosed with social anxiety; a sad or temporarily withdrawn child could be diagnosed with depression.

“These are conditions which are also likely to be treated with medication – and under these circumstances, Congress, we will be putting potent drugs into children with little or no understanding of what it will lead to.

“In a society that wants quick results using drugs to improve behaviour is very tempting. But there can be other ways of improving children’s behaviour which typically involve time and energy from people.”

Research has found that children under the age of six are being prescribed the drug Ritalin for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, prompting calls for the Department of Health to investigate the scale of the problem and the potential long-term damage it may be causing.

Recent figures show 650,000 children aged between eight and 13 are on the pscyhotropic drug, up from just 9,000 two decades ago, while others are taking Prozac for depression or anxiety.

It does not dispute that some children have emotional and behavioural problems but says that patients and the public are “negatively affected” by the continued “medicalisation” of natural and normal responses to their experiences, and that classifying such problems as “illnesses” ignores their wider causes.

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