Author: Susan Cain
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group/Random House
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society. In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts…
Probably some would regard this as one of the better popular psychology books available nowadays. Those helped by its main thesis will far outweigh those who reacted negatively. The author is a self confessed introvert who has learned to live in the midst of a society that values the extrovert type and way above all else. She is obviously from the USA and so much of the book is built around the style of life lauded there. At times there appears to be that which is a little tongue in cheek in the manner she down plays the soul of the party extrovert and over stresses the quiet ‘in the corner reading a book’ introvert but she gets her point across. It is an interesting read, the first fifty or sixty pages catch the attention and the later chapters have content but get a bit laborious to wade through.
Anecdotes abound, for some these are annoying, for others, illuminating. Facts gleaned from numerous interviews with specialists digging deep into personality types and traits also abound. Findings from this and that study by this and that expert. But it all goes to the building up of a picture of the two ‘types’ of person that have been around since the days of the Greeks who maybe first put them into words. The active and the contemplative is one way of putting it. Like all analysis things can get a bit simplistic, we seem so often to be a mixture! What is to be found here helps towards both understanding ourselves and one another, but in particular the degenerating processes at work in western society. The fact that the word ‘personality’ did not appear in the English language till late in the eighteenth century. Right up to the end of Victorian times what was examined and valued was character, not personality and this began to be slowly and systematically rejected in favour of the personality type, in particular the extrovert. Perhaps some readers will critique this book as being a bit too American, many European’s’ will hold that view for sure, but even in UK we can clearly discern the outline of what is being said as having relevance. I think that some will be helped by realising that to be quiet, to be introverted is not a great deficiency but a valid expression of human personality and a fine counterbalance to the more outgoing extrovert.
The book is not written from a Christian perspective but does have relevance to the church life of today as it becomes more and extrovert in its approach to ‘market’ its message. In some ways, if read quietly and steadily it will act as a rebuke to those who set store by externals and will help to bring an attitude of humility and attentiveness toward those in their family, business and church who are not carried away by the noise and pizzazz that characterises so much of life today. Parents will gain some clues as to discern and help their children, particularly in some of the counsel set down in the latter chapters. So, all in all a helpful book.