Bridging psychological type and depth psychology

Editors: Carol Shumate, Mark Hunziker, and Jenny Soper

Next Issue: April

Extraverted Perceivers: Learning Disabled?

Vincent Van Gogh, “Still Life with Three Books” (1887)In the comparative type table in the accompanying article on the type-diverse classroom, what jumps out immediately is the dramatic over-representation of the four EP types (highlighted in green) in the ‘at risk’ students group and those who have dropped out of school. Moreover, the teachers group is skewed significantly toward the IJ types (highlighted in blue), especially ISTJ. Almost half of the teachers have a dominant introverted perceiving function, whereas almost 60% of the students considered to be ‘at risk’ have dominant extraverted perception. Is extraverted perception being misdiagnosed as a learning disability? Or, can that preference actually be problematic for learning? Can you relate to any of the students’ learning challenges mentioned? What were your own classroom experiences like?


    This subject is really ripe for study and analysis. Two recent books have made me especially uneasy in the feeling that a noose is silently being tightened around the necks of extraverted perceiving types: Susan Cain’s “Quiet” and Adrian Raine’s “The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime.”

    Raine cites studies showing that sensation-seekers are more likely to become sociopaths and violent criminals. His book is carefully written and he even puts himself into the category of people who are statistically more likely to become violent criminals, yet I think he overlooks the possibility that our schools and other similar institutions may be doing lasting harm to artisan temperament children.

    Cain associates extraversion in general with being heedlessly risk-prone, short-term reward-driven, and thrill-seeking. She seems to have researched and written a book about introversion without having once encountered the idea of applying extraversion and introversion to Jung’s functions of consciousness–feeling, thinking, sensation, and intuition–an obliviousness that is, in itself, a stunning failure of extraverted perceiving. If her analysis had been slightly more sophisticated, however, I think she would have focused her shadow projections onto the extraverted perceiving types.

    So I think the type community, fresh from fending off an attempt to make introversion a disease symptom by the authors of DSM-V, need to gear up next to defend the EP types.

    As an ISFJ, I grew up finding that classrooms were, overall, organized pretty well to suit me. I used to resent the attention given to sports in school, but now I think that it was a logical compensation for the fact that SP values were so disregarded in the classroom.

  • Adam, let’s be careful to distinguish SP, which you disucss, and EP, which the authors point to. In this chart, the ISTP had trouble but the ISFP did not, and all the EPs had trouble.

    My problem with this is that the chart is over 30 years old, and things in both the culture and the Indicator have changed since then. I also don’t see that the actual MBTI was used, much less which form, much less that the students validated their Types. When I think back to being a student in school, I can see that lots of students wd accidentally type themselves in their student persona, which wd be “opposite-teacher” or “opposite-admin” or “opposite-school-culture”, and therefore skewed toward ESP. I know I wd have Typed as P.

    Also, I know a dozen ENPs who excelled at school, with no chance of dropping out; I know none who had trouble. Are others surprised by this result? So I agree with the notion that the classification “at-risk” is suspect? I certainly wd have called a bunch of my ENP friends as “at-risk”, but they had no chance of dropping out, reading less, or having trouble in intellectual life, or life in general.

    Meanwhile, the problem of teacher-student personality mismatch and bias is pretty well-studied, right? But it’s persisted bc ISJs are still the dominant Types who go into teaching and admin.

  • thank you for all the interesting comments. Josh just to clarify a bit of information to help you with your very valid points. All students did write the MBTI and validated their types. I was in the enviable position of being able to work with many of these young people for 3or4years and the the MBTI was a valuable resource. I was finding very similar results up to 2005 when I left the school system. I now do much smaller groups.

    Based on the theoretical information I too was always so interested in how many ENFP’s we were seeing but each one made perfect sense once we began to delve into their individual situations. Because of the length of the article many of the case studies and all the detailed information regarding the ‘at risk’ group was not included. I am so sorry it caused confusion. I believe the editors have consolidated all the more detailed information regarding the ”at risk’ group and will produce a second article. I hope you will be willing to read on as your very valid concerns might be answered.

  • The two trends that Adam mentioned—the marginalization of introversion and the marginalization of extraverted perception—seem, at first glance, contradictory. But it seems to me that both fit with the overall trend, in the United States, of ever-greater inflation of the national typology: ESTJ. While a significant number of people are moving toward compensation, balance, and authentic individuation, the dominating public norm—the framework for ‘conventional wisdom’ and public debate and policy—continues to spiral upward into the hubris or extraverted thinking (logic, control, structure, etc.) supported by introverted sensing (with its assumption that the way it should and must be is necessarily an iteration of one’s concrete, personal experience of how it has been).

