Aspects of Jungian’s theory of personality Essay


Carl Gustav Jung was born on 26th July, 1875 in Kesswil, Switzerland and was the only son of a Swiss Reformed Church Evangelical Minister. His works extend way beyond understanding personality – he is considered as one of the greatest thinkers ever to have theorized about life and how people relate to it. Carl Jung was among many great personality theorists who drew inspiration and guidance from the ancient Greek Four Temperaments model and its various interpretations over the centuries. Jung asserted that a person’s psychological make-up is always working on two levels: the conscious and the unconscious. According to Jung, and widely held today, a person’s ‘psyche’ (a person’s ‘whole being’) is represented by their conscious and unconscious parts. Moreover, a person’s conscious and unconscious states are in a way ‘self-balancing’, that is to say – and this is significant – if a person’s conscious side (or ‘attitude’) becomes dominant or extreme, then the unconscious will surface or manifest in some way to rectify the balance. This might be in dreams or internal images, or via more physical externally visible illness or emotional disturbance.

Jung divided psychic energy into two basic ‘general attitude types’: Introverted and Extraverted. It is almost incredible to think that the words – extravert and introvert – that we take so much for granted today to describe people and their personality and behavior, were not used at all until Jung developed his ideas. Without wishing to add further complication, Jung said that extraversion and introversion are not mutually exclusive and will be self-balancing or compensating through the conscious and unconscious. A strongly outward consciously extravert person will, according to Jungian theory, possess a compensatory strong inward unconscious introvert side, and vice versa. Jung linked this compensatory effect to repression of natural tendencies and the resulting unhappiness or hysteria or illness.

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In addition to the two attitudes of extraversion and introversion, Jung also developed a framework of ‘four functional types’.

Jung described these four ‘Functional Types’ as being those from which the “most differentiated” function plays the principal role in an individual’s adaptation or orientation to life. By ‘most differentiated’, Jung meant ‘superior’ or dominant.

Jung opted for a four-part structure, which he used alongside his Introverted-Extraverted attitudes:

Jung’s Four Functions of the psyche are:

·         thinking and

·         feeling

Which he said are the functions that enable us to decide and judge, (Jung called these ‘Rational’) and

·         sensation and

·         intuition

Which Jung said are the functions that enable us to gather information and perceive (Jung called these ‘Irrational’).

Significantly Jung also asserted that each of us needs to be able to both perceive and to judge (gather information and decide) in order to survive and to carry on normal functioning behavior. In addition, he said that in doing this each of us prefers or favors one of the functions from each of the pairings.


This all leads us to Jung’s eight major ‘Psychological Types’, which as already explained Jung constructed by adding one or other of the introversion or extraversion ‘general attitude types’ to each of the possible four superior functions described above.

type name
type characteristics
Extraverted Thinking
analytical, strategic, plans, implements, organises others
Introverted Thinking
contemplative, discovering, theoretical, seeks self-knowledge
Extraverted Feeling
sociable, sentimental, seeks personal and social success
Introverted Feeling
inaccessible, enigmatic, self-contained, seeks inner intensity
Extraverted Sensation
practical, hands-on, pleasure-seeking, hard-headed
Introverted Sensation
intense, obsessive, detached, connoisseur, expert
Extraverted Intuition
adventurous, innovative, seeks novelty, proposes change
Introverted Intuition
idealistic, visionary, esoteric, mystical, aloof


These psychological types are automatically and unavoidably implied by Jung’s theory. They do however help to build up a fuller picture of Jung’s theory. Logically, adding an auxiliary function to each of Jung’s main eight Psychological Types now produces sixteen types, which (subsequent to Jung’s Psychological Types book), might be shown as follows, and in each case the first ‘Function’ (the middle word) is the most dominant. Remember that Introversion and Extraversion are not ‘Functions’; they are Jungian ‘Attitudes’. The Sixteen Jungian Personality types are mentioned below:

Extraverted Thinking Sensation – ET(S)

Extraverted Thinking Intuition – ET(N)

Extraverted Feeling Sensation – EF(S)

Extraverted Feeling Intuition – EF(N)

Extraverted Sensation Thinking – ES(T)

Extraverted Sensation Feeling – ES(F)

Extraverted Intuition Thinking – EN(T)

Extraverted Intuition Feeling – EN(F)

Introverted Thinking Sensation – IT(S)

Introverted Thinking Intuition – IT(N)

Introverted Feeling Sensation – IF(S)

Introverted Feeling Intuition – IF(N)

Introverted Sensation Thinking – IS(T)

Introverted Sensation Feeling – IS(F)

Introverted Intuition Thinking – IN(T)

      Introverted Intuition Feeling – IN(F)

            Using what we now know about each of these attitudes and functional types, we might now even be able to identify and understand our own Jungian type. While Jung’s theories are used widely in psychometrics and personality testing, his original purpose and focus was clinical, in pursuit of better understanding and treatment of mental illness, and improving the quality of human existence. Jung placed greater emphasis on the unconscious than is represented within modern psychometrics and ‘commercialized’ personality theories. On which point there is great value for us all in Carl Jung’s thinking about the deeper workings of the mind, especially the unconscious, beyond simply seeing Jung’s ideas as a model for categorizing personality.

Significantly, Jung for instance observed that improving our awareness and acceptance of the four functions within ourselves – whether as conscious or unconscious elements – is important for developing a healthy existence, and ‘life-balance’, as we might say today.

REFERENCES visited on February 18,2008