Book Review: Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength

After reading the last book on introversion which was a real disappointment, I ordered this book Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength, which I enjoyed Immensely.

This book is written by psychologist Laurie Helgoe, PhD. and is a very enlightening book, not nearly as strident as quiet about the extroverts. It is actually surprising according to research by the developers of the Myers and Briggs personality test, that introverts may actually be slightly in the advantage. It may well be that over the last years the stigma associated with being an introvert is starting to lift. Being an introvert might be cool. In some ways there may be more introverts who are very social who you wouldn’t think are. Of course there are also the Shadow Dwellers, who can seem more asocial or people such as the goth teens, who may have been victims of abuse, which are she shadow in Jungian terminology. These people can also include your geek types.

She also refutes what people may mistake about introverts: We are not antisocial, but some may be asocial. The difference is substantial. A person who has an antisocial personality disorder is a person with real problems that don’t have positive outcomes. A person who is asocial may just not enjoy interacting with people much. Extroverts may think we are snobs, but is not nearly the truth, perhaps it’s just an incorrect interpretation.

For those who are not aware of Carl Jung’s Personality theory, the positive potential in introversion has been found in his work. Jung would suggest that we all have both introvert and extrovert aspects of our personality, how much of each is what matters. She suggests that being able to accept the opposite and try to use some of it is a good thing. Yes we need time alone to recover, and you don’t need to love parties, but putting yourself out there a little more can be to your advantage. The shadow in Jung’s work is the dark side that we don’t show in our personality, with the caveat that what we don’t accept and embrace may come out in a odd way.  an example of the shadow is you may have a person who seems kind, but turns out to be abusive.

She suggests our real power is in what’s inside us, in our inner world.  the majority of the book is focused on us, our strengths, and how to have a good life.



I love to listen to my podcasts on the way to work. I love science oriented ones and I have found a lot at It’s surprising the US doesn’t have anything like this of this quality. Well I was listening to a show All In the Mind I have mentioned earlier and there was this discussion about chronic loneliness and isolation.

The Show was based in Emily White’s book Lonely: A memoir. You can also read more on their blog. It was an interesting thought provoking show about this problem, which raised issues for instance stigma against people struggling with chronic loneliness, the assumption that if you are lonely than you are unattractive, you caused your problem, etc. which can be totally false. Raising this as an issue can set one up for ridicule. It also raised real health risks for people who struggle with this, including overall health, immune function, anxiety, sleep, heart health and other complications. It was interesting the familial link that had been found. If you have a parent who has been chronically lonely, than it may be a problem for the children as well, and as many as 15% of the population may deal with these issues.

This has been a challenge for myself at times, during times in high school, early in my adult life and during a 2-1/2 year unemployment period after 9/11 I was really struggling with this problem. Yes I got out and later when I was unemployed, I had places to go to be around people, but it’s really hard when it goes on for a long time. I am a moderate introvert and at times shy, though also quite bold. Sometimes it has been hard to go out and meet people new.

I think for gifted people this can become a problem, simply because of the decreasing number of people you can truly relate to drops substantially, simply from a statistical analysis. Considering the bell curve and the number of people left at the edges, simply being gifted brings you to 2% of the population, and as intelligence goes up, the number of people decrease, and then the specific sub-groups and where you happen to live enters into it. For instance living in a small town like I did can be a real problem.

I Plan to review this book next week, please check back next week.






Podcast: All in the mind

All In the Mind.

Coming out of Australia from ABC Radio National is one of the smartest, most intelligent conversations on radio. This one features and specializes in the Brain. This podcast discusses research on the brain as well as new and old stories and media.

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All On the Mind can also be found on ITunes.

You can also download back stories in MP3 format.

Introversion vs Extroversion

The difference between Introversion and Extroversion is Introverts find energy and nurturing from within, where extroverts find it in the outside. Research suggests that more gifted people are introverts and the number of introverts is smaller than extroverts. Carl Jung, the gifted psychoanalyst first identified in his personality theory the polarities as a statement of how people are.

