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Pseudolonewolf
4 years ago

High and Low Reactives 2

◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
Categories: IntroversionPersonality
This is a follow-up to the other post that I wrote yesterday, based on some of the comments that people left, which suggested that I'd not explained things very well.

I talked about "high reactives" and "low reactives"... but several people seemed to assume that 'high reactive' meant 'introvert' and as such the traits I was describing as 'high reactive' were actually introverted traits. I can see how people read it this way, but that's not accurate.
I've checked the book again, and apparently 20% of people are 'high reactive', 40% are 'low reactive', and the remaining 40% fall somewhere in the middle, so it's not a binary thing, and most introverts are not high reactive. I imagine most of you here are in the middle group...

As a high reactive myself, the traits of this type are obvious and recognisable to me, but they also seem irritatingly difficult to actually describe without hinting at other traits that have different causes... Many introverts are 'shy' and averse to too much input and that kind of stuff, but high reactives are more averse to being overwhelmed by input... but this is a very difficult thing to imagine if you're not one of them, because how can you really know how others react internally compared to yourself? How do you know whether you react to things more than average or less? This is a difficult thing to know, especially when you're still in your younger years.

People are high reactive when they have an overactive amygdala, which is the part of the brain that handles input and triggers the flight or fight response. It's the part that makes you duck when a frisbee is flying towards your face (an example that the book used). People with overactive amygdalae are more likely to feel deeply 'jangled' (as the book says) by new experiences, and they're more likely to be anxious, alert, etc rather than calm and relaxed. I can easily imagine my anxiety disorder being caused by an overactive amygdala.
Most people will feel some trepidation when entering into new and unfamiliar situations, though, which is why things like this are difficult to communicate, because I say "high reactives are anxious about new things", and someone who's not a high reactive could easily say "I am anxious about new things!", though they'd not be anxious in the same way or to the same degree... but how can I possibly explain the degree which is characteristic of a high reactive? I don't know.

Several different traits emerge as a result of this hyperactive amgydala, apparently, and the book mentions several. I'm going to skim through the relevant chapter and collect some quotes:

Quote:
The more reactive a child's amygdala, the higher his heart rate is likely to be, the more widely dilated his eyes, the tighter his vocal cords, the more cortisol (a stress hormone) in his saliva - the more jangled he's likely to feel when he confronts something new and stimulating.


Quote:
High- and low-reactivity are probably not the only biological routes to introversion and extroversion. There are plenty of introverts who do not have a the sensitivity of a classic high-reactive, and a small percentage of high-reactives grow up to be extroverts.


Quote:
High-reactive children pay what one psychologist calls "alert attention" to people and things. They literally use more eye movements than others to compare choices before making a decision. It's as if they process more deeply - sometimes consciously, sometimes not - the information they take in about the world.


Quote:
High-reactive kids also tend to think and feel deeply about what they've noticed, and to bring an extra degree of nuance to everyday experiences. This can be expressed in many different ways. If the child is socially oriented, she may spend a lot of time pondering her observations of others - why Jason didn't want to share his toys today, why Mary got so mad at Nicholas when he bumped into her accidentally. If he has a particular interest - in solving puzzles, making art, building sand castles - he'll often concentrate with unusual intensity. If a high-reactive toddler breaks another child's toy by mistake, studies show, she often expeiriences a more intense mix of guilt and sorrow than a lower-reactive child would. All kids notice their environments and feel emotions, of course, but high-reactive kids seem to see and feel things more.
...
"Putting theory into practice is hard for them, ... because their sensitive natures and elaborate schemes are unsuited to the heterogeneous rigours of the schoolyard".


I can easily imagine many people feeling that their own guilt and sorrow is strong and genuine, and their own focus strong, so they'd want to say 'that's me!' to this... but again, it's difficult to really know whether you really match the intensity that's described here. I know I do and manifests as a crippling anxiety disorder and pounding headaches over conflict on this site, the inability to put things out of my mind or 'just ignore them' like some people so easily can, amongst countless other things.

It's also interesting that I can imagine autistic people relating to the particular wording there. I've read things recently that suggest that autism is related to the amygdala in some way, so perhaps there's a link of sorts. Being autistic and being high-reactive aren't the same, though.

Quote:
...high reactivity is associated with physical traits such as blue eyes, allergies, and hay fever, and that high-reactive men are more likely than others to have a thin body and narrow face. Such conclusions are speculative ...

This is an interesting observation that the psychologist studying this reactivity stuff suggested. Obviously it's biased towards white people, but it is interesting that introverts in fiction often have that look about them... and interesting that I myself have a thin build, narrow face and blue eyes. I've always thought that I looked like the archetypical shy, neurotic, wispy nerdy man, and not at all like anything macho, so it's interesting that there' be some actual correlation between body type and temperament.
This doesn't mean that ALL high reactives look that way, of course.

