The pushing out of interest on to life is termed extroversion by the Zurich School. The study of the difficulties that hedge about successful extroversion constitutes one of the main tasks of psychological medicine. These difficulties vary in their character at each distinctive phase of individual development. Special tasks are concealed in the environments that surround the successive stages of growth, each one demanding a special adaptation of that force which reveals itself as interest. If there is failure, then the failure can be looked upon either as a partial arrest of growth or as a persistence of a pattern in the individual that should be obsolete. A pushing out of interest means a coming-into contact with life. A new toy attracts a child. The child's interest flows out in cries of joy and activity ; after a time interest wanes. Then the toy as a source of extroversion becomes inadequate. Potential interest accumulates and sets up tension which the child shows by irritability and fretfulness. A new toy comes along", extro-version once more occurs and the child is radiant. The fact that we get used to a thing necessitates that channels of extroversion must be continually found. As we become more settled in our habits, the channels become more permanent, and with the wider range of interest that they command in maturity sufficient outlet is more probable than in the case of a child with a toy.
Extroversion to some people presents no difficulties. They come in contact with life eagerly, spontaneously, without preparation or plan. If they show any timidity at all, the slightest encouragement has an immense effect upon them. They are that large group of people who are sociable and who accept social values unquestioningly. They are fond of amusement and are not greatly burdened by the problems of this world. They flow out into action and into emotional contact very easily; they express sympathy, delight, sorrow, appreciation, disgust, indignation, and jealousy without any difficulty. There is plenty of emotional play about their facial expressions and gestures when they are talking. They love movement, bustle, and excitement, and respond to what is going on around them with great facility. Studied closely, it is possible to see that between their feelings and the expression of these feelings there is little or no barrier.
The most perfect example of natural extroversion is seen in the behaviour of a lively young fox-terrier. There is a complete emptying process going on; one might almost call it evaporation rather than extroversion. This natural capacity to extrovert spontaneously is found in the great majority of young growing things during the imitative and play periods.
When adults are studied who possess this natural capacity, a definite type begins to take form which Dr. Jung calls the extrovert. The secret of their character seems to lie in the slightness of the barrier that intervenes between feeling, and its expression.
The life of emotional experience is one in which the effect of things plays a much greater part on the individual than the meaning of things. It is essentially a surface-life, but what it may lack in depth and analysis it gains in breadth and synthesis. The extrovert, because of the littleness of the barrier between feeling and its expression, is always destined to undergo a series of typical experiences. He must constantly plunge into situations where previous thought would have deterred him ; he does not regret it, because it is by this method that he learns. He must feel, not once, but constantly, that he is right and everyone else is wrong, because he is being guided by his feelings. These feelings he may throw out into rough-shaped thoughts, although it may be in brilliant phrases. He must do deeds of valour, of madness, of sheer impossibility because he feels an immense impulse to act and because any remarkable situation draws him into the heart of it as an ardent co-operator and not as a cold spectator.
In a sense he never attends anything. He assists at everything—as the French say. He rarely does anything so cold and detached as merely to attend a function. He assists at a spectacle, at a speech, at a party, because he feels it all without any check to the expression of his feelings. He is constantly employed in devising fresh forms of activity. He likes to see before him a number of engagements ; he likes to tell people that his free hours are entirely booked up, but that, if possible, he will try to squeeze in their invitation. And this is because he confirms the sense of his own existence to himself solely by his activities and feelings.
There are naturally extroverts of all grades and abilities, and amongst them are found some of the most capable and useful public characters of the day. The great actresses, most of the great popular actors, all the great rhetoricians, and the majority of the great preachers are of extrovert psychology. They are essentially public people ; they are in contact at once with the crowd. They work up their audiences without difficulty, without knowing how they are doing it, and almost without preparation. They speak what they feel, rather than what they think, so that if anything occurs to change their feelings while they are speaking they may appear to contradict themselves. They form, in their best expression, ideal agents for bringing about change in the world. Because of the brilliancy of their feelings when they think a wrong exists they move heaven and earth to get the wrong righted.
The danger of this may perhaps be found in the fact that they rarely go to the root of anything. Their intense life of feeling entangles them in outer aspects. It is for this reason that their lives invariably show inconsistency, often to a remarkable extent.
