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Reaction Paper Carl Jung Essay

Carl Gustav Jung, (26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961), was a Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist, and the founder of analytical psychology. His work and influence extends way beyond understanding personality, and he is considered to be one of the greatest thinkers to have theorised about life and how people relate to it. However, for the purpose of this assignment I will concentrate on Jung’s theory of Psychological Types. In this essay I aim to demonstrate an understanding of Jung’s personality types by describing and evaluating his theory and to show how they might useful in helping a therapist to determine therapeutic goals.

Jung (1990, p. 531) states that’ from earliest times, attempts have been made to classify individuals according to types, and so bring order to the chaos. The oldest attempts known to us were made by oriental astrologers who devised the so-called trigons of the four elements – air, water, earth, and fire. The air trigon in the horoscope consists of the three aerial signs of the zodiac, Aquarius, Gemini, Libra; the fire trigon is made up of Aries, Leo, Sagittarius.

According to this age old view, whoever is born in these trigons shares in their aerial or fiery nature and will have a corresponding temperament and fate. ‘ In the same paragraph, Jung states that ‘the astrological type theory, to the astonishment of the enlightened, still remains intact today,’ which is true. Closely connected with the astrological type theory is the division into the four temperaments which corresponds to the four humors (Jung, 1990, p. 531). A Greek physician, Claudius Galen (AD130 – 200), distinguished four basic temperaments: the sanguine, the phlegmatic, the choleric, and the melancholic.

Galen’s theory goes back to the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates’ (460 – 370BC), who described physical illness as being caused by the balance of bodily fluids, or humors as he labelled them’ (Maltby, et al, 2007, p. 159). These bodily fluids are blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm. Galen expanded on Hippocrates’ theory and applied it to describe human personality, stating that when the humors were in balance, an equitable temperament was the result, however, if the humors were out of balance, then physical illness and mental disturbance occurred (Maltby etal, 2007, p. 160).

However, ‘by the time of the Middle Ages, scholars dismissed the idea that bodily fluids were directly implicated in personality traits. But the behavioural descriptions associated with the four humours lived on’ (McAdams, 2000, p. 256). Galen’s four temperaments provided much inspiration and historical reference for Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types. According to Jung’s theory we are all different in fundamental ways and each psychological type has a different idea of what it means to achieve personal success.

However, www. personalitypage. com states that, ‘so many people are hung up on somebody else’s idea of what it means to be successful, that they are unaware of what is truly important to them‘. I agree, because for many years, I wanted to be somebody else as that person’s life seemed so much better than mine, or so I thought at the time. Jung was one of the few psychologists in the twentieth century to maintain that development extends beyond childhood and adolescence through mid-life and into old age (Stevens, 2001, p. 38).

Jung insisted that ‘we never finish the process of self-examination and growth that charts our journey towards individuation. ’ (Snowdon, 2010, p. 86). In my case, I believe I am on that journey of accepting myself as I truly am, becoming my true ‘self‘. Stevens (2001, p. 38) claims that ‘it could be brought to the highest fruition if one worked with and confronted the unconscious,’ and for me, it is and has been important to face the ‘monsters that lurk’ (Snowdon, 2010, p. 86) in my unconscious, even when it has been uncomfortable to do so.

According to Jung, like Freud, there are three levels of consciousness in the psyche (mind);- conscious, personal unconscious and collective unconscious. Snowdon (2010, p. 56) states that ‘the individual psyche is always changing as it seeks growth and wholeness. ’ Jung referred to the ego when describing the more conscious aspect of the personality, the part of the psyche that selects perceptions, thoughts, feelings and memories that may enter our conscious awareness.

Stevens (2002, p. 62) states that ‘the ego is then centre of consciousness and is responsible for our continuing sense of identity. ’ The personal unconscious comprises of ‘all the acquisitions of personal life, everything forgotten, repressed, subliminally perceived, thought, felt’ (Jung, 1990, p. 485). This is an aspect of the unconscious that Freud also emphasized and these forgotten experiences are accessible to consciousness, and for both Freud and Jung, ‘the exploration of the unconscious is the key to personal insight’ (McAdams, 2000, p. 135).

