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Carl Jung, Personality theories, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

By:
Christine Kasprzak

Approaches to Personality
Fall 2002

Carl Jung made it his life’s work to explore the “inner space” previously
known as the unconscious conscious. A younger colleague of Sigmund
Freud’s with a background in his theory as well as inexhaustible
knowledge of mythology, religion, and philosophy he made it his habit
to make sense of the unconscious. Also equipped with a knowledge in
the symbolism of complex mystical traditions such as Gnosticism,
Alchemy, Kabala, and similar traditions in Hinduism and Buddism, if
anyone could sense of the unconscious often revealing itself only in
symbolic form Jung could. After graduating and settling on psychiatry
as a career Jung took a position at the Burghoeltzli Mental Hospital
under Eugene Bleuler, an expert on (and the namer of) schizophrenia.
It was only a few years after that that Jung met Freud. It had been said
that the day that they met Freud cancelled all of his appointments for
the day and they talked for 13 hours straight. Freud later came to see
Jung as the “crown prince of psychoanalysis” and his heir apparent.
Jung was never completely sold on Freud’s theories, however, and their
relationship began to end when during a trip to America they were
analyzing each other’s dreams and Freud seemed to show a lot of
resistance to Jung’s efforts at analysis. Freud finally told Jung that they
would have to stop because he was afraid that he would lose his
authority. From there, Carl Jung developed on of the most interesting
theories of personality the world has ever seen.

In Carl Jung’s personality theory, he divides the psyche into


three parts.
-The first part is the ego, defined as the conscious mind.
-Second, is the personal unconscious, which he says includes
anything that is not presently conscious but can be. It is said to
include both memories that are easily brought to mind and those that
have been suppressed for some reason.
-Finally, Jung adds the part of the psyche that make is theory different
from all others, the collective unconscious. Jung says that this is the
reservoir of our experiences as a species, a kind of knowledge that we
are all born with. It influences all of our behaviors and experiences,
especially the emotional ones, but we are never directly conscious of
it, it is only revealed by looking at those influences.
The contents of the collective unconscious are known as
archetypes. An archetype is defined as an unlearned tendency to
experience things in a certain way. It has no form of its own, but acts
as an “organizing principle” on the things that we see or do. It works
very similar to the way instincts work in Freud’s theory. One example
of an archetype is the mother. All of our ancestors had mothers, and
we have evolved in an environment that included a mother or mother-
substitute. As helpless infants we never would have survived without
our connection to a nurturing one. Therefore, Jung says that we are
built in a way that reflects our evolutionary environment, so we come
into this world looking for a mother. Another example of an archetype
is the persona. This is a defined as your public image. It is said to be
the mask that you put on before you show yourself to the outside
world. Although the persona begins as an archetype, it is the part of
us that finds itself most distant from the collective unconscious.
Included in our persona is the role of male or female that we
must play, which is determined for most by their physical gender.
Jung, however, like Freud, and Adler, and others, believed that we are
all really bisexual in nature. Beginning at birth we are under the
influence of society that mold us into males and females. Jung
therefore believed that all men have a female aspect present in their
collective unconscious, which is referred to as the anima, and that all
females have a male aspect present in their collective unconscious,
known as the animus. They are together referred to as syzygy. The
anima or animus is the archetype through which you communicate
with the collective unconscious. It is also the archetype, which is
responsible for much of our love life. Jung says that we are as ancient
Greek myth suggests, constantly searching for our other half, which
the Gods took away from us in members of the opposite sex.
Therefore, when we fall in love at first sight, we have actually found
someone that fills our anima or animus archetype particularly well.
Carl Jung is also responsible for developing a personality
topology that has become so popular that many people think that this
is the only thing he did.
This topology begins with the distinction between introversion and
extroversion. -Introverts are those people who prefer their internal
world of thoughts, feelings, fantasies, and dreams, etc.
-Extroverts, on the other hand prefer the external world of things and
people and activities.

Next, whether we are introverts or extroverts, we need to deal with


world, inner and outer, and each of us has our preferable way of doing
so. Jung says that there are four basic ways of doing this, four
functions.
- The first is sensing, this means basically what is says getting
information by means of the senses. Jung called this one of the
irrational function, meaning that it involved perception rather than the
judging of information.
- The second is thinking, this means evaluating ideas or information
rationally. Jung called this a rational function because it involves
decision making or judging, rather than the simple intake of
information.
- Third is intuiting, this is a kind of perception that works outside of
the usual conscious processes. It is irrational, but come from the
integration of large amounts of information.
-Finally, is feeling, this is a matter of evaluating information by
weighing one’s overall emotional response. This Jung calls rational.
Most of us only develop one or two of the functions, but Jung says that
it should be our goal to develop all four as a way to transcend the
opposite.
Based on Jung’s types and functions, Katharine Briggs and her
daughter Isabel Briggs Myers developed a paper-and -pencil test,
which came to be known as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Based on
your answers to approximately 125 answers, this test places you in
one of sixteen types. The results of this test say quite a bit about who
you are, including your likes and dislikes, likely career choices, and
compatibility with others. It is not judgmental and on type is not better
than the other therefore people tend to like it. Also, it does not assess
how crazy you are, but simply “opens up your personality for
exploration”. The test has four scales. The first is extroversion-
introversion, the next is sensing-intuiting, the third is thinking-feeling,
and the last is judging-perceiving. Four letters identify each type.
As part of my research for this paper I decided to take an online
version of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator which can be found at
www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/J types.1.htm . This test consisted of
72 yes or no questions to assess your personality type. After
completing the test the results indicated that I had an ESFJ personality
type, which means extroverted feeling with sensing. People with this
personality type are said to like harmony. They tend to have strong
shoulds and should-nots. They may be dependent, first on parents and
later on spouses. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and excel in
service occupations involving personal contact. After reviewing the
results and thinking about how I view my personality type I would have
to agree with the assessment. Although at first glance I would like to
disagree with some of the characteristics, after careful thought I would
say that this is a good indicator of my personality. I definitely enjoy
when things are running smoothly and life seems to be in “harmony”. I
have very strong beliefs and tend to stick to them even when others
may view it as being stubborn. I, regrettably so, am dependent on my
parents and was also dependent on my last boyfriend for a few years.
Many times I also let my feelings show. I am an emotional person and
have a hard time hiding the way I am feeling under many
circumstances. Finally, I am aspiring to hold a position in
pharmaceutical sales, which is a type of service occupation involving
personal contact.
In conclusion, Carl Jung was a brilliant psychologist with very
valid theories on personality. His theories will indeed be studied for
years to come, however his most noted contribution, the Myers-Briggs
Type Indicator will long be used as an assessment of personality types
for millions of people. It is a test that should be viewed as insight into
your own personality for further exploration and development. As
stated earlier, our goal should be to develop all four personality
functions, because as Jung says, the transcendence of opposites is the
ideal.