This book was a real treasure trove of information, and I consider myself an introvert who should have known it all already! Filled with research summaries, statistics, and case studies, it opened my eyes to aspects of our culture (and of myself) that I hadn’t previously considered.
Cain points out that “our lives are shaped as profoundly by personality as by gender or race.” She presents the American “extroversion ideal” — discussing its evolution and whether or not it is subscribed to by all cultures (it isn’t). Her case studies range from the bible (Moses was an introvert — God told him to have Aaron do all the talking) to CEOs to Tech companies (Woz vs Steve Jobs) to political figures (Al Gore).
Section 2 is all about the physiological basis of introversion which I found absolutely fascinating, and Section 3 compares cultures.
The last section of the book goes into tips for introverts who must live in this world: an entire chapter devoted to an illuminating Mars and Venus style dissertation on the communication challenges facing introverts and extroverts and strategies for schools, parents, and introverted kids (there is even a YA version of this book called Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverted Kids).
I was particularly stunned by her report on Elaine Aron’s research into “Highly Sensitive People,” of whom 70% are introverts. She describes 27 attributes ranging from sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells, pain, and coffee to their difficulty when being observed, difficulty with being judged for general worthiness, their dislike of small talk, feeling exceptionally strong emotions, processing information about their environments unusually deeply, and unusually strong consciences. Is it obvious that I resonated strongly with this? I always just thought I was a pain to travel with 😉
A well structured book with accessible writing — peppered with fun fact implications (did you know that people getting Botox injections are less anger prone because the very act of frowning — which Botox prevents — actually triggers the amygdala to process negative emotions?). I really enjoyed it and am sorry it took me this long to get around to it. I particularly urge all of you extroverts out there to give it a read!