The DSM group, which is currently working on revisions for the fifth version of the manual that describes mental disorders, has removed the proposal for the term "introversion" as one of the criteria for diagnosing schizotypal personality disorder. Unfortunately, they've simply replaced the term with another one, namely detachment. Although this is an improvement, it's not what I would call a solution.
They now refer to introversion as one and the same as detachment, (e.g., they say that "extraversion is the opposite of introversion, a.k.a. detachment)", and then they go on to describe detachment as a facet of Schizotypal Personality Disorder. This essentially means that introversion is a facet of the same disorder. In case you're curious, here's how detachment is characterized:
- Restricted affectivity: Little reaction to emotionally arousing situations; constricted emotional experience and expression; indifference or coldness.
- Withdrawal: Preference for being alone to being with others; reticence in social situations; avoidance of social contacts and activity; lack of initiation of social contact.
I'm not sure whether to be worried about these definitions or whether this is just a typical day in the life. My mind reels with questions about this proposal, but probably the detail that confuses me most is the inclusion of "withdrawal" -- especially as it's defined above. Though I understand that it's the combination of all (or most) of the listed characteristics that determines whether someone has a personality impairment, I just don't agree that all of the characteristics belong there. They're not relevant.
As I see it, withdrawal is an integral part of being an introvert. It's something that we need, and it feels good. It helps us to recharge, and to be ourselves. And yet it's said to potentially indicate something wrong in one's personality. So simply by being ourselves, we risk becoming diagnosed with a disease.
My conclusion from all of this is, as usual, that we live in an extrovert's world. Our world is defined by the ones who make the most noise. When people are afraid of something, they define it as a disease.
And, apparently, introverts inspire fear.