Carl Jung tackled personality and ‘psychological types’ (also referred to as Jung’s psychological types) from a perspective of clinical psychoanalysis. He was one of only a handful of psychologists in his era to maintain that development is never unchanging, but in fact actually grows through childhood, adolescence, mid-life and into old age. He concentrated on establishing and developing a relationship between conscious and unconscious processes. Jung believed that there was a interchange between the conscious and unconscious and without it the unconscious processes could weaken and possibly endanger the personality and this is seen in one of his central concepts of individuation.
He believed that individuation is a continuous process of personal development that involves founding a connection between the ego and the self and that it could be brought to its highest realisation if worked with and the unconscious was confronted.
Jung, (as did Freud) , referred to the ego when explaining the more conscious aspect of personality. However he (unlike Freud) thought the unconscious side of the personality was equal in status, and complimentary to that of the conscious. He referred to the integrated personality as Self; the centre of the total psyche, incorporating both the conscious and the unconscious. The Self includes all of a person’s qualities and potentials whether or not they become apparent at a particular stage of life. Therefore the goal of therapy is to guide the client to become a whole a human being as personal circumstances will allow.
It was from Jung’s confrontation with the unconscious, in himself and his patients, that he gradually elaborated his psychology. His book Psychological Types (1921) worked as the compass by which he tried to understand how he differed from both Freud and Adler, but more importantly, could begin to chart the internal world of people.
He considered spirituality a central part of the human journey (indeed there is a whole literature relating Jungian psychology and spirituality, primarily from a Christian perspective) and had a deep appreciation of creative life.
Jung’s description of personality states that in order to identify a psychological type it is necessary to discover whether a person is oriented primarily toward his inner world Introversion or toward external reality Extroversion. These were known as the fundamental attitude of the individual to emphasise its importance:
Are people who prefer their internal world of thoughts, feelings, fantasies, dreams, and so on.
These people prefer the external world of things and people and activities.
In todays world these words have become confused with ideas like shyness and sociability, partially because introverts tend to be shy and extroverts tend to be sociable. But Jung intended for them to refer more to whether you (“ego”) more often faced toward the persona and outer reality, or toward the collective unconscious and its archetypes. In that sense, the introvert is somewhat more mature than the extrovert. Our culture, of course, values the extrovert much more. Jung warned that we all tend to value our own type most,
This reality is still applicable to therapists today as it is important not to allow personal feelings to take place when working with clients.
Both introvert and extravert overrate their strengths and each of them tends to undervalue the other. To the extravert, the introvert seems egotistical and dull, and to the introvert, the extravert appears superficial and insincere. Jung believed that a person remained an extravert or introvert without change for the whole of his life, and that heredity determines whether the libido is directed inward or outward. Whether a person is an introvert or extrovert they need to deal with both their inner and outer world. And each has their preferred way of dealing with it, ways which they are comfortable with and good at.
This hypothesised stability of the introversion-extroversion trait is consistent with empircal research using Non-Jungian measures of introversion and extraversion. We now find the introvert-extravert dimension in several theories, notably Hans Eysenck’s. :-
Eysenck (1916 – 1997)
In Eysenck’s view people are biosocial animals and that psychology stands at the crossroads of biological sciences and social sciences. He states that psychology must become more of a true science with methodology in all that the therapist does in order to permit personality theorists to make predictions that can be tested and therefore make possible the development of the causal theory of personality, which he believes will inevitably help the therapist with clients presenting problems.
Eysenck believed that from a scientific angle, Jung’s contribution to the study of personality types had been largely negative as he permitted mystical notions to override empirical data and sought to go beyond descriptive analysis to the causal analysis of personality. Eysenck went on to review the theories and came to the conclusion that most people fall somewhere between the middle of the two extremes of those whose emotions are liable and easily aroused and those who are stable and less easily aroused. He suggested that the basic dimensions of personality may be summarised as shown in.(Figure 2) below
Further work by Eysenck tied personality differences to visceral brain activity and he showed that because introverts have sensitive nervous systems they are more easily conditioned and that also makes them more vulnerable to anxiety based neuroses if the visceral brain activity is high, whereas the extravert has a less sensitive and more inhibited cortical process and therefore are slow to develop conditioned response. Because socialized behavior depends on a well conditioned response in childhood extraverts were more likely to develop psychopathic disorders if their visceral brain activity is high.
