An article published on January 10, 2018 in The American Journal of Psychiatry discusses the potential for science to improve our understanding of our own minds, and the implications for our relationships with others.
The article examines whether people with schizophrenia have a heightened ability to “rethink” their thoughts, as well as how that might affect relationships with other people and society.
“We’re often told that people with mental illnesses like schizophrenia are prone to irrational behavior, but in fact, there are some clear scientific findings to support that,” the authors write.
“Many people have difficulty making decisions in situations like these, but it’s also possible that having a high level of introversion or extraversion makes you more likely to make rational decisions, or even to think more deeply about the implications of your actions.”
A recent study by University of Southern California psychologists found that those who reported higher levels of introverted thinking tended to be less likely to be “judgmental” or “self-critical” about their own mental health and behavior, and to be more supportive of others.
They also were more likely than introverts to experience a sense of “a sense of belonging” and a sense that their health is important, which is in line with the authors’ research.
In a separate study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers at Johns Hopkins University compared people with and without schizophrenia to controls and found that both groups showed a strong “overwhelmingly positive” feeling about their mental health, compared to the general population.
But the results of the Johns Hopkins study were also striking when it came to relationships.
Those who were diagnosed with schizophrenia were found to be significantly more likely “to have more extroverted partners” in their romantic relationships, with people who had a high amount of introvert thinking (with people who were more introverted being more likely) than those with a low amount of extroversion (with introverts being more prone to being extroverts).
Researchers suggest that introversion and extraversion may be at play when it comes to our relationships.
In this way, “the relationship is driven by the ability of one to process information from another person,” writes the authors.
Introversion, extrovert, and other personality traits have been associated with a number of mental health conditions, including schizophrenia.
And a number research studies have suggested that individuals with schizophrenia may have difficulty forming healthy romantic relationships.
However, in some instances, these relationships may not be so healthy, or may have been damaged, and this may affect the development of these relationships.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing difficulty forming a healthy relationship with someone, seek professional help.
“People with schizophrenia often have difficulty establishing healthy romantic partners,” writes Dr. Christopher Eriksen, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, in a statement.
“The problem may be that they lack the ability to process complex information in the way that is needed to establish healthy relationships.
It may be difficult to identify and connect with partners, or to feel comfortable and accepted in their relationships.
And these relationships can be unhealthy.”
For example, it’s possible that people who have an introverted personality type may have trouble establishing healthy relationships because they may be more resistant to forming healthy attachments, according to Dr. Erikson.
The study also found that introverted people with a higher introversion were also more likely in their relationship to have more depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
And the more introverts they were, the more likely they were to experience depression, while those who were extraverts were more prone than those who had an extroverting personality type to have PTSD.
The authors suggest that this could be a function of how the brain processes information.
“In the prefrontal cortex of the human brain, which controls emotions and thinking, there’s a process called the ‘rule of two,’ which tells you what is right and wrong, and it tells you when you’re on the right track,” Dr. Kwan says.
“So the more we know about how the human prefrontal cortex is processing the world, the less likely we are to be on the wrong track.”
The study’s findings may also help us to better understand why people with disorders like schizophrenia might experience difficulties in their lives.
“Understanding the role of introverts in our relationships can help us understand the relationship dynamics of people with psychotic disorders,” Dr Kwan concludes.
“Our ability to empathize with people with psychoses could help us better understand and manage their complex life experiences.”
More reading on The American Psychiatric Association: Schizophrenia: The Facts and the Fiction The American Psychological Association: The Journal for Psychiatric Research: Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience Schizoaffective Disorder: A Brief Overview Schizotypy: A Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Scholarly Research: Neuroscience and Mental Health