Quiet Riot: The Power of Introversion


Introversion: it sounds like the name on an 80s pop band or some kind of condition you just need to get over already. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it as: “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life.”

Sigmund Freud, in that way only he could, ascribed sexual meaning to the most non-sexual thing and considered being introverted a form of pathology, a way to deal with the outside world (and sex) by shutting in on oneself. Carl Jung was much kinder in how he saw introversion, seeing it more as an attitude toward life, an inner psychic kind of energy.

These days, thankfully, the introvert is enjoying a surge in popularity and is not only very functional, but quite capable of contributing to the world. Two exceptional books to have come out recently address the hidden wealth and beauty of being an introvert in a world that often screams extrovert.

“Introverts who are not shy,” Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert’s Way, writes; “[they]are used to being told they could not possibly be introverts.” Many assumptions are made about introverts that are outright false or just the result of well-intentioned misunderstandings, including the misconception that an introvert is a snob.

“I have to admit, there were times over the course of my life…when even I wondered if maybe I were some kind of coldhearted snob. Why was I so reluctant to go to parties and why did I want to leave them shortly after arriving? Why? Because it’s not my nature. I’m an introvert. And there’s not a damn thing wrong with me.” So says Dembling who provides scientific and cultural background about introversion as well as helpful tips and an understanding of the introvert’s nature.

If you’re an introvert, it isn’t that you’re shy, but that you appreciate the benefits of quiet solitude. You’re not antisocial, instead, you find spending time alone a great way to recharge before moving on again in the world. It’s not that you dislike people, but that you find more meaning in one-on-one connections than in large get-togethers.

Another recent book (which appeared on The New York Times Best Seller list and at one point had almost 200 requests on it at HCLS) on introversion is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Susan Cain’s amazing book truly speaks to anyone who is introverted or understands what it’s like to be. 

“Without introverts,” Cain tells the reader, “the world would be devoid of the theory of gravity, the theory of relativity, W. B. Yeats’s ‘The Second Coming,’ Chopin’s nocturnes, Proust’s ‘In Search of Lost Time,’Peter Pan, Orwell’s ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm,’ The Cat in the Hat,Charlie Brown, ‘Schindler’s List,’ ‘E.T.,’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’ Google and Harry Potter.”

As someone who is an introvert, I love that the author recognizes many introverts feel social pressure to be outgoing and talkative and that they can be quite good at disguising that little fact.

Full of lots of interesting insights and useful information, QUIET gives credit to some of the most innovate minds that just happen to be introverted. Praising the hidden strengths of introverts, Cain suggests that revealing the power of quietude will not only free introverts to be themselves, but will add to positive advancements in leadership, parenting, intimate partnerships, and the workforce.

Angie Engles has been with the Howard County Library System for 17 years, 14 of which were at the Savage Branch. She currently works at the Central Branch primarily in the Fiction and Audio-visual departments. Her interests include music, books, and old movies.