Here's something that I myself try to explain quite often:
Quote:
Psychologists often discuss the difference between "temperament" and "personality". Temperament refers to inborn, biologically based behavioural and emotional patterns that are observable in infancy and early childhood; personality is the complex brew that emerges after cultural influence and personal experience are thrown into the mix. Some say that temperament is the foundation, and personality is the building.
...
One of the most common ways of untangling nature from nurture is to compare the personality traits of identical and fraternal twins. ... if you measure introversion or extroversion levels in pairs of twins and find more correlation in identical twins than in fraternal pairs - which scientists do, in study after study, even of twins raised in separate households - you can reasonably conclude that the trait has some genetic basis.
... studies ... have consistently suggested that introversion and extroversion, like other major personality traits such as agreeableness and conscientiousness, are about 40 to 50 percent heritable.


The author interviews the scientist who did work on the high reactivity stuff, Jerome Kagan:
Quote:
Ironically for a scientist whose books are infused with humanism and who describes himself as having been an anxious, easily frightened boy, I find him downright intimidating. I kick off our interview by asking a background question whose premise he disagrees with. "No, no, no!" he thunders, as if I weren't sitting just across from him.
The high-reactive side of my personality kicks into full gear. I'm always soft-spoken, but now I have to force my voice to come out louder than a whisper. ... I'm aware that I'm holding my torso tensely, one of the telltale signs of the high-reactive. .. he notes that many high-reactives become writers or pick other intellectual vocations where "you're in charge: you close the door, pull down the shades and do your work. You're protected from encountering unexpected things."

This is an excellent description of why I'm doing game development by myself rather than getting a typical job or working with others. I can't handle the new and unexpected situations that might come up, the responsibility, the potential conflict.

Quote:
I mention a little girl I know who is "slow to warm up". She studies new people rather than greeting them; her family goes to the beach every weekend, but it takes her ages to dip a toe into the surf. A classic high-reactive, I remark.
"No!" Kagan exclaims. "Every behaviour has more than one cause. Don't ever forget that! For every child who's slow to warm up, yes, there will be statistically more high-reactives, but you can be slow to warm up because of how you spent the first three and a half yours of your life! ... it's really important that you see, for behaviours like slow-to-warm-up, shyness, impulsivity, there are many routes to that."
He reels off examples of environmental factors that could produce an introverted personality independently of, or in concert with, a reactive nervous system: A child might enjoy having new ideas about the world, say, so she spends a lot of time inside her head. Or health problems might direct a child inward, to what's going on inside his body.
My fear of public speaking might be equally complex. Do I dread it because I'm a high-reactive introvert? Maybe not. Some high-reactives love public speaking and performing, and plenty of extroverts have stage fright


Quote:
...people who inherit certain traits tend to seek out life experiences that reinforce those characteristics. The most low-reactive kids, for example, court danger from the time they're toddlers, so that by the time they grow up they don't bat an eye at grow-up-sized risks.
...
Conversely, high-reactive children may be more likely to develop into artists and writers and scientists and thinkers because their aversion to novelty causes them to spend time inside the familiar - and intellectually fertile - environment of their own heads.
...
On the other hand, there is also a wide range of possible outcomes for each temperament. Low-reactive, extroverted children, if raised by attentive families in safe environments, can grow up to be energetic achievers with big personalities - the Richard Bransons and Oprahs of this world. But give those same children negligent caregivers or a bad neighbourhood, say some psychologists, and they can turn into bullies, juvenile delinquents, or criminals. Lykken has controversially called psychopaths and heroes "twigs on the same genetic branch".


Quote:
Scientists have known for a while that high-reactive temperaments come with risk factors. These kids are especially vulnerable to challenges like marital tension, a parent's death, or abuse. They're more likely than their peers to react to these events with depression, anxiety and shyness. Indeed, about a quarter of Kagan's high-reactive kids suffer from some degree of the condition known as "social anxiety disorder", a chronic and disabling form of shyness.
... these risk factors have an upside. ... High-reactive kids who enjoy good parenting, child care and a stable home environment ... [become] exceedingly empathetic, caring, and cooperative. They work well with others. They are kind, conscientious, and easily disturbed by cruelty, injustice, and irresponsibility.

It's a shame that my poor upbringing didn't allow me to reach my full potential... but I can see a lot of myself in these things. For example, I hate overhearing my parents argue... They don't have angry rows or anything, but they 'bicker' fairly frequently because they can't agree on things, and it makes me literally want to cover my ears when I hear it. The same goes for any overheard conversations; I want to block them out because they bother me so much, as do various things like the sound of eating, too. I literally cover my ears and feel panicky and stressed when overhearing these things, and had a panic attack once, only a year or two ago, when my parents were bickering over the top of my head about some minor thing...
I don't kill insects, and from as early an age as I can remember, I never did. I find it horrible that other people would so casually kill other living creatures, and only a few days ago, I literally got teary when an insect flew at me while I was in the shower and got hit by the water and washed down the drain...
I even understand what it means by 'they work well with others'. It doesn't mean that they love seeking out others to work with; it means that when they work with others, they're likely to be attentive, fair, considerate and involved, rather than apathetic, harsh, or to spend their time messing around or arguing. If put into groups, I would do my best to contribute kindly and well and to make myself valuable, even if I don't normally prefer to be in groups at all due to anxiety.

