Friday, September 7, 2007

Jonathan Rauch & the Introverts' Rights Movement

I want to thank Jen Robinson for a blog she posted earlier in the week about Shrinking Violets, which led to a marvelous link from one of her readers, Monica, to a 2003 Atlantic Monthly magazine article entitled Caring for Your Introvert by Jonathan Rauch. Don't you just love blogciprocity? We're sending Jen and Monica SV mugs to thank them!

This "astonishingly popular" article struck such a chord with the Atlantic Monthly readers that three years later, it is the most frequently visited on their website. I've excerpted a part of AM's 2006 interview with him here. Do yourself a favor and read both the original article and the interview.

Robin and I will see if we can get an interview with him here. A-hem, Jonathan! In the meantime, enjoy, friends!

"We love people—we're not misanthropic for the most part. We just can't socialize with them all the time. We want to hold their hand or hug them or just sit quietly and read a book with them.

I was tongue-in-cheek about the introverts' rights movement, but the main principle would just be that it should be as respectable for introverts to be who they are socially as it is for extroverts. We ought to be trying to make extroverts conscious and not uncomfortable about the fact that we're here. Extroverts should understand that if someone is being quiet it doesn't mean they're having a bad time; it doesn't mean they're depressed; it doesn't mean they're lonely or need psychiatric help or medication. A lot of the battle is making the extrovert world more aware. The onus is on us to do that. Maybe this article is a start. One thing you'll notice about the article, by the way, is that it addresses extroverts. I think that's very much the strategy; we need to tell the world who we are. The first step is to understand who we are ourselves, but the second step is to educate extroverts. This is stuff extroverts need to know. They're driving us crazy. We need to tell them."


Anonymous said...

You're very welcome, Mary. And thanks for linking to Jonathan's interview. I really enjoyed that.

One small clarification - the person who commented on my post with the link to the original Atlantic Monthly article was Monica Edinger (

Thanks for an interesting discussion. I'm looking forward to my mug!

Mary Hershey said...

Thanks, Jen! I made the correction. Glad you enjoyed the interview. I also went to JR's website. What an interesting career path he has had! Muy smart guy. Wow.


Sarah Stevenson said...

Thanks for posting the link to the original interview. Wow! I think I might have to distribute the article to a few key people...I have at least one extreme extrovert in my family (love you Mom...), and being both introverted AND somewhat shy, I definitely experience exhaustion from time to time when when we're around each other. And I know she doesn't understand why I'm so much less bouncy and energetic.

I'm so glad I found your site (via Jen Robinson's blog). Thanks!

R.L. LaFevers said...

We're so glad you found us, too, a. fortis. Thanks for stopping by!

Awoken said...

Check out the latest assault on introversion:

Perhaps our chosen inadvertant but chosen golden spokesman Jonathan can write another article on this. There are many introverted groups that are or will be upset by this: from autism, asperger's, asexuals, schizoids, Hi-IQ societies, MBTI forums like INTP INFP INTJ INFP...

Many doctors and counsellor groups as well, for examples:

The strength of our species, it is said, is in its power of mind and spirit. It is spirit and heart that controls mind that controls body and hands. APA does the bidding of those in power to cut off the head of its sole, and very sane opposition. So APA is ignorantly playing with a critical tipping point - the most powerful tipping point of all - that of and at the heart of humanity. They haven't thought the consequences through, even if one takes this as conspiracy. No parasite is successful that kills its own host.

Excessive use of DSM-V, together with extroverted public sanction will cull global brainpower. Introverts are necessary for the creation and maintainance of societies as its scientists, inventors, artists, writers, and mediators. Those who enjoy the majority of the benefits of society membership do not understand why these very prosocial activities require downtime ALONE. Yes, there are problems created by the very acts of such professions, but at least we're trying to do something with the few of us left who still manage to believe we are not too disabled!

Since all diagnoses must take into account the culture in which the person lives, and since the extroverted world is heavily pushing introverts to oblivion (by grabbing homesteading properties, by preventing employment, by social stigma that hinders mating, by drugging, by causing suicide), then... online must count as the last haven! In here, INTROVERSION is NORMAL and SOCIAL and POWERFUL. To take away this culture by concurrent diagnosis of "Internet Addiction," is to remove an introvert from home and social support network. That's HARM, any way you put it, and a violation of the supposed sacred Hypocratic oath of a doctor: First, do no harm!

Take away the introversion and the balance is disturbed in a way that erodes society's ability to solve the compounded problems it has created for itself. Doing away with introversion is a huge change, very likely to cause the extinction of our species.

We must fight the tendency to be apathetic on this one. DSM is tightening its chokehold with the ever-expanding grasp of political pharma. You're next, and it will affect everyone you care about, right down to our little children.