Jungian Psychological Types

 

Jung’s typology, or model of psychological types, combined his 20 years of clinical experience with his broad study of historical and cross-cultural material on the subject. Psychological types, for Jung, refers to types of consciousness rather than types of people. Jung (1921) described psychological types as developed orientations of the ego in its relationships to inner and outer reality. Typology includes two basic attitudes, introversion and extraversion, and four basic functions: thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. Introversion and extraversion are terms that describe the process and direction of movement of psychic energy in the relationship between ego/subject and other/object.

          Types are psychological modes of adaptation that emerge from an innate psychological core. Introversion is characterized by the general movement of psychic energy from object/other to the ego and extraversion describes the general propensity for energy to be moving from ego to object/other. Jung used the terms as adjectives, such as in extraverted thinking, to demonstrate their descriptive and dependent quality. He argued that all people use both processes; however, they use them differently and to differing degrees (Jung, 1921). Beebe (2006) describes introversion as a movement away from the external object/other/experience to the most related inner idea/meaning/archetype that matches with it. Extraversion, on the other hand, is a tendency to merge, adjust to, or identify with the object. Sharp (1987) summarizes introversion as being associated with hesitancy, reflection, internal/subjective motivation, and a shrinking away from the object, whereas in extraversion, the subject is characterized by an outgoingness that adapts easily to situations and is motivated by external factors.

           The four functions within Jung’s typology are the capacities of the ego to orient itself to reality: thinking is the process of defining reality; feeling is the assignation of value; sensation is the registering of reality as real; and intuition is a divination of implication and possibility. Jung described thinking and feeling as rational and discriminating functions of judgment, with thinking being the faculty of logical discrimination and feeling the faculty of discerning likes and dislikes. Both thinking and feeling are “based on a reflective, linear process that coalesces into a particular judgment” (Sharp, 1987, p. 16). The evaluative quality of these functions is what groups them as rational. Sensation and intuition, on the other hand, are irrational in the sense that they are beyond or outside of reason; they are more empirical or perceptive ways of knowing. Sensation is the faculty of immediately perceiving the outside world, whereas intuition deals with past and future, hunches and prospects.

            As processes for relating to experience, every individual exercises the entire range of typological orientations, albeit in varying degrees of development. Jung theorized that the processes of individuation, particularly in analysis, parallel the differentiation of the psychological types. Differentiation in this case is the process by which each function becomes available to consciousness for application in the appropriate circumstance. Invariably, however, development proceeds along distinctive pathways and one function is generally more developed than the others. The most utilized and developed function of an individual ego is called the superior function and the least developed the inferior function.           

             Although Jung categorically argued in favour of an essentialist view of human psychology, he also appreciated the effects of environment and context on development. In childhood, he theorized, an individual’s innate superior function is generally supported as a gift or strength of the individual, which further promotes its development. The inferior function, by contrast, is most closely related to the unconscious, undadapted, underutilized, and degenerated side of the personality. In the case that the development of an individual’s essential typology is suppressed, either due to family or cultural environment, the individual is considered a distorted type. In general, Jung’s model assumes an imbalance and promotes a developmental perspective in which the inferior function is gradually integrated into the psyche as a whole.

            The inferior function, as the despised or unadapted aspect of the psyche, often holds the key to healing and wholeness. Von Franz (1971), in her extensive research in the area, argues that the inferior function “always makes a bridge to the unconscious” (p. 10). It is important to note that the unconscious is not necessarily a quality of interiority, as introverted attitudes will often display unconsciousness in their relationship to external reality. The inferior function is slow, hard to work on, touchy, tyrannical, charged with affect, covered up, magical, primitive, archaic, and generally bothersome to consciousness. On the other hand, the inferior function provides the possibility of reinvigorating the psyche when the one-sided dominant superior becomes weary of the world toward the middle of life. The ecstatic state, the opportunity for wholeness and a relationship to the infinite all align with the inferior function. Jung’s typology describes the inherent qualities of engaging available to all humans and in this sense are modes of differently apprehending and engaging with reality.