    While the desirability of ‘diversity’ is given plenty of lip service, and has even been incorporated into our laws, increased pressure to conform (generally to ‘norms’ based on an ESTJ perspective) is the reality. ‘Profiling’ is supposedly forbidden, but continues to gain tacit public approval. The killer of a young black man is ruled to have been justified in his action. The NSA eavesdrops on our phone calls, emails and on-line activity, and flags any interest in ‘unacceptable’ subjects as suspicious. We’re searched, humiliated, and investigated if we seem outside the norms at a TSA airport security checkpoint. We could even be confined indefinitely, without due legal process, if we seem too far outside the box. And despite our growing outrage over the pillaging of our planet, the exploitation of the many by the few, and the coopting of our beautiful experiment of an egalitarian socio-political system, most of us respond only very carefully lest we be socially ostracized—or much worse.

    My point is that, as disturbing as the trends toward marginalizing certain typologies are in themselves, they are ‘only’ manifestations of a more insidious and threatening underlying trend: a normal peaking of a cultural typology beyond all reasonable limits, made more extreme and dangerous by fear (of terrorism, of ecological collapse, of financial uncertainty, etc.). The fear generates the rationales for more and more vigorous and extreme defense of the cultural ego against that which is perceived as ‘other.’ And I believe that Jungian analysts and type professionals have the capacity to have a significant positive impact on this global neurosis—because we hold powerful tools for understanding and mitigating the cultural dysfunction at the level where the root problem lies.

  • Hello again J OSH I am sorry for my brief FYI comment before I am on holidays and my husband was in the car waiting to go to the beach for lunch( a big thing for snowbound Canadians in Nov) I wanted to tell you that your comment about the changing minds of students over tHe years is extremely valid but I wonder if the statistics might not be even more valid as the need by educational institutions and high stakes testing is even more prevalent as the years have gone along. When we fund educational institutions based on test scores and all the horrors that brings I wonder if we might not be finding the same patterns with more severe consequences. Technology and this wonderful Information Age has so many benefits for our students but when anyone can look up an article or two on ADHD or Aspergers and feel knowledgeable there are many pitfalls.

    I am not at home but at the end of Nov. I can give you the version of the MBTI I used for those stats and because I don’t have the originals with me I forget the date they were done? old but I think 96 or 97 but I could be totally wrong on that.

    this is totally off topic but you or your sister ( if you are the Josh from the other post) might like (again an older book) but so relevant today in hindsight in reference to the change of the minds of our students. I tell everyone interested in this topic to read it. ‘ENDANGERED MINDS by Jane Healy.

  • Mark such an insightful comment. We profess and even mandate the honoring of the individual but………..

  • Mary:
    Endangered Minds, got it, thx. Also, thank you for such a gracious response to my critical one. It’s awesome that the students validated Type, and kind of amazing. The form is not important, bc it sounds like you have been using the most recent form each time, and I see the dates. And I believe statistics, I do, once I see the collection method! This is great stuff, and I’d love to hear even more when you write again. I’ll bet the ENPs I know aren’t typical, maybe bc they had/have higher coping and adaptation skills.

  • Mark:

    I don’t see External Perception being marginalized, only Se. Se is treated like the dumb big brother of Ne, where it’s sports or bust.

    As for Ne, it’s popular. It’s not foundational the way Te is in most large institutions. But I see so much fame and adulation go to tech inventors and designer geniuses these days. It’s hip and popular to be unconcerned with (or at least de-prioritize) making money off ideas, and to just the “an idea guy”. And the 20s-40s crowd had being smart and educated drilled into their heads so hard for all their formative years, that after they accepted the necessity of being those things, they co-opted them to be cool. Ne looks smart, so even though it needn’t be educated, so it’s seen as cool.

    As for Introversion, I see some marginalization in the fading dominant culture (say, Baby Boomers and early GenX), but I see a backlash against that view in the ascendant culture (maybe late Genx and Millennials). The examples you give needn’t justify the existence of either marginalization, although I see the connection and I’m esp intrigued by the idea of surveillance presuming an Extraverted sharing attitude, and of big data analysis presuming a default of like-mindedness.

  • It comes down to type dynamics, if we go by the table in the linked article:
    Highest at risk: ESTP, ESFP, ENFP, INTP and ENTP.
    If we look at the highest representation of teachers: ISTJ, ISFJ and ESFJ.

    The ESTP (Se + Ti) vs ISTJ (Si – Te) will be a case of the former’s hero-good parent corresponding to the latter’s Opposite – Critical parent.

    ENTP (Ne + Ti) vs ISTJ (Si – Te) where the former hero-good parent corresponds to anima – critical parent.

    I could keep going and list all of these (and a part of me wants to) but if you go through all of these I’m certain you will find that all of the students would be putting pressure on the teacher’s shadow and/or inferior function.

    As XNTJ (I’m still working on figuring out INTJ vs ENTJ) I was disruptive in that I’d “stress” the shadow side of my teachers in much the same way as the extraverted perceivers, however as school prefers extraverted thinking. Common points of disagreement between myself and my teachers was

    Teacher: “You have to show your workings”
    Me: “Why? The answer is correct isn’t it?”

    Teacher: “You have to write it first in pencil, proof read, fix errors and then write it again in pen so that it looks presentable and everything is spelled correctly”
    Me: “Why? The content is either good or not, regardless of spelling errors.”

