Did you know that introversion came *this close* to being labeled a contributing factor in diagnosing certain personality disorders?
And that’s not something The Onion put forward as a satire. This was the real deal, seriously discussed for inclusion in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
According to their website, the DSM “is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States and contains a listing of diagnostic criteria for every psychiatric disorder recognized by the U.S. healthcare system.”
In a win for introverts everywhere, that close call is now history, as the most recent draft of the DSM-5 is devoid of the harmful language that would have cast introversion in an inaccurate light.
Almost two years ago, Nancy Ancowitz (author of “Self-Promotion for Introverts“) and Laurie Helgoe (author of “Introvert Power“) teamed up to call attention to the language in the DSM-5 that would have reinforced the stereotype that introversion is a symptom of a greater pathology. They wrote in their first post, A Giant Step Backward for Introverts, “According to Naomi Quenk, Ph.D. a clinical psychologist who for years has studied healthy introversion as an aspect of personality types, the proposed DSM descriptions of introversion refer to an ‘absence or deficit of extraversion.’”
Using extroversion as a measuring stick for a healthy personality is not new. In fact, my quick review of the various models of personality typing revealed that one’s sociability is described in terms of “Extrovert,” “Confident Self-Expression,” “Ambition and Sociability,” and “Outgoing, Social Leadership,” among others. This means that, in this context, people are either more or less extroverted, more or less social, more or less outgoing. The benchmark defaults to extroverted traits, and we are placed on a continuum from there.
I’m sure I’m taking an overly simplistic view of these models; it’s a complicated topic that requires – and deserves – in-depth study and analysis. The surface impression remains, however, that personality assessments and models continue to use language that shows a bias towards extroversion.
Nancy and Laurie do a wonderful job of deconstructing how the DSM-5 situation unfolded and how the conversation must shift if we’re to continue to make progress in the quest to clarify (and normalize) what it means to be an introvert.
Here’s the complete post for your reading pleasure: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/self-promotion-introverts/201206/apa-gains-sanity-introverts-not-nuts
What do you think? Do you feel like there’s an extrovert bias in society? Do you think that we’re moving closer to introverts being valued for their contributions, energy and presence?