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Musings on a Darker Side of Extraversion (Overextension and Burnout)

HongDou

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This is moreso a recount of my own personal experience, and I wonder if this will come across coherently, as it came to me during a restless night trying to sleep while coming down from an acid trip lol. However, I think this may touch on a part of the experience of extraversion that could be compelling to reflect on, given how extraverts are usually painted stereotypically as happier and more well-adjusted than introverts.

First, I have to say that I naturally carry a lot with me and I work incredibly hard. I think it's fair of me to say I work harder than a lot of people, and the amount I work is an unfair amount that I do not think anyone should have to take on. I essentially work three different jobs - I work full time as a Medicaid liaison for a certain nonprofit organization, but I also attend graduate school pursuing my masters degree in mental health counseling. In this program I also work as a therapist to accrue hours in order to graduate, but these hours are unpaid as it is only allowed to qualify as an unpaid internship. Every day I am juggling the responsibilities of my 9-5 job alongside schoolwork and therapist work.

When I first started taking on this workload I had a handle on it, but things gradually changed over time. My classes got more intense, and I entered a beautiful relationship with my partner that (while profoundly supportive) required a lot of work from both of us as we continued to deepen our life together. It was a lot to juggle, and my work was never fully at its best in every facet of my life. Eventually, when I applied to the postgraduate fellowship position at my internship site, I was rejected. It was never fully explained to me why, but I have a lingering feeling that it was due to a failing within my own self to be fully transparent of my imperfections and flaws. While I am usually a kinder person to myself, the conditions of my work and having so many people to report to created a survival routine in my mind to constantly try to mask where I am struggling. But, even as I try to the best of my ability to seem okay, I'm sure there's always a certain energy communicated to the world that I am not actually okay.

This is where my recent thoughts come in. During my trip, I visualized myself as a robotic insect carrying weighted sustenance for my colony. More and more weight keeps getting added, and eventually my tiny limbs begin to break and it is evident that this one little ant is not performing to the best of its capacity because of how much it is being demanded to carry. The question then becomes, how can this unit be recuperated and rejuvenated so that it can functional at its optimal performance again? Of course one answer is to allow it to carry less, but in this specific case there's not many options around that.

Like how extraversion and introversion delineate where we draw our energy from, this little bug in my story is programmed uniquely programmed from others in the colony. In my case, energy is drawn from the outside world. This is not reflective of any discomfort being alone - I have worked to become comfortable and secure with myself. But togetherness - spending time with loved ones, friends, and chosen family - is what heals and recharges my battery, whether it be out dancing or inside watching a movie. This is a conundrum though, because this adds even more weight to carry to my plate. With time alone I might have more time to center myself and work harder on all these responsibilities I carry, but unfortunately time alone is not as restorative for me.

Following this narrative, I can't help but wonder if this is something that extraverts might commonly struggle with. While introverts might struggle with isolation, feeling outcasted, being drained from social gatherings, and other various experiences, I wonder if a darker side of extraversion that we experience has to do with these themes of overextension, burnout, and carrying too much out of necessity.
 

Tennessee Jed

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[snipped...]Following this narrative, I can't help but wonder if this is something that extraverts might commonly struggle with. While introverts might struggle with isolation, feeling outcasted, being drained from social gatherings, and other various experiences, I wonder if a darker side of extraversion that we experience has to do with these themes of overextension, burnout, and carrying too much out of necessity.
Here is something from a blog I wrote on the subject of Introversion vs Extraversion:

Another student of Jung was Anthony Storr. Storr was a popularizer of Jung and wrote a classic summary of Jung's work entitled The Essential Jung. He also wrote books with his own Jungian ideas from his own psychology practice. In Solitude: A Return to the Self he suggested that Extraversion is associated with an anxious attachment style and results in a "compliant" style whereby extraverts are attentive to their surroundings for self-esteem purposes. With their focus on the outside world, they tend to ignore or repress their inner world. Taken to the extreme, this can give extraverts a depressive mentality: In other words, overly attentive to the needs of others, they can spend down their energy on others while forgetting to take care of themselves and their own needs, resulting in depression.

Introverts have a similar profile, but go in the opposite direction. Storr suggested that introversion is associated with an avoidant attachment style and results in a "withdrawn" style whereby introverts are distrustful of the outer world and favor their inner world. Taken to the extreme, Storr suggests that this can result in a schizoid mentality: Trusting more in their personal inner world than in the outer world around them, they can withdraw and detach from the world so much that they end up cast adrift and increasingly find life meaningless and unfulfilling.

Storr presents all this as a general hypothesis or a general trend; he doesn't insist that everyone follows the same model. But his overall point is that one can take extraversion or introversion to such an extreme that one becomes ill. Jung raised the same points and warned repeatedly against too much "onesidedness" in attitude, saying that it resulted in neurosis and even psychosis.