Recently Time Magazine had on it’s cover the Title What if Introverts Ruled the World with an intro from Richard Stengell. The real article by Bryan Walsh was based in a book by Susan Cain Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking raised a lot of questions about the way the world works and the advantage that Extroverts have with the real difference in who Introverts are and what they can do.

At first it seemed somewhat silly, such as you too can be Steve Jobs, like frankly I would never wish to be someone that difficult, but also a kind of cheerleading, but most problematically it left giftedness out of the equation. In reality Susan Cain’s book gives more power to the introvert Steve Wozniak, who Steve Jobs could not have succeeded without.

Frankly there is a tendency on the part of extroverts to malign introverts and discriminate and it can be far easier to be an extrovert. Many jobs which require a high amount of work with the public as well as sales and out going, is better for the extrovert. The Introvert will be the gifted person who can tell you how the system works and make the system do things nobody thinks it could, so sometimes we introverts need to toot our own horns.

Two well regarded tests, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI and the Kiersey Temperment Sorter can help people identify for themselves what type they are. There are 16types, a type being a 4 letter code, each letter designating a polarity i.e. I for introvert or E for Extrovert; N for Intuitive or S for Sensing, T for Thinking vs Feeling and F for feeling; J for Judging vs P for perceiving. These are preferential attitudes toward information and the world, they in no way should be seen as criticizing one type or another. Any type is equally valid and acceptable, it’s really the problem to understand your own type and others and to learn how to communicate with them.

Another book Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength by psychologist Laurie Helgoe Ph.D. also encourages and empowers Introverts.

I have taken the MBTI and the Kiersey a number of times, and over the years, I have moved from Extrovert to Introvert. I suspect I haven’t changed in personality, but just more accepting of myself, and likely answered with the more socially acceptable answers to the test. One of the challenges of the tests is that the test taker can answer in a way that they think others want them to, which can lead to faulty conclusions.

I am very capable of having conversations with people and working in groups, the point to be taken, is this can be exhausting and can be draining and I need time for myself. I need my quiet. I have often been puzzled why I can’t do certain social tasks which require one to be more socially outgoing, and frankly it’s not me, and I have been I guess working very hard to be something that I am not, which is not the best thing for myself.

Racism and Brilliant People

It’s always painful to realize that people you admire and appreciate have flaws and limitations, but it has come to my awareness that people of real intellect can also be incredibly arrogant and engage in Racism and other stupid practices. While preparing to write the article on Morrissey which I recently published, I was doing research on my subject and discovered some real racist actions on his part. At first, I considered deleting the post and never publishing it, but decided to address the issue more head-on.

Later my partner and I were watching a PBS series that the British constitutional historian, David Starkey did called The Monarchy which is very intelligibly researched in deep historical detail through many and many years. One can appreciate the work that went into his work, and his perspective as well as the presentation. It was also very disappointing to discover, when reading his biography rude, and arrogant behavior and Racism, saying the lower classes in England were becoming like the “Blacks.” How can someone characterize whole groups of people like that?

Of less intelligent and more ignorant people, I would not be surprised, in fact I suspect the extremes of racism, for instance like the KKK, the Klans, The Aryan Nation, etc., are examples of ignorant people who have limited intelligence, are frustrated by their own limited skills and lack of education, and the economic challenges that come from these realities.

My mother also Gifted who wound up with an Ed.D in Special Education, who had worked with the handicapped for years grew up in Philadelphia, PA. Her father was a a cop who rose to be captain of detectives during the bad years. She remembered stories with his Racism. He had a limited education, but was intelligent. He retired, and years later got a second Dachshund, which he named “Tar Baby,” a clear racist reference. My mother was furious and the name was changed.

People can take offense to racism, because it offends our basic values and sensibilities and affects people we know or have known, but it’s important to consider the science around racism and stereotypes, which set racism in motion.

Racism is not the only type of prejudice, and one can add homophobia, sexism, classicism, antisemitism, ablism, agism and other isms, as well as xenophobia or fear of the other.