Conscious attitudes within the psyche should always be balanced by unconscious attitudes, and Snowdon (2010, p.56) claims that ‘if a conscious attitude grows too strong then the unconscious will always seek to restore equilibrium,’ by means of dreams, fantasies, slips of the tongue and so on. However, if the unconscious message is ignored, then ‘neurosis or even disease may result’ (Stevens, 2010, p. 57). Where the personal unconscious is unique for each individual the collective unconscious is not an ‘individual acquisition but rather the functioning of the inherited brain structure, which in its broad outlines is the same in all human beings (Jung, 1954, p.117).

Therefore, the collective unconscious represents the shared experiences, emotions and memories we have inherited from previous generations. Jung believed that we were born with a built-in human developmental programme, which is buried deep within the collective unconscious (Snowdon, 2010, p. 80). According to Jung, the personal unconscious contains various complexes, while the collective unconscious contains archetypes (see Fig 1) ?

Fig 1 ‘Complexes are related groups of emotionally charged ideas, thoughts and images’ (Snowdon, 2010, p.61), and can exert a strong influence on the thoughts and behaviour of a person. Some complexes may be beneficial and others may be potentially harmful, and Jung (1990, p. 529) states that ‘complexes do not necessarily indicate inferiority.

It only means that something discordant, unassimilated, antagonistic exists, perhaps as an obstacle, but also as an incentive to greater effort, and so, perhaps to new possibilities of achievement. ’ Therefore, a therapist may use this knowledge to bring to the forefront of the client’s consciousness, a situation which they may be finding difficult to overcome.

Complexes can be related to a particular archetype, Stevens (2001, p. 48) states that ‘complexes are personifications of archetypes; they are the means through which archetypes manifest themselves in the personal psyche. ’ An archetype is a universal thought form or predisposition to respond to the world in certain ways (Jung, 1936), and Jung believed they appeared to us in dreams, myths, religions, art and symptoms. Engler (1991, p. 86) claimed that ‘it is helpful for us to get in touch with them because they represent the latent potentially of the psyche. ’

The widely recognised archetypes are the persona, the shadow, the anima and the animus, and the self. The persona archetype is the mask that a person wears to hide their true nature from society. The shadow is an unconscious part of the personality that contains weaknesses and other aspects of personality that a person cannot admit to having’ (Snowdon, 2010, p. 68). The anima is the unconscious feminine aspect of a man’s personality, and the animus is the masculine aspect of a woman’s personality. The self is the central archetype and true midpoint of the personality (Engler, 1991, p.89).

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” (Hergenhahn, 1994, p. 93). 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. XXVI). Eysenck (Engler, 2009, p. 316) believed that from the point of view of science, Jung’s contribution to the study of personality types was primarily negative as he permitted mystical notions to override empirical data.

However, Jung was unconcerned claiming that he ‘cannot experience himself as a scientific problem. Myth is more individual and expresses life more precisely that does science (Stevens, 2001, p. 156). ’ Jung’s description of personality states that in order to identify a psychological type, it is necessary to determine whether a person’s psychic energy (libido) is turned inwards towards the subject (introversion), or outwards towards the object (extroversion).

Introverts are people who prefer their own inner world of thoughts and feelings, whilst extroverts prefer the external world towards external relationships and objects. According to Jung (1990, p. 415) ‘the presence of two attitudes is extremely frequent,’ although one is generally dominant and conscious and the other is subordinate and unconscious. However, McAdams (2000, p. 310) claims that ‘Eysenck, a British psychologist of German origin, rejected the idea that conscious extroversion is connected to unconscious introversion, and vice versa.

Unlike Jung, Eysenck linked extroversion and introversion to differences in brain activity, however this theory is speculative and Eysenck acknowledged that his hypotheses ‘must stand and fall by empirical confirmation’ (Eysenck, 1965). Introvert and extrovert dimensions are now found in several theories, one of those being Hans Eysenck’s theory of personality.

Although Eysenck expressed considerable disdain for Jung’s approach to psychological types, some of his ideas were rather similar, for example, ’both defined the concepts by making reference to the direction of a person’s approach to life’ (McAdams, 2000, p.309).