Anyway, I could talk about this all day and quote even bigger chunks of the book, but if you're interested further, it's called Quiet: The Power of Introverts, by Susan Cain. I have it on the Kindle that I have (so convenient, that!), which is probably the only reason I bothered to get it in the first place... but I consider it a very worthwhile investment because it teaches me so much about myself and others!

Anyway, mainly I just wanted to attempt to explain the difference between 'introversion' and 'high reactivity' here, so hopefully I've made that clearer at least somewhat.

Oh, another thing I wanted to mention is how a lot of people don't understand what 'introverted' and 'extroverted' actually mean.
I've linked to this image before, perhaps, but I find it very useful and accurate: ∞ LINK ∞
Being shy, quiet and misanthropic is not being introverted. Introverts can express themselves and be silly as openly as anyone, especially amongst close friends; they just spend energy from external interaction - usually social, but not necessarily - while extroverts gain energy from it. So introverts would attend parties... but would prefer to leave earlier, or would prefer to talk deeply with a small number of people, or just one, rather than going around talking inanely with everyone present.
The way that some people speak of it, they seem to think that even uttering a peep is 'being extroverted', or being quiet and reflective for even a moment is 'being introverted'. These two words should best be used to describe overall trends and preferences.

One final thing that I want to comment on is how people spoke of how, during their childhood, they'd get teased and would cry and get hurt and so on. Most children are like this, and it doesn't suggest anything one way or the other. If you 'toughen up' into an apathetic teenager, then you're most likely not a high reactive... though perhaps you're in the middle group that doesn't tend to either extreme.
27 Comments

on 18 Roots

27 Comments

Greensburg
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What is, exactly, a "Full Potential"? Such thing seems unrealistic to me. To achieve one's full potential it'd be mandatory to use your whole life as an instrument to achieve greatness. And the required willpower and determination for that task is nigh-impossible to attain. If you think about it, we're always a lot of steps behind what we could've been.
It's easy to fall prey to this argument, however in reality it's just another of the many excuses we set in front of us. All of the truly-fascinating people that have lived were, without a doubt, mostly introverted, regardless of their upbringing.
In the end, what I find matters most is to be able to rely on oneself, rather than others. That means shedding off any trace of doubt and working hard for your own set goals (I lie and delude myself constantly to avoid my obligations, and it feels pretty bad in the long run, but realizing it I believe is the first step). Let's face it, we don't really care that much about social behavior at this point, so it's better to focus on what's important.
LightburneR
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Personally, I think I'm a High-reactive Introvert, although I'm not entirely sure if I am indeed High-reactive, because I have a tendency to be rather thick-skinned. Perhaps through nurture maybe. People tend to tell me I am soft-spoken, and I usually cannot tolerate noise and will lose my temper.

I do think I show most of the signs of High-reactive people. I am able to "sense" the mood of others, but I am also apathetic and detached, both internally and externally, most of the time. (Readas: I know what others are feeling, but usually do not want to expend the time/energy/effort to care)

Perhaps the causes are similar, but I think it is rather interesting that a similar trait can result in different personalities.
Pseudolonewolf
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Since the defining characteristics of a high-reactive seem to be their thin-skinnedness and their 'caring too much' while others are apathetic, what you describe doesn't to me sound like a high-reactive...

People are soft-spoken for all kinds of reasons, and I wouldn't regard that as a sign of high-reactivity. Losing your temper over noise sounds more irate than high-reactive; I for example would sooner cover my ears or burst into tears than 'lose my temper', crushed by the pressure of stimuli rather than raging out at others. It's also worth noting that introverts in general are more sensitive to noise than extroverts without necessarily being high-reactive.

Being aware of the moods of others appears to be a trait of the F type in Myers-Briggs, so that'd explain that.

As with everything, there are a multitude of different paths to the same results... and it seems that in your case, different paths may have led to traits which are similar to high-reactive ones, without the defining hyper-sensitivity that makes one high-reactive.
LightburneR
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I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding, but from the way you've described high-reactivity and low-reactivity, I was under the impression that high-reactive person would have a higher sensitivity to their surroundings as compared to low-reactive people.

Oddly, I am more sensitive to visual, aural and gustatory stimuli and less sensitive to tactile and olfactory ones. (although my poorer sense of smell may be due to the fact that my nose is blocked half the time) I can usually hear sounds more acutely than others, and see things further. (which I am supposing to be traits associated with high-reactives) I dislike any kind of "strong" tasting/smelling foods and I hate camera flashes.

However, I do have a higher tolerance to pain, in particular. I'm not sure if I'm misreading what you've written or misunderstanding myself.

Also, to clarify, I would lose my temper after extended periods of unnecessary noise when I am trying to focus. (Unnecessary noise = people screaming/shouting/talking loudly during a test, in a library or other study area; I am a student, yes)
Random person
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I must confess that when I first read this, I had some doubts about the usefulness of the theory. That is, although it seemed sound and accurate, is was also somewhat small compared to the temperaments and MBTI. But then I remembered about this: ∞ Fig Hunter ∞ . From that point things would begin to really make sense. Or, it'd be more accurate to say that I became really interested.

