8 thoughts on “Great TED talk on introversion. Must see!

  1. Carol

    Karen, Thanks for providing this link! I bought Cain’s book right after it came out and was so impressed by it. You know how she talks about there being no “perfect” introvert or extrovert. Of course WE all know that the Doc is almost there. My hubby stands right beside him on the continuum and so reading this book was another big eye-opener for me. Also, her statistics about just how many people are introverted, and how much “learned extroversion” we have in our society is amazing. When I took one of the “inventories” she has in the book, I found that I am much closer to the middle than I would have thought. Everyone who knows me thinks of me as this gregarious, talkative person, but I see now that a lot of this isn’t my “true” nature – I learned it from two introverted parents who disliked being introverts and felt it wasn’t good enough. They were a product of that “Dale Carnegie” time that she discusses. It has helped me learn to take some down time after I have been around a lot of people and that has made a lot of difference.

    Thanks again for bringing this out. Louisa probably needs to see this TED talk, doesn’t she? 🙂

  2. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Carol, you always impress me with your awareness of so many things. I think I would fall somewhere in the ambivert area too. I am very happy to be on my own but also enjoy getting together with others and even feel comfortable giving presentations at this point. I do think much creativity comes from individuals taking the time to simply reflect and dream.

  3. Barb

    Thank you soooooo much. What a joy this was. I think I’ll have to get her book. After listening to her talk, it started me thinking. I’m thinking that I have gotten to be more of an introvert as the years have gone on. When I was child, I used to be the announcer and in plays. I sang in the glee club. It did not bother me to speak in front of a crowd. But, I didn’t have friends, and I spent a lot of time with books. In college, we had to do things in small groups sometimes, and I would volunteer to stand up and give our findings. I was good at it. I had forgotten I used to do those things.

    I’m glad someone is speaking out for introverts because it really is seen as a big negative. I feel negative about it too…. amazing!!

    Do you think Doc became more and more introverted too… or did he just get depressed? I don’t think he was ever social, but seems like he did less and less as the series progressed.

  4. Linda

    This WAS a great talk. It sure made me think. I often think of myself as an extrovert and certainly, others would describe me that way. But, I REALLY VALUE quiet time and “wilderness” experiences. Having thought long and hard about what Cain says, I am now not sure where I would be on the continuum.

    I thought a long about Doc Martin too. She said that introverts often try not to show that they ARE introverts. He appears not to care. He also has no qualms about speaking his mind. That makes me wonder how we would describe him on the issue of introversion vs extroversion. Was he introverted by choice or was he forced into some form of exile by his vile parents? We know he was locked under the stairs and when he speaks of this, he thinks it is okay. Perhaps it was better than being berated or ignored. What might he have been like if he had been around friends and adults who appreciated him and were interested in things he was innterested in? Barb wonders if he became more introverted or was he depressed? That is a very keen observation and one that bears some thought. He was, as others have said, never social. How could he have been when he was never taught or experienced it as a child and youth? He was bullied in school and never had friends. That makes me think of students I have taught over my long career who would have been described as introverts. Now, I see they needed to be taught to be social, to stand up for themselves, to not always assume someone more extroverted was the natural leader of groups etc. If one knows this and then chooses to be introverted, then it is a very good thing. I think Cain is SO right when she says we naturally think of extroverts as the obvious choice for leadership roles and the like. We really don’t value a “quieter, low key zone of stimulation” for those who would do best in that environment. We live in a LOUD, BUSY, FAST PACED world and now I see that it is NOT always the best. As to whether Martin is/was depressed, that is a difficult question to answer. He never reveals his feelings and it may not occur to him that he IS depressed about the blood phobia and it’s catastrophic effect on his life. I think it is a HUGE SCAR and one that makes it hard for him to appreciate the ways his life has changed for the better – such as having a wife and child. It is always there – just under the surface and one day, I fear, he is going to have a breakdown unless someone skilled helps him to understandhimself.

    Carol. I’d be interested in why you think Louisa should have seen this talk. I know she challenged Martin about whether he would want James to be shy and introverted when she wanted him to take him to Minnie’s play group. Martin agreed, sort of, but did he really understand it?

    I loved this TED talk and will now explore many others. Thanks for bringing it to our attention Barb!

  5. Santa Traugott

    But Linda, I believe we are meant to think that he HAS had a breakdown. I agree with you that he is and has been depressed, for a long time, and being married and a father is not a cure-all, for sure. In fact, perhaps when one is depressed, and generally more fragile, normal levels of stimulation weigh more heavily, are more difficult to tolerate than when one is in cracking good form, feeling OK and that one can cope. And the enviroment he was in was anything but normal levels of stimulation — noisy, confusing, uncontrollable by his usual means, and above all, calling for a kind of emotional functioning that he was simply unequipped for.