In social Psychology and Cognitive Psychology thinking suggests that stereotypes arise from our brain’s tendencies to use heuristics or shortcuts which help us manage information overload. The problem is these heuristics help our brains process much information, but causes us faulty thinking at times. Along with this, our brain also from the same mechanisms favor those of groups like us, and fears groups who are different from us. This is called the ingroup/outgroup bias. Given this, we are all susceptible to stereotypes and prejudices, and even racist tendencies. We need to rise to our best selves, and challenge our own tendencies toward stereotypes and prejudices, and challenge those of those around us.

Problems with Mental Health

A common problem for gifted people is that people in general often just don’t understand us.

This can become a real problem when gifted people realize they need help with mental health and reach out for help. The number of providers who are properly trained to work with gifted people and appropriately consider issues and challenges that gifted people face is very small. Even in a large city like New York, there are few providers who identify as having skilled with gifted people.

I was a student in a MS degree in Mental Health Counseling program, at a point when my awareness around issues of giftedness resurfaced after many years and became much clearer after reading an article in a professional publication. It became real clear in my reading for my classes, the lack of information around gifted issues in the mainstream professional journals. Most of the research is in articles that specialize in education, specifically gifted education, which are generally not read or referenced by people in the mental health field. Mental health training programs also don’t provide any training in working with gifted people. I would up not joining the field due to circumstances in the New York area and a field that wasn’t listening.

A gifted person with poorly trained people can wind up with a wrong diagnosis, incorrect treatment, and treatment that can really be harmful. Instead of helping the client with the issues of being gifted, they can wind up with very serious diagnoses like Bipolar Disorder or a personality disorder although this may be appropriate with some people, but may be more due to challenges dealing with life, that when addressed appropriately can be much more manageable. Trying to fit a round peg in a square hole is just disaster.

When interviewing professionals, raise giftedness as an issue. Ask how much experience the professional has. Check out how they respond. If you can’t find someone with experience, find someone who can listen and is willing to learn. If not, walk away, don’t become a victim.

Brain: The Inside Story

The American Museum of Natural History in New York is running an exhibit “Brain: The Inside Story” until August 15th 2011. It presents a lot of informatation about the human brain, including neuroanatomy, from a neuroscience perspective talking about the brain from different perspectives.

The Sensing Brain is about how the brain records and processes information from our senses. The Emotional Brain is about how we process emotions in the limbic system of our brains based on information by our senses. The Thinking Brain is about our cognitive processes. The Changing Brain discusses how our brain changes from when we are babies growing through adulthood to decline when we age. The 21st Century Brain talks about the challenges facing the brain in our current world.

The exhibit is interesting and worth seeing. Those who have studied the brain and neuroscience might not find it as interesting as it doesn’t really cover new information just being discovered, but for the rest there is plenty of great information to learn from. The exhibit is great for children and teens with things like games, demonstrations that can engage them as they learn. 

More Recent Contributions to the Nature Vs Nurture debate

In more recent discussions, Daniel Shenk’s book “The Genius in All of Us” suggests that we all can be geniuses if we nurture children and have an optimum environment. This is an interesting argument and it’s become understood that environment influences  many outcomes including culture, behavior and intelligence. It’s an interesting response to the Bell Curve. One can clearly support the idea that children should be given a positive environment to grow up in. Lead and other toxins can lead to lowered intelligence and learning disorders, and nutrition is very important, lack of certain vitamins can lead to birth defects. I have seen many exceptions to this, people from questionable, and even problematical backgrounds who show brilliance. Why does this happen. I have also seen in this within large families, numbers of people with giftedness in those families. I doubt gifted people grow up in families with normal or sub-normal intelligence like the television show “Family Guy” would suggest. There may be many cases where giftedness is masked by other problems and one may hide their giftedness from others for fear of ostracism and rejection. I suspect that one’s ability can be enhanced by an enriched environment, but the real differences between gifted and non gifted people are unlikely to be the result of environment solely.