High-reactive people apparently show the characteristics you've associated with neuroticism while low-reactive people are the stable ones. Which is perfectly rational. How it's all linked is quite obvious, so I'd like to ramble about some other stuff, namely, about how introversion/extroversion and reactivity level are linked.

The two factors affect the same process in different ways. While reactivity level is, as you've put it, the passage for the fluid, the intro- or extroversion is the reservoir. Scientifically speaking the latter is one's tolerance to dopamine, while the former is the rate at which it's generated.
To whom it may concern, introverts are very sensitive to dopamine level , so they can only take so much social interactions, while extroverts on the other hand need a lot of the stuff to get stuffed full.
As I've said before, the reactivity level determined the rate at which dopamine is generated. It's not the only difference, mind, but the only relevant one. High-reactive people are touched more deeply by different events and experiences, so various hormones, in this specific situation, dopamine, are generated in large amounts. Low-reactive people need a lot of stimuli in order to start generating dopamine, which is why they're more durable. This part was quire simple and more or less obvious.

The way these two aspects cooperate is actually very important. A high-reactive introvert needs little stimuli, but receives a lot of it, which is why they're extremely reluctant to take part of any social interactions. Even dealing with a group of two dozen people is exhausting to them. This is your stereotypical loner. A low-reactive introvert doesn't receive as much stimuli, so they are, in a way, less introverted than high-reactive ones. Social interactions come much more easily to them, and under certain circumstances (such as a small, pleasant company) they can, in fact, gain some energy from talking to people. I should probably mention it now that dopamine causes everyone to feel more happy, as long as the dosage is right. Too much is... Well, too much.

The typical extroverts are the low-reactive ones. With good tolerance to dopamine and a need for abundant stimuli, they're often found in the center of attention. How rough'n'tough they are is another question, not fully dependent on reactivity level. Extroverts with stage fright are, obviously, the high reactive ones. Despite having good tolerance, they receive a lot of stimuli and will feel uncomfortable after a while. It may seem like they're not quite as extroverted, but it's not really the case. They wish for social interactions just as much, but they can't take it to no end.

Some people have suggested that it'd be possible to choose one's reactivity level just as we choose our temperaments and MBTI. But I don't really see it as a necessity. Reactivity and intro-/extroversion can be easily linked to the temperaments.
- low-reactive, extrovert.
- low-reactive, introvert.
- high-reactive, introvert.
- high-reactive, extrovert.
In the blends, the main temperament takes on the leading role, while the sub-temperament is in the background. It's all quite easy to calculate. Sure, the data is approximate, but it's sufficiently accurate to be used as guideline. Example: is a near-extreme introvert, not extremely high-reactive. is not-extreme extrovert, but near-extremely high-reactive. And so on.

Another topic I'd like to address is the possibility of changing reactivity level and, as such, also one's temperament. Surely, it's largely a foundation of one's personality; it's mostly subconscious, and does not just change out of the blue. However, I'm most confident that one's reactivity level can change, under certain circumstances. People with a sensitive amygdala cannot possibly take too much stimulation, especially introverted ones. If subject to constant strong stimulation, they'll eventually become more thick-skinned, even if against their own better judgment. At some point is becomes a matter of retaining one's sanity. RockDrake24's comment illustrates my point perfectly. No part of one's personality is unchangeable. It's only a matter of stimuli.

Oh, and one more thought to consider: when choosing members for the introvert site, you've mostly looked for high-reactive people, but not just introverts. It's perfectly natural that you'd do so, seeing as reactivity level is actually more important when it comes to getting along with people. It makes me wonder though, how do high-reactive intro- and extroverts get along? They are (almost) equally sensitive and empathetic, after all.
I, being a low-reactive introvert, find myself quite comfortable with medium-to-low reactive extroverts, while dealing with other introverts can be difficult. It's just that introverts aren't very good at starting and maintaining conversations. Talking to an extroverted person can be easier, unless they rub me the wrong way.
With S.A.D. out of the equation, I dare assume that high-reactive introverts would seek the company of a high-reactive extrovert to provide the needed stimuli. S.A.D., of course, changes things entirely as the optimal level of stimuli is extremely low. It's still an interesting topic to think about though.

But, uh, I think this post is just about long enough now. Peace.
Pseudolonewolf
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You seem to speak with such certainty as if stating facts, but I don't know where you are getting this information from...

Seeing reactivity as the rate at which dopamine, etc accumulate, and introversion/extroversion as the limit is a rather good and probably accurate way of looking at it, so that's interesting.

But I don't think there's any connection between the four temperaments thing and high/low reactivity... There probably is some connection between neuroticism and high reactivity - or they're the same thing, maybe - but I wouldn't call or 'high reactive', or 'low reactive'. I can see more of a link between and low reactivity, but even then it's not certain... My understanding of and doesn't fit with being high reactive or being low reactive, though. are usually laid back and not worriers, and many high reactive types would be part because of all the timidity and gentleness and stuff.
As a high reactive myself, I probably wrote the and definitions on my own temperaments page thing through a high reactive lens, not understanding that I am only a specific kind of ... I'm as high reactive as you can get, probably, which is why I've got a crippling social anxiety disorder and have panic attacks, and I'm also , but there seem to be many people here who aren't nearly as neurotic/high-reactive as I am.
It's an interesting link to make, but I don't think it's a valid one... which is a shame, because I usually really like neat patterns like that. It's more likely that high reactivity is yet another of the myriad facets that make up a person's nature, rather than a part of these four temperaments or MBTI or whatever.

