Academic journal article Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

Sociology of Shyness: A Self Introduction

Academic journal article Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

Sociology of Shyness: A Self Introduction

Article excerpt

Only the shy know the pain of shyness, the intense inability to interact in social situations.

The shy often rationalize their shyness by saying, "I don't know these people" or "These people make me uncomfortable"--thereby laying the blame on others rather than dealing with their own problem. Shyness carries with it a fear that makes many unable to, say, ask out that girl or to seek the job promotion. Surely these opportunities would benefit us, or at least allow us to grow and learn. Shy people who may even recognize this, however, allow their perceptions of their faults, real or imagined, to prevent them from taking the chances others routinely take throughout a normal day. Their shyness, often begun during the school age (approx. 5-18 years of age), can go on to take more serious forms later in life such as depression and social anxiety disorder, to say the least. Several of the patients documented in the video viewed in class on multiple personality disorder had shy, or introverted, personalities. To compensate for this, they also developed stronger confident personalities that could accomplish what the shy personalities could not. In some instances this gave way to extreme, violent personalities bent on the destruction of the weaker ones.

Growing up, I myself suffered from shyness. I projected negative qualities upon myself: I was too fat, too ugly, too smelly, too dumb, etc. Because of this I was unable to stick up for myself, usually falling prey to others who saw my lack of confidence as an exploitable weakness. I was unable to speak to girls for the longest time, and it has only been in my second semester as a Freshman in college that I have actually had a girlfriend. Shyness kept me isolated for much of my life, preventing me from creating meaningful interpersonal relationships throughout high school. To this day my "best friend" has never been to my house. Even today I find faults with myself. My nose is too crooked, or one eye is lower than the other, or I am too critical of others, etc. Ironically, I have even gone so far as to say I am too critical of myself. What I fear most is that I am inadequate in every way imaginable and other people know this but will not tell me. It is this sort of paranoia that disturbs me enough to make poor decisions, though fortunately I have so far manage not to.

In her essay "Honor thy Father and Mother" Nancy Chapin states, "Parents are transmitters of attitudes that the child adopts in forming a self image"(47). Of course it is true that many of our values are formed as children when we are most open to the experiences of the world, so it stands to reason that we would be most influenced by the people we come into contact with the most during this stage, our family being our 'primary group.' If a child is the recipient of care from parents who have much time to spend with them, that child will most likely act in a kind and caring manner. However, if a child lived with parents who were unable to spend time with her or acted violently towards her, she would more than likely become introverted and push away people who attempted to become close to her. In "My Translucent Father" (2002) Katie J. Dubaj portrays how her father slowly removed herself from her family, first by getting a divorce and slowly by not visiting her and later withdrawing child support. In a situation like this the child would more than likely be unsuccessful at relationships, being fearful of abandonment, driving people away from him or her.

Shyness in itself is nearly the antithesis of social interaction as it prevents people from actually interacting with one another, instead relegating them to what they can experience in their own little secluded worlds. As Newman states in his textbook, Sociology: Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life (2002), "The primary theme of sociology is that our every day thoughts and actions are the product of a complex interplay..." (Newman 15). …

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