I *Still* Hate Introverts. And Highly Sensitive People. And INFJs …

In February, I wrote a post titled “I Hate Introverts.  And Highly Sensitive People.  And INFJs…”.  I don’t hate introverts, highly sensitive people or INFJs.  I hate how these labels sometimes make me and others defensive and divide people.  I agreed with writer Katrina Kunstmann who wrote that these labels are keys that help us open a door and on the other side of that door is who we really are.  Who we really are is big and immaculate and these labels cannot begin to contain it.

In that post I mentioned a Scientific American article, “23 Signs You’re Secretly a Narcissist Masquerading as a Sensitive Introvert”, that triggered and inspired the post.  The author of that article, Scott Barry Kaufman, has done it again.  He published another article, “Will the Real Introverts Please Stand Up?” in the same vein that questions the existence of true introverts and it has triggered the same reaction in me as the other article.  Well, not exactly the same.  I wanted to expand on the ideas I touched on in my other post.

Before I read both of Kaufman’s articles, I was proud to call myself an introvert or HSP.  I write about introversion and high sensitivity all the time and I probably will continue to do so.  But, articles like Kaufman’s don’t make me proud or so willing to embrace these labels because Kaufman and writers like him don’t make you understand yourself or other people better.  These articles are written so that the labels we put on ourselves and others can be better understood, not that people can be better understood.  These labels and any “scientific” explanations don’t even begin to describe what it’s like to be a real, breathing, complex human being. When I read this stuff something inside of me just cringes.  Yeah, I’m an introvert, HSP, INFJ and I’m not.  The part of me that is not is choked and strangled by these labels and words.

I want to run away screaming from them and never reduce myself or anyone else by using them. I agree with Leo Buscaglia who wrote:  “Labels are distancing phenomena”.  They do not bring you any closer to understanding anyone and in actuality create an “other”.  Someone who isn’t like you.  Someone to separate from, compare yourself to and measure yourself against.  That’s what Kaufman pretty much does to define introverts:  by defining how introversion is not like extroversion.

I’m going to do what Maya Angelou tried to do:

What I represent in fact, what I’m trying like hell to represent every time I go into fa97a8608de6e301202775740115007fthat hotel room, is myself. That’s what I’m trying to do. And I miss most of the time on that: I do not represent blacks or tall women, or women or Sonomans or Californians or Americans. Or rather I hope I do, because I am all those things. But that is not all that I am. I am all of that and more and less. People often put labels on people so they don’t have to deal with the physical fact of those people. It’s easy to say, oh, that’s a honkie, that’s a Jew, that’s a junkie, or that’s a broad, or that’s a stud, or that’s a dude. So you don’t have to think: does this person long for Christmas? Is he afraid that the Easter bunny will become polluted? … I refuse that… I simply refuse to have my life narrowed and proscribed.

I will probably narrow my writing in the future and focus again on introverts, HSP, INFJs, loners, feminists and all the other labels I attach to myself.  I am all of those things.  And I will forever shrug them off because that is not all that I am.  It’s a contradiction I’m OK with.




11 thoughts on “I *Still* Hate Introverts. And Highly Sensitive People. And INFJs …

  1. What a beautiful, beautiful post.

    We do label, unfortunately as much as I have said I hate to. This week I was at large hardware store looking for filters. After looking for good 20 minutes & being shuffled from one person to the next in the famous red apron. I spoke to the dept manager. He tells me ” we have two cases of them.” No, it was not on the floor like he said with out showing it to me. Again I looked & asked him for assistance. He had not budged an inch from where he stood all this time & said you can order on line. A 20×20 filter really? I complained to the store manager and he asked who told me this? The first thing that came out of my mouth was ” a lazy fat man” & the manager knew who it was. There were several fat men in red apron but the lazy one had been identified. He was labeled before my in counter.
    I hate labeling just like you but there comes a time we do label. I most certainly did.


    1. Yes, Nana. I label people as well and … I can’t stand to be labelled and think it’s a mistake to do it to other people. I’m going to be very cognizant of it in the future. I think I call someone a “douche” like 5 times a day.
      Thank you for your kind words and for commenting. You don’t have to submit your post twice if you choose to comment in the future. I have to approve your comments before you can see them.


  2. Interesting post. When I first read the title I’ll admit alarm bells were ringing in my head! i read his recent article. I don’t identify with what he is saying in the least, in fact I have never heard that perspective before. Have you read Susan Cain’s book ‘Quiet’?


    1. I have read Quiet. It was Cain’s book that made me proud to be an introvert. Ever so often, after writing and thinking about these labels and overidentifying with them, I just long to be just a person again.
      I don’t know what Kaufman is trying to do with these articles. If he wanted his readers to be confused about the label “introvert”, he succeeded.


  3. I totally agree, it is a conundrum but yes being INFJ is but a key, a starting point to self-discovery. I think we are taught in this society to stop at the label. Oh how wrong we are!


  4. Before reading his two articles, I expected to bristle. It’s fair to say when I first read his words about covert narcissism, it rankled (I was also slightly concerned I would score very high). However, he isn’t denying that sensitive people exist, just that many who claim to be, are actually more concerned about themselves. I think we can still stand tall as genuine HSPs!


    1. The title was misleading I think. The article is about narcissists and how a narcissist can present as overly sensitive and introverted. Do you think any narcissists read that article? … don’t think so. I think all Kaufman did was make real sensitive introverts feel like frauds. I answered some of the questions on the test and it made me feel like maybe I was a narcissist. I think everyone would. I don’t know maybe I’m too sensitive…ha ha.
      I shared your post about traveling while HSP with a Google + HSP group. Did anyone check it out?


      1. I don’t think so! But thank you for sharing!

        Yes, I think the ironic thing is that all the genuinely sensitive people instantly thought that they were frauds. The narcissists, of course, wouldn’t even have read it!

        I really questioned myself as I completed the test, really quite nervous, to be honest. I kept thinking “it would be typical if I was a covert narcissist after all” haha I was very relieved to see that some of them were so far off the mark though – I think all humans have narcissistic tendencies, or else we wouldn’t survive, but I don’t value my needs above those of others!


      2. I’m really shocked no one checked it out. Their loss! Again, I thought it was hilarious!

        Did you know that they removed Narcissistic Personality Disorder from the psychiatric diagnostic manual? I think it was because everyone was becoming so narcissistic that it is becoming normal. I think the fact that we were afraid to be narcissists is a sign that we aren’t narcissists.


      3. I didn’t know that! I spent five years working on a mental health ward, and to my knowledge, I don’t remember anyone with that particular personality disorder. And yes, I was laughingly telling my partner this morning the panic I had at the mere thought of being a narcissist!


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