Bridging psychological type and depth psychology

Editors: Carol Shumate, Mark Hunziker, and Jenny Soper

Next Issue: April

What Type Is Your Pet?

800px-Franz_Marc_006-310xI’m an incorrigible “dog guy” (probably because of that “unconditional positive regard” thing). My most recent canine buddy, Cooper, was a Pembroke Corgi. Like many of his herding-breed ilk, he had a strong sense of “how it’s supposed to be” and seemed driven to enforce this qualitative judgment. There’s an old saying from the days when it was common for farmers to have herding dogs to help with the livestock: “Never send a dog to tend to the animals alone, for they lack judgment.” A well-trained herding dog is fully capable of moving a herd without supervision under normal circumstances. It’s when they have to respond to something different that their judgment can’t be trusted. And without livestock to tend to, Cooper’s judgment often went awry. For example, once he got it into his head (for reasons that I could never understand) that I should not go where I was heading in the house, he would do everything in his power to convince me to turn around. I’ve never met any creature more attuned to emotional harmonics, nor so compelled to react to them. If I got angry about being herded, even though my behavior didn’t change, he would instantly escalate to adversarial tactics. But if I remained calm and empathetic, I could slowly talk him down from his herding frenzy. His preferred Judging function was clearly extraverted feeling (Fe), and in fact, I would go so far as to say it was the only Judging function he ever engaged. His sense of “harmony” also depended greatly cooper-300xupon familiarity. He was a huge fan of routine. When family members were engaged in normal activities in the usual locations, he would happily and calmly hang out with us. When we weren’t, he was alert and anxious. Talking on the phone, for some reason, was on his “not OK” list, and when it rang he always barked and tried to prevent me from answering it—resulting in many awkward explanations to clients. He was at his best when engaged in familiar tasks, and seemed conflicted and somewhat dysfunctional when the routine was broken. He found comfort in surrounding himself with his favorite toys. All this is typical of introverted sensing (Si), and since he was definitely an extravert, one might be tempted to type Cooper as ESFJ. But his extraverted sensing (Se) was as developed and present as his Si. When I played soccer with him, for example, he picked up on the tiniest nuances of my body language and seemed to move to intercept the ball before even I knew where I was going to kick it. It makes sense to me that his pack heritage might select for extraverted feeling; and that his ancestors’ survival as predators would have depended on acute Sensing in any form, with perhaps a touch of intuition.

His predecessor was Cocoa, a Miniature Poodle. Cocoa bonded selectively and deeply. I was used to big dogs for my entire prior life, but Cocoa grabbed my heart like no other. He operated from a core value of loyalty, above all else. His trust in his immediate family was absolute. And he once tried to take on a beaver three times his size Cocoa-300xthat he perceived as a threat to me. Thus, I saw a clear preference for introverted feeling (Fi) in him. Like any dog, he had Sensing skills; but they seemed introverted to me. He had a strong sense of what was coming next, based on past experience. Every day, when I would come home from work, I would hear the bump—bump—bump of his ball bouncing down the stairs as soon as I came through the door. He had been waiting for me at the top of the stairs; and pushed the ball over the edge to remind me that it was now playtime. This Si focus sometimes came at the expense of noticing his current reality (an Se focus), resulting occasionally in comical or even dangerous clumsiness. He once jumped blindly out of a second floor window because he heard me outside; and another time, he crashed into a picnic table chasing a ball.

I rarely see full human-like typologies in my canine friends; but I do see very clear portrayals of the function-attitudes. They often manifest in animals in such simple and “pure” form that I feel like I’ve been given a glimpse of how our human typologies may have evolved, and at what the function-attitudes “look like” without the complex dynamics and conscious obfuscation of human personalities.

What type characteristics do you see in your pets? How do they demonstrate their typology? What have you learned about type and human personality from your pets?

 

Header Image: Franz Marc, “Die vier Begleithunde des Prinzen Jusuff” (“The Four Companion Dogs of Prince Jusuff”), (1913).

6 Comments

    Hi Mark,
    You might enjoy a book by a good friend of mine, Maureen Kelly, called Pet Types: Communicating Heart to Heart. She has a fun way (ENFJ) of looking at our 4-footed friends and all of her housemates.
    Her website is Sagebutterfly.com. The site itself provides a nice glimpse into Maureen’s interests and passions.I just forwarded her your article.
    Bill

  • Thanks Bill. I’ll check out her site.

  • I don’t understand:
    1. Pets have no known Ego, so how can they have a function-attitude?
    2. I thought humans just projected human-like qualities onto pets
    3. The so called typology could be explained by neurological differences from pet-to-pet (no two organisms even within the same species is exactly the same). Assuming that animals also display human-identifiable/relateable behaviour patterns when coupled with neurological differences between pets can create the experience of a function attitude

  • My hazard to Sid is roughly that a lot of these patterns, such as introversion/extraversion, actually are conjectured to have some analogue in animals other than humans (I think Jung wrote of the more passive/defensive vs more outgoing instances of certain animals).

    It’s true that you could in a manner of speaking describe the animals as having a much lesser sense of conscious attitude/ego, in that they seem to operate more on instinct, which Jung would’ve associated more to unconscious than conscious impetus.

    It’s this sort of case where it might be useful to view the functions and introversion/extraversion more as processes/modes of experience than as completely conscious preferences that correspond to some kind of ego v. unconscious divide in the psyche.

    Assuming that, one could describe the animal’s characteristic orientation/patterns of functioning without really attributing it to a well-developed sense of ego.

    Those passive/active forms of functioning in the more basic form in animals could conjecturally be turned more “conscious” into definite ego-defining attitudes in, say, humans.

  • I really enjoyed this article. It’s a light-hearted view, and being ‘serious’ about it is perhaps not what the author intended! Certainly it helps exercise out ‘type savvy’ to look at our pets the the MBTI® lens. It reminds me that once you start looking at personality through this lens, it’s SO hard to stop!(-;

    It’s fun! I can’t help but type my parrots…Wilfreda, the ISFJ eleanora cockatoo, all harmony, loyalty and quiet, undemanding friendship (completely unlike other cockatoos I’ve known); the Lady Agatha, maximillian pious, INFP, clear about her beliefs and resonances — I’ve enjoyed watching her solve her ‘parrot-problems’ based on them. Another lover of harmony. Jeannie Clementine, ISFP, much more in the world than Agatha is (Aggie the pionus seems to reside wholly in her delightful birdbrain), Jeannie demonstrates that lovely combination of cautious and fiercely determined that I so often see in ISFP humans as a whole type quality. And let’s not forget Genghis-the-Small, renamed from ‘Ollie’ because of his definite ESTJ characteristics. Genghis is all about strategy, solves his problems logically, without reference to the other birds AT ALL, and tries to get everyone (including the household humans — INTJ, INTP and INFJ) –to TOE THE LINE. Genghis commandeers all the resources (food, toys and attention) despite being the second smallest bird, and clearly demonstrates his goal of world domination. Genghis could really use some self-development.

    It’s quite a household. Bear in mind, when these types can FLY a whole new dimension appears in type differences.

  • Thanks, Sophia, for taking my article with the (very modest) degree of seriousness that I intended; and for your in-kind addition to the conversation!

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