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Carl Jung’s Theory: Personality Types and How They Help Therapists Essay

In this essay I aim to describe and evaluate Carl Jung’s theory concerning personality types and show how they might usefully help a therapist to determine therapeutic goals. I will also look at the origins and characteristics of attitudes and functions and show how these can be related to psychological disturbance. Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung was born in 1875 to a reverend who had lost his faith and was the only surviving son; which lent him to a rather solitary childhood which was emotionally deprived.

His mother had bouts of mental anguish and illness and spent long periods of time in hospital. He was a lazy scholar and pretended to faint regularly to avoid school work, but after hearing his father voicing concerns he would amount to nothing in life, he stopped this and engaged with his studies. This is relevant in that he used this experience of his own behaviour as an example of how neurotic behaviour can be overcome when subjected to the realities of life.

Jung studied medicine at University, then trained as a psychiatrist specialising in schizophrenia. He spent time studying with Freud, with Freud even seeing Jung as his main partisan, but he struggled with Freud’s theory of everything being influenced by sexuality and they split their alliance in 1913. Jung was deeply affected by this split and experienced his own psychological ‘crisis’ resulting in him withdrawing to Zurich for six years, exploring his own unconscious.

Patients still visited him however and he became renowned worldwide for his skills as a psychoanalyst. “During this period, Jung spent considerable time working on his dreams and fantasies and seeking to understand them as far as possible, in terms of his everyday life” (Memories, Dreams, Reflections p. 170, New York Vintage Books), this led to Jung developing his own theories and he travelled far and wide becoming fascinated with how culture affects the psyche (the word he uses for personality).

This fascination with culture greatly influenced the theory Jung created. According to Hayes (1994, pg. 233), Jung “saw libido as being the basic energy of motivation and pleasures but Jung’s concept of libido was a non-sexual life force encompassing religious awe and mystical life affirming experiences as well as sexuality. ” Although different to Freud’s interpretation of libido, the influence of Freud when Jung created his theory is evident.

This was the beginning of his journey investigating different factors which affect the personality; which he believed were influences of a higher order. Upset by his split with Freud and to help him understand the root cause of their difficulties Jung tried analysing one patient’s case history from the perspectives of Freud and also from Alfred Adler, who saw the origins of neurosis as being due to how one relates to society and in particular, the desire for power.

The outcome was that dsepite both methods being incompatible with each other, both were valid and made sense in the understanding of the patient’s pathology. Jung reasoned this was due to the different personalities of Freud and Adler and the way each viewed the world differently, meaning that different personality types make people behave and think in different ways because their individuality influences their attitudes. Jung’s theory is based upon structures within the psyche, the Ego, the Personal Unconscious, the Collective Unconscious and Archetypes.

The Ego (different to the one identified by Freud) is the ‘Self’ or the total personality including the conscious and unconscious. This is the part which combines all mental processes, characteristics, contents, positivity and negativity as well as constructive to destructive thinking and behaviour. The ‘Self’ contains conscious thoughts and feelings about our own behaviour and feelings, our memories of past experiences and our inner sense of our identity. Jung claimed that the Self is not always achieved and never occurs until middle age.

The Personal Unconscious Jung believed contain our personal experiences which we are unaware of, blocked or repressed because we find them unacceptable, but memories which can be revived through hypnosis or psychoanalysis. The ‘collective unconscious’ is central to Jung’s work, although not invented by him, since for centuries this theory had come to the fore in philosophical, literary and psychological works; however it was Jung who defined it further. Jung’s development of this theory was empirical because he felt that if anyone had his experiences then they would arrive at the same conclusion.

Hayes (1994 pg 233) cites that Jung “accepted Freud’s model of conscious, pre-conscious and unconscious but believed in a further level to the unconscious – the ‘collective unconscious’, Hayes (1994 pg 234) also states, “The deepest levels of the unconscious, Jung thought, were shaped by all humans and date back to our primeval ancestry” . In simple terms this means that not everything is learned or due to experiences, but that there is a higher order which we have no control over and that certain parts of our unconscious are built in before we are born.

In his dealings with schizophrenic patients, Jung observed that many of their fantasies, dreams and hallucinations were similar to one another and also similar to ancient cultures and myths. From this he deduced that these contents were far beyond personal experience and had therefore come from evolutionary development, were shared from ancestors and so were innate. Jung called these similarities across cultures, these ideas of universal themes and symbols ‘Archetypes’. He described many archetypes such as God, Mother, Father, Hero, Child and many more and believed that different archetypes exert their influence on us in different situations.