This theory is hypthetical and Eysenck realized that his hypothesis “must stand and fall by empirical confirmation” (1965) Despite his scientific data Eysenck, like Jung, advocated that human behaviour has both biological and social causes but that there is a strong genetic component. Perhaps therapists could look at the behaviour and traits of a client’s close family when working with them in order to better understand the “nature/nurture debate”
Jung associated the conscious part of the psyche (ego) to an island that rises out of the sea. We notice only the part above the water, even though there is a greater land mass below the water – much like an iceberg, the unconscious lies below. The personal unconscious is a reservoir of experience unique to each individual consisting of perceptions, thoughts, feelings and memories that have been put to one side or repressed but not always covered by sea and therefore can be reclaimed. Whereas the personal unconscious is unique to every individual, the collective unconscious is shared or “transpersonal” and consists of certain potentialities that we all share because of our human nature, because we all live in groups and in some form of society or family life.
He believed that the collective unconscious did not develop individually but was inherited and consisted of pre- existent forms, the archetypes. An archetype is a universal thought form or predisposition to respond to the world in certain ways and is crucial to Jung’s concept of the collective unconscious because it emphasises potentialities in which we may express our humanness. He believed that they appeared to us in dreams, art, ritual, myths and symptoms.
Jung suggested that people tend to develop two functions, usually one rational function Jung suggested that people tend to develop two functions, usually one Rational functionand one Irrational function. There are four basic ways, or psychological functions which are thinking, feeling, sensation or intuition; one of these becomes the primary or dominant function and the other the auxiliary function. (See Figure 3) on next page.
Jung’s Four Psychological Functions
Therefore it is unusual to find thinking and feeling sensation and intuition, develop in the same person. The dominant function is directed toward external reality if the person is an extravert, or toward the inner world if the person in an introvert. The rational functions of thinking and feeling can be conceived as a pair of opposites as can the irrational functions of sensation and intuition. The extraverted thinking sensation type would have an introverted feeling-intuitive shadow and vice-versa. (See Figure 4 below)
Fig 5. Adapted from Cloniger (2000b) and Engler (1999
These eight psychetypes are useful in giving the therapist a more complete picture of the client’s personality and help to identify the function that the individual uses for dealing with the less preferred direction, known as the auxiliary function. Jung cautioned that types rarely occur in a pure form and that there is a wide range of variation within each type, that people of a specific type may change as their personal collective unconscious changes in response to external or indeed internal influences which will motivate the individual to seek change in their lives. The therapist needs to be aware of that every client responds differently. Jung viewed emotional disturbance as a person’s attempt to reconcile the contradictory aspects of personality. One side of the psyche, such as the conscious, adaptive, social persona, may be exaggerated at the expense of the darker, unconscious aspects, the shadow side :-
The Extraverted sensation types who may appear to be superficial and soulless and actively seek thrills and distractions but have a shadow side of intuition which when activated by an inner event will gives rise to negative hunches that are way off beam and may manifest as paranoid or hostile behaviour for no apparent reason. (Stevens 1994b
Critics of Jung
A criticism of Jung’s theory was his lack of empirical research in which his theory has been attacked as being “non-falsifiable and unscientific” (Herenhahn. 994 p.33) Jung based his psychology on explorations of his own inner world, as well as his work with people ranging from “normal” to those with neurotic problems and even those suffering from psychosis (Snowdon, 2010. P.XXV1). Eysenck was also a critic see section on (Eysenck).
However, Jung was unconcerned claiming that he “cannot experience himself as a scientific problem. Myth is more individual and expresses life more precisely than does science (Stevens. 2001. P.156)
How might Jung’s Theory usefully help a client and determine therapeutic goals:-
It is necessary to determine whether a person is primarily orientated toward their inner (introversion) or outer world (extraversion) and next to assess which are the dominant and auxillary psychological functions of the client. Jung said that people connect ideas, feelings, experiences and information by way of associations in the unconscious in such a way as to affect their behavior. These groupings he named as
They may be organised around a particular person or object and the therapist may use this knowledge to bring to the forefront of the client’s consciousness a situation which they may be finding difficult to disengage from such as the case that Jung wrote of where a man who knew that he was suffering from an imaginary growth but could not stop himself from believing it. Although in todays world we have such tools as MRI’s and other techniques to help people see that their unconscious worries are unfounded, I still think that counseling and cognitive therapy can/may be appropriate. The therapeutic goal of Jungian therapy is to help the client reconcile unbalanced aspects of their personality which present in a number of differing ways of Psychological disturbance.:-Examples include: extreme negativity, addictions, degrees of paranoia, sudden religious conversion, inappropriate attachments to unsuitable partners, hysteria, mania, depression, hypochondria’s or schizoid personality traits ( as Jung himself had as a boy)
By understanding his theory and how each type may present the therapist can help them unlock the shadow sides of their personality. It is a process in which the client is helped to come to terms with the place of self within their own world and also to help them see that they are part of a greater collective unconscious. Much of Jung’s work was about the interconnectedness of all people and cultures which in today’s world is a helpful to us. The use of appropriate assessment techniques can be invaluable in helping a therapist to develop the untapped potential within the individual.
