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The Compensation for extreme Introversion


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Modern Psychology: C. G. Jung’s Lectures at the ETH Zürich, 1933-1941

In every case of very pronounced introversion, the three groups of phenomena, which I mentioned in the last lecture, occur: first, experience of the relative character of space and time; secondly, the autonomy of certain psychic contents and thirdly, the experience of symbols belonging to a centre which does not coincide with the centre of consciousness and which is equivalent to an experience of God.

If people are not fated to die in a state of complete introversion, this compensation must take place.

The inner background then becomes less intense, it is clouded over and all sorts of elements of an outer reality begin to mingle with it, till the psychic background is finally translated into the banality of daily life.

We will consider this compensation in its main stages, not in regard to any particular case, but as I have been able to observe it generally.

  1. The inner centre gradually disappears, the vision of the inner sun grows dim; spirits still persist and phenomena of a telepathic nature which are characterized by deviations from our laws of space and time.

  2. Autonomous spirits or figures disappear, only dreams and intuitions, sudden warnings and inspirations remain.

At the same time, certain peculiarities appear in consciousness: the memory is unreliable and this partial amnesia cannot be accounted for rationally.

These disturbances are all that remain of the autonomous phenomena.

Primitives explain lapses of memory by the presence of ghosts and witches who suddenly steal away the content.

  1. The whole psychic background disappears, no phenomena remain and the memory is normal.

Psychic events do not seem to exist any longer.

But the more normal the attitude becomes, the more we find a defense mechanism being set up against the contents of the psychic background which no longer app ear attractive.

Such people have resistances against these inconvenient psychic elements and begin to build a thick wall of rational scepticism and scientific attitudes round them, hoping to lock out and banish them altogether – and if something does creep through, it is dismissed as “merely psychological”.

But on account of this splitting off, a regular witches’ Sabbath of incompatible complexes goes on behind the wall.

The conscious also grows too strong in proportion to the degree in which the psychic background is walled off.

These people begin to consider themselves very interesting and important and thus become most dreadful bores; this is an inflation of the ego and is a neurotic condition.

Because they have a wrong attitude, and really know it, they become hypersensitive (over sensitiveness is always suspicious!) and a regular egg dance has to be performed around them in order not to tread on their psychological toes.

  1. This unbalanced condition improves when extraversion really sets in and all thought of the wall and what it hides is forgotten.

The person then leaves all introspection behind and turns towards the conscious world with a sense of relief and freedom.

His friends will push him still further along the path he has chosen: he must meet people, he must travel, he must throw himself into something, fill up his time, use his will etc., these people become real acrobats of the will.

The objective values now act as so many magnets, to be normal and healthy is of the first importance – but do we really know what to be “normal” means?

The inner world is now completely in the dark and appears only here and there in the form of slight disturbances.

Such a person says that he is happy and that he feels splendid. He adopts the attitude of “healthy mindedness” towards life which is typical of the American, built up entirely on the extraverted principle.

All seems to go swimmingly, he overflows with wonderful descriptions of his family and his enviable lot, till one day he goes over into the opposite and appears with a face a yard long, because he has had a bad dream.

Dreams are invasions from the Hinterland, from time to time the shadow from behind the wall announces itself.

A patient once came to me in exactly this exaggeratedly extraverted condition.

I advised him to take an hour off every day and spend it with himself.

He jumped at the idea, saying this would enable him to play the piano with his wife, to read, to write etc., and when I objected to one alternative after the other and with great difficulty made him realize that he was to be really alone, he looked desperate and exclaimed: “But I should become melancholy!”

5 . The peak of extraversion is reached when the inner world becomes entirely unconscious and the person is identical with what he would like to be or thinks he is.

We can often observe this in people who have been successful in life, they are their profession, for instance, and nothing else;they are identified with the
object and have no idea what their subject is like.

Such people appear to be wonderfully adapted to their surroundings and radiate their marvelous rightness.

They have given themselves up to a cause, they are no longer themselves, they are their position, their profession, their cause, and are already living in their biographies.

There is a good story about a Basel p arson which illustrates this condition admirably (psychology consists of good stories!).

He was full of zeal for the welfare of his congregation and eager to provide it with the recreation he felt it required, but he was poor-such people choose their parents badly and never have any money, they always have to beg it from others!

On his rounds among the richer Basel citizens, he called on a very sarcastic professor of theology who was well furnished with this world’s goods.

After much pleading, during which the professor remained unmoved, the parson leapt up in a rage, screaming: “Der Herr will es!” (The Lord demands it !)

The professor, pointing at him, replied “Der Herr will es.” (This lord demands it.)

This road leads to the illusion that what I, a lamentably small ego, want, is the will of God.

But this outward movement is not just ridiculous, for it is part of the psychological growth of man.

It is a right attitude for children and young people who have to forget the psychic background in order to go wholeheartedly into the world where they must make their way.

Youth has to build many walls in order to shut off the background from the ego, so that it may believe in the outer world; for to remain under the fascination of the inner images causes hesitation and lack of accomplishment, and to live, to be wholly devoted to something, is also an art which must not be despised.

Getting into life is absolutely essential to young people.

One could argue that they should not hear the things of which I have been speaking, yet those among them who are philosophically, religiously or artistically minded, must know that something exists besides the outer world; for if they misplace the values which belong to the inner world and try to see them outside, their world picture will become distorted.

Many difficulties arise from the fact that relationships and other outside values are treated with an importance which they do not deserve. ~Carl Jung, Modern Psychology, Vol. 1, Pages 43-45.