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Re: Rejection sensitivity and a ramble... joe schmoe

Posted by jedi on July 10, 2011, at 2:31:10

In reply to Re: Rejection sensitivity and a ramble..., posted by joe schmoe on July 8, 2011, at 13:55:38

Joe,
As another who has suffered with rejection sensitivity since my teenage years, followed by social anxiety and atypical depression; I find your evolutionary perspective very interesting. In high school, I was too chicken sh*t to ask any girl out, much less the beautiful ones. I think I was a tough case, and still feel very uncomfortable with negative feedback; despite phenelzine, clonazepam and years of positive programming. Oh well. And my genes have passed on, another generation!
Be Well,
Jedi


> I have always had rejection sensitivity, which used to just be known as "being sensitive." I also developed atypical depression and social anxiety as I became an adult, so it fits the pattern.
>
> I have an amateur interest in evolutionary biology and have read about why some of these seemingly maladaptive traits might have evolved. The answer appears to be that humans needed to be in groups to survive, and it was very important not to be oblivious to the feelings of the group toward yourself and your behavior. Rejection sensitivity ("I feel bad when others disapprove of me") is a survival mechanism to make sure you don't act in ways that could get you thrown out of the cave-man group that you rely on for survival. The guy who doesn't care what others think of him, is the one likely to be left for the lions when he breaks his leg on the hunt, instead of being carried home and cared for.
>
> Same thing with social anxiety - it keeps you from trying to act above your social station, which can quickly get you in trouble. (A memorable example is the peasant in James Clavell's "Shogun" who didn't bow his head quickly enough to a samurai, and was instantly beheaded for his insolence.) If you're a beta male, feel and act like a beta male, and people will not see you as a threat. Try to act more important than you are, and you may find the alpha male now sees you as a problem to be dealt with.
>
> This is an explanation I have read about as to why so many men are intimidated by pretty women. Subconsciously they seem themselves as too low on the social scale to have access to such women, and feel an ancient fear when they think about approaching one - which is not fear of the woman, it's actually fear of a reaction from the dominant males to such an action. Obviously this applies to males - females are in a different situation. I would be interested in hearing about why females would benefit evolutionarily from social anxiety.
>
> Genetic studies have shown that only 40% of males in history have reproduced, while 80% of females have. (Think polygamy/harems/serial monogamy by successful males.) To reproduce as a male has generally required being above average in some way. This results in two strategies - the rock stars who try to be exceptional, and the betas who keep their eyes down and hope the rock stars get eaten by lions, that their exploration ship sinks, that they freeze to death on their polar expedition, etc. leaving the females for the beta survivors to mate with. Both strategies work, as evidenced by the fact both genotypes are still around.
>
> We happen to live in a modern, lionless society where there is little real risk for the rock stars, so being aggressive, extroverted, a risk-taker, self-confident, driven etc. pays enormous rewards, much more so than in most of our past, where such personalities tended to take on dangerous tasks and often get killed. It's a bad time to be sensitive. The main benefit of being timid nowadays is it tends to keep you out of jail - jail now being the main risk that fearless impulsive people face, instead of wild animals or dangerous environmental conditions like the sea.
>
> In terms of envy - it is a tough one, but my rule is "don't be jealous of someone unless you would trade lives with them." By lives I mean entire lives - your interests, relatives, friends, memories, looks, attitudes, politics, knowledge - everything. There are a lot of successful people, but few if any that I would really want to be instead of myself.
>
> On the positive side, at least now there are medical options that there weren't in the past, and terms like "anxiety disorder" are starting to become more common, whereas in, say, the 1930s, the term "coward" would have been used instead. Fearless extroverts still get all the rewards (and the jail time too, don't forget) but I think things are better for sensitive people than they were 50 years ago. Having social anxiety in the 1950s must have been a living hell. Maybe that explains the "martini at lunch" culture - sensitive people trying to use alcohol to get through the stressful workday.
>
> 100 years ago you could probably spend your life farming and never have to deal with people, but those days are gone....this is the era of "people skills" and "people persons" and a job environment where almost everyone working above minimum wage is expected to give presentations and other public speaking engagements. For years I carried xanax and inderal in my pocket at all times in case I was called on at short notice to give a talk, tour, etc at work.
>
> Now I just take klonopin, an ssri, and avoid confrontational situations and jobs, and try to play the hand I'm dealt. Yeah, I'll never be rich. But I don't know any rich people I'd trade lives with, either.


Jedi
Treatment resistant, atypical, double depression with social anxiety.
Nardil + clonazepam


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