A portrait of Carl Jung, the founding father of introversion and personality types. (Source link)
I’m pleased to announce that my new podcast Introvert University has just been distributed on several podcast platforms. You can find it here, as well as on the following platforms:
Apple Podcasts (on the iPhone “Podcasts” app)
What is Introvert University?
As you may have read in my first blog post, I spent 34 years searching for my identity. I didn’t know why I couldn’t find a place in society or how to understand my strange and eccentric tendencies: to avoid social contact, spend most of my free time in my mind, and feel drained and exhausted by interacting with the world outside my mind (either with people, things, or the environment). Over time, I started studying personality types as a potential answer. I found the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and I consistently tested as the INTJ type, one of 16 general patterns of the human mind.
In my late 20s, found MBTI revolutionary to my thinking. The description of the INTJ fit well with my understanding of myself, and none of the other types really came close. It illuminated why I am more comfortable analyzing ideas than expressing emotions, why I enjoy deep conversations about abstract topics and don’t enjoy fast-paced physical activities. And reading about the other types helped me finally understand why other people’s tendencies were different from mine and gave me a framework for understanding them. Instead of being annoyed at how much other people seemed to talk about pointless subjects or how they liked to joke and mess around with others in ways I found jarring and disrespectful, I came to see that at least some of this behavior was normal (for them) and I shouldn’t react negatively to it. After all, some people who I initially found irritating for having these qualities became good friends after I came to know them better. Personality typing helped me understand this in a systematic way (which is how my mind works).
However, this didn’t explain why I felt alienated from society for much of my life. Most personality books and websites based on MBTI claim that many famous, successful people are INTJs, such as actors, politicians, writers, CEOs, and pop stars. If they could be successful as INTJs, then what was my problem? Why did I still feel so out of place, even after I’d grown out of my awkward teenage years, learned social skills, and become a professional educator? Why could I not find a wider audience for my novels, a group of people who enjoyed the same kinds of conversations, and people who had my same challenges in interacting with the world around us?
After studying about personalities for a long time, I also started to notice some inconsistencies. For example, MBTI said that the ESTP type was quite rare in the population, with only around 4% of people being this type. Yet a large number of people I interacted with across many different settings clearly demonstrated the behavior of ESTPs. MBTI's official numbers also said that a majority of people were conflict-averse, relationship-centered feeling types, but this also didn’t seem true to my experiences with others. Add to that my perplexity at how people with my own personality type could become comfortable in professions as social as movie star, entrepreneur, and President of the United States, and I wondered what I was missing.
So I returned to the source of personality typing, the text that Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs had used as their inspiration for the MBTI: Carl Jung’s 1921 book Psychological Types. It took me half a summer to read through it and all of my three-year philosophy graduate training to understand it, but once I finished, I realized something. MBTI and other personality typing approaches had departed significantly from Jung’s original ideas. I came to believe that for all that was right and valuable about MBTI, errors had crept in that had distorted Jung's true message. And because of this, some crucial pieces of the personality puzzle had been lost — for example, that accurately testing for type is not as easy as giving someone a questionnaire. Once I discovered this, it led me to other conclusions, such as that not all personality types fare equally well in society. While all types would be valuable to an ideal society, not all types are treated equally in an imperfect society. Introverts (and some extraverts) constitute a marginalized, oppressed population.
I decided that I wanted to revive the study of Jung’s approach to types in popular culture. I would write about Jung’s work, connect it to contemporary research about extraversion and introversion, and contribute to the current conversation about introverts in society that authors such as Susan Cain, Jenn Granneman, Marti Olsen Laney, Elaine Aron, and many others have started. So I started my book The Quiet Minority: Why Introverts are Oppressed and How We Can Solve It back in 2019. As I am in the process of refining my ideas and promoting my work to literary agents and publishers, I have received some good advice from fellow writing professionals to begin presenting my ideas in other formats.
So, I have started the Type Justice blog and begun to publish articles online. Here is one on hearing introvert voices in group decision-making and one on what introvert philosophers teach us about the introvert mind, both on Jenn Granneman's Introvert Dear website. The Introvert University podcast is part of my attempt to spread this message and encourage dialogue about introversion, not only to raise consciousness about introvert oppression and the talents and values that introverts have to offer to balance our overly extraverted societies, but also to learn from you. I know that there is much more out there to learn, and I hope that you will share with me the best resources you’ve found as well as your own insights and ideas so we can discover more about introversion together.
The podcast currently has one 37-minute episode up, entitled: “The Philosophy and Science of Introversion Lecture 1: The Origin of Introversion.” In this episode, I explain the beginnings of the concept of introversion in the work of Carl Jung, Swiss psychoanalytic psychotherapist and student of Sigmund Freud, whose early 20th century work pioneered the modern science of psychology.
One important concept he discussed was the need for human beings to develop a connection to our unconscious mind, the instinctual part of ourselves which our rational selves may disdain, but which causes us psychological problems if we ignore the needs that it presents to us. Although we are rational, thinking beings who consciously make choices, we are also subject to unconscious forces that guide us. If we ignore them, we risk unbalancing our mental life due to unmet needs we have. However, if we reconcile these opposite sides of ourselves, we can become psychologically whole individuals who have a complete sense of self and the ability to integrate our conscious, decision-making capacities with the unconscious insight that reveals new truths to us. An unhealthily extraverted person or society focuses on things of the material world, such as status, achievement, or sensory experiences. With an increased focus on developing our introverted sides, all of us—both introverts and extraverts—can balance this with reflections on meaning in life, personal values, and a connection with a higher reality.
I encourage you to listen to the podcast, and if you like it, please subscribe and share! I am currently at work on Episode 2: Jung’s Psychological Functions and Types, where I describe in detail what Jung said about what we today call personality types, where types originate, and how types relate to being an extravert or introvert.
Have you had any experience studying personality types or Jung’s ideas? Comment below with what you have found valuable from this study or any questions or confusion you have about it. I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to answer all of your questions, but as we share, we’ll hopefully come to greater insights together.
I’m Harrison Paul, the Introvert Philosopher. I hold an MA in Philosophy from San Francisco State University and wrote my thesis on using moral education in schools to resist the influence of advertising on politics. I am the author of five-book introvert epic fantasy series Kaybree versus the Angels. I am also actively seeking publication for my nonfiction book The Quiet Minority: Why Introverts are Oppressed and How We Can Stop It and the Aurora Lightwalker series of far-future YA introvert novels.