Bridging psychological type and depth psychology

Editors: Carol Shumate, Mark Hunziker, Jenny Soper, Christopher Ross, Lori Green, and Olivia Ireland (Art Editor)

Next Issue: January

Trump, Clinton, and Authenticity

"Extraverted sensors have the capacity to be spontaneous and completely in the moment"Spontaneity and Extraverted Sensation as a Voter Preference

At this moment when the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings are in full swing, it is more critical than ever to be able to recognize authenticity—in ourselves as well as in others. Inauthenticity seems to be easier to identify than authenticity, and Jung tells us much about the inauthentic person. In Jung’s writings, projection is a criterion that signals inauthenticity: it is an effort to push something inside oneself onto another. “We always see our own unavowed mistakes in our opponent” (1948/1969, ¶ 507). One sign of projection is ascribing motive to another, since we can never know another’s motives as well as our own, and we know very little indeed about our own. We can say without projecting that “x did such-and-such” or “y happened,” but to say “x did y because of [greed, corruption, revenge, etc.]” is to speculate and most likely to project. Jung said that “paranoia … plays a prominent role in projection” (1921/1971, ¶ 784). Another indicator of projection is the presence of strong affect, which often signals a complex. Complexes form a part of everyone’s psyche, but if we are unconscious of a complex, it can blind us to the truth about ourselves or others. Jung said that uncontrolled emotion can render us “singularly incapable of moral judgment” (Jung, 1951/1968, ¶ 15). Unfortunately, an expression of strong affect is sometimes viewed as a gauge of authenticity. The heightened emotion of a complex can be mistaken for sincerity because it erupts compulsively and spontaneously, and the public tends to conflate spontaneity with authenticity, as the 2016 presidential election demonstrated.

The Planning Candidate and the Improvising Candidate

Authenticity was a critical factor in the last presidential election, according to a Pew poll (Pew, 2016, pp. 2-3). The reasons that Donald Trump’s supporters gave for voting for him mostly concerned his candor—”honest,” said one; “outside of the political corruption,” said another; and “not a LIAR” said yet another in capital letters. Conversely, Trump’s supporters viewed Hillary Clinton as deceitful—”belongs behind bars,” “cannot be trusted,” and “nothing but lies.” Even Clinton’s own supporters viewed her as untrustworthy (Pew, p. 7). A Time Magazine report found the same thing: most voters tended to trust Trump more than Clinton (Chan, 2016). The question is: How did the voters gauge authenticity? Since taking office, a preponderance of President Trump’s statements have been found to be factually inaccurate by a variety of fact-checking organizations, e.g., AP Fact Check, PolitiFact, and FactCheck.org. According to PolitiFact, at present, 26% of Clinton’s recorded statements are false whereas 69% of Trump’s statements are false. Recently, on his 601st day in office, the number of President Trump’s statements that were “either totally false or partially untrue” reached 5,000 according to The Washington Post Fact Checker (Cilizza, 2018). Nevertheless, a recent CBS News poll found that Trump’s supporters trusted him more than members of their own families (Shugerman, 2018).

After the election, Jungian analyst John Beebe (2016) posed a question that can help make sense of such apparent inconsistencies: “How is it that the most prepared candidate in history lost to the least prepared candidate?” Evidence suggests that the American voting public likes spontaneous personalities more than planful personalities. Extraverted sensation (Se) is the most spontaneous of the eight Jungian functions, and individuals who like to be spontaneous often have opposite types from those who like to plan and prepare. INTJ ESTP MBTI personality types extraverted sensation introverted intuitionPresident Donald Trump appears to be a dominant extraverted sensing type with ESTP preferences (although some have suggested that he is an extraverted thinking type because of his tendency to be directive and hierarchical). Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears to have INTJ preferences (although ENTJ has also been suggested [1]). While ESTPs are quick to react and their speech patterns tend to be uninhibited, INTJs are the opposite, deliberate and methodical. This factor gives ESTPs an advantage in presentations because the immediate responsiveness of the dominant-Se type resembles what many consider genuine-ness. Extraverted sensors have the capacity to be spontaneous and completely in the moment. The Se-dominant types, ESTPs and ESFPs, tend not to worry about the future (Ni, Ne), nor do they normally regret past actions (Si), as is predicted by the fact that these functions are low in the ESTP function hierarchy. Of course, individuals can develop their lower functions, but the function hierarchy suggests what comes natural to the type. The dominant function (Se) of ESTP is the inferior function of INTJ, and the dominant function of INTJ, introverted intuition (Ni), is the inferior function of ESTP, which suggests that Trump’s strength is Clinton’s weakness and vice versa.

