During the past two weeks I’ve enjoyed rich conversations with some creative, insightful friends—introverts all. As an introvert with many interests, I can occupy myself with research and other projects for weeks on end without feeling the need to engage directly with others beyond my wife. A few years ago I became more aware of research finding introverts, to be optimally healthy, need to deliberately cultivate regular social interaction with others. We can do this without violating our other needs. Introversion entails both health boosters and detractors. On the downside, according to Laurie Helgoe, Ph.D., introverts

  • may experience more stress in social situations or even when thinking about social situations and avoiding social opportunities may erode health
  • be more realistic about negative realities or fixate on them, presenting more opportunities for negative moods or depression
  • may be less emotionally adaptable to open or crowded living or working environments (introverts tend to prefer living in less populated areas where they can be outdoors without being crowded, as in many mountainous areas)
  • may not benefit as much from fitness and other activities that are organized to emphasize socialization (think Cross Fit or many other popular fitness programs)
  • may have less effective immune systems, though the effect is small
  • may require more time and effort to think through decision scenarios (possibly due to the denser gray matter in their brains)
  • are more easily aroused by sensory stimuli, which can make them seek situations with less stimulation
  • may avoid risk taking, which can have positive and negative effects (they’re unlikely to become gambling addicts but are also more likely to miss significant opportunities that require them to take chances)
  • may ignore negative health indicators and delay speaking with health care providers about potential health issues
  • may experience slower situational comprehension and response times in loud environments or situations with intensified sounds or urgency signals, such as when exposed to alarms, vehicle horns, or other people yelling commands (think of the spate of recent episodes of police excessive force against people the claim were not obeying their screamed orders)

Regarding the last point above, an introvert friend worries she’ll not be capable of understanding the screamed commands of a threatening policeman and will be arrested, injured, or even killed because of it. There is probably a clinical or technical name for such temporary inability to process language. I’m unaware of any law enforcement training specifically addressing this issue. If you know more about it, please post a comment.