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By TheophileEscargot (Thu Sep 17, 2009 at 12:13:36 PM EST) Reading, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "Transition", "The Introvert Advantage". Web.

What I'm Reading
The Introvert Advantage: How To Thrive In An Extrovert World by Martin Olsen Lany. Introversion seems to be a fairly new pop-psychology fad, possibly even taking over from the Aspergers/autistic spectrum thing, so thought I ought to get on board. There are other books around like Introvert Power The Introverted Leader, and this possible spoof but Advantage seems to have been the kickstarter.

The view is that introversion is a normal human character trait, not a pathology, but makes it hard to live in a society geared around extroversion.

The book starts off with some fairly interesting content. Lany cites some neurological evidence for the brains of introverts. She claims that extroverts are less sensitive to dopamine, and thus need a constant stream of intense stimulus to be happy. Introverts are allegedly more sensitive to dopamine, which means they're happier in quiet environments, and easily overwhelmed by a lot of stimulus, like a bunch of people talking loudly over loud music at a lavishly-decorated party. Moreover, she claims that another neurotransmitter acetylcholine is more active in the brains of introverts.

Looking things up later the evidence is there, but pretty thin, with very small sample sizes.

However, the rest of the book is less interesting. A lot of the content is fairly standard techniques for managing life and emotion. A lot of them are familiar parts of cognitive behaviour therapy. There's also a lot of life-coach type stuff about managing your time and your interactions with people.

However there's also a certain amount of fairly irritating psychobabble. Lany's into Myers-Brigg personality profiling. which has always seemed a bit cultish to me. She's also keen on the entertaining but flaky Jung.

Also, her main thesis is that as well as being drained of "energy" by social interactions, introverts have less "energy" to start with. A large fraction of the book is spent explaining how important it is to take lots of relaxation time, to not let people pressure you, to delay decisions and so on.

This basically seems to me to contradict the title of the book, and the thesis that introverts are not dysfunctional. On this basis, introverts are highly disadvantaged, working slowly, only at their own pace an in their own time, and requiring vast amounts of time and pampering to recharge themselves. This seems to actually represent a huge introvert disadvantage.

I'm not actually very convinced by the less "energy" overall argument. From observation, it seems to me that if anything, the introverts around me get a lot more done overall than the extroverts, both at work and in terms of personal projects.

I wonder if as a therapist, Lany perhaps sees a lot of mildly depressed introverts, and is lumping in the symptoms of mild depression along with introversion.

The book seems to be written primarily for North American females. A lot of the cutesy terminology ("innie" and "outie") and suggestions for wacky props like Winnie the Pooh watches, may have a distinct irritant value for others.

Also not sure how universal some of the content is. Lany describes extroversion as stereotypically male and introversion as stereotypically female, but not sure that applies elsewhere. It seems to me that in the UK, it's women who are expected to be social butterflies and men who are expected to glower menacingly from behind a pint and sports page.

Overall, I can't rate this book particularly highly in its own right, though it does have some interesting content. The book does provide some interesting insight into this particular trend though.

What I'm Reading 2
Transition by Iain Banks. (Or Iain M. Banks in the US) Not sure why the confusion: it uses a pretty standard science-fictional gimmick.

It's not a return to his top form, but is a lot better than the dismal Steep Approach to Garbadale. Has some of his trademarks, like some spectacular settings and entertainingly creative sadism.

Manages to avoid excessive preachiness unlike some of his recent no-M books, though there is a certain amount of the politics you'd expect.

Tries a little to hard to rip from the headlines: he talks about recent events as "The fall of the City", which may have seemed plausible in the heat of composition. Now though it looks more like "The year the City raped taxpayers extra hard then kept on as usual".

Sadly though the book does carry on his recent trend of weak endings with an unconvincing deus ex machina, hasty tying up of loose ends, and the big issues left unresolved. It's a shame he seems to have lost the knack of good endings: "The Wasp Factory", "The Player of Games", "Use of Weapons" and "Consider Phlebas" were all very strong.

Overall, worth reading for fans, but not the best place to start, and it's not quite worth rushing out for the hardback.

Review, review, Interview.

Economics. Stumbling & Mumbling is skeptical of proposed welfare reform. David Smith Stephanomics, on leaked spending plans. Learning from Lehmans: Joseph Stiglitz, roundup.

Pics. Rocket trails. Transformers concept art. Obamadork. Colourized Empire pics. Ghost fleet of the Recession.