However, in other ways Eysenck’s concepts were quite difference, for example, whilst Jung believed that a person can be classified as either extroverted or introverted, he believed that most people fall somewhere between the two attitudes, ‘combining qualities of both the extroverted and introverted poles’ (McAdams, p. 310). Like Jung, Eysenck examined historical approaches to personality as well as conducting various methods of research, to uncover the underlying structure of personality.

Eysenck suggested that the basic dimensions of personality may be summarised in the diagram below (see Fig 2), which show the two main dimensions of extroversion-introversion and stable-unstable, with the traits associated with each personality type. The diagram also shows how the four temperaments are related to these types. ? Fig 2 However, Jung’s personality types, in addition to the two attitudes of extroversion and introversion, are distinguished by four psychological functions, which are grouped into opposite pairs, like points on a compass (see fig 3).

Thinking and feeling are called rational functions, because they enable us to make judgements and evaluations about experiences, and sensation and intuition are the irrational functions, because they enable us to gather information. ? Fig 3 Jung (1990, p. 518) states that for a healthy personality all four functions should contribute equally: thinking should facilitate cognition and judgement, feeling should tell us how and to what extent a thing is important or unimportant, sensation should convey concrete reality to us through seeing, hearing, tasting etc, and intuition should enable us to divine the hidden possibilities in the background.

However, Jung suggested that people tend to develop two functions, one rational function and one irrational function, whilst the rest remain undifferentiated in the background. Jung (1990, p. 405) stated that ‘the absolute sovereignty always belongs, empirically, to one function alone’, which he called the dominant or principle function and the other, the complimentary or auxiliary function (1990, p. 405). However, problems may occur as a result of a type’s dominant function overtaking the personality to the extent that the other functions become slaves to the dominant function.

The conscious, adaptive social persona, may be exaggerated at the expense of the darker, unconscious aspects, (Engler, 1991, p. 84), the shadow side. ‘When people become neurotic, it is because divisions have opened up within them, conscious and unconscious processes no longer operate in homeostatic balance’ (Stevens, 2001, p. 123).

Jung viewed emotional disturbance as a person’s attempt to reconcile the contradictory aspects of personality and ‘should not be regarded as something entirely negative, but that if it could be understood, a hint of new possibilities of development will be found in it’ (Fordham, 1966, p. 88). The two attitudes and four functions can be combined together to form eight psychological types (see Fig 4) and no one type is better that another type, because each of them have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Jung cautioned that these psychological types rarely occur in pure form in actual life, and there is a wide variation within each type. But how easy is it to work out a person’s type? Stevens (2001, p. 99) claims that ‘with some people it is easy to work out which function and which attitude habitually dominate, with others it is virtually impossible,’ and Jung freely admits ‘it is often very difficult to find out whether a person belongs to one type or the other’ (Stevens, 2001, p.99). ?????

The eight Psychological types adapted from Engler (1991) Fig 4 In helping a client to determine therapeutic goals, a therapist needs to be aware that every client responds differently, and Jung felt that by have a broad understanding of the different way in which people relate to the world would help therapist and their clients towards understanding the dynamics of their relationships (Snowdon, 2010, p. 115).

Jung warned that we all tend to value our own type most (Boeree, 2006) and it is important that a therapist does not allow their personal feelings to make judgements when working with clients. Conclusion Whilst Jung’s theories are used widely in psychometrics and personality testing today, it should be recognised that Jung’s theory about different types of human personalities is a psychological approach to growth and wholeness.

The therapeutic goal of Jungian therapy is to help the client reconcile unbalanced aspects of their personality which may present in a number of differing ways of psychological disturbance, for example, addictions, anxieties, depression, inappropriate attachments to unsuitable partners, obsessions, or physical illness. Therefore, understanding Jung’s theory and how each type may present, a therapist can help the client to gradually strip away the shadow side of their personality, the negative aspect that they need to work on.

It is a process of individuation, in which, the client is helped towards the conscious realisation and fulfilment of their unique being and to help them see that they are part of a greater collective unconscious. In conclusion, I agree that understanding personality types, whether it’s Jung’s theory or Eysenck’s theory, is important in helping the client to reach their therapeutic goals. Being aware of the strength’s in a client’s psyche, could help a therapist begin to work on the weaker areas, therefore helping the client to find meaning within their own world and moving towards their true self.


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