Personality Types: Introversion & Extraversion, the Real Meaning According to Carl Jung (Pt.1)
On the ancient Temple of Delphi in Greece it was inscribed “Know thyself and you will know the universe and it’s Gods.” How often is it though that we do not understand why we think, act and experience the world the way we do? Even more often we do not understand why the people around us behave in particular ways, and why someone can seem just so fundamentally different than us. The reason according to Carl Jung, the great psychologist of the 20th century, is that we ARE fundamentally different. That difference comes largely from the personality type, which is essentially what our temperament is from birth. It the way we are hardwired to experience the world, and how we relate to people and things. Interestingly our personality type is not only decided by our genetics or even our upbringing, but from other mysterious factors. To know yourself and others is an incredible important thing for everything: from bettering our relationships, to finding our true passions, to understanding that people who think differently than us are not necessarily wrong, but may just be a different personality type. There are a variety of systems of personalities: there are the big five traits of personality, the signs of the zodiac, the humors of ancient medicine, the enneagram types, the ayurvedic doshas and most recently the system that Meyer’s-Briggs developed from Carl Jung’s theories of personality. In this article we are diving into that wonderful system developed by Jung, and it’s one of my favorite personality type systems. Why is that? Well you don’t need to believe anything to find use in this system because Carl Jung developed the idea of these fundamental types from 1,000’s of patients that he treated in his psychology practice just based observing commonalities and differences between people. In other words, this system is not created, it is discovered. This makes it a very powerful tool in understanding ourselves, our strengths and our weaknesses and how to get along better with people we just can’t seem to understand. Here is an infographic that gives a great overview on the system Meyers & Briggs developed from Jung’s theory. Credit to By Jake Beech – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
As you can see from 8 different paired attributes much of a personality can be understood. There is much more depth to this system as there are “shadow functions” “auxiliary functions” and other elaborations of this system, but the fundamentals of it will bring great understanding of yourself and others; so that is what we will focus on the basics of the personality types according to Jung and how to discover what type you and your loved ones belong to! In essence there are 8 describing terms used to determine the personality type. They are 4 pairs of opposites with a person having a tendency towards one or the other. In total this makes for 16 unique personality types. This is a crucial point as if you are an introvert for example, you are not only an introvert, but also have extroverted qualities. Someone can be let’s say 70% introvert and 30% extrovert, which means they perceive the world predominantly through the lens of introversion. It is really important to understand all the types have positives and negatives, and there is no best type. Each type just has certain predispositions and ways of behaving that they may not even be aware of. This system can be really helpful to decide a career path, what you want from a romantic relationship and aspects that would help to work on! Let’s dive in and begin analyzing our personalities! To understand the personality, we use the terms: Introvert vs. Extrovert, Sensations vs. Intuition, Thinking vs. Judging and Feeling vs. Perceiving. In general, these types describe a tendency towards a certain way of perceiving and adapting to the world. They are how our minds function, and why some people just seem so fundamentally different. When put together you get a type such as ISTP which means an Introverted, Sensation focused, Thinking dominant and perceptive type. Let us now get into what all those fancy letters mean so you can get to analyzing yourself and your friends! Introvert Vs. Extravert Introvert– We typically think of an introvert as someone who is shy, quiet and more to themselves. However, it is not as simple at that, nor is it a necessarily accurate description according to the original meaning of this term. In its essence the introverted personality type is focused on the subjective factors of life rather than being outwardly focused on the world. Their inner experience is paramount, and external occurrences are secondary to their interest. What they feel, think, perceive and imagine are the main focuses of their mind, hence they may be perceived as quiet by an external environment- but an introvert is anything but quiet internally- they have a rich internal experience that can be separate from what occurs in the environment. Due to this the generally “extrovert” focused cultural bias has made introversion to look as if it was a weakness, rather than what it is- a very crucial difference in the way a person’s psyche functions. In specific psychological terms, the introvert projects their libido (psychic energy) inwards, rather than outwards as the extrovert does. To the introvert the most apparent to them is not the world, but their perception of the world. The subjective content is of the highest value to the introvert, so an the idea of an object is more important to the thinking type and to a feeling introvert how an object makes them feel is the essential thing. Due to this predisposition towards subjectivity the introvert: – Is aloof from external events – Does not like crowds, prefers small groups or solitude – Works best alone, doing things their own way from their own motivations – Is in general mistrustful of others and may close themselves off from contact when stressed – Tends to rebel against societal values, and popular opinions – Tends to have fewer, but closer friends – Is warm with people only when trust has developed – Prefers quiet, feels most at home alone in their own company – Finds their psychic reality more interesting than the external world or events Extravert- The extravert is fundamentally someone interested primarily in the external world, the happenings, events, people and things outside of themselves-what we call the “objective world”. Introverts and Extraverts are fundamentally opposed in the way their psychic energy is projected. The subjective conditions of the introvert are their main psychic focus while the extravert projects their psychic energy outwards to the world of objects. This often leads to a lack of understanding between these two fundamental types, as they couldn’t be any different than they are. In general, the extravert has a difficult time understanding how the introvert can be so self-focused and often will criticize them as being self-centered, egoistic or just otherwise full of themselves. They cannot imagine that anything other than the external world could be of any interest to a person. To the introvert, the extrovert may seem shallow, someone who doesn’t think for themselves, someone who is rather mundane and follows the ways of “the sheep”. This however, isn’t the truth, as this perception is due to the fact that the extravert is fundamentally shaped by their environment, and follows the norms of society because they by nature adapt readily to the external world. The extravert is not particularly interested in