Counseling/Jungian personality types

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Jungian personality types[edit | edit source]

Personality traits are described in Jung's personality code as letters are biopolar in that they represent opposing traits along a linear measure. They measure the distance along a pole an individual tends to that trait, and away from the opposing trait. Jung described introversion and extraversion as the key polar traits and refered to them as attitudes; they comprise the first letter of the code. The next two letters in the code measure sensing versus intuition, and feeling versus thinking; Jung referred to them as functions. The final pole, perceiving versus judging, comes from the Myers-Briggs typographic model, and is also a function.

Poles[edit | edit source]

For Jung, an attitude "plays the principal role in an individual's adaptation or orientation to life" (1921, para. 1). The two factors for this pole, extraversion and introversion, describe how a person draws mental energy. The extravert draws mental energy from the surrounding environment, or as Dyce explains, "from a crowd" (J. Dyce, personal communication, n.d.). The introvert draws mental energy internally from the ideas that develop within his mind. The mental energy, what Dyce also calls "psychic energy," is called libido in Jung's model. An individual's approach to life, or attitude, is determined by his prefered way to obtain libido; either externally from the surrounding environment, or interally from personal thoughts (Jung, 1976).

Libido: Nutrition for the mind[edit | edit source]

Jung describes the need for libido as a driving force, or what BF Skinner might think of as a hunger; libido is effectively nutrition for the mind. Jung describes the extravert as absorbing llibido from the surrounding environment by attaching to it as an "object." To Jung, the extravert is, hence, objective, as the psychic energy is based on surrounding reality. The introvert, conversely, develops this nutrition within his mind from the "subject" of his thoughts; the introvert is subjective to Jung, and his psychic metabolism (to extend the nutrition analogy) is synthesis.

Bi-poles as a "bent universe"[edit | edit source]

Jung is emphatic that mental health hinges on a person's adaptability along the poles of his bipolar model (J. Dyce, personal communication, n.d.). Thinking problems may result for extraverts when they are overwhelmed by the information that they pull in, whereas introverts may attempt to "coerce facts" to resemble a preconceived image that they have created (Jung, 1921, para. 87). When individuals tend to extremes along either pole, and neglect the qualities of the other end of the pole, they will very likely compensate for the trait of the pole they have neglected (Jung, 1976, p. 3) and move towards the counter-pole (p. 291). His three pole model can be thought of as a "bent universe" because those at polar extremes will ultimately compensate in some way. In his "bent universe," the extreme extrovert cannot help but return to the subject of his thoughts, or his "soul" (p. 293). In the opposite polar direction, the introvert cannot help but crash into reality, or the "object" that defines surrounding reality. If the extravert is intent on his attachment to the object (as the participant self-reported that he has experienced at times), then he creates a mythology that serves as a substitute for introverted thought, or the subject. However, if he is not careful, the compensating restoration of the "soul" may ultimately destroy the material benefits that extroversion may have provided (p. 340). In a similar sense, the extreme introvert creates a facsimile of reality that Jung describes as a "dream" (p. 169).

Jung's two other bipolar measures describe how an individual functions with respect to his role. They are "function-types" (1976, p. 330), and describe how an individual collects information and makes decisions based on how he "attends" (J. Dyce, personal communication, n.d.). Information can be collected through the normal senses, which is sensing, or through a "sixth sense" (J. Dyce, personal communication, n.d.) of intuition. Intuition is how the unconscious perceives. Decisions can be made logically and in a detached way, or in a personal value-oriented way, creating the thinking/feeling bipole.

The fourth pole from the Myers-Briggs model adds a third functional dimension that describes prefered lifestyle in terms of either judgement, which is rigidly well-ordered and highly-organized, or perception, which is flexible as it allows for spontaneity, providing an ability to shift between tasks (J. Dyce, personal communication, n.d.).

Plato and Aristotle: Jung's approach to subjective- and objectiveness[edit | edit source]

To help illustrate the fundamental importance of the introvert/extravert pole, and to show that Jung's theory was not entirely his own invention, but was based on others' supporting ideas, including the classics, Jung inserted a passage by Heine at the very beginning of the book describing Plato in introverted terms, and Aristotle in extraverted terms. Plato, in Heine's passage, is mystical, and hence subjective in Jung's model; and Aristotle is orderly and practical (presumably with respect to information organization). Aristotle is openly attached to the "object" of his surrounding environment, and hence an extravert and objective. This assessment contradicts the common perception of both Plato and Aristotle being objective, but in different ways. Plato's Forms created a basis for orderly science, and Aristotle's disciplined observational approach contributed to the scientific method. Both of them are further perceived as highly objective because of their resistance to sentimentality. The Similarminds questionaire makes a similar distinction with questions that define a rational/sentimental bipole ("Personality Test," n.d.). Jung further contradicts the common perception of Plato as objective by attaching the concept of "empathy," and hence sentimentality, to objectivity (p. 48), and by showing that empathy's antithesis, abstraction, is used by the introvert to synthesize a version of the world within his mind--as he may be afraid of the real world (p. 505). As Jung's ideas are the basis for the instrument of this assessment, this conclusion by Jung underscores the necessity to assess the individual in the context of his personality and experiences, and not in the context of contemporary society with its many preconceptions.

Sense/intuition and thinking/feeling[edit | edit source]

Jung's two functional bipoles, sense/intuition and thinking/feeling, also obey the rules of his "bent universe" that forces compensation at the extremes. Dyce describes intuition as an added, or sixth sense (J. Dyce, personal communcation, n.d.). This implies that unintuitive individuals who are sense-oriented rely on superficial cues from the surrounding environment, and hence may not be able to interpret the meanings of surrounding phenomena, and therefore are distanced, and possibly afraid (p. 505). "Sense," therefore, might be counter-intuitively interpreted as an introverted pole and "intuition" an extroverted, and also empathic, pole. Jung self-debates the extra- and introverted nature of the sensing/intuition bipole, but agrees that intuition is important, along with empathy, for understanding others (p. 473). Thinking and feeling are even easier to explain; thinking is the domain of the introvert. Jung describes it as thinking of subjects, and, as thinking is the polar opposite to feeling, the thinking/feeling bipole further attaches Plato to subjectivity.

In Psychological Types, Jung describes a dichotomous bipolar model of opposing traits that not only explains personality phenomena along the established poles used by the Myers-Briggs, but introduces many related descriptors that can create a flexible matrix that is applicable to diverse therapeutic scenarios (Jung, 1976). Jung built his theory by critically examining other theories being developed during the early 20th Century, and further supports it with classical anecdotes. Jung's writing is self-critical in a way that creates possibilities for alternate analyses, which allowed the participant to modify his interpretation of the intuitive/sensing bipole to improve his self-assessment. Psychological Types gives advanced insights into the relationships between many psychological concepts. The most important of these are empathy, abstraction, and conceptualization (Jung, 1976, p 48), as he reported seeing these concepts being implemented to define emotional intelligence.

References[edit | edit source]

Jung, C. (1921). Psychological types. Retrieved November 23, 2010, from

Jung, C., (1976). Psychological Types. Princeton: Princeton University Press

Vacha-Haase, T., & Thompson, B. (2002). Alternative ways of measuring counselees' Jungian psychological-type preferences. Journal of Counseling & Development, 80(2), 173.