Let me begin by making some assertions:
- I’m a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP);
- I’m an introvert; and
- I believe that these aspects of my personality added to the effects of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) upon me.
In this post, I’ll discuss my HSP and introverted sides. In my next post, I’ll explore their influence on my MDD
As an HSP, I display an innate sensitivity to sensory stimuli. I’m the guy you see in the corner of the party, by himself, looking like he’d rather be anywhere else. Yet, if you approached me, you might find yourself participating in a deep and long-ranging conversation. In that conversation, you might be startled by my sensitivity to your words, emotions, and non-verbal cues. You might notice me leaving the room to seek a refuge, a place that is more private, more – quiet. That’s where I’ll sit and think. I’m the quintessential “deep-thinker”.
Not surprisingly, I found Susan Cain’s book “Quiet” to be a roadmap to my personality, filled as it is with vignettes of people just like me. However, even though Ms. Cain’s book would have me identified as an introvert, Elaine Aron says that no, I’m an HSP.
But I’m also an introvert as well.
I value my privacy. My basic rule for life was that if you didn’t ask, I didn’t tell and if you did ask, I didn’t tell. Moreover, if you didn’t volunteer, I didn’t ask. That this would strike people as uncaring never entered into my mind. It was just the way I was. I did care, but it wasn’t my place to invade your privacy by asking. If you wanted to share, you’d do it on your own terms and I would, at that time, listen. But I wouldn’t ask.
It never occurred to me that this was dangerous. It’s just the way my brain worked.
On a broader perspective, the MBTI suggests that I fall into the INTJ profile with a lean toward INFJ. The letters mean:
- I = Introverted
- N = Intuitive
- T = Thinking
- J = Judging
- F = Feeling
In simple terms as an INTJ, I’m an original thinker with a strong drive for implementing ideas and achieving goals. I can see patterns in things quickly and can develop long-term strategies to address these patterns. However, I must feel a sense of commitment or I’ll grow bored.
I’m skeptical of authority and have very high standards. If you can’t give me a good reason for following a rule, I’m inclined to ignore it if it gets in the way of efficiency. If you don’t meet my standards, you lose my respect. But if you do meet them, I’ll give you both loyalty and a strong commitment.
As an INTJ, I have no time for, nor appreciation of, idle chit-chat. I prefer to get to the substance as quickly as possible. And yes, I was, and am, a bookworm.
My lean toward INFJ means that while my predominant mode is to think, I’m also comfortable with feeling. I’m interested in the motivations behind ideas and rules and, especially, the motivations behind actions. I’m concerned about the larger common good and can develop a clear vision to pursue it. When I allow feeling to enter into the equation, I’ve got a good insight into people.
My penchant for solitude allows me to sit back and observe. That enables me to see the patterns that can lead to strategizing. That also gives me a better insight into people as I observe their interactions. My thinking patterns are non-linear. By that, I mean that I can often detect patterns that others cannot, can link seemingly disparate ideas into a new whole. However, the intuitive nature of this non-linear thinking may mean I cannot fully explain my mental leaps to others.
As broad explanations of personality go, describing me as an INTJ with a lean to INFJ is quite accurate. It encapsulates my strengths
- a nimble, imaginative and strategic mind (see patterns in disparate things; thirst for learning; creative imagination);
- high self- confidence in my areas of expertise (tend not to doubt own conclusions);
- independent and decisive (accept responsibility; assertive; swayed by like arguments);
- hard-working, loyal, determined (if piques my interest, determined; once you gain loyalty, it stays);
- open-minded (resist authority/rules/traditions; liberal views; persuaded by ideas as rationally argued as own);
- a “jack of all trades” (can do anything mind is set to; can deconstruct/rebuild ideas/plans, etc)
and my weaknesses
- arrogant (insensitive, especially of intellectual inferiors; dismissive of lesser minds/opinions);
- judgemental (rationality/logic trumps emotion);
- overly analytical (can be paralyzed by perfectionism; can get lost in minutiae; rationality means social awkwardness);
- loathe structure (structure must be meaningful, make sense); and
- romantically clueless (awkward emotionally)
Together, the explanations of HSP and introversion presented in this post accurately describe me. In my next post, I’ll discuss how I believe they affected my MDD.