Because some individuals may show their shadow functions more than their preferred functions, Trump’s and Clinton’s true types may diverge from their public personas. As Jung (1921/1971) explained, “Only too often a man’s unconscious makes a far stronger impression on an observer than his consciousness does” (¶ 602). Nonetheless, while it is impossible to ever be entirely certain of someone’s type, it is possible to ascertain which functions are most prominent at any given moment. Clinton’s public persona shows preferences for introverted intuition (Ni) and extraverted thinking (Te), while Trump’s most salient function at present appears to be extraverted sensation (Se), and it appears that his voters particularly appreciate that aspect of his personality.

Individual’s of Trump’s putative type are often popular in adolescence because of their disregard of consequences and their joking, laughing enjoyment of social and physical interaction. As Jung (1921/1971) observed, this type “is by no means unlovable” because he has “a charming and lively capacity for enjoyment” (¶ 607). Donald Trump speaking campaigning.Extraverted sensation shows in President Trump’s quick reactions to his immediate environment, his fondness for Twitter, and his enjoyment of extraverted sensing activities like athletic events—in 2014 he tried to buy the Buffalo Bills, a professional football team. Extraverted sensing types often seek interaction with the broadest possible audience and enjoy seeing their strong impact on an audience, and these qualities are evident in Trump’s career in entertainment and ability to connect with a crowd. The president also has the extraverted sensing type’s resistance to constraints, tangible or social. Marc Fisher (2016), a senior editor at The Washington Post, wrote that Trump won the election by breaking the rules. Trump’s own words reveal the love of crisis and quick wins that Cash Keahey says characterize the Se type: “I’m all about the hunt and the chase. When I get something I really wanted, I sometimes lose interest in it.” Fisher attributed Trump’s win to his down-to-earth pragmatism: “He … spoke to Americans in plain … everyday language, without massaging his words through the data-driven machinery of consultants.” Trump’s speech patterns reflect the extraverted sensing type’s preference for contemporary reality over archives of past performance—the province of introverted sensation (Si)—and its preference for the concrete (S) over the abstract (N). Trump epitomizes the extraverted sensor’s ability to read and to ride current trends in the population: “The shift in how people relate to one another online dovetailed almost perfectly with Trump’s personal style—his impulsiveness, his quickness to hit back,” and “his intemperate comments” (Fisher, 2016). According to Fisher, Trump appeared “so unpredictable that he could be trusted to act without regard to the powers that be.”

Hillary Clinton, speakingA key asset of the INTJ personality is strategic planning, attributable to the farsightedness of introverted intuition (Ni) combined with the organizing feature of extraverted thinking (Te). Secretary Clinton’s campaign exemplified this asset, being built around long-range policies that showed the future orientation of introverted intuition. An article on Clinton’s personality in Psychology Today criticized her as ranking “low” on two Se qualities that often correlate with extraverted sensation—”colorful” and “excitable” (Sherman, 2016). INTJs always come prepared and therefore they tend to present with formality and gravitas. Clinton practiced for the presidential debates, which showcased her intensive preparation and long-range vision. In fact, according to New York Times journalist Jim Tankersley, she began work on a highly detailed long-range economic program a full two years before the election (Tankersley, 2016). However, as a Washington Post reporter observed, “A politician who studies too hard comes off as too rehearsed, too stiff, not authentic” (Paquette, 2016). Thus, the planfulness of INTJs could cause some to view them as inherently calculated and devious, although deception is not an attribute of psychological type.