Video. Choose Your Own anti vegetable-knife propaganda. Dog on slide.

Random. Job voyager interactive graph of US employment trends. Thames disappears from Tube map. Sexual assault prevention tips. Word-stats derived dating rules. Movies webcomic. Carrie Fisher: so what do you look like?

Articles. Management consultancy. Motty on Lily Allen on filesharing. Keep Calm and Carry On: Austerity Nostalgia (via). Director on a Shakespeare speech. Counterinsurgency

Update [2009-9-17 18:18:59 by TheophileEscargot]:
Brilliant blog: Neuroskeptic. Neural correlates in the post-mortem Atlantic Salmon. The winner is the person whose fantasy sounds best. YouGov cheapo polls for press releases.

< This SUV comes screeching to a halt | Thinking about [redacted] >
Shake It All About | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden)
"Introvert" by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #1 Thu Sep 17, 2009 at 12:56:08 PM EST
The term was invented by Jung, and given your description of the sex differences, this pop psychologist has strayed quite far from him.

I don't think "introversion" has ever been considered a pathology by a reputable psychologist.  Nor is there any evidence at all that introverts are less likely to succeed (though there's a hell of a lot of evidence that introverts are drawn to, and succeed at, different professions from extroverts.)

I also don't think our society is particularly "geared around extroversion".  Sure, people in showy positions tend to be extroverts, but the reason for that should be obvious.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

(Comment Deleted) by xth (2.00 / 0) #9 Thu Sep 17, 2009 at 07:17:10 PM EST

This comment has been deleted by xth

[ Parent ]
Interesting by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #2 Thu Sep 17, 2009 at 12:59:43 PM EST links still show up in the box, just not
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
I love the look on the First Lady's by technician (4.00 / 1) #3 Thu Sep 17, 2009 at 01:01:00 PM EST
face in that picture. You can tell she's seen her husband with a lightsaber one too many times.

Ghost fleet of the Recession. by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #4 Thu Sep 17, 2009 at 01:44:30 PM EST
Read that yesterday, surprised it hasn't been more widely disseminated. Really shows just how bad the world economy's gotten.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

BART map here is changing too by R343L (4.00 / 1) #5 Thu Sep 17, 2009 at 02:04:32 PM EST
See here. Looks kind of ugly to me, but at least they didn't remove the Bay. :)

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot
Management consultants by Herring (4.00 / 2) #6 Thu Sep 17, 2009 at 02:35:58 PM EST
That article reinforces some of my suspicions. I would like to hear on one, just one, company where they made a real positive difference.

And what they're doing in the public sector, fuck knows. I suspect that in the NHS you have a load of healthcare professionals being managed by people who know less about healthcare being advised (expensively) by another bunch of people who know even less.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

That's certainly how it works at my hospital. by greyshade (3.00 / 2) #7 Thu Sep 17, 2009 at 03:15:04 PM EST

I work in the USofA, but I imagine the management angle is even worse with the government so heavily involved.

"The other part of the fun is nibbling on them when they get off work." -vorheesleatherface
[ Parent ]
The ironic thing is by Herring (4.00 / 2) #8 Thu Sep 17, 2009 at 05:14:45 PM EST
it used not to be. But in the last 20 years, the governments have tried to introduce "market forces" into the NHS, it needs shedloads more accountants and administrators than it needed before. Rather than hospitals just doing stuff, there is all sorts of cross charging to Primary Care Trusts and stuff.

The proportion of health expenditure that goes on admin has shot up enormously. But it's still nowhere near as high as in the US though.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by xth (4.00 / 2) #10 Thu Sep 17, 2009 at 07:20:43 PM EST

This comment has been deleted by xth

Bad book diary today! by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #11 Fri Sep 18, 2009 at 05:52:23 AM EST
The Martin Olsen Lany book sounds awful. Completely unscientific. Been reading a bit of Freud recently but I'm not sure how much further I want to go with my psychology reading, there seem to be an awful lot of bollocks in the field. Tempted to try Jung though.

I haven't gone anywhere near Iain Banks since the travesties that were Dead Air and his non-fiction book about whisky. There are too many other people to read to spend time on a writer who has so obviously lost it.

It's political correctness gone mad!

(Comment Deleted) by xth (4.00 / 2) #12 Fri Sep 18, 2009 at 09:16:55 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by xth

[ Parent ]
Shake It All About | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden)