Extrovert + brain surgery = introvert

At least, that's what happened to one English Playboy Bunny (which is normally something of a contradiction in terms...):
A British Playboy model who was diagnosed with brain cancer last year says she has now become a shy introvert after surgery to remove the tumour. 
Kerri Parker, 30, used to spend her time partying at Hugh Hefner's Playboy mansion in LA, drinking with A-list stars including Leonardo Di Caprio, and was once a body-double for Megan Fox. 
But now she says she would rather spend time on her sofa with a cup of tea after surgery to remove a cancerous tumour left her with a 'personality transplant'
In an interview with the Sunday People, she said: 'At first it was small things but soon I noticed bigger changes. I thought it would be a good idea for me to get back into modelling but when I tried I just felt above it all. 
'It's bizarre. I used to be the heart and soul of the party and now I'm a wallflower. I've swapped my skimpy dresses for comfy trackies.' 
Miss Parker grew up in Norwich where she was a straight-A student, and studied at the University of East London before becoming a lab technician at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

However, all that changed in 2003 after she entered herself into a modelling competition in FHM magazine and made it to the finals. 
She left her job to compete in national beauty pageants, and was picked up by the likes of lads magazine Max Power and U.S. swimwear brand Starwear. 
She also appeared in American FHM, Maxim and American Playboy, starred in films such as Lesbian Vampire Killers, The Bourne Ultimatum, Batman: The Dark Knight and was a body-double for Megan Fox on the set of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. 
In 2012 she became an official Playmate and moved to the Playboy mansion in LA, spending time between there and the UK where she owns one of the UK's largest modelling agencies. 
However, last November she was diagnosed with a brain tumour aged 29 following a holiday to Egypt[...]
In February she had surgery on her frontal lobe, the part of the brain that controls memory and personality, including spontaneity, impulse control, and social and sexual behavior. 
While the surgery was a complete success with no physical side-effects, Miss Parker says she now struggles to come to terms with her new personality. 
She told the People that she has lost friends because of the extreme change, which even affects what types of food she finds appealing.
My first thought, naturally, was that perhaps we should figure out how to replicate this procedure and then apply it to the extroverts we find most annoying. The ensuing peace and quiet would be more than enough to pay for the cost of the surgery...

Jokes in questionable taste aside, this phenomenon actually is not that surprising. It has been known for some time now that introverts have very different brain chemistry. We perceive things very differently from extroverts. We process information differently- usually at much higher speeds. And the source of some of the differences in brain chemistry come from the frontal lobes of our brains.

Specifically, damage to the left frontal lobe of an otherwise extroverted person can, and does, induce dramatic personality changes.

The differences between introverted and extroverted brain chemistry, structure, and personality are so significant, in fact, that they do affect things as basic (yet profound) as our perceptions of taste and smell. There was an interesting experiment noted in Susan Cain's Quiet concerning sour substances dropped onto the tongues of various infants, who were classified as "low-reactive" and "high-reactive" depending on how they responded to the stimulus. It turned out that being a "high-reactive" infant was a fairly decent predictor of introverted tendencies in later life.

The end result of all of this is that an extroverted person who suddenly goes through significant brain chemistry and structure changes- such as those induced by trauma, or in this case, a tumour- is going to have a devil of a time adjusting to a new life as an introvert.

Extroverts define themselves by their interactions with other people. They thrive on high-stimulus environments- they need and crave stimulation and novelty in the same way that introverts need and crave silence and solitude. When you go from being a high-status, high-stimulus extrovert to a laconic and minimalist introvert, your friendships and social connections are undoubtedly going to suffer.

Two things about this story rather annoy me, though.

The first is this stupid conflation in the article between being introverted and being shy. This is rarely true. Most of the introverts that I know- and unsurprisingly, I happen to know a few- are NOT shy. We just don't like other people. Most of us are somewhat less... blunt about it than I am, but that's the long and short of it. We're not shy, and if you get us talking about something we care about, you're probably going to regret it because we very likely won't be able to shut up. Never confuse "misanthropy" for "shyness"- they are two very different qualities.

The second is that Ms. Parker here seems to think that she can overcome her introverted tendencies by simply getting out a bit more. Good luck with that, lady. If you are introverted, and you try this, believe me when I say that you will do far more harm than good to yourself. Introverts not only like solitude, we need it. Without it, our entire mental landscape begins to fall apart in very short order. That need for solitude is a fundamental part of our personalities. Without large amounts of "alone time", our ability to function as human beings rapidly degrades and we can, and sometimes do, become dangerously unstable.

Don't worry too much about this particular young woman, though. As the article says above, she was a straight-A student once upon a time, and (for a 30-year-old lad mag model) she sounds pretty intelligent. Assuming that she figures out that, for introverts, our strength comes from within and becomes our single greatest asset, she'll be able to live a long and happy life as a quiet (and rather pretty) woman.

Oh, and in case you're wondering what the now-introverted Ms. Parker there looks like:

http://i1.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article4254088.ece/alternates/s615/PAY-Kerri-Parker.jpg
Not exactly a minger, as the Brits would say
As a lifelong extreme introvert, can I just say: welcome to the cool kid's club, Ms. Parker. We have tea and biscuits and t-shirts- and nice small tables right up the back of the room where you can sit and read a book in peace without being bothered by a bunch of talkative toss-pots.

Comments

  1. She's not an introvert....basically she's been lobotomized. Hey, lobotomies for extroverts! Hey! I wish I had thought of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And with a bit of luck we might be able to get it covered under Obamacare as a "necessary and vital operation for national security and happiness", or some such bunk...

      Delete

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