The Conflation of Authenticity with Spontaneity

The remarks by reporters and supporters about Trump and Clinton reveal how authenticity and spontaneity are frequently conflated in political discourse, and how extraverted sensing (Se) leaders can be viewed as more authentic than leaders who prefer the opposite function of introverted intuition (Ni). We use the extraverted sensing function to perceive color, taste, texture, and sound, and to interact with the physical environment; it helps us navigate fast-occurring events by noticing the spatial context of those events. However, the speed and present-moment orientation of extraverted sensation should not be confused with authenticity. Hillary Clinton standing thoughtfulConversely, planning and caution do not signal inauthenticity, although Clinton’s critics called her “overly cautious and artificial” (Shesol, 2016), illustrating the public’s tendency to conflate caution with artifice. Historian David Greenberg (2016) acknowledged how dubious public perceptions can be when he labeled Clinton’s persona “lawyerly,” describing it as “a guarded, defensive and hedging style that inhibits her from explaining herself in the relaxed, ‘authentic’ manner voters like to see.” Greenberg seems to recognize that for voters, authenticity is a matter of “manner,” not substance.

Personality type is like a set of clothes we put on in order to interact with the world, and it may or may not reflect the person’s true self. We don’t judge a person’s authenticity by his or her clothes. We might paraphrase the Declaration of Independence and say, “All personality types are created equal.” Individuals of any type can be authentic or inauthentic. A personality type implies assets and weaknesses, but it does not dictate integrity or character, and certainly not authenticity. Personality type is something “innate,” according to Jung (1921/1971, ¶¶ 896-897), whereas character is something we build. John Beebe described the relationship between integrity and character as follows: “Integrity enables us to take responsibility for our character by enabling us to become conscious of it” (personal communication, June 11, 2018). Knowledge of personality type grows our consciousness, helping us distinguish the mask of personality from the core of character, and therefore may help us become more authentic. Lack of knowledge of personality type can lead us to view one or more of Jung’s eight functions as inherently superior to others and to confuse personality type with character. Jung provided his system of types to guide us in the quest for the authentic self by outlining the most likely parameters that delineate the psyche, the polarities between which we oscillate.

True Type or False? Appearance vs. Reality

Even if we are not seeing the true type of either Trump or Clinton, their election campaigns illustrated the opposition between extraverted sensation (Se) and introverted intuition (Ni), the dominant functions of ESTP and INTJ. President Trump’s campaign was fast, colorful, and exciting, as is characteristic of extraverted sensation, while Clinton’s campaign was more policy-laden and thus slower and heavier: In July of 2016, Trump’s website listed seven items under “positions” whereas Clinton’s website listed 37 issues (Tankersley, 2016). It is clear that the voting public often viewed Trump’s spontaneity and lack of reflection before speaking as evidence of authenticity. In response to the polling question, What is the main reason you support Trump, a substantial number said, “He tells it like it is” (Pew, 2016, p. 1). This phrase resonates with the description of the extraverted sensing type in the original Baynes translation of Psychological Types: “He is conspicuously adjusted to positive reality—conspicuously, because his adjustment is always visible. His ideal is the actual” (Jung, 1921/1923, p. 459). Donald Trump on parade.The extraverted sensor’s public presentation is then one of ‘what you see is what you get’—precisely the reason cited by the Trump supporters polled by Pew.

But one of the key lessons of psychological type is that appearance is not reality: no personality is ever entirely perceptible and transparent. Jung (1954/1968) understood how easy it is to mistake the personality for the person when he wrote, “The persona is that which in reality one is not, but which oneself as well as others think one is” (¶ 221). Clarifying this distinction is a theme of his book, Psychological Types. The presentation of the types rarely reflects reality. ESTPs like to practice a skill until it becomes second-nature so that they can use that skill spontaneously. In other words, their spontaneity does not preclude preparation and discipline, just the contrary. President Trump’s favorite soundbites—”no collusion,” “fake news,” “build a wall”—sound as rote and mechanical as any of Secretary Clinton’s speeches, but they are prompt and concise, and they reflect the concrete practicality of the extraverted sensing mindset. By the same token, President Trump’s critics tend to see only his devil-may-care presentation style and not his planning, although he has a set of detailed plans for the future (Amadeo, 2018). Conversely, INTJs like Clinton may appear calculating but are capable of off-the-cuff wit on the spur of the moment and sharp observations of the environment. According to English journalist Edward Luce of the Financial Times, “Clinton’s wit … is famously brilliant when she is out of public earshot” (Luce, 2018).

