Jung: Attitudes and Personality types
Jung conceived two key types of attitude (introvert and extravert) in combination with four orientations (thinking, sensation, intuition and feeling) resulting in eight personality types. He then classed “feeling” and “thinking” as “rational”, and “sensation” and “intuition” as “irrational”. The “primary” function is the most dominant one for that individual.
Out of the non-dominant functions, according to Jung, the inferior function is the one that most strongly resists coming into consciousness thus the individual is not even aware of it. In extreme cases, where the individual is too primary function focussed, the neglected inferior function is likely to be problematic, manifesting in other ways within consciousness, e.g., midlife crisis. Therapy can help gradually develop the inferior function by focussing on the auxiliary functions first. During this process, energy will be taken from the primary function and can cause some distress to the individual.
Although individuals are predominantly introverted or extraverted, the opposing attitude remains in the unconscious, compensating the conscious attitude, which may be influential on the other functions. The motivation behind one’s actions can decipher which type of attitude they adopt. Whilst the extravert shows fascination for something beautiful, the introvert appreciates something as an interesting subject fascinated by its “psychic reality”. The extravert attitude places importance on the external world and accepting of external events, readily influenced by external circumstances and adapting to new situations with ease. However, individuals with extreme extraversion are more likely to neglect themselves in order to put the needs of others first. This extreme attitude can result in nervous or physical disorders (according to Jung) which then push the individual along a more introverted direction. According to Jung, with extreme extroverts trying to adapt to their immediate environment, there is a danger of them becoming too influenced by others, becoming easily suggestible, imitating others which can lead to identity issues, and a tendency to distort the truth to impress others with an entertaining story (hysteria).
When too much focus is given to external circumstances, there is also a tendency, of the extravert, to repress subjective impulses, i.e., preventing these impulses from becoming conscious. These repressed impulses, hidden in the unconscious, will build up to later manifest in undesirable, primitive, ruthlessly selfish manners. Similarly, in the case of an introvert repressing internal, subjective instincts, the individual may lose touch with what (s)he really wants or (s)he will want everything, including the impossible, and will want it all ‘now’. Suppression of this can result in a nervous breakdown or even suicide in extreme cases .
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- Sharp, D. (1987). Personality types: Jung’s model of Typology. Inner city books, Toronto, Canada.
- Stevens, A. (1994). Jung: A very short introduction. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.