    On the larger point of whether there is a difference between introversion and depression — I would say yes, definitely, although they can look alike. And people who are introverted by nature can learn to engage with others pleasantly and in ways that are gratifying, and actually, this in itself is useful skill to ward off depression.

    It may be the case, though, that introverts are more likely to become depressed. Not sure about that, though there’s probably been research.

  6. Maria

    Thank you for posting this link, Karen! I am happy that Cain’s book has gotten a lot of coverage. Though I can socialize pretty easily, I am definitely an introvert and often found the nature of introversion to be misunderstood. She explains some key points very effectively!

    Personally, I think introversion or extraversion are inborn temperamental preferences (which is not to say that once understood, preferences can’t be modified or adapted). They are about how a person feels most comfortable, whether they gain energy from being in social gatherings and interactions or in small groups/alone. I was glad that Cain explains the difference between shyness and introversion, because they are often wrongly conflated. Shyness is a behavior that is acquired and that the person feels uncomfortable with; it’s considered a type of anxiety and can be treated, if desired. In the scene where Louisa tells Martin she doesn’t want James to be “shy and introverted”, she seems to connect them as if they are the same thing. I’m not sure she understands the difference, and for that reason not separating introversion as an innate quality of Martin’s (and who knows, perhaps James’) to be accepted as different from her own, from his other issues like depression and inability to communicate that are standing in the way of their relationship. Maybe this is what Karen meant that Louisa should view this talk?

    Most of us are probably not at either extreme, but I do think problems can come in when there is one introvert or extrovert in a family of opposites and neither understands the other. Just yesterday I was at a large family gathering on my husband’s side. We asked about one person who wasn’t there, and his father said he had chosen to do something else that day because he was “antisocial”. That’s possible, of course; I don’t know the person in question that well (because he never comes to these events ), but it was interesting that he is perceived this way. The rest of this family is very extroverted, and I suspect the non-attendee might just be introverted.

    In the Martin’s case, my guess is that he was introverted to begin with. It is very interesting to speculate on how his childhood would have been if he had been more extroverted. His parents would undoubtedly still have treated him horribly, but he might have had an easier time making friends and feeling less isolated. It’s really hard to know, though – those parents could probably break just about any spirit.

    I don’t really think that introversion per se leads to depression any more than any other personality trait does. What I can imagine is that feeling misunderstood and societal pressure to be more extraverted could contribute to depression. Somewhere….(which I can’t locate at the moment) I found the interesting idea that the opposite also occurs: depression leads to introversion.

    I found an interesting article on the Huffington Post called “6 Things You Thought Wrong About Introverts” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/29/introvert-myths_n_3569058.html
    The author speculates that because extroverts gain their energy from social interactions and do get sad when they don’t spend enough time with people, they might think that introverts are depressed because they spend time alone, when that isn’t the case. The only danger is that because introverts spend a lot of time alone, they do tend to like to analyze and think – and if that becomes excessive, it could lead to depression. She also addresses the assumption that introverts don’t make good public speakers or leaders, citing Bill Gates as an example.

    This is such a great and thought-provoking topic!

  7. Linda

    Thanks Santa! I like what you say here. You are right to say he HAS had some kind of breakdown. I agree that he has broken down that but I am not exactly certain what caused it. Was it the return of the blood phobia? Was it depression? Did the depression lead to the return of the phobia or vice versa?
    He has been challenged so much this series, suffering great loss (Auntie Joan), dealing with his vile mother, becoming a husband and father, and putting his career on hold again. As you say, if he was depressed, all those things would have made life very challenging.

  8. Linda

    Maria. Your comments were spot on about introverts in social situations. We often have large gatherings of family and there are some members of the family who really don’t enjoy nor do well in these settings. Invariably, some don’t show up, or go into hiding or go home after a short visit and your are right to say that they are viewed as rude and anti-social! I will have a new view of them, having read what you say. We assume that all people enjoy the same things and the same level of interaction. We could not be more wrong. Extroverts no doubt, have no clue about why someone might back off of what to them is a FUN and stimuating event. I also, had never thought about the difference between introversion and shyness. Your comments were brilliant! So often, we push and prod shy people to participate and this just exacerbates their level of discomfort. In no way does it help them! Fascinating!

    This discussion is informative and thought provolking and I appreciate it very much.

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