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.

 

Loneliness/Isolation

I love to listen to my podcasts on the way to work. I love science oriented ones and I have found a lot at abc.net.au. 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.

Book Review: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain led to the article in Time Magazine  What if Introverts Ruled the World which I discussed in my most recent article.

This book is like the Black Power movement was to African Americans, to Introverts. In fact she starts out with Rosa Parks as the Introvert, that the civil rights movement depended on. She argues that the world is dominated by Extroverts and as recent as the 1920s the world became more dominated by the Extrovert Ideal as she put it. I would argue that it has been present long before. The work world has been dominated by extroverts and the ideal, that everyone should be extroverted and gregarious has been inculcated into people, those introverts found to be maladjusted. There is a degree of truth to her suggestions.

She spends far too much time on the Extrovert Ideal giving far to much space to people like Tony Robbins going into the whole experience like in some ways sounds like she is a fan. Being an introvert myself, I would find it extremely difficult to sit through and be part of that whole malarky. He is a slick salesman. Then she moves on to Harvard Business School and Saddle Back mega church. Her annecdotes are interesting, the research insights interesting, but the focus on the Extrovert Ideal in some ways winds up leaving me feeling inadequate, frankly I have little interest in that world.

Another problem I have with the book is it doesn’t take into consideration the Giftedness part of the equation, given that many gifted people are Introverts, it’s as though she only sees the world in white, black and gray in the middle, not a multi-dimensional, colored picture. Unfortunately as well, much of the research and researchers are old and dated.

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.

Musician: Morrissey

I am reminded frequently how intelligent, principled, the musician Morrissey is. Morissey (Steven Patrick Morrissey) first appeared in the English band The Smiths in the 1980s and is now a solo act.

He is a vegetarian, an outspoken advocate for animal rights and against child abuse. His Lyrics are very intelligent and thoughtful. In a smiths song “Meat is Murder” he makes an incredibly strong case against eating meat. He has a long career writing inspired songs and has a large following, including in the Latin community. In an interview where he was asked what political candidate he preferred, he declared he could not support either one, because all world leaders are bullies using force to change the world they live in. There is real truth here, considering what the American government has done in recent years, other dictators in Africa, the Nazis, Other European powers, including England, France, Spain in eras past.

Other songs of his, speak to how it feels to be a disaffected teenager, how it feels to be alone, the suffering of poor Mexican-American people, sexual minorities and others, powerless and helpless children, and others.

Although I admire his work, I have come to see less desirable aspects to this person. I also care about animal issues and can understand his frustration with workers in China producing goods brutally exploiting animals, Morrissey declared that they were subhuman, which is extremely racist. It also ignores the economic circumstances and the very poor in China who also have very little right.

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.

Obituary: Christopher Hitchens

This week we mourn Christopher Hitchens a writer known for his free thinking intelligent criticism and thought.

Hitchens Died thursday 12/15/2011 of Pneumonia. He had been valiantly fighting esophageal cancer for a number of years. He had been discussing and writing about his Cancer for a number of years almost ad-nauseum, including his book Hitch-22. He will be missed for his thought, writing and debate. He was known as an atheist and defended his atheistic beliefs and refused to accept religion into his fight against cancer and his dying. To be an atheist is very hard and their are few friends in this world for which I defend him. He has argued about the harm that has come from religion in many writings, including his book God is Not Great. Esophageal cancer is highly correlated with Drinking and Smoking, which Hitchens has admitted to have doing heavily. He argues that he would not change his life, even though the drinking and smoking killed him prematurely. He argued that it helped him think and write at his best. One can imagine the alcohol loosening the inhibitions and the tobaco calming the nerves.  Hitchens had been an author for Slate.com and Vanity Fair Magazine. Hitchens had appeared on television numbers of times, including on Charlie Rose.