I mentioned before that people can 'tame their amygdala', so to speak. Through repeated exposure, they can get to a point where they're able to control it and avoid the worst of their shyness, anxiety, or whatever else. But as I've learned from doing social anxiety therapy, and other things, there are times where people regress back into these old worries and lose control of their amygdala again. They're fighting a constant battle, and while they get better at winning over time, they'll always be fighting it, and the amygdala itself won't magically change, because it's a physical structure of the brain. The social anxiety therapy is about managing anxiety rather than removing anxiety, and that's what these things are generally like... Learning to control your basic nature, rather than acquiring a new nature.
The author of the book that I've been mentioning talks about how she no longer fears public speaking in the way that she used to, but always gets anxious before she has to do it, and has to control herself using things that she's learned over the years. Sometimes she just doesn't feel up to it at all. My... therapist... (I hate being the sort of person who has a therapist), who used to have social anxiety problems herself, mentioned that she has mostly overcome them, but she's still shy and awkward and has fallen back into old fears and worries occasionally because they never truly go away.

There's something called the 'rubber band theory of personality', which says that we can certainly stretch our personalities, but there are limits, and they'll always snap back eventually. Or something like that. I think that's fairly accurate.
RockDrake24
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RockDrake24 34 United States PhlegmaticMelancholic INTP 9w1 57C
I read up a bit on Kagan... I found a paper of his, probably where Cain got a lot of her information. Luckily, it was available to be viewed online (one of the things I hate the most about academic papers is that they are often not available online unless you're logged in through a proxy server of a University that pays to subscribe to academic paper repositories). Here's the link to the pdf version of his case study (as a side note for those that may not want to take the time to read the link, I found the small number of participants in the trial to be a big problem in actually seeing it as a consensus of what's going on... only 462 children in the initial sample [at 4 months old] and only 164 for the final examination at 7.5 years old... Course... the reason I see it as a big problem, I was lucky enough to take an Honors biology class at Uni [despite the fact that I wasn't qualified to take an Honors class, it was the only one that fit my schedule... I got a B in the class] and one of the things that the professor made sure to point out was that the number of test subjects often doesn't give enough conclusive evidence because it usually only examines a very small portion of the actual population [consequently, it's most likely why most scientists view psychology as a pseudo-science, that is to say not an actual science... something about not being able to control every single possible factor when performing the scientific method to evaluate the information gathered]). ∞ LINK ∞
I found another here, too. ∞ LINK ∞

I kept having trouble accepting the information you presented (which is why I decided to look up some of Kagan's studies). I noticed something about the way he mentioned High-reacitivity and Low-reactivity. He only mentioned it when it was tied to the participants' "4 months old" examination. He kept mentioning it in the past tense. He then goes on to reference the participants in the 4.5 year old examinations on an Uninhibited/inhibited libra (best term I could think of... a better might be counter balance, maybe?).

I don't think we can really look at the defintion of High-reactivity and Low-reactivity that Kagan uses with how we are now. It's something that, at least from my understanding of his words, is something that is really only applicable to the very early stages of our developement. So to say, as an adult, "I'm high-reactive," or, "I'm low-reactive," does a disservice to the research performed. In fact, Kagan's research suggests that, even among the high-reactives, only 18% actually showed a greater amount of fears in the tests run at 14 and 21 months, were considered "inhibited" at 4.5 years and displayed anxiety symptoms at 7.5 years (1st link, 1538). He goes on to say that "most of the high-reactive infants developed a profile in the average range" (1st link, 1538). What I'm taking this quote to mean, is that most high-reactive children developed into what would be considered a Medium-reactive, though Kagan doesn't call them that, as he really only uses that type of term when referencing the subjects when they were infants. It also leads me to believe that the idea of high/low/medium-reactivity can't really be applied to people when looking at them just as they are as adults.

It's interesting that a lot of people have said they are high-reactive or low-reactive. Even myself in an earlier post... I've come to realize through the reading of Kagan's stuff that, I was most likely a high-reactive infant (I moved around a lot in reaction to sounds and lights as well as kept my parents up late at night often... was easily woken). I just got lucky through good parenting, child care and a stable family life (which you quoted from Cain who quoted from Kagan) to develop into the average range of anxiety management and uninhibition/inhibition. In other words, I don't think it's really as simple as just saying, "yeah, I'm a high/low-reactive." I think it's merely a foundation... with other things further formulating us into individuals.
Tama Yoshi
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Tama Yoshi 23 Canada PhlegmaticCholeric INTJ 513 472C
You made it rather clear that High-Reactives does not make introverts. But all you've said (that I recall) was about how high-reactives are even MORE introverted in general than introverts. That does not make a lot of sense to me. I understand that most high-reactive people are introverted, but can hardly picture an extroverted high-sensitive, since so far you've described those mostly as opposites... Like this:

'An introverted person might leave to the party, rather than not going to at all'. It doesn't feel like the latter has any room for extroversion... Thusly I was wondering what an Ex-Hi would be like.