America’s Favorite Function, Extraverted Sensation

The tendency to view extraverted sensing types as more authentic than more reflective, systematic types may be due to a type preference within American culture. As Marie-Louise Von Franz (1971/2013) observed, “the American nation has a very great number of extraverted sensation types” (loc. 446), and research indicates that voters tend to vote for those most like themselves (Boozer, 2009). Whatever the modal type of the country may be, most of the heroes of popular American culture seem to have an extraverted sensing preference, in either the dominant or auxiliary position. The Se hero loves a fast ride and a physical engagement, and he demonstrates superior reflexes vis a vis his attackers. This is true even of the dominant introverts, ISTP and ISFP. Indiana Jones, Han Solo of Star Wars, Bruce Willis’s character in the Die Hard series, Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, and Jax Teller in the Sons of Anarchy series all revel in the physicality and the insouciance of the extraverted sensing hero, his disdain for social conventions and ability to escape from any constraint against all odds. President Trump illustrates some aspects of the Se media hero in his disregard for tradition and propriety and in his enjoyment of the sensory side of life.

"Extraverted sensors are even critiqued for being popular, as if that in itself were a character flaw"Culture-based type bias, while sometimes favoring extraverted sensing leaders, may at other times victimize those same leaders, judging them irresponsible and undisciplined on account of their taste for taking risks and their penchant for “winging it.” Extraverted sensors are even critiqued for being popular, as if that in itself were a character flaw. It is no more sensible to criticize an Se type like President Trump for improvising than to critique an Ni type like Secretary Clinton for planning for the future. Both attributes are valuable in leaders. We would all be worse off if we had no extraverted sensing risk-takers among us capable of making snap decisions when piloting a fighter jet or while performing emergency surgery. Yet type bias often prevails when we enter the voting booth, where we tend to seek either clones of ourselves on the one hand or iconic images of pop culture heroes on the other. Robert Boozer’s research (Boozer & Forte, 2007) showed that sensing types tend to vote for conservatives, and intuitive types tend to vote for liberals, demonstrating the extent of type bias in elections.

The broad appeal of extraverted sensation may simply be due to the nature of the Se function itself. The speech and behavior of extraverted sensing types appear to be uncalculated because of the immediacy of their responses to the environment or situation. Donald Trump’s speech patterns seem artless and unpremeditated, which probably contributes to his reputation for personal charm. In excess, extraverted sensation can manifest as impulsiveness, and Donald Trump has been called “the impulsive president” (Walsh, 2017). Impulses are not products of artifice. No one needs to fake an impulse. However, it would be a mistake to view impulsiveness as a sign of authenticity or to consider impetuousness more genuine than caution, discipline, or preparation. On the contrary, a pattern of precipitous behavior in an extraverted sensing type may indicate immaturity due to a poorly developed auxiliary function.

"it renders the individual incapable of making a reasoned decision, such that he or she is at the mercy of fate"A Failure of Judgment

While personality type does not dictate authenticity, the failure to develop one’s personality does correlate with character and authenticity. An Se type who lacks the balance of an auxiliary judging function can appear to be non-judgmental, always a welcome quality in a companion, but lack of a developed judging function actually makes the individual more judgmental, not less, and eventually leads to the opposite of authenticity: duplicity. A developed personality, according to Jung, has access to both a judging function and a perceiving function; if either is missing, the individual is maladapted. Jung specifically warned of this problem in the extraverted sensing type; it renders the individual incapable of making a reasoned decision, such that he or she is at the mercy of fate, “accept[ing] indiscriminately everything that happens” (1921/1971, ¶ 609). In that case, the Se type’s impulsiveness becomes “compulsiveness” (¶ 609). Then, the lack of a judging function leads to an enantiodromia where the individual becomes the opposite of himself/herself, such that this most realistic of types then becomes the most delusional of types, prey to “pathological contents of a markedly unreal character” (¶ 608). Such a fate guarantees that the Se individual will become “judgmental,” i.e., the opposite of impartial, projecting every shadowy impulse upon others, seeing himself as the victim of circumstance and external enemies.

The American film depiction of a Mafia don epitomizes the way in which an Se type without judgment can project his or her own evil onto others and then attack them for it. Like any Se type, the mob boss loves the good life—cooking, copulating, and celebrating—and speaks his mind with no restraints. But the lack of restraint suggests that he has neither a moral compass honed by feeling (F) nor the logical yardstick that thinking (T) provides for guidance, and hence the mob boss makes bizarre decisions that no one can anticipate. That unpredictability of the extraverted sensing type then becomes a weapon of intimidation that enhances his power.

