What Is Neuroticism? Simple Explanation + 9 Important Features

What Is Neuroticism? Simple Explanation + 9 Important Features

Do you often worry about small things that make you extremely irritable or restless?

Do you tend to make problems much bigger than they really are?

Do others often describe you as a nerve? Do you also realize this, but do you have the feeling that there is nothing you can do about this?

Then you probably have a neurotic personality.

If you have a tendency towards neuroticism, this can be very annoying for both yourself and those around you.

Do you want to find out if you are really neurotic? Then read this article carefully. It can help you understand yourself better.

Purpose of this article:  In this article, I introduce you to neuroticism. You’ll get some background information on this character trait and I’ll discuss the 8 most common traits. Don’t think you can do anything about these neurotic feelings at all. There is a simple solution to keep it under control.

What is neuroticism?

Neuroticism is not a disease. It is a characteristic of people who are very sensitive to anxiety, depression, and emotional instability.

The literal meaning of neuroticism is ‘sick or abnormal nerves’‘.

People who tend towards neuroticism mainly want to keep things under control. If they fail to do this, they can become very anxious, nervous, irritable, and tense.

However, there are many other features of neuroticism. The exact symptoms and complaints are discussed later in this article.

In order to frame the meaning of neuroticism, I think it is important to familiarize yourself with the world of psychology.

This background information will help you better understand neuroticism.

Lewis Goldberg’s The Big Five and Neuroticism

Personality is one of the most important aspects of psychology.

For centuries, research has been conducted into the different personality types and how to test them.

At the beginning of the 20th century,  psychologists Gordon Allport and  Henry Odber sought a way to determine people’s personalities. They did this by using words that describe the character of a person.

Based on these terms, they developed a questionnaire that they presented to various test subjects. The answers were carefully analyzed.

As a result, different patterns were discovered in different personalities.

This theory has been explored in several countries and languages. After thorough research, it was determined that a person’s personality consists of five more important clusters of personality traits.

In 1981 the American personality psychologist Lewis Goldberg referred to this theory as the ‘Big Five’ theory.

These clusters are named as follows:

  • Openness
  • Extraversion
  • Altruism
  • Neuroticism

It is this last cluster – neuroticism – that I want to talk to you about today.

Neuroticism as a personality trait

Neuroticism is a personality trait or character trait. It is what characterizes you as a person.

However, this does not mean that this is your only personality trait.

For example, someone who is neurotic may also be extroverted or someone who is careful may also be neurotic. Personality traits exist in different strengths and combinations.

In the context of the ‘Big Five’ theory, neuroticism is often described as ‘low emotional stability or ‘negative emotionality’‘.

Also in the medical world, neuroticism is described as a tendency toward negative emotions and emotional instability.

The degree to which you are neurotic can be determined by means of a personality test.

During this test, various personality characteristics are checked. If you are tested for neuroticism, you will have to indicate to what extent you experience the following characteristics:

Based on the answers, psychologists can determine how quickly you become anxious, angry, tense, worried, or vulnerable. This can determine the degree to which you are neurotic.

Do you want to know the specific characteristics of someone who is neurotic? Then read on.

Most common neuroticism features

It is characteristic of neurotic people that they are very often worried and easily irritated.

When you’re neurotic, it often feels like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.

People who don’t tend towards neuroticism don’t suffer from it at all. They are more emotionally stable and almost never worry. They have a very positive self-image and can remain calm in the most stressful situations.

1. Angst

Anxiety is one of the main features of neuroticism from which many other complaints arise.

If you are neurotic, you may be afraid of something concrete, such as an object or an animal. Often, however, neurotic people are also afraid of certain situations.

Smet fear is a perfect example of this. Someone who suffers from a fear of contamination can react very neurotically at the thought of dirt and grime.

Typically, this fear is unfounded, but someone who suffers from it is not convinced of it. For them, what they fear is a real danger.

2. Afraid to make and check mistakes

When neurotic people go out, they often check several times whether their cell phone is still in their bag. They do this so often that it bothers them themselves.

Also checking several times whether they have turned off the gas is a typical characteristic for people with neuroticism.

The underlying reason for this is that neurotic people are afraid of making mistakes.

3. Anticipating the facts

Let’s take a look at previous examples.

If you’re neurotic and check multiple times to see if you have your cell phone with you, you’re already anticipating what might happen if you don’t:

‘Suppose something has happened, then I can’t be reached…’ 

“Suppose I miss an important message and arrive late…” 

“Suppose something happens to me and I can’t reach anyone…” 

4. Worry often

If you are neurotic, then you know for sure that you are never without worries. You really worry about everything, not only about yourself but also about others.

“What if…” are probably your most used words when you’re neurotic.

5. Irritability and getting irritated easily

Irritability and irritability are very strong if you are neurotic.

On the one hand, constant worrying is a cause of this. On the other hand, a lot of frustration causes this irritability.

After all, very often neurotic people want to change certain situations, but they are unable to do so due to external factors.

This gives them a feeling of powerlessness and frustration that makes their nerves on edge.

6. Panic and stress

Constantly questioning and anticipating the facts can make you quite tense.

This tension is expressed in an ever-present feeling of stress. Something that is no problem at all for someone else often means the end of the world for you.

This stress can be so extreme that you panic completely. This can even give you a panic attack.

Hysteria is also common in people with neuroticism.

7. Lack of confidence and insecurity

If you’re neurotic, you set very high standards for yourself. Your fear of making mistakes can be so great that it makes you feel very insecure. In the long run, this can give you a complete lack of self-confidence.

It is precise because of this uncertainty that neurotic people often look for confirmation. They perform tasks in such a perfectionistic way that they want to elicit compliments.

People who tend towards neuroticism also often need extreme attention.

8. Looking for structure

Neurotic people think structure is very important.

After all, the structure provides clarity. The clearer something is, the better you can prepare for it.

The more structure, the smaller the chance of errors. And let this be exactly what people with neuroticism hate.

9. Physical discomfort

Neuroticism can lead to a lot of physical discomfort in the long run.

After all, if you suffer from neuroticism, you find it difficult to completely relax. You always find something to worry about and being tense has become second nature to you.

This can have a very negative impact on your muscles. Muscle cramps or chronic pain can be the result.

Persistent headaches are also a typical complaint. Not so strange at all, because your brain is no longer able to rest due to all the worrying.

Neuroticism and Stress

Some people also complain about physical complaints due to worrying and stress. Neuroticism and stress are related.

Stress is a sliding scale downwards. With our free Stress test, you will discover in 5 minutes what your symptoms and complaints are. You will also receive an indication of where you are now.



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