I could speculate further about it, but since my knowledge is very poor on the topic, I would probably sound silly...
SMCW
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About your "Energy System", it has some exceptions that I found. When I talk and interact with my best friend, I gain energy rather than lose it. I always get tired from parties and big social interactions, and that's also a very important energy source to me.
Pseudolonewolf
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It's not *my* 'energy system'; it's a common definition of what it means to be introverted. Most introverts will prefer and enjoy deep or familiar conversation with a small number of people - often one-on-one - and will dislike making loads of shallow, inane conversation with people that they don't really know or like.
The Crimson Sun
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Hmm...
After reading the first post I just assumed that I fall somewhere in the middle band of people that you described (neither high nor low reactive), but after reading this I am not so sure.

I'm essentially a classic introvert. I prefer to spend most of my time alone, playing video games, or reading, or creating worlds inside my own head. I have four good friends who I readily enjoy spending time with (although it is always they who contact me, rather than the other way around), and the rest of the people I know are either people who currently go to my uni, or people who went to the same primary or secondary school as me, and who I no longer see very often, if at all. I score 100% I on the MBTI as well, if that's any indication. Again, I hadn't really considered that I might be a high-reactive, but a couple of things that you said resonated with me.

For one, I also don't have a 'real job'. A typical retail job - standing behind a counter in a shop - would be a nightmare for me. I'd probably spend the whole time staring at the door, dreading the moment when the next customer steps through it. I don't even like buying things over a counter, because it requires a brief interaction with a complete stranger. My current job (which I've had for the past five years) is essentially delivering junk mail to letterboxes in an area nearby my house. Despite the low pay, I haven't bothered to get a new, better job because this one requires so little interaction with other people. My dream job (though admittedly one I'm not as committed to as I'd like to be) would be writing, for the reason that I'd rarely have to interact with people in person. Obviously there are other reasons, such as the fact I enjoy it immensely, but you get the idea.

I also find parties to be quite overwhelming at times. I dislike the idea of mingling, but at the same time I'm aware that the people I'd prefer to spend the entire evening with might like to mingle themselves, and it would be unfair for me to prevent them from doing so. Which usually results in me standing silently by myself, in some out of the way corner. Of course, being the introvert I am, that doesn't overly bother me, apart from the realisation that I could do the same thing without having to leave the comfort of my own house.

I recently attended a party, however, where I felt physically overwhelmed. It was raining, so there were at least 20 or 30 people crammed into this one room, and as a result it was both loud, and uncomfortably warm. I had to go outside a couple of times just to get away from it all.

Anyway, I still doubt that I'm high-reactive, but I just thought I'd mention some of my personal experiences. That's all from me.
Pseudolonewolf
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This sort of thing sounds more typical of general introversion than high reactivity specifically; many (most?) introverts would be averse to having to interact with loads of strangers through their job (especially if they're not used to it), or to loud and stifling parties and stuff like that. High reactivity would perhaps lead to those things in some cases, but those things by themselves don't suggest high reactivity specifically. It's like the scientist's reaction to the example of the girl who's 'slow to warm up'; even something like that isn't necessarily a clear sign of high reactivity.
I'm not saying that you're not high reactive... just that it's not possible to tell from what you've said. High reactivity is a sensitivity to everything, not just specific social encounters or exceptionally loud parties. Every little noise would set them on edge, and things like that.
drak68
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drak68 25 Canada PhlegmaticCholeric INTJ 5C
Huh, Its weird because I get complete extremes from both low and high reactivity, which could explain my pretty much messed up personality.

I know that as a high reactive I got very strong morals and a pretty serious introversion. Talking doesn't come naturally and I do feel uncomfortable doing just small talk as I enjoy deep talking a lot more. I care a lot about other people's thoughts and I'm pretty sure I'm an artist type of guy. I also seem to spend a lot of energy going to parties and such, and I can't do more than 2 activities straight else I start to act crazy and need to get into a familiar place. I like to think things through in most situations as well and try not do any brash decisions.

Although, I think I have pretty much all the physical perks of a low reactive. I am really thick skinned and I hardly feel pain unless its on a really sensitive area, though I'm really sensitive of sounds and I usually prefer to turn down the volume a lot more than "normal" people. I don't have any allergies or health problems at all and I don't think I'm frail or anything. I also got a really laid back attitude and I only seem to feel stress when I'm having introversion issues or when I'm scared of something which is pretty much just heights and stuff that is made to be scary. (Amnesia : The Dark Descent kind of things) I also got a strong, aggressive reaction when it comes to taking action on a fight or anything out of the usual that is going on.

