We say that everybody is different, but when it comes to live it’s a quite different story, isn’t it? For example, choices, behaviors and interpretation of same events can be conflicting in the same family. Why is so?
Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) asked himself the same question, mainly after he broke up with Freud in 1913 when he published his “Symbols of Transformation”. His researches had led him to a distinct understanding of the psyche’s functioning. Freud didn’t like it. Jung expected that, but couldn’t deny his discoveries. He was also amazed by how many ramifications of the psychoanalysis were sprouting as a result of the observation of the psyche. Jung spent many years walking alone in the unknown path of the dawn of psychotherapy. As a pioneer who had taken a different road from the original Freud had traced, he devoted himself to understand and answer the many questions whirling in his mind.
In 1921 he published “Psychological Types”, after years of studying in order to answer the question: why people react and interpret the same event in such different ways? Not only he observed his contemporaries but, as usual of him, he tracked back in history the same phenomenon among philosophers and thinkers. His conclusion led to the four psychological types.
There are four ways to approach reality in a successful way. The psyche’s goal as any natural being goes towards the best adaptation possible. These four functions are interconnected, working together in a hierarchical structure, and in multiple combinations.
They are: Thinking, Feeling, Sensation and Intuition. Any of them can be the privileged method to deal with whatever we are facing in life. Personality and environmental conditions make one of them the chosen one. Because of the functions’ characteristics they attract or repel one another, thus creating the hierarchy of functions.
The four psychological types divide in two main groups: the rational ones and the irrational. By “rational” Jung mean a comprehensible logic underlying the way functions work. Thinking and Feeling are rational because they follow a logic: a concept-based logic or a value-based one. Sensation and Intuition are irrational. They just happen without being controlled and are not following any previous judgment or goal.
The Thinking types in their interpretation of facts yields to ideas and concepts. Right and wrong, correct and incorrect are favored upon pleasant or unpleasant, good or bad. This kind of people are driven by the rationality of their mental conceptions. Naturally, their feelings are put aside, for something can be correct but it’s “bad”, yet it must be done. The Thinking types are usually supported by the Sensation or the Intuition functions who give them more information about reality.
The Feeling types will select and be guided by the sentimental values embedded in any life event. What matters to them is the connections among the “heart concepts”. If something is “wrong” but can make good, they certainly will choose it. Their interest is not with the purity of intellectual logic, but with the maintenance of an harmonious ambience even though it may cost accepting many wrongs. The Feeling type can be supported by Sensation or Intuition.
The Sensation types are driven to experiencing reality through their five senses. They are not too much concerned about thoughts and sentiments, but about enjoying and making the most from the physical aspects of life. As sensations are immediate and don’t follow any specific value but it’s own manifestation, the Sensation types tend to be superficial but they have a very good grip on material issues, such as money and comfortable living. The Sensation type is usually supported by Thinking or Feeling.
The Intuition types catch reality with the same immediate approach of the Sensation type, but the information they get doesn’t come from the five senses. Glimpses of a deeper level of reality, feelings of what is underneath the surface come to them and are the main interest of the Intuition types. Therefore, this type is less concerned about the material world, they actually may not even realized what is under their nose, for they are looking with another eye than the material one. The Intuition type can only be supported by Thinking and Feeling.
Who are these psychological types in real life? Lawyers, judges and many men usually fall into the Thinking type. Many women, most of wives and mothers, but also some men, nurses, many teachers, social workers are commonly Feeling types. People that work directly with public, since mechanics to cooks are habitual Sensation types. This type may also include artists and dancers. The Intuition type has historical belonged to women, nowadays it includes psychologists, witches, alternative practitioners, and etc.
Countries have their prominent psychological type: the USA is clearly a Sensation-Thinking type, whatever sticks out they usually go together. Rules, laws and proper behavior are a must here (even when not obeyed). The “politically correct” is an American expression and it’s a way to rule relationships (which are sentimental ground) through abstracts concepts. Italy is a Sensation-Feeling type, with its wonderful food and social atmosphere. Italians like to talk and express themselves in several different manners, sometimes just for the beauty of it. Brazil is a Sensation-Intuition type, with its exposed sensual bodies and landscapes, beaches and the exotic rhythm of its music. Faith is a matter of personal experience and one can follow pieces of different creeds at the same time, cards, saints, gods, the spirits of the dear dead ones, they all can give you a good advise In Brazil.
However, as a whole the Western Civilization is a Thinking-Sensation type. Feelings and intuitions are secondary. The inevitable consequences are lack of solidarity, empathy, and deepness. Religions here easily turn into businesses. Moms and lovers have a hard life as well as the intuitive and mystiques. Fitting into the system means getting rid of one’s parts that are not included in the social psychological expectations, which inevitable make many people unhappy for they don’t find the conditions to give and be the best of themselves.
The four psychological types are all equally important. They become tyrants when one of them claims the absolute sovereignty. The one-dimensional person (borrowing the expression from Herbert Marcuse) is inevitably a worst man or woman, obviously neurotic and intolerant to others. Although one psychological function will always prevail upon the others, for we can’t be everything at the same time, a balanced psyche is the one able to access the other functions and to profit from their different ways of see the world. Being the reality a multifaceted experience the four functions allow a better adaptation to it, therefore a healthier mind.