Saturday, January 8, 2022

Do's and Don'ts for Living as an Introvert

***+++ Understanding your needs as an introvert is key to living a happily quiet life.

Learn how you feel when you are overextended, but also when you are getting isolated.

You are entitled to boundaries but set them thoughtfully and generously.

Tend to your introversion but tend to your relationships, too. ***+++

Do's and Don'ts - It’s been 12 years since my first post on this blog went live. Perhaps you’ve seen the “Introverts Unite” meme that makes the rounds periodically. Well, I’m just petty enough to point out that I said it first, in my first post, “Introverts Unite, Quietly” on August 26, 2009.

When I started this blog, there were very few people writing about introversion. Even Susan Cain’s blockbuster book, Quiet, was three years away. Today, scores of professional introverts are out there expounding on our quiet nature. Introverts have gotten kind of loud, and that's a good thing.

In truth, I don't feel I have anything new to say about introversion at this point, which is one reason among many I’ve been quieter than usual the past couple of years. So I’ve decided it’s time to wind things down here in the Introverts’ Corner. While this blog will remain up and I may add to it from time to time, I will also be starting a new blog here on Psychology Today about grief, because losing my husband last year is by far the most cataclysmic event in my life, and grief is more complex and exhausting than I ever could have imagined. Please look for my new blog in 2022.

The things I’ve learned about being introverted and the strategies I’ve adopted over the past 12 years are now fully integrated into my life. You can find posts focusing on all aspects of life as an introvert in the Introverts' Corner archives, but today, as I step out of the corner, I will provide some of the basic "do's and don’ts" I live by these days.

Introversion "Do's"

Learn to manage your calendar to avoid being either isolated or overextended. How many events a week can you handle without getting frazzled? How much time do you need between them? Plan accordingly.

Say “no thanks” when you don’t want company and “yes please” when you do, and learn to recognize the difference. You might have to think a bit before you commit to anything. There's nothing wrong with saying “Let me get back to you” to give yourself time to decide. Just be sure to get back to the person in a timely manner.

Learn to let pressure and implied criticism of your introversion roll off you. You know that introversion is perfectly healthy and other people’s opinions about the “right” way to be are just that: opinions. You don’t have to live by them or even argue with them. Just shrug and get on with your quiet life.
However, do help the people who matter to you most to understand you. This will make everyone’s life easier. You’ll get to live your introverted life, and they won’t take your need for solitude personally.
Rather than giving up the telephone altogether, encourage your friends to text before they call, or, in the case of people with whom phone calls tend to be lengthy (i.e., faraway friends), request that they schedule phone time with you. Some will resist, most will eventually understand.

But also learn to pick up the phone sometimes. My friends know not to call me willy-nilly, but sometimes they will call, and if I have no pressing reason not to pick up (for example, if I’m in the middle of something or I'm seriously not in the mood), I answer. I do so because I like my friends and it’s the nice thing to do. Also, my friends now know me well enough to know that I will eventually say, “OK, I’ve had enough phone time now,” and nobody is bothered.

I believe that friends go to friends' parties, but I always keep in mind that it's a lot easier to say “yes” to parties if I give myself permission to leave when I'm ready. And remember that when people say things like, “You can’t leave now! It won’t be a party without you!” they’re just making noises with their mouths. It doesn’t really mean you have to stay, and it will still be a party after you’re gone.

Remember—and this has been my soapbox for a long time—that there is nothing inherently superior about introversion or extroversion. They are simply different, and if you want people to understand and respect your introversion

Introversion "Don'ts"

Don’t overindulge your introversion to the point where solitude turns into isolation. Isolation can lead to rumination which can lead to depression. Just as you learn what it feels like to be overextended, learn to recognize when you are getting isolated and force yourself to act on it. Make a plan with someone. Leave the house.

Don’t be the last-minute “poozer,” as my husband and I called it—the person who frequently makes plans and then backs out at the last minute. I understand that sometimes following through on a plan sounds just too hard (perhaps your week was more taxing than you expected, for example) and you simply have to bow out, but use that privilege sparingly or you'll give introversion a bad reputation.
Don’t completely discount the value of loose ties. Yes, introverts prefer fewer, deeper friendships and that’s one of our strengths, but it is also to our benefit to maintain wider circles if for no other reason than that things happen—people move away, pass away, friendships grow apart. You want people in the pipeline should you lose a close friend for some reason. (This also applies to marriage; I’ve seen many very sad people in my bereavement support networks who did not maintain relationships outside their marriage and suddenly find themselves grieving and isolated.)

Don’t make friends do all the reaching out, and don’t assume they will be there even if you don’t put a lot of effort into the friendship. (See: answering the telephone, above.) Making and having friends sometimes requires doing things that might feel difficult, uncomfortable, or just wearisome. But be as generous with yourself as possible so that people will return the generosity when you need them.
Don’t always rely on others to make plans or to choose you as their friend. If you don’t always want to be surrounded by extroverts doing extroverted things, you will need to reach out to other interesting introverts you know and make introverted plans—museums instead of parties, perhaps, or lectures instead of karaoke.