Quotes from Storr's book Solitude: A Return to the Self

Concerning the extraverted compliant/depressive mentality
Children who feel that they have to be compliant to the extent of partially denying or repressing their true natures are bound to remain dependent on external sources for the maintenance of self-esteem. Such a child will develop into an adult who will continue to feel that he has to be successful, or good, or approved of by everyone, if he is to retain any sense of his own value. [...] The person who cannot stand up to other people, or assert himself when this is appropriate, represses his hostility. When he becomes depressed, his hostility toward others is displaced and becomes directed against himself in the form of self-reproach. [...P]eople of this temperament are predominantly extraverted... (p. 96-8)

Concerning the introverted withdrawn/schizoid mentality
The second variety of person [...] is introverted, and, when disturbed or clearly pathological, is labelled schizoid. It was suggested earlier that there may be a link between the development of this kind of personality and the type of infantile behavior which attachment theorists call avoidance... (p. 98)

***********************​
By the way, it's my understanding that depression and schizoid mentality can be so close in how they manifest externally and how they are treated that many treatment professionals kind of throw them in the same bucket under the general "depressive" heading.

That's the only part of the blog that deals with depression & schizoid mentality. The blog itself is located here: https://www.personalitycafe.com/threads/the-expansion-contraction-cycle-e-c-cycle.1359342/
 
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I’m an introvert so I struggle with the aforementioned isolation and loneliness, which is exacerbated by having autism. However, I’m also the sole earner in my family so that means I work at a very grueling office job to make enough to support a family of three. The very nature of my job requires me to “extrovert” myself for constant interaction with vendors, production managers, my own managers, etc. My job has been ranked among the most stressful jobs. I’ve come close to burning out more than once. Overextension has become the norm for me

I am on the borderline of having hypertension
 
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Tennessee Jed

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I’m an introvert so I struggle with the aforementioned isolation and loneliness, which is exacerbated by having autism. However, I’m also the sole earner in my family so that means I work at a very grueling office job to make enough to support a family of three. The very nature of my job requires me to “extrovert” myself for constant interaction with vendors, production managers, my own managers, etc. My job has been ranked among the most stressful jobs. I’ve come close to burning out more than once. Overextension has become the norm for me

I am on the borderline of having hypertension
Your problem seems to come down to "working against type": That is, working in a field or job that isn't suited to your personality or talents. And then you have neurodivergency issues exacerbating the problem.

Quite a lot has been written in the typology literature about the problem of "working against type." Unfortunately I haven't really delved into that particular subject myself, so I can't be of any assistance. But maybe other forum members can help. Or you can try searching for old threads on the subject.

Also, given the severity of your problem you should probably talk to a professional therapist or counselor. They would have the expertise to dig into your particular situation and provide appropriate suggestions or other support.

I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know. But I do hope that you get some improvement in your situation.
 
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HongDou

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Here is something from a blog I wrote on the subject of Introversion vs Extraversion:

Another student of Jung was Anthony Storr. Storr was a popularizer of Jung and wrote a classic summary of Jung's work entitled The Essential Jung. He also wrote books with his own Jungian ideas from his own psychology practice. In Solitude: A Return to the Self he suggested that Extraversion is associated with an anxious attachment style and results in a "compliant" style whereby extraverts are attentive to their surroundings for self-esteem purposes. With their focus on the outside world, they tend to ignore or repress their inner world. Taken to the extreme, this can give extraverts a depressive mentality: In other words, overly attentive to the needs of others, they can spend down their energy on others while forgetting to take care of themselves and their own needs, resulting in depression.

Introverts have a similar profile, but go in the opposite direction. Storr suggested that introversion is associated with an avoidant attachment style and results in a "withdrawn" style whereby introverts are distrustful of the outer world and favor their inner world. Taken to the extreme, Storr suggests that this can result in a schizoid mentality: Trusting more in their personal inner world than in the outer world around them, they can withdraw and detach from the world so much that they end up cast adrift and increasingly find life meaningless and unfulfilling.

Storr presents all this as a general hypothesis or a general trend; he doesn't insist that everyone follows the same model. But his overall point is that one can take extraversion or introversion to such an extreme that one becomes ill. Jung raised the same points and warned repeatedly against too much "onesidedness" in attitude, saying that it resulted in neurosis and even psychosis.

Thanks for this elaboration from a Jungian (student) perspective. I think with my personal experience, I moreso find it difficult because I genuinely do need to be around other people to recharge, but this can burn me out because then there's no personal time for myself to recuperate individually as well as the rest of my time is devoted to work. However, I'm sure attachment style plays a part of it. While I generally feel secure with my attachments overall, I think anxious attachment is the one I oscillate between the most. Perhaps this is a good reminder to check in with myself when I'm reaching out to other people, is it to genuinely fill up my own cup or is it an anxious reflex to surround myself with other people to distract myself from my own pain?

Of course, I'm sure these mentalities (depressive vs schizoid) are not entirely type-exclusive. I'm sure there are introverts who struggle with burnout/overextension and extraverts who struggle with egocentrism in their inner world. However, it's interesting to examine how extraversion and introversion's innate needs can contribute to certain mental illness symptoms, when taken to the extreme like you said.
 

Pionart

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Any type can over extend, and loneliness isn't associated with introversion except Fi doms.
 
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