Author SUSAN CAIN
A book on temperament and personality that some are highly critical, they say that it fails to fulfill the promise of its title whereas the majority view see it as a very helpful treatise on the subject of introversion and extraverts. The result of five years research the author obviously classes herself as an introvert who has profited from who she is and has gained great help from both discovering how to accept her dominant temperament and overcoming the downsides of shyness and fear of public speaking amongst other things. The bringing together of data and figures, the interviews with those scholars and experts who are involved in research alone makes the observations found in this book of great value. That the idolatry of extraversion is a particularly American phenomena is undeniable, the resulting pressing of that one third to half of the population into either withdrawing into a more private world or seeking to emulate the extravert must be faced. In one section she compares the dominant approach within Asian culture to that of the West, America in particular. Our own experience of both Asia and USA would confirm her thesis. There is plenty of food for thought to be found in these pages, parents with the raising of their children in view would find much profit, teachers and those in business likewise and not to mention Christian leaders in the churches. Although this is not a Christian book the subject matter has a definite bearing on what is going on in the church of today. So many congregations are dominated by the extravert ideal whilst the more thoughtful introvert is disregarded by the group mentality where the loudest voices are listened to and hold sway. Any self-examination an individual is prepared to take will, as this author avers, realize that the dividing of human beings into the extravert/introvert is not as simple as it seems. Most of us we might classify ourselves as ‘more introverted but with some extravert tendencies too’ or perhaps the opposite, but whatever we may feel there is truth to the dominant ‘type’ of person we are and to understand each other and how we ‘tick’ can only be helpful. I would think that some of the critics of this book were looking for a neat and easy answer and necessary keys to a therapy that would cure them of apparent deficiencies but I did not sense this to be the purpose of what is found here. Rather it is the opening of a crucial subject, written in a kindly style, endeavoring to give an overview within the context of society, as we now know it. How little quiet there really is, people busy networking, discussing, brainstorming and generally making a noise with very little listening. No wonder many are seeking out monastic retreats, or going to the hills for some ‘downtime’. Here is a book, written by someone from the noisy city of New York, “the city that never sleeps,” the granddaughter of a Jewish rabbi who left an indelible impression on many others as well as his grandchild as to the joy of listening, learning, reading, pondering and she writes to awaken us all to the necessity of these things in order to live something that approximates proper human life.