Is there such a thing as too much introspection? | INFJ Forum

Is there such a thing as too much introspection?

Discussion in 'Psychology and MBTI' started by TinyBubbles, Mar 26, 2010.

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  1. TinyBubbles

    TinyBubbles anarchist

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    An unexamined life is not worth living, according to Aristotle, but is it also possible to be too focused on oneself, to be too introspective?

    I'd wager that you'd have to have a certain level of awareness of yourself before you even contemplate taking personality tests, before you search and locate forums such as this, which intimately discuss every subtle nuance of one's psyche to the point where, often, you lose sight of the bigger picture. Plenty of times throughout history people have done things without understanding WHY they did it. They felt emotions they could not explain; their personalities underwent adjustment and occasional complete revolution in reaction to what was happening to them, and at no point during these experiences did many of these people actually accurately figure out why these things were happening, why they were who they were; why they acted the way they did. And even the recent thread here about how we were as children evidences that many of us, ourselves, are perfectly capable (or were, at one point) of fully experiencing reality without understanding ourselves. There was no constant feedback from the external world back to ourselves; there was only an outward expression of our internal desires. Children typically have little self awareness; it develops in adolescence, and for some, gradually increases over the remainder of our lives.

    The idea I'm proposing in this thread is that: maybe introspection is completely unnecessary. Maybe what we're seeking cannot be found by looking inside ourselves - maybe, just maybe, there is no answer regarding who we are or why we are the way we are that will be enough to satisfy us on a core level; maybe physical experience is truly ALL THERE IS.

    Why are we here, really? On these forums, why do we keep coming back and answering and asking questions about ourselves, why is it so important for us to know? Why do we take and retake personality tests; why do we discuss the functions of the MBTI in such precise detail? Is it going to change anything, really, if we understand why we do what we do? If there is a strong enough incentive, won't we do it anyway? An obese doctor knows it is unhealthy to overeat- he understands it fluently, but does that gain him greater control over his impulses? Mostly likely - no! So where does this introspection get us, at the end of the day?
     
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  2. Gaze

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    There are absolutes but this is not one of them. Introspection is not, like many things, inherently good or bad, right or wrong. People gain pleasure and perspective from introspection. Yes, sometimes it may be overdone, but it isn't a worthless endeavor. It may not be necessary or valuable for one, but it may be for another.
     
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    #2 Gaze, Mar 26, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2010
  3. Jasmine85

    Jasmine85 Regular Poster

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    I would say that the tests only ever offer us a description, not an understanding.

    Understanding yourself comes from examining your childhood experiences. Acknowledging that some cognitive skills are inborn, and you can't understand those any more than a triangle can understand why it is a triangle. It's just somethings you do because it's how your brain is wired up, and you are more naturally capable and comfortable with doing.

    But some aspect of our personalities develop in response to our experiences. We observe and learn about our environment. We interpret qualities and dangers about it. We see patterns in our experiences, and we half expect those patterns to have some universal truth to them.

    Often it can be moments of suffering that affect us. We seek to avoid suffering in life, and we modify our behaviour and general attitudes to the best of our judgement.

    For example, as a baby you will have felt hunger, and may have learned that this is resolved only with social interaction and self expression (crying or making a fuss around others). You may have learned that extraversion is beneficial.

    On the other hand, a more sensitive parent may see the baby's needs more readily (through subtle body language or from knowing the baby's routine/metabolism) and provide food reliably on time. The baby may then observe that acknowledging it's own hunger is enough, and may learn that introverted thinking/feeling is beneficial.
     
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    #3 Jasmine85, Mar 26, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2010
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  4. peter

    peter Newbie

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    I think introspection requires a particular talent for transposing between the interface of feeling and language. I've found that there is an almost inverse relationship between the intensity of an intrapsychic feeling and its amenity to linguistic identification, and I've found this to be deeply frustrating because the type of feeling I'm talking about are those which I'm personally convinced hold keys to the most dictatorial of our neurosis and fixations: feelings of paralysing frustration, rage, dread and such that reach deep into our infant past. So they're a bit like the lever that you sense is long enough to enable you to shift the earth – except you don't have a place to stand upon. (I think that act of perceiving the nature of a thing in and of itself is closer to how I would use the term 'insight' which is different from 'perceptive-ness' – the perception of relationships between things, where you have a place to stand upon; insight arrives independent of comparison which is why it is a rare thing. Perhaps it is closer then to introverted intuition?)


    As to why people come back here, well, – there are probably a thousand reasons but I think a lot of us are left with a greater need for self-identification as society becomes more individualised and the social realm retreats; we're like pebbles cast up on a beach and the coherence and identity that we are stripped of as society changes and the tide retreats leaves an inner vacuum that needs to be filled. I wonder if every time we retake a personality test, it is because of a niggling anxiety deep inside that we are becoming a vacuum; and nature abhors a vacuum.
     
    #4 peter, Mar 27, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2010
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  5. Ecton

    Ecton Community Member

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    Note sure....I'll have to think about that one for awhile... do some digging in the dirt and see what I find....
     
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  6. Gaze

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    What he^^ said . . . quite brilliantly
     
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