rscn4338Well, I say we’re falling into an abyss because decades ago most of us went over the cliff edge of understanding when we accepted introvert/extrovert as fundamental to human personality.

The way introvert/extrovert is understood today is very different from what psychologist C.G.Jung intended when he introduced those terms into psychology a century ago. He saw introversion and extroversion as just two possible aspects of everyone’s character. In his book Psychological Types, he wrote this:

There is a further fact which in my opinion carries even greater weight: the psychological attitude in one and the same individual can change its habits in a very short space of time.……as I have pointed out more than once, introversion and extraversion are not traits of character at all but mechanisms, which can…be switched on or off at will. Only from their habitual predominance do the corresponding characters build up. The predilection one way or the other no doubt depends on the inborn disposition, but this is not always the decisive factor. I have frequently found environmental influences to be just as important. 

There it is. Because of that misreading of Jung we’ve been in mental free fall for a long time, going down and down into this abyss of misunderstanding.

The problem isn’t just in everyday conversation. In book after book you can find this wrong sense of introvert/extrovert. As far as I can tell, my book, The Shyness Guide, is the only current book that openly challenges this simplistic introvert/extrovert view.

You can be both an introvert and an extrovert at the same time. In The Shyness Guide I’ve demonstrated how that can be, using myself as an example.

Jung never intended that we should declare ourselves to be introverts or extroverts. He said your goal should be to live in the more solid middle ground between them.

The longer we stay on this introvert vs extrovert path that apparently goes nowhere, the longer it’s going to take us to really understand ourselves.

 

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