02 June 2008

Leave us quiet types alone

Two articles in today's newspapers tickled my funny bone.

People who bottle up may fare better after trauma:

Researchers at the University of Buffalo interviewed people on how they dealt with a large-scale traumatic event. They found those who didn't express their feelings were better off than the subjects who articulated their thoughts and expressed emotions... [This] contradict[s] the popular view of many psychologists, that venting after a trauma is critical in coping with the event.

The authors caution that the study in no way suggests all people should suppress their emotions after a stressful event... Instead, they emphasize that the findings point more to the absence of a need to force traumatized people to open up, when in fact their silence can be just as beneficial.

"If the assumption about the necessity of expression is correct — that failing to express one's feelings indicates some harmful repression or other pathology — then people who chose not to express should have been more likely to experience negative mental and physical health symptoms over time, the researchers point out.

"However, we found exactly the opposite," Mark Seery, lead author of the study, said.

Oh dear! Might this not throw a monkey wrench into the designs of "grief counsellors" who gather like locusts at crisis events?

I've an objection to group therapy too and similar warm fuzzy solutions. They assume that every one of us is a people person. But approximately half the population are introverts. Forcing upon us interventions which more often than not have been designed for extroverts - extroverts are more likely to volunteer for studies - can in fact do us harm.

Then there's this story, Busybodies should let old folks alone:

The latest bit of nonsense to issue from busybodies who think it's their business to find out what makes us tick comes from the Harvard School of Public Health.

It claims to have discovered that people who talk to other people are less likely to forget things than those who don't have the opportunity, or feel the need, to interact with other people.

We didn't have to wait to be told that the guinea pigs in this pointless exercise were old folks.

Big deal. If you talk to plants in the garden as I do frequently, they don't take umbrage if you forget their names. If you take your dog for a walk on the beach it doesn't matter if you call a stick a ball or vice versa, it'll chase it anyway if you throw the thing.

Even when my mind was as hale and hearty as my body has remained apparently ... I've had no urge to make small talk with strangers and no wish for a detailed answer to a polite "how do you do."

Couldn't have said it better myself. We're not all in-your-face, love-to-party, gotta-share-my-pain, A types!

Overall, I'd say it's been a good day for the other half of the human race.

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