When an extraverted sensing type fails to develop a judging function, Jung (1921/1971) said, a second personality develops: “The whole structure of thought and feeling seems, in this second personality, to be twisted into a pathological parody; reason turns into hair-splitting pedantry—morality into dreary moralizing and blatant Pharisaism” (¶ 608). On the one hand, the moralizing sophistry of an immature judging function can be expressed in simplistic platitudes like the catechisms of The Godfather’s Vito Corleone—”Don’t ever take sides against the family” and “A man that doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man” (Coppola, 1972). On the other hand, the hypocrisy Jung alluded to (“Pharisaism”) is expressed in the way the Mafia don doesn’t hesitate to break his own rules. Mob boss Tony Soprano of the HBO series The Sopranos is charmingly attentive to his family members and playful with his employees, but when his second personality erupts, he kills the people he loves the most. Like Vito Corleone, Tony can appear authentic because of the extraordinary transparency of his self-interestedness, but unmitigated self-interest propagates deceitfulness, the opposite of authenticity. When the cracks in his facade show, his second personality erupts in a rage at being discovered. When Tony is asked to pay back money he has borrowed from a loan shark, he squirms with discomfort, and his buddies worriedly suggest a remedy for his discomfort: “Just don’t pay it back!” To that suggestion, Tony retorts: “Not pay my debts? As head of the family? How’s that gonna look?” (Chase, 2007). The only thing that matters is the perception of propriety because the perceiving function, extraverted sensation, is Tony Soprano’s only developed function.

"Although the Se type tends not to worry about the future, a suppressed inferior Ni can create unconscious paranoia."More importantly, the Se type like any other has an inferior function and an unconscious, and the less he is aware of these aspects of his personality, the more he is governed by them. Although the Se type tends not to worry about the future, a suppressed inferior Ni can create unconscious paranoia. Jung’s protégé Marie-Louise von Franz (1971/2013) said that Se types who suppress their Ni function can acquire “persecution ideas, … melancholy, suspicious premonitions” (loc. 429). She said further that “the prophetic contents that break through will be pessimistic and negative” (loc 546). Jung, referring to the Se type’s inferior Ni, said that this type is “unexpectedly credulous” (1921/1923, p. 459) with “a primitive superstitious and magical religiosity” (p. 460). Inferior Ni is depicted in Tony Soprano’s superstitious brand of Roman Catholicism, in his fear of his nightmares, and in his tendency to faint when memory takes him out of the present moment where Se types like to live. We see this gullibility of inferior introverted intuition in President Trump’s tendency to believe in conspiracy theories.

If Tony Soprano represents a caricature of the ESTP type in excess, his INTJ counterpart might be Agent Smith of The Matrix. Agent Smith is the definitive control freak, a programmed individual who also programs others. Secretary Clinton during the campaign showed some signs of being too controlled, and the Democratic Party showed a tendency to overcontrol others in its treatment of Senator Bernie Sanders. Agent Smith illustrates the danger of this type in excess: he has the power of foresight, a hallmark feature of Ni, and he depicts how an INTJ’s suppressed inferior Se function may break out in physical combat and be used to control others and the whole environment. If an Se leader in excess like Tony Soprano can create a society that is chaotic and unpredictable, the Ni leader in excess can create a police state where citizens live in an orderly society ignorant of their true status, as in The Matrix. A historic example of Ni in excess is the Nazi vision of a one-thousand-year Reich, which blinded German civilians to the hellish underside of their society, and their leaders to the unsustainability of Hitler’s vision of total war. Many German citizens failed to recognize the evidence of their defeat even weeks before the end of the war.

One-Sidedness Leads to Inauthenticity

The one-sidedness that results from an overemphasis of a single function is the attribute that most leads to inauthenticity, because that function overpowers the parts of the individual’s personality that are incompatible with it. A kind of purification results that triggers a reversal, such that the personality becomes the opposite of itself. The types in excess show how suppression of a function results in an inadvertent intensification of the rejected function. The more Secretary Clinton strove to control the political dialogue, the more out of control it became. Similarly, the more President Trump gave vent to the impulsive side of his personality, the more rote and rehearsed his soundbites grew.

