Before I explain whether introversion is a disorder or not, it’s important to understand what’s considered a mental disorder first. A mental disorder isn’t necessary something like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia but its any psychological condition that prevents a person from living his normal life.
For example when depression is preventing a person from socialising, going to work, or doing any other activity then this type of depression is considered a disorder.
You might have heard of attention seeking personality disorder. Attention seeking behaviour is only considered a disorder when it’s negatively affecting a person’s life. On the contrary if the desire for attention pushed the person to involve in activities such as acting or doing music then his attention seeking behaviour is not considered a disorder.
Two types of introversion
There are two main reasons why people become introverts. Some people are introverts by nature while others are introverts because something prevents them from socialising. For example someone may become an introvert not because he enjoys being alone but because he is too shy to socialise.
We can say that a person is an introvert by nature only if he has no inhibitions that prevent him from having a social life. If the person feels totally comfortable around people, has a healthy self-esteem, and has a few close friends then most probably that person has no social inhibitions.
On the other hand some people are unable to have a social life because they are socially inhibited. Some of unhealthy reasons why some people are introverts include:
- Lack of social skills: Some people believe that they are introverts by nature while in reality they don’t know what to do in when they are in the company of others. If a person didn’t develop social skills then he may always feel uncomfortable around others, as a result he may choose to stay alone.
- Low self-esteem: a person who has low self esteem usually becomes obsessed with his flaws when in the company of others and this prevents him from interacting with others normally. For example a person who believes that he is boring may assume that people will find him boring if he talks, and decides to to keep quiet instead.
- Social isolation in childhood: children develop social interest based on how they were treated by their parents and family members. If a child’s parents were abusive and cold then there would be no room for developing social interest, therefore he may grow up socially withdrawn.
Why it’s Important to Understand the Underlying cause of your Introversion
There is nothing wrong with being an introvert as long as you are not inhibited. Some introverts usually get defensive when they read about studies that say that introversion is not a normal personality type. The good news about being an inhibited introvert is that as soon as you get over the underlying cause, you can become a social person. For example if you lacked social skills then developing those skills can let you become an extrovert.
Sometimes a socially withdrawn person claims that he is an introvert in order to avoid facing the underlying problem such as low self-esteem. By claiming that introversion is his normal personality, he convinces himself that he is okay because accepting the fact that there’s something wrong with him would hurt his ego. The problem with this approach is that the person remains trapped in his inhibitions. (See also: how to stop being overly sensitive).