  • I think the Extraverted Perceivers are so interested in everything happening around them that they’re not paying enough attention to what is being taught.

  • I agree whole heatedly with Pam. So many of our Extraverted Perceivers, with their zest for life and enthusiasm for were just not paying attention. They are drawn by the most interesting,creative activity or person in the room which is very seldom the teacher or the textbook. Their love of life is infectious but not in the midst of an algebra lesson?? Very recently I reread “Gifts Differing as I wanted to go back to the source.The eloquence of a one word descrption or phrase astounded me (we ISFP fight to find those brief descriptions) I was so amused by this lovely description of E. Not only are they not paying attention in class but they are doing it with a”SATISFYING AMOUNT OF NOISE” I love that phrase.

    I have been working on a chart that looks at common characteristics of some Learning disabilities!ADD/ADHD,Aspergers, Giftedness,Twice exceptional Gifted learning disabled characteristics and natural preferences identified by the MBTI. It is quite amazing that many characteristics overlap ..It seems understandable that Misdiagnosis happens. We first started to notice that many of our ADD/ADHD students seemed to have many,many common characteristics of our gifted students and many of our students sent by staff or family for assessment for learning or attention issues were just exhibiting natural preferences that could be attributed to their MBTI type.There a number of overlapping characteristics that MIGHT imply a pathology when NONEwas actually in evidence. I think Extraverted Perceivers get caught in this situation more often than we educators would like to admit.

  • sorry for the previous typo’s. this little box confounds me. I forgot to say how cheered I am to hear PL voice the need to ask WHY much more often than we do as educators.We need to encourage our students to ask WHY so much more often than we do. As educators if we can’t answer those why’s we may need to rethink the procedure,material etc.etc.etc.

  • […] and Rudolf Hess as feelers the question of whether a feeler can be a psychopath is moot. *Extraverted Perceivers: Learning Disabled? Reply With […]

  • of coursee like your website but you need to chheck the spelling on quiite a few of your posts.
    Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I iin finding it very troublesome to
    tell the reality on thhe other hand I will definitely come back again.

  • Hi Genie for myself and I am certain for others my fingers go too fast, much faster than my mind works. Once we proof read our minds often trick us and we see what we think we wrote not what is actually there. When I worked with students helping them proof read I would have them read backwards ie. last sentence first, second last sentence etc. etc. etc. This way you have a chance of finding the mistakes.Your mind does not breeze over the details and jump to the whole message with backwards reading. Very few people have the time to proof in a casual setting, I think. Certainly my experience. I am always mortified when I read what I have written on e-mail or linked-in. I often hope no one thinks that I can’t spell if I only take the time. Oh the lack of time. Mary Anne

  • The two preferences contribute in different ways, basically. The “E” preference probably contributes to some level of wanting to be out there, interacting, and so forth, not holed up. The “P” preference leads to an exploratory nature. By contrast, classrooms are highly task-oriented. What are the objectives we’re accomplishing? Bam, bam, and bam. Check off discussing this poem, that perspective of so and so author, this formula about electrodynamics, and so forth.

    Classrooms are (usually!) almost the epitome of non-exploratory learning, and not letting your curiosity dictate what you read next. They work well for people who get some kind of positive response to feeling like there was a well-defined body of items they get through.

    I have not studied this much, but my guess is if you look at the MBTI types in relation to scores in academic settings, a lot of classroom performance is best for INJ types. Types that are highly associated with intellectual curiosity, like INTP, may score very poorly in classroom measurements.

    Now, the question is what can we do about this, and why is this state of affairs in existence? Is it avoidable? I think the biggest barrier here is evaluation methodology. How to evaluate everyone’s work in a uniform way if we don’t systematize every last thing into a procedure? Classrooms today, if we are realistic, really aren’t (mostly, again!) houses of learning: they are houses of evaluation. There needs to be a standard by which to assess the masses of students moving forth from one level to another.

    Now, there’s one possible thing that can be done – end-of-year exams are more conducive to free-flowing workers. I’d suspect that for those INP types who do not have exam-fear (which should be out of the realms of direct type relation), this would do some help, as they could do things unscheduled, and just learn things by the end.

    I still suspect that INP types of a more extreme order would rather not deal with syllabi, and might be the most likely types to simply want to do their own thing.

    I really don’t think the issue is with learning, but with the association of learning with task-completion. And really, let’s be totally honest: a lot of students complete a task for a grade, and then forget the material entirely or almost entirely. The reason we simply cannot let the task-completion part go is evaluation. I suspect it would be in the spirit Isabel Myers thought of P types as having introverted judgment to say that they have an “inner” standard of evaluation, and thus do not like being evaluated based on a collective classroom standard.

    Rather, when it comes to pure learning, my guess is that the “INP” types would show on average a significant penchant to learning for the sake of learning. But this may be why, when the teacher is going on about Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a certain INFP decides he cannot simply pass up the opportunity to read several of Shakespearean sonnets, having had spontaneous inspiration the very moment, ignoring the lesson for the day to the detriment of his grade.

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