 

Understanding Anxiety

While everyone has had at least one experience of intense worry or fear in their lives, clinical anxiety disorders affect about 2 in 10 people in BC and the numbers are even higher for youth and young adults. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to treat anxiety, with counselling being the approach I use in my practice.

Regardless of the severity, understanding more about anxiety is the first step in receiving help or helping someone else.

Anxiety is as a combination of symptoms and deeper level issues. In the category of symptoms, I include experiences in the body and mind, and changes in behaviour. In the category of deeper level issues, I include woundings, unexpressed aspects of ourselves, and loss of connection.

A symptom is something we feel, think, or do that is outside of our normal experience. It is when we realize that something is not right. With anxiety, there are typical physical, psychological, and behavioural symptoms.

In the body, anxiety usually presents itself through fast heart rate and shortness of breath, sweaty hands and foreheads with a mix of chills and overheating. Often people will feel tightness is the stomach or even sickness. It is common to shake and it is common to clench your muscles or jaw. These physical symptoms are all functions of your sympathetic nervous system responding to a perceived danger. It is your fight, flight or freeze response to something you understand as threatening, which brings us to thoughts.

When we respond to actual danger with increased heart rate and increased muscle tension, it might help protect us -our stress response system evolved over millennia to keep us alive and healthy. The problem is when our stress response system overreacts based on our thoughts and belief, which at times can have a life of their own. Whether it is friends, grades, work, or getting sick, we can kick our stress response into high gear simply through our thoughts, and particularly through worrying about the future. This becomes a problem when we get stuck in non-helpful thought patters and begin creating scenarios in which we are either physically, psychological, or emotionally in danger or hurt.

And what is the most natural thing for us to do when we perceive danger, are worried about an event, and are experiencing physical symptoms such as dizziness, upset stomach, or shaking - we avoid the situation. While this can often help to reduce physical symptoms and negative thought patterns in the short run, avoiding situations that bring us worry can also intensify these feelings the next time around.

There are many things you can do to treat these symptoms. First there are as lifestyle changes such as diet, sleep and exercise, breathing and relaxation techniques including mindfulness and yoga, or simply taking walks in nature. Second, you can address negative thoughts by challenging them or, paradoxically, learning to accept them. Lastly, through gradual desensitization -getting more comfortable through safe and successful experiences- you can be more at ease with what provokes your anxiety.

At a deeper level of the psyche, anxiety has a functional component. I like to think of this as what anxiety is trying to get us to pay attention to. You see in many cases the symptoms of anxiety are a sign that there is some aspect of our lives that needs attention. I will explore these in terms of woundings, unexpressed aspects of ourselves, and losses of connection.

All of us have had some negative experience in life, whether that is an experience of injury, embarrassment, or shame. Many of us have experienced a trauma, sometimes at the hands of someone close, and, because it pains us to return to the memories of these events, they have taken root at a deep level of our personality. Anxiety can sometimes be a sign that we are needing to return to these events in order to process them and integrate them in a new way. This can be scary and hence anxiety symptoms sometimes accompany the work of healing.

Second, all of us have parts of ourselves that we have not yet expressed. While the exploration of ourselves can be exciting, bringing out new parts of ourselves can be scary. These could be artistic and creative aspects of ourselves, it could be our sexuality or gender, or relating differently to people in our family. Learning to express parts of our unlived lives is a very common part of counselling and often brings a feelings a feeling of freedom and authenticity to replace fear.

Lastly, anxiety can be caused by a loss of connection to close people in our lives, to our natural environment, to our culture, to meaningful work, or to ourselves. Disconnection can happen for a variety of reasons and reconnection can be accompanied by feelings of uncomfort and apprehension. Learning to be open to relationships and vulnerable to what they bring, while keeping ourselves safe, is a hallmark of a full and happy life.

Through counselling and other healing practices, anxiety and other forms of distress can be turned into great teachers on the road to a more fulfilling life.