understanding their psyche, their motives or their overall internal experience but rather lives in the world, enacting their psyche through action and interaction with the environment. Carl Jung once beautifully described the difference between the extravert and introvert as follows: An introvert and extrovert are walking alongside each other on an adventure to a magnificent castle where there is a treasure inside. Along the way the extrovert is very excited, amazed by all the sights and sounds and is jumping around enjoying their adventure to this castle while the introvert is not so interested and is wondering what this is all leading to, in their own mind, thoughts, plans and experiences of the situation. When they get into the castle, they find an amazing library with thousands of ancient books filled with knowledge. After about a few minutes of touching some books and looking around the extravert becomes kind of sullen and bored, they just don’t understand what there is to do in this place. There are no people really, nothing happening, and no action. The introvert on the other hand lights up and suddenly becomes filled with energy as they pick up books on topics that interest them and loses himself in the world of words at their fingers. They are in a sort of rapture, saying “isn’t this place amazing?” while the extravert unenthusiastically nods “sure it is.” This story is a great example of the key difference between the 2 fundamental type and does not necessarily have to do with if someone likes to read books or not. It more depicts that an introvert lives in an internal world of feelings, ideas and stories that are lit up by something like books (which are basically reading your own mind), while the extravert is interested in the adventure, the action and things that bring them to self-awareness are generally quite boring to them. This doesn’t make them less spiritual than the introvert, they’re spirituality is just expressed differently- through action and living in the world. An extravert is more likely to be found at church, a social form of religion, while the introvert is more likely to describe themselves as spiritual but not religious ( showing their classic disdain for what is popular). Due to the external world focus of the extravert they tend to: – Make decision based on circumstances, go with the flow rather than reflect – Be interested in world affairs, what’s happening in society, their neighborhood, and their social circles – Be “normal” in that they often do what is expected by society and hold similar moral standards as are popular at the time. – Forget about their body when in pursuit of a goal, and may have little care or interest in their subjective state of body and mind – Be influenced by the environment and people around them, and desire to be influential in external happenings In the next article we will dive into the remaining 6 descriptors of personality: Sensation vs. Intuition, Thinking vs. Feeling, Perception vs. Judgement. Here’s a sneak peak of what we will explore: These 6 describing types refer to the preferences for certain psychic functions over others that allow for adaptation and orientation in the world. Every person has the ability to use all these modes of perception, but their natural preferences and predisposition make certain ones more prominent than others, thereby giving them a certain psychological type. It was crucial to speak of introversion and extraversion first as these two fundamental types also have great differences in how these 6 psychic functions manifest. Purposes of the 6 Functions that Form the Psychological Types: Psychic Focus Sensation: to establish that something exists, perception with sense organs Sensation types tend to restrict themselves to a perception of the concrete reality, without thinking or feeling too much about it. A perfect example is a person who is very pragmatic and sees the world “as it is”. If they can’t sense something, it isn’t real to them. Vs. Intuition: perception by way of the unconscious, or perception of the unconscious contents Intuitive types tend to experience the world as a realm of possibilities, and do not concern themselves as much with how they think or feel about something. They make know something and not be able to explain why because this form of perception is based on the unconscious, not on senses, rationality or feeling. A perfect example is a true psychic that tells you what is on your mind, but they can’t explain how they know. Decision Making Thinking: intellectual cognition and using logic to form conclusions Thinking types are guided by what they think and have difficulties adapting to a situation that they can’t understand through the intellect. They are led by logic, “think things through” before acting, and generally hold things true which make sense to their intellect. A great example of this is someone like Aristotle, who was a philosopher very focused on a logical understanding of the world that led to much of what became the modern scientific method. Vs. Feeling: Determining the value of something subjectively Feeling types are mostly guided by whether something or someone is pleasant or unpleasant, good or bad, and are very influenced by their feelings of a situation. They may decide a career path because it just “feels right” or be friends with someone because they just get a “good vibe” from them. An example of this is a mystic type that goes with the flow and based on how they feel, their emotional experience of a situation is largely what influences how they will react. Approach to the World Perception: open minded and spontaneous tendencies A perceptive type tends to keep their option open and perceive the world in a less structured way with less rules. They tend to be able to change their views in adaptation to their experiences, able to change their outlook based on new information. An example of this is someone who can hear a new fact and find it is pretty easy to change their opinion or view of the subject because of it. Vs. Judgement: structuring and organizing of the world tendencies A judging type has a structured way of approaching the world, and functions based on their theory of it. Judging types are less open to change and are constantly comparing new information with their current understanding. They are less likely to change their mind, and often stick to what they know. To a judging type the world is structured in a certain way and this make it seem more predictable to them. An example of this type is someone who is more conservative and tends to fall back on tradition or their previous experience of the world in understanding it. If you’d like Part 2 to be sent directly to your email just sign up on the homepage. It’s completely free! My purpose in all of this is to spread this wonderful knowledge because it’s just fascinating to me and I believe that it can make a big difference in people’s mental health and how they interact with others! In part 2 we’ll be going very in depth on sensation vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling and perception vs. judgement and how to discover what your type is, what types you get along with and how to understand other personalities! If you’d like to read more about the personality types check out the main source of this article, from the great master himself, Carl Jung! Just because I love you guys, I’m including a link to a free download but keep it on the down-low J
Psychological Types, Volume 6 of the Collected Works of Jung, edited and translated by Gerhard Adler and F.C. Hull, 1957. Princeton University Press.