Introversion and sensitivity as special ways of experiencing life
In his 1912 Fordham lectures, Jung considered whether “sensitivity” might be an essential and foundational aspect of personality. Dr. Elaine Aron’s 1995 book The Highly Sensitive Person argues that 15-20% of the general population have an innate cognitive style characterized by qualities that may be highly appreciated such as empathy, creativity, and spirituality, but also by typical vulnerabilities such as being easily over-stimulated and intensely emotional.
North American’s tendency to overvalue extroversion and self-control means our society’s response to sensitivity is often ambivalent. Using the lens of the Jungian concept of “shadow”, this lecture explores how individuals who are not typical of the reigning cultural ideal may find themselves scape-goated and entangled in projections in ways which predispose them to anxiety and low self esteem.
Jung proposed that withdrawal of projections and “assimilation of the shadow” are the first steps towards psychological growth and individuation. Faced with a growing chorus of demand for recognition of neuro-diversity and innate temperamental differences (Introversion, ADD, Dyslexia, Autism Spectrum), do we face the same responsibility to mature as a culture by examining our attitudes to Sensitivity?
Susan Meindl MA, is a psychologist in private practice in Montreal. She is a graduate of the McGill Counseling Psychology program and the Argyle Institute of Human Relation’s Individual Psychoanalytically-oriented Psychotherapy program. She is a long-time member of the Steering Committee of the C G Jung Society of Montreal and she has made a specialty of working with Introverted and Highly Sensitive clients.