Introversion and Extroversion

April 19, 2009

Introversion and extroversion are commonly used as words to describe personalities. Today, introversion is used to describe people who are shy or reserved, while extroversion describes people who are more outgoing and talkative. But what did these words mean to Carl Jung, the brilliant Swiss psychoanalyst and medical doctor of the late 19th century? The following are his descriptions of introverts and extroverts from The Portable Jung, edited by Joseph Campell.

According to Jung, introverts are shy and reserved individuals that would rather read a book or spend time by themselves. They tend to like spending time with family and a small group of friends rather than being around a large group of individuals. Extraverts, on the other hand, are more approachable than introverts and are open and sociable.

Introverts withdraw from objects, whether or not the objects are people or situations. Introverts withdraw from the object so that it cannot gain power over him. From a biological standpoint, introverts defend themselves from the demands of the outside, trying to conserve energy by withdrawing from the object. The actions of an introvert are often determined by internal conditions and thought.

Extroverts are oriented and engaged by the object, wanting to get completely involved in the situation at hand. In terms of the concept called the “survival of the fittest”, extroverts try to propagate themselves towards to object as much as possible. Their actions are driven externally and by what is happening in their immediate environment.

It should be noted, though, that introversion and extroversion lie on a spectrum. For example, if you are somewhat like I am you may have taken Jung’s personality test online, called the Myers-Briggs typology test. This is a 16 factor test that takes different aspects of your personality into account. Based on your multiple-choice responses, you would be notified of whether or not you are introverted or extroverted – which is given as a percentage. As for myself, I am 47% introverted out of a 100% scale, which means that I mostly lie in between an introvert and an extrovert. If you are interested in taking the test, then here is the link: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes1.htm.

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