I uh... also beat up my OLDER brother when I was much younger when he said mean things to me... which is clearly wrong o.O

I'll be honest, this confuses the hell out of me D: I have no idea if I'm more Low or High reactive and I feel like something very wrong happened at my birth or something.
Pseudolonewolf
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This does not sound like a high reactive; you may have misunderstood the concept (which is understandable since I've only been pasting fragments from the book, which aren't much to go on).
Having 'strong morals' is not a sign of high reactivity, and it could come in all kinds of different forms with different paths leading up to it. Compare a strong, tough Paladin who Fights For Good And Justice, and a frail shaky young boy who cries when an insect dies because he feels deeply for it. The former is more what I'd picture for 'strong morals' - a conscious, firm view of what's Right and Wrong - while the latter is more suggestive of high reactivity - being sensitive to the world around him and deeply and palpably moved by it.

It helps if you read 'high reactive' as 'sensitive' or 'fragile' instead, as that's what they are. Things affect them more, hurt them more; what others shrug off, they take to heart and dwell on forever. They literally do feel more physical pain when pricked, because of how their nervous system is wired. They salivate more when lemon juice is put on their tongue, too. They are quick to panic and worry because of how readily the fight or flight response (mainly flight) is triggered.

Being introverted is not a sign of high reactivity, or vice versa. Maybe around half of all people are introverted, but only 20% are high reactive, so most introverts - who have all the traits of preferring to be alone, etc - are not high reactive.
Like the example of the little girl who's 'slow to warm up', many different paths can lead to the same result. Compare spending time alone and avoiding others because they're 'not worth your time', and avoiding others because you get physical headaches and panic attacks from the anxiety of being around them. Both are the same result - avoiding others - but approached from very different paths.

You sound more like a low reactive if anything, or that middle group who doesn't fall at either extreme end. High reactives are brittle glass sculptures, low reactives are hardy leather footballs.
drak68
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drak68 25 Canada PhlegmaticCholeric INTJ 5C
Oh well that does explains it a bit better now. I guess I'm more of a low reactive than a high reactive if anything. Its still a bit weird though because when I was young I did have strong feelings for the simplest of things (I cried over a broken pencil once) but I seem to have washed this away since. Maybe its actually possible to change from High to Low reactive while aging, or maybe I just had mental conditions when I was young I don't actually know. Anyway thanks for clearing this up.
ThinkDeep
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As a general comment on the last two posts, since I read them at once, this is very interesting. That book is now on my "to read" list, which means, if my current pace holds up, I'll get to it sometime during retirement.

It was interesting, and also reassuring, to see them talk about the multiple explanations for the same behaviours and attitudes. My first instinct upon reading the previous post was that I was clearly a high-reactive person. However, upon reading this post, as well as further contemplation, I find that I'm really not sure. (Which is different from being in the middle, though my best guess without further research is that is probably where I fall.)

Either way, thank you for posting this. It gives me something new to think about.
PyroLoneOwl
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PyroLoneOwl 18 Philippines PhlegmaticMelancholic INTP 613 18C
Being departed from this site for 4 days, I've been welcomed by the most interesting post of all.

It's simply fascinating talking about this 'Low-reactivity' and 'High-reactivity' business, it's like understanding the nature of others, on why and how they turned into what they are now. I was rather confused at first by reading the first part of "High and Low Reactives", but you made it clearer than before on the proceeding. one.

Thank you for sharing this insight of Introversion and Extroversion to us. I might plan to search for that book and buy it, so I can read it myself, but that might be a challenge.
RockDrake24
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RockDrake24 34 United States PhlegmaticMelancholic INTP 9w1 57C
I don't think High and Low reactivity is something that one continues to stick with. That is to say, I don't think that it is static. I think that it is malleable. It's something that can change. Growing up, I was a very sensitive kid. I remember being teased because of the shape of my ears and how they resembled that of an elf. I still hold a bit of a grudge against the girl who did such... and that's been over twenty years now. I also remember being a child who cried every time an insult or injury stung too much which was quite often. I remember being that way until I was fourteen.

What changed me was a few words of wisdom from a video game. Yes, a video game... by the name of Lufia II. As the very beginning Maxim, the hero, tells his love Tia not to cry after she had been harrassed by a pack of slimes. He said, "save your tears for those who matter." That line stuck with me, and it changed me. I knew I shouldn't cry over every little thing, because I knew that that wouldn't resolve anything. That wouldn't change the aggressors, because you can't expect anything to change if you don't put effort into changing it. Change is a two-way street. From that moment on, I no longer cried from being stung by an insult. I wouldn't give my abusers the satisfaction. They didn't matter and I promised myself my tears would only be shed for that that mattered. And... I did not shed a tear again for negative things that affected only me... not even two years later when I found out that I had Non-Hodgkin's B-Cell Lymphoma. That was the other thing that strengthened me.

Not many know right off the bat what Pericardiocentesis is. It's a procedure in which they stick a needle through your chest in order to drain the excessive build-up of fluid from the sac that surrounds your heart. Usually, they put you under for the procedure, because it is incredibly painful. What happens when you're a high-reactive and the procedure is performed? You end up being roused from your anesthetic slumber and feeling as the needle moves around in your chest and with each heartbeat you feel the extra pressure that instrument causes. It, in turn, speeds up your heartbeat, because your brain activates the fight-or-flight response and you know that the foreign object sitting in your chest isn't suppose to be there. So, you become increasingly paranoid as your body is telling you the object is too close to your heart and that you need to escape or you'll die because it is irrationally telling you that the intent of the object is to get to your heart.