These are the most important lessons I’ve learned these past dozen years that have helped me live a rich and fulfilling life as an introvert. Thanks, everyone, for joining me here in the corner. It’s been swell talking to you and learning from you. Go forth and live your best introvert life. Quietly.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Why doesn't Webb have deployment cameras?

As NASA's James Webb Space Telescope makes its way out to its intended orbit, ground teams monitor its vitals using a comprehensive set of sensors located throughout the entire spacecraft. Mechanical, thermal, and electrical sensors provide a wide array of critical information on the current state and performance of Webb while it is in space.

A system of surveillance cameras to watch deployments was considered for inclusion in Webb's toolkit of diagnostics and was studied in-depth during Webb's design phase, but ultimately, this was rejected.

"Adding cameras to watch an unprecedently complicated deployment of such a precious spacecraft as Webb sounds like a no-brainer, but in Webb's case, there's much more to it than meets the eye," said Paul Geithner, deputy project manager—technical for the Webb telescope at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "It's not as straightforward as adding a doorbell cam or even a rocket cam."

First of all, Webb is big, undergoes many configuration changes during deployment, and has many specific locations of import to deployment. Monitoring Webb's deployments with cameras would require either multiple narrow-field cameras, adding significant complexity, or a few wide-field cameras that would yield little in the way of helpful detailed information. Wiring harnesses for cameras would have to cross moving interfaces around the observatory and add more risk of vibrations and heat leaking through, presenting a particular challenge for cameras located on the cold side of Webb.

Then there's the issue of lighting. Webb is very shiny, so visible cameras on the Sun-facing side would be subject to extreme glare and contrast issues, while ones on the cold, shaded side would need added lighting. Although infrared or thermal-imaging cameras on the cold side could obviate the need for illumination, they would still present the same harnessing disadvantages. Furthermore, cameras on the cold side would have to work at very cold cryogenic temperatures. This would either require 'ordinary' cameras to be encapsulated or insulated so they would work in extreme cold, or development of special-purpose cryogenic-compatible cameras just for deployment surveillance.

Notwithstanding these challenges, engineers mocked up and tested some camera schemes on full-scale mockups of Webb hardware. However, they found that deployment surveillance cameras would not add significant information of value for engineering teams commanding the spacecraft from the ground.

"Webb's built-in sense of 'touch' (for example, switches and various mechanical, electrical, and temperature sensors) provides much more useful information than mere surveillance cameras can," said Geithner. "We instrumented Webb like we do many other one-of-a-kind spacecraft, to provide all the specific information necessary to inform engineers on Earth about the observatory's health and status during all activities." Engineers can also correlate years of data from ground testing with telemetry data from flight sensors to insightfully interpret and understand flight sensor data.

Tinnitus affects women more severely than men

More men than women are affected by ear buzz, but the consequences are greater for women. Women also have a higher risk of severe hereditary tinnitus, according to a research project.

“Thus far, the results indicate that women are more affected by tinnitus than men are,” says Christopher R. Cederroth at Karolinska Institutet.

He is the leader of the TIGER project, in which several European researchers are collaborating. One of their objectives is to investigate gender differences in tinnitus.

“For instance, there were many indications that severe tinnitus increased the risk of suicide attempts among women, but not among men. This is what incited the TIGER project, which further motivated us to explore the sex and gender dimension of tinnitus,” he says.
A passing thing for most people

Jan Bulla is a professor at the Department of Mathematics, University of Bergen, and part of the same project. He explains that tinnitus is a non-existent sound, but something one experiences as a tone or a buzz in the ears.

“Sometimes people experience tinnitus after having been to a concert or a night club. This is normally a passing thing.”

There are few explanations to what causes tinnitus, apart from such things as hearing impairment, head injuries or jaw-related pain.

“According to physicians people experience tinnitus for many different reasons. This may also help explain why such a large part of the population, up to twenty per cent, experience it”, Bulla says.

For most people then, tinnitus is a passing thing, but for some it becomes permanent.

“It can be extremely uncomfortable and it affects the quality of life”, Bulla says.

Approximately one per cent of the population are affected to such an extent that it becomes debilitating according to the researcher.

No effective treatment

“There are no effective treatments other than cognitive behavioural therapy. We therefore need more research on what causes tinnitus and how it may be treated,” he says.

Cederroth emphasises that since there is no one-size-fits-all treatment, we are far from finding an effective treatment.

“Recent research results indicated that men and women respond differently to the existing treatment methods for tinnitus,” says Cederroth.

“But it will take time before these differences will be taken into consideration in medical practice,” he believes.
Gender differences in heridity

Bulla explains that tinnitus is often found in connection to afflictions such as headache, pains in the jaw and sound hypersensitivity. Early in the project, the researchers studied whether gender was a significant factor for tinnitus in connection to other afflictions.

“We expected to find gender differences here, but we found nothing except for the fact that women with tinnitus more often experience pains in the jaw,” he says.