In another book by Steven Pinker, “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature” he reminds us how John Locke’s (1632-1704) idea Tabula Rasa, which suggests we are born a blank slate has permeated social science research and every day beliefs about what contributes to human development and behavior and the world in general. He suggests that we deny human nature. I doubt that we want to see this as an either/or type of situation, but we need to consider how influential Locke’s theory was.

Nature or Nuture: What Contributes to Giftedness

For centuries, theorists have debated what contributes to human behavior, is it how we are born or is it what we learn. John Locke (1632-1704) had a theory called Tabula Rasa or blank slate, which argued that nothing was innate and it was all learned. This perspective influenced social sciences for many years going forward. Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) associated with the development of  genetics as a theory, spawned significant amount of research and theorizing about how genetics influenced human development, however it would be many years before human DNA was sequenced. During the Third Reich, Nazis murdered those with disabilities, those who were different, gay, Jewish, gypsies and communists thanks to beliefs in eugenics. The Nazis thought they were superior and many of the others were inferior racially. This is an example of how science can go terribly wrong.

Twins Studies have been considered the gold standard for considering if traits are genetically predetermined. Monozygotic (MZ) or identical twins share 100% of their DNA as they were from the same egg. Dizygotic (DZ) twins share less common DNA. Comparing identical twins living together and who were raised apart and the differences between MZ and DZ twins, helped develop estimates of heredity. In an article in a professional psychological journal Wendy Johnson, Eric Turkheimer, Irving I. Gottesman, and Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr. authored “Beyond Heritability–Twin Studies in Behavioral Research” in which they suggested that time has come for abandoning twin studies in research into genetic influences. It has become clearer and clearer that environment poses many confounding variables in proving causation. As one would hear in a research class, “Correlation does not mean causation” that just because there is a relationship between two factors, does not mean that one causes the other. There can be many variables that could interfere or confound or cloud research into the relationship. Instead of arguing that A causes B, B could cause A or perhaps they interact. One of the realities that many of us are such a large mixture of various genes and influences that it is hard to know who’s who, and what I got from whom.

After much research, the current state of research suggests estimates of the heredity of Intelligence are in the vicinity of 50 to 80%. Current thinking suggests that genetics interacts with environment in terms of Genes x Environment rather than Genes + Environment. The interaction leads to genetic expression in terms of proteins and amino acids and others, which influence the outcome.

In another example of how science can go wrong (there are many examples), the book published in 1995, the Bell Curve by Harvard Psychologist Richard J. Hernstein and American Enterprise Institute political science researcher Henry Murray suggested that genetics contribute to far more than one would expect. Including African Americans are less intelligent than white people because of genetic differences. This smells a lot like Eugenics to me. This generated a lot of controversy and seems rather questionable. Another book from other scientists was published to refute those findings “Intelligence, Genes, and Success: Scientists Respond to THE BELL CURVE (Statistics for Social Science and Public Policy)” Edited By: Bernie Devlin, Stephen E. Fienberg, Daniel P. Resnick, and Kathryn Roeder. The American Psychological Association formed a task force and developed their official statement on the matter arguing that race, gender are  not correlated to intelligence, but intelligence is related to many factors and influences.

Living With Intensity

Living With Intensity, edited by Susan Daniels, Ph.D., & Michael M. Piechowski, Ph.D. Published 2009, by Great Potential Press.

This is a book intended for counselors, psychologists or social workers, but it is reasonably accessible for other people who have interests in Psychology. It discusses Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilites and Developmental theory. The book covers children, adolescents, and adults including discussions on how Overexcitabilities can lead to misdiagnosis and mental health treatment that does not help. One of the authors Michael  M. Piechowski worked closely with Kazimierz Dabrowski in his native language. Dabrowski’s theories have been very important in many psychologists and others conceptualization of gifted psychology. Includes articles by many influential authors in gifted psychology and education. Includes case studies involving working with gifted people.

Book Cover

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