Introverted Thinking: Bah, Humbug!

While emailing a friend about the feeling function, I ran across some of Jung’s words about introverted thinkers in Volume 6 of his Collected Works, titled Psychological Types. Being an introverted thinker myself, I experienced some grim satisfaction in reading what I’m sure Jung didn’t intend to be funny, but which had me smiling wryly and wondering whether I should hang myself today or wait until after Christmas.

Here’s the passage:

[The introverted thinking type] tends to vanish behind a cloud of misunderstanding, which gets all the thicker the more he attempts to assume, by way of compensation and with the help of his inferior functions, an air of urbanity which contrasts glaringly with his real nature. Although he will shrink from no danger in building up his world of ideas, and never shrinks from thinking a thought because it might prove to be dangerous, subversive, heretical, or wounding to other people’s feelings, he is none the less beset by the greatest anxiety if he ever has to make it an objective reality. That goes against the grain. [. . .]

In the pursuit of his ideas he is generally stubborn, headstrong, and quite unamenable to influence. His suggestibility to personal influences is in strange contrast to this. He has only to be convinced of a person’s seeming innocuousness to lay himself open to the most undesirable elements. They seize hold of him from the unconscious. He lets himself be brutalized and exploited in the most ignominious way if only he can be left in peace to pursue his ideas. He simply does not see when he is being plundered behind his back and wronged in practice, for to him the relation to people and things is secondary and the objective evaluation of his product is something he remains unconscious of. Because he thinks out his problems to the limit, he complicates them and constantly gets entangled in his own scruples and misgivings. [. . .]

In his personal relations he is taciturn or else throws himself on people who cannot understand him, and for him this is one more proof of the abysmal stupidity of man. [. . .]

Lovely description, isn’t it? It gets better, but I won’t bore the reader. What interests me about this bit is that only a half hour before reading this passage, I updated my Facebook status to say that I am “wearying myself with principles.” Before that, I had a bout of focused sadness that began last night as I wrapped Christmas presents and has persisted until today. It is all too true that I am suggestible to personal influence, so much so that I have naively believed a few incredible things that have completely changed the course of my life and that of my family, and not in reality for the better. That my husband is also an intuitive thinker only exacerbates the problem, for we believe in principles, possibilities and, yes, magic. It’s not until we are “being plundered behind” our backs “and wronged in practice” that we realize with a shock how stupid we really are about the world as it is, and people as they are. I’m left “brutalized and exploited,” and then weep over my own depletion.

The good news is that only 16% of the population are intuitive thinkers (NT’s). That’s not enough to ruin the world if all 16% never transcend their basic personalities, but it is enough for a support group.

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