Now, imagine this not happening once... but twice. Imagine it happening again when a spinal tap is being performed. Imagine waking up in the middle of a procedure that requires you to stay absolutely still for risk of paralysis. Imagine waking up to find that the anesthetic has worn off before they've even had a chance to completely drill through the cartilage between your vertebrae. Imagine the unbearable need to flinch away from the pain but knowing that you can't because it might cause even more damage that will most likely be irreparable. Imagine having to sit there for what seems like hours, but is, in fact, only a matter of minutes as you have to wait for the spinal fluid to slowly drip out of the drainage needle that's been screwed into your cartilage in order to fill the tube meant to hold it.

This is how I escaped the negative side of my high-reactivity during my formative years. I was forced to change by nature itself. I needed to be strong emotionally for my own well-being. I needed to be strong for my parents who had to witness me wither away to a wispy 80 pounds at the age of 16 when my average weight leading up to the chemo-therapy was 120. I learned that no one could truly help me, but myself. I learned that nature is, in and of itself, a cruel, cruel mistress. Because of that, I was highly-reactive to key pieces of advice which I knew would help me. I learned to stop crying because of a video game. I learned from a movie that bullies are less likely to continue to pick on you if they don't get the reaction they want (actually worked, too. Stopped showing I cared and they stopped picking on me). I learned, from all the procedures that I had to suffer during my cancer treatment, how to suppress physical pain by drawing on certain chemical changes in the body that the fight or flight response causes.

Most importantly, though, I learned that changing a part of me did NOT mean changing all of me. I still get chills of excitement when the hero of a movie narrowly survives and comes back to beat the villain. I still find myself tearing up and shedding tears when Korbin convinces Leeloo that the human race is worth saving with a kiss and the words, "I love you," or when Professor McGonagall brings the Hogwarts knight statues to life and tells them to defend the school, or when Alfred takes his seat at the Vienna cafe only to see on the other side of the foyer Bruce Wayne sitting across the table from Selina Kyle knowing (through a brief monologue by Albert earlier in the movie) that that was one of Alfred's deepest wishes. I even still find myself enthralled to the point of suspension when particular songs start playing (the strongest currently being "Under the Stars" by Morning Parade).

Which also bring up the idea of what is "sensitivity?" From what I've read of your remarks in your posts and some of the comments, it seems to me that a lot of people here view "sensitivity" in a negative way. But, with reference to what you said yesterday about sensitivity of skin of high reactives, pain is not the only thing that has more of an effect, so do pleasurable things like a cool breeze in hot weather, a first kiss, the first time they make love. The same with feelings. They're more joyous in joyful situations, more excited to see their favorite movie actor or hear their favorite band. I know you know this, but you tend to concentrate on the negative aspects. In that respect, being overwhelmed is also not necessarily a bad thing. Being overwhelmed with happiness to the point that it makes you cry. Or being so overwhelmed by a documentary on the tragic lives of African children that you find yourself moved to volunteer for the Peace Corps. Or, even, being so overwhelmed by the sound and groove of a song that it makes you dance in front of everyone despite your fear of being judged a "bad dancer" or even being judged for that matter. Sensitivity and being overwhelmed are not associated ONLY with negative effects upon the high reactive's being, they are also associated with the positive.

You'll probably say that I'm not a high-reactive. And you're right. I'm not... anymore. I've become ambiguous. I've learned to stiffle and ignore the negative stuff that affects only me while embracing the positive and letting that overwhelm me.

I was a lucky child. I was one of those that had good parenting, child care and a stable family life. And, because of this, I think the "works well with others" is more than just being willing to "do your part" in a group. I think it's someone who can see their own weaknesses and quickly find the weaknesses in others, while at the same time finds (just as quickly) the strengths of themselves and the rest of the group. And, possessed with that knowledge, how to best manage the group (albeit in a more shadow contributor sort of way... that is to say they're the ones who whisper the good ideas into the ears of those more willing and accustomed to being the leader). I see the "[becoming] exceedingly empathetic, caring, and cooperative" as being the ones who end up caring more about others than they do themselves.

In that same respect, I can see how your high-reactivity contributed to your Social Anxiety Disorder. Mind, though, that I only think it is a contributing factor. Not the actual cause of your anxiety disorder. I think that title belongs to your parents' arguing and older brother. The over-stimulation burnt you out and unfortunately you didn't have anything substantial to fall back on or that offered proper respite. This burn out led you to develop the S.A.D. Which in turn, probably lends itself to your lack of desire to change... desiring more to maintain the status quo.

Oh, and the quote about body type. You may need to add more. From what you've put there, the phrase "Such conclusions are speculative..." does not infer that there is a correlation, only that there MIGHT be a correlation. Your summary afterwards infers that there is, in fact, a correlation, and the quote doesn't do enough to substantiate that inference.