Any function if taken to excess within an individual or a culture can lead to totalitarianism, but most individuals do not express their dominant and inferior functions as pathologically as the film examples above. "The one-sidedness that results from an overemphasis of a single function is the attribute that most leads to inauthenticity"Weakness in the inferior function is a natural consequence of narrowed expertise in the arena of the dominant function. We can’t have the strengths of our types without having the weaknesses too. It is natural to be reluctant to venture into the territory governed by the inferior function. If Trump shows his resistance to introverted intuition (Ni) by playing golf when the going gets tough, Clinton’s resistance to her extraverted sensing (Se) function showed in the way her communications grew even more controlled when she came under pressure—she gave fewer press conferences, which require answering questions on the spur of the moment. In the campaign, her determination to communicate her long-term plan came at the cost of responding to what was right under her nose: the public’s preoccupation with the here and now, i.e., contemporary reality as perceived by extraverted sensation. According to Jim Tankersley (2016), “She thought that voters would demand detailed plans from the candidates and reject what she called ‘easy answers’ on the big challenges facing the country.” That colossal miscalculation reflects the tunnel vision to which INTJs are prone. We cannot simultaneously anticipate the future (Ni) and experience the present (Se); if we can become conscious of our tendency to prefer one or the other, we can achieve some balance by alternating between one kind of perception and another.

Nevertheless, a weak inferior function is not in itself a sign of pretense. In fact, only those who acknowledge their weaknesses can begin to approach authenticity. Neither Trump nor Clinton fully claimed responsibility for their failures during the campaign or afterward, but President Trump raised denial to a fine art, which economist Paul Krugman called “the doctrine of Trumpal infallibility” (Krugman, 2017a, 2017b), while Clinton at least took responsibility during the campaign for the policy failures of the past:

We skewed the tax code toward the wealthy. We continued to undermine workers’ rights. We have blocked investments in our shared future. And I don’t think it’s just greed, as serious as that is. It seems we’ve lost a sense of shared responsibility and forgotten we’re all in this together. (Hillary Clinton, cited by Tankersley, 2016)

Her use of the we pronoun indicated some willingness to acknowledge failure. Moreover, she declined to blame others when she said, “I don’t think it’s just greed.” With this comment Clinton deviated from the habit among politicians of assigning moral failings to others. Blame-seeking is a projection common in our public discourse, a sign of self-delusion and the antithesis of authenticity. Her book about the campaign, What Happened?, did castigate others and perhaps these were projections, but she did not abdicate ultimate responsibility for her loss of the election:

I go back over my own shortcomings and the mistakes we made. I take responsibility for all of them. You can blame the data, blame the message, blame anything you want—but I was the candidate. It was my campaign. Those were my decisions. (Clinton, 2017, p. 391)

None of us is completely authentic. We all tend to think ill of our opposite types and our political opponents. Both Clinton and Trump are guilty of vilifying one another and other political opponents, and both have shown  paranoia in a tendency to believe in conspiracy theories. Nevertheless, because of her willingness to take responsibility for her failures, Clinton appears to be more genuine than Trump, not less. Clinton could profit by giving expression to some of the qualities of Donald Trump’s type—his spontaneity and emotional expressiveness—while Trump could benefit by becoming more like Clinton, more cautious and attuned to the consequences of his actions. And yet, merely moderating our excesses does not necessarily lead to authenticity. It may even signal the reverse—an effort to be something other than we are. Instead, we need to recognize that we all have an ESTP and an INTJ within, as well as many other personalities, and that when we demonize an aspect of another, we are demonizing a part of ourselves, suppressing a function that could revitalize our lives. True authenticity can only be approached by getting to know these suppressed parts of ourselves through the arduous project of self-exploration and the willingness to claim responsibility for both the wanted and the unwanted effects of our actions.

Being True to What?