The Persona is one such archetype. Jung described the persona as being the mask or role that we allow others to see, disguising our inner feelings to ensure we behave in a socially acceptable way. We have personas for all our different roles and adapt accordingly, however this sometimes causes internal issues when different personas meet and they are too different to be comfortable, such as the role our persona projects in our work will often be very different to that we project with our friends.

The shadow, another archetype, describes the dark side our nature, the sinister within; holding repressed material in our personal unconscious and universal evil images from our collective unconscious. Jung believed that we never really know our shadow since it is too frightening to explore the potential we have to think evil thoughts or do harm. Mattoon (2005 pg 28) states, “the expression of the shadow is likely when a person is in the grip of anxiety, under the influence of alcohol or otherwise subject to a diminution of consciousness… [sic] we repress our shadows to a degree that we are not aware of their behaviour…

[sic] Under these conditions, the shadow is autonomous and may express itself in moods, irritability, physical symptoms, accidents, emotions and behaviours, even cruelty”. You can see therefore that the archetype of the shadow can play a major part in the psychological disturbance a client may be suffering, displaying these kinds of behaviours can be indicators of a darker side of an individual affecting their life and can help the therapist in identifying the repressed content, which in turn can lead them to assess the progression necessary to improve things for the client.

Jung’s other two main archetypes are the anima and animus. The anima, the feminine element of the male psyche, contains inherited ideas of what constitutes woman, their experiences of women and incorporates positive and negative qualities usually associated with women, such as emotionality, seductiveness, demanding, vanity and moodiness. The animus, the masculine element within the female psyche, is derived in the same way as the anima but from the opposite perspective; females’ experiences of men. It consists of male qualities such as reason, logic, leadership and social insensitivity.

Jung felt that having these archetypes enabled men and women to understand each other better. An issue here would occur when animus types try to live in an anima role which can cause depression, anxiety, hostility or other, again, identifying this would enable the therapist to focus on these archetypes and find how they fit into the psyche of the individual to help determine the therapeutic goal. According to Begg (2001), Jung also invented Synchronicity which is the term he used for the idea of meaningful coincidences.

He felt that a synchronistic event was otherworldly, inexplicable and wondrous and was an “acausal connective principal” meaning links between two apparently unconnected events occur and again, this supported his spiritual beliefs that our psyche is subject to a higher order. He believed these synchronistic events were a result of the archetypal forces guiding us in certain directions which led to the ‘individuation process’ or the wholeness and completeness of personality.

Jung considered individuation to be a driving force leading to uniqueness, he wrote (Collected Works – 12 par 330) that “every life is the realisation of a whole, that is, of a self;…. this realisation can also be called individuation”. The process of individuation includes positive and negative elements and can begin with psychic pain such as depression and anxiety, from a therapy perspective this is severe enough to arouse desire for change but will involve facing one’s shadow. Jung’s theory is a complex one and although has underlying Freudian theories to an extent, much of this faded as he explored the psyche over the years.

Jung, like Freud, believed that there were clear stages in development; however Jung describes development as having only three main stages. The first being the ‘Pre-sexual’ stage; birth to approximately five years old. This is where he felt the individual is preoccupied with nutrition and growth. According to Carl Jung’s Collected Works – 8, paragraph 668, he stated that, “there is no demonstrable ego-consciousness in childhood, for which reason the earliest years leave hardly any traces in the memory”.

This indicates that Jung thought that young children live largely in the collective unconscious, it suggests that until around age five, a child lives in a fantasy where they experience an almost archetypal world in terms of the parental image they have and the fact that many children of this age have an imaginary playmate, Jung felt supported this view. The next stage, from five to puberty, the ‘pre-pubertal’ phase, was the real beginning of sexuality. In Carl Jung’s Collected Works – 8, paragraph 756, Jung states, “Psychic birth occurs at puberty with the conscious differentiation from the parents…

[and] the eruption of sexuality. This differs significantly from Freud’s theory, which suggests that we are tied to our sexual urges from birth. Jung acknowledges the stages in a less controversial way and more in keeping with how we view stages of development in the modern day. Things have not really changed as much as we are led to believe. Mattoon (2005) quotes Socrates from the 5th Century “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect for their elders and love to chatter in place of exercise.

They no longer rise when others enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble their food and tyrannise their teachers”. This example from history backs up Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious to some extent. It suggests that behaviours of adolescents are not learned at all and that they behave the way they are naturally meant to be; since this has been the way for centuries. Should the behaviours be purely ‘learnt’, then why would adolescent behaviour be so similar all over the world, in other cultures and before technology brought us closer together?

