Shyness, Stigma, and Self-Stigma

In this post I want to talk about shyness. You may not have known, but shyness is a disease, at least according to the criteria defined by the "Bible" of the mental problems: the DSM.

(Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)

Like any mental illness, shyness causes stigma on the part of society, and self-stigma of the shy towards oneself.


As for my mental problems, I think 5% of my problems were due to real problems and the remaining 95% to self-stigma.


As I recall, my shyness started like this: my parents made the terrible mistake (but I don’t blame them) of teaching me to read on my own so I could jump straight from compulsory kindergarten to second grade.


This is how I found myself with mostly foreign children and not with the friends I knew from kindergarten. In addition (and this is the 5% I talked about earlier as real problems), I probably suffered (and I suffer from it to this day) from what is called: ADHD (when I am in the company of several people, it is very difficult, almost impossible, to keep track of their conversation and actions). Over the years, I learned how to live with it. But when I was six, I wouldn’t get into games of all those kids who were a year older than me (and a year at that age, that’s a lot).


I as a result would not talk to them. In response, the children would rebuke me, and despise me. (stigma). In response, I would innocently conclude: "If people say that I'm not normal, then I'm probably not normal!" (Self-stigma). To correct that, I would try to imitate them in order to look like "one of the guys". The trouble is that when trying to imitate the others, instead of accepting yourself and not being ashamed of being you, you become even more ridiculous in the eyes of others. As I said: it is a vicious circle: stigma on the part of society (prejudice, if we use a simpler word) causes self-stigma (self-hatred) to the one giving himself the label of "mentally ill." The mental patient is part of society, and as such he also has a stigma (prejudice) about the mentally ill in general. And in particular, about himself that it becomes self-hatred.


This was accompanied, (because they arose) by problems of depression and anxiety.


Regarding shyness, it is not true in my opinion what the "experts" say and is that there are communicative people and those who are not. Or rather: it is true and false. It is true that the shy is not communicative, but it is not true because he is not fundamentally different from the others, contrary to what others think of him and that he in response thinks of himself.


Being communicative is something you learn, and it is something my friends have learned that unlike me, they would share their experiences, talk to and about their friends, and not be ashamed to ask questions when encountering communication problems. My trouble, is that I had almost no friends, and I tried on my own to solve my own problems. Like I said to my therapist: You can't invent the wheel alone, it's too hard!


The problem only got worse when I immigrated to Israel and had to deal with learning a new language, and then with enlistment in the army, which is a difficult social environment, and when I immigrated to France, where I lived without friends and almost no family. I found false reasons to my situation.


There are those who make even more mistakes when they choose "solutions" like drugs, alcohol and the final solution: suicide.


For years I asked myself this question: "How to be a part of society?". Until one day, I told myself: "What kind of stupid question is this: "How to be part of society? "You are part of society, by definition! I progressed a lot the day I realized that the others, who I was so afraid of, are people just like me !


They too have their 5% real problems. Although their 5% is different from my 5%.


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Below is a quote from Aldous Huxley, which was reported by an Internet user, and my reaction to this quote. There is only one part of the universe that we can definitely change: ourselves. Aldous Huxl