Authenticity does not mean doing what you feel like or speaking your mind, although that is often the common definition. Often those who speak freely are only giving voice to the collective mind, not their own. Sometimes such a leader appears authentic but is given over completely to unconscious urges and impulses emerging from the collective unconscious. Such a leader radiates persuasiveness, which is often mistaken for authenticity, but Jung calls this phenomenon archetypal possession (1935/1980, ¶¶ 1330-1333.) Archetypes reside in the collective unconscious shared by all members of the species and constitute the most primitive source of psychological energy. "An archetypally possessed leader can speak the unspeakable with no filters or inhibitions because he is giving voice to the unconscious contents of thousands of minds"When an individual allows himself to be fully identified with an archetype, he loses his individuality and appears larger than life, artificially inflating his personality with attributes of the archetype that he does not actually possess. An archetypally possessed leader can speak the unspeakable with no filters or inhibitions because he is giving voice to the unconscious contents of thousands of minds. For that reason, his speech is easily received and understood, and he appears utterly spontaneous and “authentic.” It is exhilarating to be liberated from one’s inhibitions, which ensures that demagogues—leaders who appeal to the public’s prejudices rather than its reason—find a wealth of enthusiastic supporters. Moreover, archetypal possession is often accompanied by strong affect, which indicates the opposite of authenticity; Hitler’s speeches exemplify the affect contamination that characterizes an archetypally possessed leader. Such a leader presents with authority, conviction, and heightened emotion, but is the epitome of internal inconsistency; his orders will be self-contradictory from moment to moment, and he will deny the contradiction.

It was the foppish Polonius in Hamlet who said, “To thine own self be true.” That this line—spoken by one of Shakespeare’s most pathetic characters—is one of the most quoted lines in Shakespeare should give us pause. Shakespeare was emphasizing the futility of a persona-identified man like Polonius ever to know himself. Polonius was the kind of man who sacrifices his individuality to merge with the masses. How can Polonius be true to himself? He has no character to be true to. Those who have not individuated have no clear character of their own and only reflect back our own image. This is how a leader without character can appear to be quintessentially authentic: the lack of a well-developed character allows others to see whatever they want to see in his or her behavior and rhetoric.

In his book The Path, Harvard professor Michael Puett observed how we in the west tend to “[build] our future on a very narrow sense of who we are, … taking a limited number of our emotional dispositions during a certain time and place and allowing those to define us forever” (2016, loc. 201). Puett suggested that “perhaps your personality is not your authentic self but rather ‘ruts’ or patterns of behavior–that you allowed to define who you thought you were” (loc. 206). This is precisely the discovery that Jung made, the concept of a “plural psyche,” to use Andrew Samuels’ (1989/2015) term, whose exploration takes a lifetime. Jung’s concept of the psyche suggests that authenticity cannot be willed by being consistent with some idea or image of oneself because the unconscious contains an opposite image that may manifest at any moment, like Tony Soprano’s second personality. Acknowledging this second personality within is a necessary but not sufficient condition for authenticity.

Even with knowledge of our own type’s tendencies, authenticity may not be possible because we cannot know the mind’s shadow side. We can only notice the movement back and forth between the play of opposites. It is possible to be entirely sincere and yet utterly duplicitous if we do not know ourselves. It follows that we can only recognize authenticity in others to the extent that we have discovered our own hidden agendas. As Jung put it, “The psyche is still a foreign barely explored country of which we have only indirect knowledge, mediated by conscious functions that are open to almost endless possibilities of deception” (1921/1931, ¶ 916). To try to be authentic is by definition inauthentic because the trying makes it so. For this reason, authenticity may be the wrong goal, the one that leads us astray. The goal of individuation is wholeness, which can be approached only by experimenting with new and different modes of operation and consciousness. These will always feel uncomfortable, awkward, and yes—inauthentic. Therefore, bizarrely, we may be most authentically whole when we feel less than genuine and perhaps when we appear to be not our usual selves but incapacitated and vulnerable.

[1]

Psychology professors Trey Fitch and Jennifer Marshall (2008) assessed Hillary Clinton as ENTJ but INTJ seems a better fit for Clinton because, as Fitch and Marshall acknowledge, Clinton does not share many characteristics of extraverts (pp. 6-7), e.g, ENTJs are generally comfortable speaking extemporaneously.


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Images:

Donald Trump, stumping, March 19, 2016, Fountain Hills, AZ, by Gage Skidmore. Retrieved from commons.wikimedia.org

Hillary Clinton speaking, February 1, 2013, US Department of State. Retrieved from commons.wikimedia.org

Hillary Clinton, thoughtful, April 6, 2016, Pittsburg, PA, by Barbara Kinney. Retrieved from commons.wikimedia.org

Donald Trump on parade, January 20, 2017, Washington, DC, by DHS Law Enforcement Personnel. Retrieved from commons.wikimedia.org

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