High Reactives

What are high reactives?
"Temperament is a complex, multilayered thing, and for the sake of clarity, Kagan was tracking it along a single dimension: whether babies were easily upset when exposed to new things. He chose this characteristic both because it could be measured and because it seemed to explain much of normal human variation. He suspected, extrapolating from a study he had just completed on toddlers, that the most edgy infants were more likely to grow up to be inhibited, shy and anxious. Eager to take a peek at the early results, he grabbed the videotapes of the first babies in the study, looking for the irritable behavior he would later call high-reactive." (from Understanding the Anxious Mind)
This is quite a long article which I won't attempt to summarize here. It argues for an interesting explanation and clarification about why certain people tend to react certain ways, differently to different kinds of stimulus. This is from the conclusion:
"An anxious temperament might serve a more exalted function too. “Our culture has this illusion that anxiety is toxic,” Kagan said. But without inner-directed people who prefer solitude, where would we get the writers and artists and scientists and computer programmers who make society hum? Kagan likes to point out that T. S. Eliot suffered from anxiety, and that biographies indicate that he was a typical high-reactive baby. “That line ‘I will show you fear in a handful of dust’ — he couldn’t have written that without feeling the tension and dysphoria he did,” Kagan said." (from Understanding the Anxious Mind)
If this kind of stuff interest you, you might try tackling the whole article :)


Posted on October 10, 2009 and filed under Life.