INTROVERSION: the secret value of silence

May 13, 2021

Photo Credit: Benjamin Davies via Unsplash

The terms introversion and extraversion, now cultural staples, originated with Jung and describe the overall direction of life energy. The widely used Myers-Briggs Typology Indicator (MBTI), now available online, is drawn directly from Jung’s theory of personality types. Although extraverts direct their energy outward, introverts direct their energy inward. External-world relationships and events tend to pale in comparison to ideas, internal images, and reflective processes.

The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke expressed this idea pithily: “I am in love with you, and it’s none of your business.” Introverts are not shy, reclusive, fearful, detached, or avoidant—they simply find their inner world enlivening. Introversion places a high value on receptivity, quietude in a busy world, and relationship with oneself.  Jung, himself an introvert, valued the ability to claim inner life, freedom, and independence. 

 Here’s the dream we analyze:

“I’m in the central square of my native city with my grandmother and my cousin (he and I are in our teenage years). We hear a deep rumbling as though a huge mass of water is approaching. We look around, trying to figure out which way it is coming from. I see a gigantic wave crashing over the clock tower, which looks more ancient than the one in my real city. The three of us stand facing the wave. My grandmother grabs both of our hands and says, “We hardly have a chance.” I think that it might be the end but still hope to survive. The wave hits us (I often dream of huge waves but never been hit by one before). I’m holding my breath underwater. It is dark. Then the water subsides. Now it’s completely gone. People walk around as though nothing much happened. I meet a couple of my classmates who are not at all surprised that they survived.”


QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. Susan Cain. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0307352153/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_Q0RT7W8KQSFTGYZYG0GF


Learn to Analyze your own Dreams:  https://thisjungianlife.com/enroll/


  1. Alexandra

    Dear Lisa, Joseph and Deb,
    I’m the dreamer of this episode and I’m completely amazed how ALL of your ideas and intuitions were spot-on. Thank you for your generous attention and encouragement. I’m binge listening to your podcast, and it’s been having a tremendous influence on my ways of experiencing the inner and the outer worlds. Hope you can feel my love and appreciation even from across the ocean. I’ll keep living this Jungian life with your voices in my ear 🙂

  2. Joseph Lee

    How wonderful! Glad to hear it was helpful.
    ~ Joseph

  3. Memberfix


  4. Mamie Allegretti

    Another interesting episode. I’m an introvert and so is my husband so we enjoyed this discussion. I think one of the great strength of introverts is the ability to be alone with themselves. The world out there is so extraverted and that quality is encouraged and supported. So introverts are forced to step up to the plate and get out there. They can muster up the energy to do this and then be perfectly happy to be alone afterwards. I’m not sure this is as easy for extraverts. For example, I think it must have been much easier for introverts to handle covid lockdown. I thought it very interesting that there was such a furor over the pain and destruction of one’s mental health by having to be away from people. You couldn’t turn on the tv without being told how horrible this was. But I’m sure there were many people who were quarantined quite happily (me being one of them). I had an introverted student tell me she never cried as much as when she had to go back to school. And I understood what she meant. I think the context of a situation often comes into play as well. Even though I’m an introvert, I love to go out dancing and to parties but I do it less often. I also think that introverts may be better at setting boundaries because they cherish their private time and will go to great lengths to protect it. It’s funny you mention Dr. Spock as an example of introverted thinking (which I am). I had a friend who used to call me that all the time. I think other factors come into play as well in terms of being introverted. For example, I am an only child and so I was used to being alone a lot. I also had trouble at school. I was quiet and preferred sitting alone reading instead of socializing. This caused great consternation in my teachers but my parents understood and supported me. At one point during the episode my husband remarked that you were speaking as though introverts are aliens and then Joseph made a comment to that effect. So we had a laugh. As a teacher, I see how our culture encourages the extravert student and teacher. For example, group work and student interaction is glorified. This can be excruciating for introverts. Students who like to be alone are often viewed as anti-social or aloof or stuck up. I try to do all I can to support my introvert students and encourage them if I can. Perhaps introverts make extraverts uneasy because they show extraverts a side of themselves that is (dare I say) alien to them. Most people have a hard time being alone with themselves and when they see someone doing this, it brings up their own discomfort in being alone. Thanks again for an interesting conversation.

  5. Sage

    I really love listening to your podcast!! This was a strange one for me. Because I am an introvert some things that were said felt off base for me. I appreciate you saying that the 3 of you tend toward extroversion – then some of the responses you said made sense. I really loved how Lisa shared her experience of keeping her kiddo on her lap until she was ready to interact. Wonderful! It would be cool for you to revisit this topic with an introverted Jungian analyst in the mix. I’d TOTALLY love to hear that conversation.


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