The final stage he named ‘maturity’ which he identified as being from puberty to adulthood including old age. Jung describes three stages within ‘maturity’, the first (adolescence and young adulthood), being about learning about a particular society and how to live in it, the second (middle life) focussing on establishing oneself into society through work and personal relationships, in particular marriage and the third (old age) being the time one acquires wisdom.

Within this ‘maturity’ stage, the ‘middle-life’ he talks about is what today we would describe as a ‘mid-life crisis’. This has happened in the past at 35-40 years mark; although this is getting later as longevity increases. This is the time Jung felt that concerns arose about youthful objectives having not been met or given up on. Also a time when physical energies subside and there are fewer possibilities for achievements and adventures. Jung suggested that at this stage there is an inward turn of psychic energy and refocusing on relationships, goals and the meaning of life.

The second half of ‘maturity’ is old age and it is at this stage we search for meaning and movement towards wholeness. The Personality model within Jung’s theory explains the unconscious as a mirror image of the conscious, meaning that an extravert person would have an introvert unconscious and vice versa, which links back to the anima/animus archetypes. He believed that the personality is complex and many sided, in that we have intuition, emotion, thought, intentionality and so on.

Jung felt that the individual should be competent in developing different facets to the personality evenly and in congruence with one another but if this development was uneven, one side developed and others repressed, this would produce neurotic conflict. He decided the solution to this was that the individual needed to get in contact with the collective unconscious which in turn would itself heal the psyche, restoring psychological integrity. To do this would involve psychoanalysis or hypnotherapy.

The introvert takes longer to condition to stimulus, however, once conditioned it is long lasting, they pay attention to subjective factors and inner responses, enjoy being alone, have few friends but are incredibly loyal and may be clumsy in social situations. Whereas the extravert is more ready to form new associations between stimulus and response but although this happens quickly, it is not long lasting, they attend to their outer world such as people, events and things and can be seen as quite superficial, these extraverts are disinclined to be alone and seem afraid of their inner world.

Jung called Introverts and Extraverts ‘types’ but he meant this relating to attitudes and functions, the dimensions of conscious and unconscious not by way of putting people into ‘boxes’ and he used their preferences as a way of identifying ‘type’. Mattoon (2005 pg 23) describes Jung’s description of the Introversion-extraversion (IE) as being one of the best substantiated dimensions in academic psychology. The IE dimension stood alone but Jung was not convinced it was sufficient and later identified two pairs of functions: sensation – intuition (SU) and thinking-feeling (TF).

The sensing function relates to how we experience stimuli through our senses without evaluation, the feeling function evaluates the degree of importance of an object or stimuli and is different to an emotional response, the thinking function uses reason and logic and assigns meaning and the intuition function is how we relate to the world without reason, in the form of hunches. Each of these functions is either dominant or non-dominant and largely excludes the other. Jung saw that any function can be associated with either attitude (introversion/extraversion) and also with either gender.

German psychologist Hans Eysenck took on Jung’s theory of extraversion-introversion personality traits but also linked biology of brain function to the equation, suggesting that the brain has two sets of neural mechanisms, excitatory and inhibitory, the former responsible for stimulating brain activity, the latter inhibiting activity of nerve cells. He said balance is required which is regulated by the Ascending Reticular Activating System and it is the arousal produced that links his personality dimensions of extraversion and neuroticism, with neuroticism personality traits including anxiety and worry.

He also talks of Second Order Personality where first order traits are grouped and the range from neuroticism to stability is biologically decided. He found that neurotic individuals react readily to stressful stimuli whereas stable individuals took longer to react, with a lesser reaction. Some of Eysenck’s theory is comparable with Jung’s but is more scientifically testable compared to Jung’s studies which were empirically based, however Eysenck examined the introversion-extraversion element with success.

Jung’s theory of personality types can be useful to the therapist in that it gives many options to explore; the overlapping functions however can be confusing regarding assessing whether the influences are a result of the shadow, the collective unconscious or the influence of one of the many archetypes. Despite this, Jung’s theory has been influential in modern psychology and much of his resulting work is still used today, such as his word association tests which are used to explore the unconscious.

His theory would be useful to a therapist in the quest to uncover underlying factors in the individual of which they are unaware, using the indicators to explore what is behind their issues and giving insight to allow the therapeutic goals to be achieved. Bibliography Begg, DeikeSynchronicity – 2001 Hayes, NickyFoundations of Psychology – 1994 Jung, Carl Collected Works – Volume 8 – The Structure & Dynamics of the Psyche Jung, CarlCollected Works – Volume 12 – Psychology and Alchemy N. York Vintage BooksMemories, Dreams, Reflections Mattoon, Mary AnnJung and The Human Pscyhe.


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