The typing of personality assumes a classificatory framework within which one person’s type can be compared and contrasted with another. The framework for Jung’s typology has a mandala configuration, a squared circle divided into four with a cross radiating to or from the centre, carrying the promise of balance, union and the connection of opposites. For Jung the mandala was an expression of the psyche and a symbol of self-realisation and individuation. This configuration creates the diagram of a unitary and centralized psychological field in which a person is operating.
Jung was continuing a long historical development of applying a classificatory framework to human personality and temperament. Some of his acknowledged influences were:
Oriental Astrologers who classified people according to zodiacal signs presiding over the elements earth, air, fire and water. This system was depicted as a circle with centre, cross and opposites.
Hippocrates who established the belief in ancient Greece that the balance of body fluids, considered as two pairs of opposites, blood and phlegm, choler and bile, determined character.
Gnostic Philosophers recognised three types corresponding to three of Jung’s psychological functions: thinking, feeling (which was regarded as inferior) and sensation.
In contrast, Christianity upheld the principles of love and faith but kept knowledge (thinking) at a distance.
The eighteenth century German poet and philosopher Schiller wrote of a nucleus (e.g. poetry) that could be separated out into its opposites. For example, poetry could be divided into Naïve poetry, dominated by sensations, in which the poet is pulled into the object, and Sentimental poetry which is intuitive and characterised by the poet’s reflection on an inner impression of the object. Jung saw a congruence between Naïve and Extraversion and between Sentimental and Introversion.
Jung drew on the work of the philosopher Nietzsche and the psychologist William James in postulating the opposing attitudinal types of Introversion and Extraversion. Nietzsche distinguished between the Apollonian impulse which was introspective, creating an inner vision, a state comparable to dreaming, and the Dionysian impulse of unbounded instinct gripped by barbaric nature. James characterised two temperaments, the Rationalist who believes in abstract and eternal principles and the factual Empiricist. He tabulated pairs of opposing qualities characterising the two types. Although not agreeing with James’ characteristics, Jung also believed in pairs of opposite qualities.
Jung understood theory as an expression of the personality type of the theorist. He saw Freud’s extraversion reflected in his predominantly centrifugal theory, emphasizing a striving for pleasure in the object combined with repression of unacceptable wish tendencies. This contrasted with Adler’s centripetal, or introverted, theory with its central concept of ego superiority, supremacy of the subject.
Jung wanted to create a psychology which was equally fair to both types. In 1913 he published ‘A Contribution to the Study of Psychological Types’ which consolidated his separation from Freud and presented his first ideas on differing types of consciousness. In this paper Jung argued that there were two contrary movements of the libido; Extraversion, with interest given to the outer world, and Introversion, implying a devaluation of the object world. These represented two habitual orientational attitudes towards the world; an outward movement of interest towards the object or a movement away from the object to the subject’s own psychological processes. Extraverted psychopathology was associated with defences against depression, whereas introversion was characterised by defences against emotional isolation.
Jung conceptualised consciousness as a self-regulating structure present at birth, centred in an ego that expressed its ability to orient the psyche through different attitudes and functions. The four functions were presented as two pairs of opposites, Thinking and Feeling, Intuition and Sensation, with an individual’s dominant mode of functioning being locatable somewhere on each continuum. Functions had a compensatory capacity, with the unconscious function primed to balance unhealthy one-sided conscious functioning. The under-developed attitude or function was an aspect of the shadow and consequently very powerful.
Consciousness was seen by Jung as a product of both rational and irrational processes of encountering and assessing reality. Sensation and Intuition are the irrational functions in the sense of their being perceptive, data gathering modes. Thinking (objective) and Feeling (subjective) are the rational functions: they are ways of processing information and making decisions. Sensation tells us that a thing is, Thinking tells us what the thing is and Feeling tells us what it is worth to us. Intuition is about trusting hunches. For Jung psychological disturbance reflected psychic imbalance, with neurosis over-emphasizing the characteristic traits of a personality. One of the major tasks of the first half of life was to learn to express effectively one’s dominant function and attitude.
A brief indication of each type follows.
Jung classified himself as an introverted thinker with intuition as his next strongest function.
There is a question as to whether psychological types could be linked to other typologies. An association with body type, or somotype, was made by Kretschmer in ‘Physique and Character’ published in 1921, the same time as Jung’s Psychological Types. Arraj has explored the possibility of an integrated typology including physical and biochemical types. This could form a valuable link with susceptibility to particular diseases. (Arraj 1986).
Beebe (2006) has deepened Jung’s theory by linking function-attitudes with archetypes and archetypal complexes. Mahlberg (1987) has broadened Jungian theory in associating the four functions with the concept of morphic resonance, propounded by the biochemist Rupert Sheldrake, whose theory is one of formative causation whereby the forms of previous systems influence the morphogenesis of subsequent similar systems. Mahlberg linked Introverted Feeling with sensitivity to morphic resonance, and Extraverted Feeling with the ability to transmit morphic resonance.
The Myers-Briggs Type Inventory was devised to put Jungian typology to practical use outside the analytic process. A combination of the two attitudes and four functions, with the addition of Perception and Judgement, which were regarded as implicit in Jung’s work, give sixteen different types. The results of a paper and pencil questionnaire give four letters indicating the dynamic relationship between attitudes and functions for any one individual. The inventory has become the most widespread commercial application of Jungian theory.
Arraj, J. (1986). ‘Jung’s Forgotten Bridge’. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 31(2), pp. 173-180.
Beebe, J. (2006). ‘Psychological Types’, ch. 6 in The Handbook of Jungian Psychology, ed. Papadopoulos, R. K., London: Routledge.
Jung, C.G. (1971). ‘General Description of the Types’, in Psychological Types, Collected Works vol. 6, Ch. X, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Hillman, J. (1971). ‘The Feeling Function’, Part 2 of Lectures on Jung’s Typology, Woodstock, Connecticut: Spring Publications.
Mahlberg, A. (1987). ‘Evidence of Collective Memory: a Test of Sheldrake’s Theory’. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 32(1), pp.23-34.
Myers, K.D. and Kirby, L.K. (1994). Introduction to Type: Dynamics and Development, Oxford: Oxford Psychologists Press.
Quenk, N.L. (1996). In the Grip: Our Hidden Personality, Palo Alto, California: Consulting Psychologists Press.
Von Franz, M.-L. (1971). ‘The Inferior Function’, Part 1 of Lectures on Jung’s Typology, Woodstock, Connecticut: Spring Publications.