Another trend that the researchers observed indicates that the connection between headaches and tinnitus is more prominent among men. But according to Bulla, they need to study a bigger data selection in order to know for certain.

“But we did find that women have a higher risk of severe hereditary tinnitus than men have.”

In one study, the researchers counted how many family members of a participant with tinnitus who experienced the same type of tinnitus.

“The gender differences are particularly clear in cases of constant and severe tinnitus. In other words, genes can play a significant part in this type of tinnitus”, Bulla says.

Difficult to research

The gender aspect of tinnitus has not been sufficiently studied before, but more research has been done on the topic in recent years, according to the researchers behind the project.

“I think the reason why gender differences have not been explored much in research on tinnitus is that the researchers often have very limited data material with small sample sizes to work with,” says Bulla.

According to him, gender differences in medical research have often been ignored due to the risk of losing statistical significance when data selections are divided into smaller groups based on gender. The data are often also divided into the participants’ type of tinnitus.

“The situation becomes even more complicated when examining severe tinnitus, since this phenomenon is not that common in the general population,” he says.

Moreover, Bulla emphasizes that their data material on tinnitus comes from few geographical areas.

“Much of the data we have are from Sweden. So we cannot know for certain whether the results apply to other countries or continents.”

May come from hearing loss

Bo Lars Engdahl is a researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. He studies hearing and has contributed to the health study HUNT, which measures hearing and tinnitus among other things.

“In this study, we found that the prevalence of tinnitus was slightly higher among men,” says Engdahl.

This is related to the fact that men are more often hard of hearing. In Norway and the western world in particular, this is probably because women are less exposed to noise than men are, according to Engdahl.

“Hearing loss increases the risk of tinnitus, and tinnitus often occurs in the same area of the ear as the hearing loss. Your brain compensates for the loss of hearing.”

“It's like a phantom pain in the auditory system”, he says.
Men more often in noisy professions

Engdahl has also studied gender differences in tinnitus within various occupations. He found that bad hearing and tinnitus are more common within noisy occupations.

“Men are in the majority in these occupations,” he maintains.

More men than women are construction workers, mechanics and mine workers. But among the women, tinnitus was not most frequent among those working in noisy occupations.

“The professions in which loss of hearing was most common among women were positions such as laboratory assistants and office workers. In other words, not particularly noisy occupations.”

The majority of the women suffering from tinnitus fell under the category ‘no reported occupation’, which consists of homemakers and unemployed among others. This group was larger among the women, and there were also more women suffering from tinnitus in this group, Engdahl says.

“In the study, we did not only ask whether they experienced ear buzz, but whether they were troubled by it. Other health effects and stress related to unemployment, for instance, could cause increased affliction.”

Tinnitus more bothersome than hearing loss

The research project in which Engdahl has participated demonstrates, like the TIGER project, that many people are bothered by ear buzz. In the Hunt 2 survey in the late 1990s, researchers found that approximately 15 per cent of the population reported that they were bothered by tinnitus.

“A few people, however, suffer from such major affliction that the tinnitus takes over their lives. And to many, the tinnitus is more bothersome than the hearing loss.”

Engdahl also emphasises cognitive treatment as one of the few methods to treat tinnitus; in other words, there is no medicine you can take to get rid of the affliction.

“This treatment revolves around rendering the tinnitus harmless and gradually becoming friends with, or forgetting, the ear buzz. However, not everyone is receptive to this treatment.”

Since there is a clear link between hearing loss and tinnitus among some of the affected, hearing aids may also be helpful.

“Then you will hear several, competing sounds,” Engdahl explains.

“When it comes to tinnitus, the only thing that helps is to forget that it's there. But it's also an advantage if you're able to avoid things that might cause hearing loss. One of the treatments is also to endure more and more sounds – a type of sound therapy”, he says.

Warns against sound anxiety

Engdahl also warns against becoming afraid of sounds. You should look after your sense of hearing and be careful not to expose yourself to extremely loud sounds such as firecrackers and gunshots without using ear protection.

“But you should not be afraid to use your hearing. Normal sounds are not dangerous, and the ear is created to hear relatively loud sounds, also in nature.”

“Neither should you be worried about getting tinnitus from listening to music or being out among other people”, he says

Engdahl emphasises that if you get ear buzz after a concert, for instance, this is an indication that your sense of hearing has been overexerted, but the buzzing will disappear as soon as your sense of hearing has been restored. However, ear buzz is an important warning signal telling you that your sense of hearing is being overexerted, he maintains.

According to the researcher, the sense of hearing among the population seems to be going in the right direction, which is a positive sign.

“Those who were in their sixties and seventies twenty years ago were more hard of hearing than the same age group today. So we are heading in the right direction,” says Engdahl.

“I hope the same applies for tinnitus in the future, although studies indicate that the prevalence of long-term ear buzz is approximately the same today as twenty years ago.”

The Part of the Brain That Stops Anxiety and How to Use It.

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