Jung on being an introvert

When I was at university I remember taking the Meyers-Briggs personality test. I came out as an INFP. We’re the rarest group.

These types are derived from the work of Carl Jung, and recently I read Jung’s essay on the psychological types. It’s not light reading, but it is very clearly written and full of insights.

It is to Jung that we owe the terms introvert and extrovert, and Jung means these terms to refer to whether our flow of psychic energy is primarily towards the outer world  – extroversion, or the inner world – introversion.

Jung has much more to say than this. For instance, he points out that the main problem for the introvert in the West is that, living in an extroverted culture, he tries to adapt himself to the prevailing norm and ends up not being true to his  inner nature. The opposite would be true for an extrovert living in an introverted culture, as it often found in the Orient.

Jung also explains why introverts can be annoying (especially to extroverts): the greater the tendency to direct our energy inwards, the more it is withdrawn from the outer world, the result being a loss of contact. Well, we all knew that, and in fact that’s what introverted has come to mean in popular parlance – withdrawn. But Jung is not saying that being withdrawn is the same as being introverted, he’s saying something else: that we have a psychic economy, and the more we direct our energy towards our inner world, the less is available for the outer.


~ by scalambra on April 23, 2007.

One Response to “Jung on being an introvert”

  1. I was looking for something else when I stumbled upon this site..and this message. My son and I are both INFP and I have watched him struggle all his life because he thought something was wrong with him. He has gifts his contemporaries are going to pray for some day. I accepted my introversion early, so don’t have a problem with it…except, in America, being like a fish out of water. Thanks for your entry.

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