A constant study of the typical extrovert produces the impression that they judge of themselves by what they see of themselves reflected in their audience. They have little self-knowledge from the analytical point of view. They know themselves by the effects they produce in the external world. In this they show a kind of hiatus in their psychology ; a blind spot, as it were. This is one of the profoundly important peculiarities in extrovert psychology.
It may be asked how it comes about that the extrovert should ever be successful in life if feeling plays the main part in determining his actions. Por to most people feeling must seem a capricious, if not a blind, guide. But there are qualities of the mind inextricably linked with feeling, and these are instinct and intuition. Instinct, in its limited area, is a sure guide. Intuition, in its infinite area, is a much subtler force. If we make it too conscious and mix it with intellectual processes, the resulting product will be confusing. But in some individuals, particularly in high types of extroverts, intuition plays a supreme part. The highly developed extrovert, although he may not think consecutively, is aware of some activity which is equivalent to, and swifter than, pure intellectuality. The startling things he sometimes does, whether it be in the selection of the precise moment for action, of the exact phrase to win the mob, or of the right man for the job ; whether it be in invention, policy, or business, are not the outcome of thought. They are the outcome of a certain feeling, very finely graded, which impels him in a certain direction. These feelings arise suddenly and spontaneously as inspirations, and when they arise the extrovert is constrained by them even when they lead him to do apparently rash things.
Because of their inability to see themselves, average extroverts are able to live in intimate contact with remarkable inconsistencies. It is only the extrovert who can get up on a platform and appeal to the audience for a subscription of a hundred pounds for a charity, and speak passionately for an hour, when his own income is a hundred thousand a year. Their value in holding certain weak and faulty parts of the social fabric together is thus apparent.
It is amongst extroverts that we must search for the prodigious, the amazing, and the incredible in history. The great adventurers, the great bluffers, the great squanderers and humbugs, the people who seem to stand beyond the reach of reason and logic, are extroverts. Argument does not touch them. Their serenity and invulnerability in certain classical cases are little short of miraculous.
The attitude of the unconscious towards those whose psychology is typically extrovert is definite. The conscious situation is one in which the outpouring of interest, in the form of feeling and action, is too easy. The compensating action of the unconscious, therefore, theoretically will seek to put a check on this kind of excess. The following dreams illustrate the nature of this attitude.
A woman of great activities and many interests who was constantly engaged in organizing meetings and never spared herself a journey or visit if there was a chance of obtaining a recruit for one of her many societies, frequently experienced this dream. " I am in a room in the midst of packing. I have to catch a train and the floor is covered with many things I want to pack. I cannot get them all into the trunk, and in a state of agitation I run out into the street. There is a great crowd of people outside, and I realize that it is hopeless to attempt to get to the station in time."
The idea contained in this dream is one of numerical excess. There are too many things to pack and too many people in the street. She is called upon to catch a train, and it is revealed to her that she cannot do so owing to these multiplicities. Excessive extroversion in the form of too many activities and interests is symbolized by the articles on the floor and the people in the street, which prevent her from getting near her true object. She misses the train.
Another dream will serve as an amplification. It is recorded in a book of travel which deals with the North American Indians. The writer came across a chief wearing women's clothes. On inquiring for the reason of this he was told that the chief had been a great warrior and many scalps had fallen to his hand. At the height of his fame he had gone on an expedition and brought back a large number of fresh scalps. On going to sleep he dreamed that the great White Spirit came to him and told him he was to become a woman. The chief, impressed by this vision, assumed the dress and life of a woman.
It is possible to see in this dream an attitude of pure compensation taken up by the unconscious. Extroversion along the line of scalping and forays had reached an extreme point. To become a woman is a symbohcal way of suggesting a line of behaviour opposite to the one on which he had been engaged. The chief took the dream literally. He assumed the dress of a woman. He did not modify his life according to the suggestion contained in the dream, but leapt from one extreme to the other.
In practical work it is necessary to distinguish the extrovert. In the hysteric we can see an extreme extroversion. In the next chapter we will discuss the introvert, but it must be pointed out at this stage that a recognition of type is invaluable in the practical handling of cases. It is of value in the upbringing of children and also in educational work.