Susan Cain is a disillusioned Wall Street lawyer, now author, promoting her book. Publishing is an industry dominated by liberal thinkers. Is it small wonder that a book that demonizes Wall Street and other aggressive type industries/corporations would be championed by those same liberal devotees, thereby providing the book with wildly positive reviews, making it a best seller, while appealing to those of like minds? Susan Cain interviewed many introverts and did an enormous amount of research in preparation for the book, but most of us know that statistics can pretty well be manipulated to prove anything the researcher wishes. She shows her political stripes with the mention of three particular persons in her book, quoting them or acknowledging their superiority in some way, i.e., former Vice President Al Gore, Former President Bill Clinton and present President Barack Obama. I think I can reasonably draw the conclusion that since she chose to only use representatives from the Democrats, that she falls very comfortably into the category of those in the publishing industry who rarely, or barely, tolerate views from the right. Surely, there must be someone on the right side of the government who has said or done something she appreciated as much and could have included and quoted positively, but she chose not to do so.
Cain analyzed those in relationships with introverts, parents of an introvert, those who work with introverts, those married to introverts, Asians vs Americans, essentially, those whose own personalities were in conflict with the people with whom they were interacting. She also interviewed and drew conclusions about those married to or involved with someone with the same personality proclivity, introvert to introvert, extrovert to extrovert, etc. She chose anecdotal references to prove her specific points. The audio’s reader spoke in a confident, authoritative voice, making the listener believe the explanations offered were credible, although after exploring the comments from other introverts, some of their feelings would belie her results. It felt like even as she was apologizing and attempting to present extroverts and introverts equally, she seemed to be indicting extroverts as bullies and extolling introverts as compromisers contributing to the world more meaningfully. Extroverts were risk taking and warlike while introverts were peace-loving and docile. As she wrote, introverts were interested in substance and extroverts were interested in style. I am not sure that is a positive statement for both sides of the spectrum. It feels like a left-handed compliment. In my opinion, according to her theories, the introverts are the thinkers and everyone else is simply a noisemaker.
The book was not what I expected. I thought it would be more about the achievements of both introverts and extroverts rather than an explanation of how one betters the other, most of the time. I thought it would be about the appreciation of silence, at times, of living in a world without the silent scream of the social media scene, in which everyone is capable of excessively sharing! Basically, Cain, who is a person who prefers individuality and privacy, explored the workings of our world today which is governed by group think, open workspace and online sharing of all aspects of our lives. She cited many influential people, from all walks of life, past and present, as examples of introvert and extrovert behavior. Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Tony Robbins, Dale Carnegie, Alfred Adler, Malcolm Gladwell, Pastor Rick Warren, Steve Wozniak, Warren Buffett, Ted Turner are only some of those mentioned.
Does she have the proper credentials to write a book offering and supporting theories that can’t really be proven? I had the feeling that she chose a premise before putting pen to paper, and then, she set about to prove it. Admittedly, she declares herself an introvert, so she might have put a thumb on the scale on her own behalf, since I thought that introverts came off far more positively, in the book, than extroverts, who were accused of being only the stimulus for innovations, while the introverts were the ones who thought more deliberately and made wiser, more thoughtful, and more often, correct decisions to carry out those innovations.
From the comments I read from other readers, who declared themselves introverts, I was not alone in my wariness about the book. Most people are all over the spectrum, with few being a pure introvert, extrovert or ambivert. The author declares that she is using the everyday spelling of extrovert, rather than the scientific, extravert, but then proceeds to present the book in a very cerebral way. Some of the studies she cites seem to be conclusive, but I feel certain there are others that declare the exact opposite and are also conclusive, but are not included. She infers that the old brain spurs us on, often to act foolishly, and it resides in the Limbic system and governs the extrovert. The new brain is in the Cortex and it is responsible for our sensible decisions; it governs the introvert. She talks about the amygdala and the frontal lobe and the cerebellum. These terms are not on the tips of most people’s tongues. She declares that there may be a genetic connection between dopamine and serotonin with dopamine leading to risk taking and serotonin to risk avoidance. Some of her theories seemed to simply be her own conjectures, some felt like they were made up out of whole cloth.
The book offers pat explanations about the difference between extroverts, introverts and everything in between. I felt that her conclusions were basically “one size might fit all”. Because the audio’s reader was excellent, the book was tolerable. Otherwise, I would have closed it and left it unread which is something I rarely do. However, the reader used just the right amount of expression and tone to make it a manageable experience and keep me involved until the end.