Transcendence, Carl-style

Why does a certain card-carrying extravert I know regularly end up in the fetal position under a sagebrush — unseeing and unhearing and speechless?

For the same reason a certain hard-core introvert I know occasionally jumps up, looks around, and screams, “Why are people/places/things/the universe so messed up and why do they hate me and where are they when I need them anyway?!”

Last week I was highly motivated to revisit the master inventor of the entire concept of introversion and extraversion — Carl Jung. His explanation for this  unpleasant role-reversal phenomenon turns out to include grammar, libido (sounds good, right?!), and the efforts of each person’s unconscious to save him/her from imbalance.

Happily, this understanding yields a super rich and downright FUN way to live. [The spelling of extraversion is controversial — I split the difference by using one version above and one below!] To get there, let’s begin with that basic currency of the conscious mind – words:

This is where we started, where it gets ugly, where an introvert goes into an extroverted hysteria and an extrovert falls into introverted isolation:

Martha Beck teaches a similar practice – the metaphor tool – in which you ask yourself “how is this like that?” (I once queried readers, “How is your biggest problem like my gazpacho?!” Click here for that story and some vegetable glamor shots.) It’s perhaps my favorite tool — a great way to solve any dilemma because, as she says, our human brains kick into delighted overdrive when presented with a “puzzle” rather than a problem. I admit though that I tend to get a little over-involved in my own verbal analyses, so this week I gave Jung’s process a try.


When the unconscious gets outright INVITED to influence the conscious mind, what happens? Well, let’s just say I haven’t found myself under a sagebrush in days — a pleasant relief, especially in January. In Wyoming. This stuff really works.  I hope you enjoy playing with it as much as I do.

All my best,


*CG Jung – I usually turn to Penguin Publishing’s The Portable Jung which has a foreword by your hero and mine, Joseph Campbell. It should be called The Portable Dream Team!

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1 Response to Transcendence, Carl-style

  1. Oh…this takes me back to my days of deep introspection and Jungian analysis. As a visual/kinethetic learner you really grabbed my attention. And talk about another favorite Jungian word…what “synchronicity,” my unconscious met my conscious mind this morning. I have been in dialogue and diatribe ever since.

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