Essays Featured — 04 October 2016

Marc looks at Carl Gustav Jung’s division of humanity.

Sometimes I am more extravert and sometimes I am more introvert, it can depend on my mood. When I was young, I was more extravert, outgoing, and now as I am getting older (60) I tend to be more introvert, more going in. The terms introversion and extraversion were popularized by Carl Gustav. Extraversion tends to be manifested in outgoing, talkative, energetic behaviour, whereas introversion is manifested in more reserved and solitary behaviour. Extraversion and introversion are typically viewed as a single continuum. So, to be high in one necessitates being low in the other.

Personality

Jung suggests that everyone has both an extraverted side and an introverted side, with one being more dominant than the other. Rather than focusing on interpersonal behaviour, however, Jung defined introversion as an “attitude-type characterised by orientation in life through subjective psychic contents” (focus on one’s inner psychic activity) and extraversion as “an attitude type characterised by concentration of interest on the external object” (the outside world). 

Extraversion

Extraversion is the state of primarily obtaining gratification from outside oneself. Extraverts tend to enjoy human interactions and are enthusistic, talkative, assertive, and gregarious; they are more prone to boredom when they are by themselves. They take pleasure and are energized through activities that involve large social gatherings, such as parties and community activities and tend to work well in groups. An extraverted person is likely to enjoy time spent with people and find less reward in time spent alone.

Introversion

Introversion is the state of being mostly interested in one’s own mental self. Introverts are typically perceived as more reserved or reflective.Some psychologists have characterized introverts as people whose energy tends to expand through reflection and dwindle during interaction. Introverts often take pleasure in solitary activities such as reading, writing, using computers, hiking and fishing. The archetypal artist, writer, sculptor, engineer, composer and inventor are all highly introverted. An introvert is likely to enjoy time spent alone and finds less reward in time spent with large groups of people, though they may enjoy interactions with close friends.

Implications

Acknowledging that introversion and extraversion are normal variants of behaviour can help in self-acceptance and understanding of others. For example, an extravert can accept his/her introverted partner’s need for space, while an introvert can acknowledge his/her extraverted partner’s need for social interaction. Humans are complex and unique, and because introversion-extraversion varies along a continuum, individuals may have a mixture of both orientations. Rather than being fixed and stable, individuals vary in their extraverted behaviours across different moments, and can choose to act extraverted to advance important personal projects or even increase their happiness. This is called ambiversion. An ambivert is moderately comfortable with groups and social interaction, but also relishes time alone, away from the crowd. In a darshan, Osho speaks on Jung’s categories:

“The categories into which Jung has divided humanity are true as far as the humanity that exists today is concerned – but they should not be true for the future. Jung divides humanity into the extravert and the introvert but that division has to be dissolved; one should become capable of both. And the miracle is that the moment you are capable of both you transcend both. Only the transcendental can be capable of moving in and moving out.”

With thanks to Osho who showed me there is so much more to meditation than sitting meditation alone!

Quote by Osho from Going All The Way, Ch 15

MarcMarc is a regular contributor

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In this article, the spelling of extravert and extraversion has been used in acknowledgement of Carl Gustav Jung’s definition.

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