Bridging psychological type and depth psychology

Editors: Carol Shumate, Mark Hunziker, and Jenny Soper

Next Issue: April

Question of the Day

Dali, Ghost of Vermeer

“Thus, just as it seems incomprehensible to the introvert that the object should always be the decisive factor, it remains an enigma to the extravert how a subjective standpoint can be superior to the objective situation. He inevitably comes to the conclusion that the introvert is either a conceited egoist or a crack-brained bigot.”
– C. G. Jung, Psychological Types, Para 625, p. 377

The beauty of type is that it replaces the assumption that people with styles that are different from our own are “crack-brained bigots” with an understanding that there are multiple healthy and normal ways of being. Taking this point of view toward Extraversion and Introversion allows us to value both talking and listening, to appreciate the need for both action and reflection, and to see the genius in the leader who claims the spotlight and in the one who toils behind the scenes. Moreover, it is crucial that each of us works to balance our own natural preference through active engagement of its opposite. What if Isabel Myers had stayed in her introverted comfort zone and stopped developing her ideas when she found a favorable audience at home?

A direct challenge to the Jungian understanding of personality differences arose during the current revision of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). If the proposed revisions had been accepted, Introversion would have been considered one of six traits on which a diagnosis of personality disorder can be made. Rather than being viewed as the natural expression of an innate preference, Introversion would have come to be seen as a sign of psychopathology.*

Where in your own life have you seen efforts to pathologize, punish or otherwise stigmatize particular ways of being, including personality preferences? How have you actively sought to counter these efforts? How do you think a group, team, society or culture loses out when it defines one way of being as “right” and another, perhaps its opposite, as “wrong?”

*Editors’ Note: In response to objections raised by a number of professional associations, including the Association for Psychological Type International and the Council of North American Societies of Jungian Analysts, the “Personality Disorders Task Force” decided in early August not to use the label “Introversion” in the DSM as one of the traits that indicate possible psychopathology.

8 Comments

    This is a great question I always teach people in our seminars on type that valuing and appreciating different types for most of us has been “an acquired taste.”

    I compare it to my childhood when I was raised in Texas eating school lunch box slices of tasteless cheese and loving it and trading those sandwiches on the playground. The first time I tasted bleu (blue) cheese I thought it was poison and spit it out. Over the years it’s become my favorite cheese.

    Equally as an ENTJ I thought that I was the standard of how a human being ought to be and was shocked that so few people agreed. These experiences began my journey of a lifetime to understand other types and to find out that they are not only valuable, but they save my bacon every day doing things I can’t.

  • This is a fascinating question! I think there is a natural tendency at both the individual and the organizational level to consider one’s own preferred type to be the “optimal” or “best” type and to dismiss or even demonize others.

  • In the church where I worked for many years, we went on a “head hunt” for the other type when we realized we were two INFJs and an INTJ. It was a matter of realizing that we had to be able to relate to the whole parish, all the ESFs out there and ESTs, whose perception and needs might be so different. It worked, but I must add that it made for some more prolonged and complicated staff meetings.

  • Great article. Just wondered is the cognitive function, such as Fe and Fi to different coins, or is it the same coins with to different sides? Would be nice to know 🙂

    Thank you.

  • I’m not sure these are two ‘sides’ of the same coin, but rather two ‘directions.’ Jung says, “Without differentiation direction is impossible, since a direction of a function towards a goal depends on the elimination of anything irrelevant. Fusion with the irrelevant precludes direction; only a differentiated function is capable of being directed.” Then he also says that Te and Ti are “incessantly at war” which certainly suggests that these should not be considered the same coin but really are two orthogonal mental processes.

    – Carol

  • Hi

    Would this mean that we have 8 cognitive functions that is unique to themselves.
    Or 4 cognitive function but with different attitude, that makes up 8?

    Thank you Carol.

  • Here’s where we start tripping over our own terminology traditions. Jung, of course, identified four “functions”—Sensation, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling—and described them as being engaged in either of two “attitudes” (AKA “orientations”)—introversion of extraversion. So technically there are only four “functions.”

    Jung never gave a label to the eight ‘things’ you get with the functions being used in their E or I orientation—Se, Si, Ne, Ni, Te, Ti, Fe, and Fi—probably because he didn’t consider them to be psychic units unto themselves. But it’s certainly convenient to talk as if they are. Dick Thompson proposed “function-attitudes,” and I think it was Linda Berens who first suggested “cognitive functions.” Leona Haas and I used “mental processes” throughout Building Blocks of Personality Type, hoping that the term would catch on and resolve the confusion. I continue to hear all three terms used regularly. The most popular seems to be “function-attitude;” ;ut it’s kind of a long label, so people often shorten “function-attitude” to just “function”—hence the confusion. Whenever you hear the term “function,” you need to ask yourself whether they are literally talking about one of the four functions or using short-hand for one of the eight function-attitudes. It’s certainly inconvenient; but usually you can tell from their context.

  • Hi Mark

    I think I got it now. There are 4 cognitive functions, with either attitude. So the thinking function is really just one cognitive function but the ego decides to either focus its energy towards inside or outside.

    It does make sense, ist like INTJ and INTP are bout rationals with there NT but picking up different information from the opposite source (external or internal) but really using the same function, hence both still becomes rational.

    Thank you 🙂

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