This past week, I went to see the Red Book of C.G. Jung, the father of analytical psychology, at the Rubin Museum in New York. The Red Book is Jung’s personal copy of paintings and hand written observations bound in a large red leather book. Until recently almost no one was allowed to view the Red Book. He created this book to document a period in his life when he was “menaced by psychosis”. It represents Carl Jung’s personal experiences and his willingness to explore the range of his own unconscious fantasies. Through his ability to see the problems of his life as guides to their solution, he helped establish tremendous contributions to modern psychology. Jung saw the relationship between the myths and symbols of all cultures as a key to understanding how our unconscious expresses ideas. He understood that many of the myths represent the journey we all take to become fully developed human beings.
In 1910 Jung published a paper entitled, “Psychic Conflicts in a Child,” in which he introduced the term “introversion” for the first time. Often we think of introversion in the negative sense. The child who sits in the corner lost in his own thoughts. Kurt Cobain, whose tremendous sensitivity led to his own demise. Or Adam Sandler, the withdrawn, quiet or nervous actor. In many ways these are viewed as weaknesses in a world that values extroversion and explicit demonstrations of power or materialism.
However, introversion produces the results similar to finely cooked meal. A meal that has been carefully planned. Perhaps where days have been spent marinating the food or collecting the spices and ingredients. When the meal is finally served there is no comparison to the fast food, immediate gratification of the extrovert. An introvert may be the child who does not speak until he is two, then produces full sentences with observations long forgotten by others. The introvert in fairy tales is the boy who sits in the corner doing nothing, while his brothers attempt to be arrogant heroes and fail miserably. It is finally the unspoken hero, the quiet youngest son who finds the solution to the problem.
Jung said, “The inner world is a delight for the introvert. He feels at home, where the only changes are made by himself. His best work is done with his own resources, on his own initiative, and in his own way. If ever he succeeds, after long and often wearisome struggle, in assimilating something alien to himself, he is capable of turning it to excellent account.”