Jung was of the opinion that treatment along certain prescribed lines according to a certain school of thought does not always work. And finding about the person’s personality type should help a therapist to establish which treatment method should work best for that particular person. For some people it is feeling accepted by others in which case the person centred approach would be most appropriate whereas others are very goal oriented, not so much in touch with their feelings and like to work with targets and see results quickly. For such people the cognitive behaviour approach would be the most appropriate
Further Jung believes that the opposite poles attract but at the same time will find themselves in conflict later on in a relationship. By helping the client become aware the therapist will be able to help the client realise what works and does not work in their relationship. People’s values, attitudes or beliefs are not part of a person’s psyche however personality can certainly contribute towards influencing these.
Jung was convinced that our personalities never become stati so there is a potential for us to grow throughout our lives and we can never quite say that our growth has finished. Indeed I find myself on this journey of self discovery and am finding the real me as opposed to how others would like to view me. I am unearthing what drives me, what my purpose is and how I want to get there. These wide possibilities are there also for each client when they come for therapy. The more the counsellor is able to learn about their self and promote growth the better the therapeutic relationship and the more progress the client can make.
There might also be a breakthrough for clients who are not very happy in their jobs or for those who are not quite sure about the direction they want to follow in their career choices. Clients might therefore get an idea about the types of jobs that would suit their particular personality and that could signify another turning point in the counselling process. Learning about our personalities can certainly be very enriching but should not be used to make excuses for the behaviour we are not proud of.
I myself have taken the Myers Brigg test (which includes an additional further two categories of preference and perceiving – which in turn multiplied by two Jung’s eight personality types to that of sixteen personality types) with a result of INFJ and learned that my first career preference would be a counselor and indeed that is exactly what I am at this moment trying to achieve and hope that I will become a proficient therapist.
I found the test to be invaluable and I must stress that the personality type description fits me fully. I am very creative, practical and always on the lookout for new solutions and ideas. I have a strong desire to help people realise their potential. I am very empathetic and show great intuitive abilities. When I was at school other kids always wanted me to describe what a new teacher would be like and I never failed by just looking at her or him once in the corridor.
I am aware that I enjoy spending time on my own to renew myself and in order to do that I like to unwind in a really peaceful place. Ever since I was small I never liked conflict and there always seemed a lot of it going around in my family. But I actually am happy to enter it to help resolve it. I certainly enjoy being active and look out for the next challenge. And perhaps some might find me stubborn if I am given advice as I tend to stick to my intuitive feelings.
If my clients find out which personality type they are it might help them make sense of things they did not even understand about themselves – helping them to see how they interact with others and how they view themselves. This essay has been an enlightening journey of discovery of not only Jung’s theory but thins I have discovered about myself on a personal level. I hope that when I eventually become a therapist I can use this skill and my clients can benefit in the same way I have.
Whilst Jung’s theories are widely used in psychodynamics and personality testing in todays world, it should be recognized that this theory about different types of human personalities is a psychological approach to growth and wholeness.
The therapeutic goal of Jungarian therapy is to help the client reconcile unbalanced aspects of their personality which may present in a number of differing ways of psychological disturbances (mentioned above) and physical illness, and obsessions.
I therefore feel that understanding Jung’s theory and how each type may present gives me as a therapist the ability to help the client gradually strip away the shadow side of their personality, the negative aspect that they will need to address. This will be a process of individuation in which the client is helped towards the conscious realization and fulfillment of their unique self and to help them see that they are a part of a greater collective unconscious.
In conclusion, I agree that understanding personality types, whether it is Jung’s theory or Eysencks is very important in helping me as a therapist, and my client in reaching their goal/s. By my being aware of the strength of my clients psyche it could help me begin to work on weaker areas, therefore helping my client to find meaning within their own world and moving towards their true self.
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