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Six Phases in the Development of Jung's Theory of Types

© John Fudjack - May 10, 1997 (first posted: June 27, 2005)

About this Paper (1/1/05)

In 1932, on the eve of Hitler's rise to power 1, there would take place an incident that was, in comparison, of minor importance. The careers of two popular culture heroes would cross paths for one fleeting moment. A large retrospective exhibition of the work of Pablo Picasso - a widely acclaimed figure in modern art, whose forty-year career had by that time produced thousands of paintings - would open on September 11th in Zurich, the hometown of psychologist Carl Jung. Jung, who visited the show, would write what was ostensibly a review of it from the perspective of Jungian psychology.

To say Jung panned the exhibit would be an understatement. His article assumed a harsh, dismissive, and abusive tone. It's grim conclusion was that Picasso's art amounted to nothing more than a manifestation of mental illness. Although both men, in the final analysis, were flawed, I value the innovative contributions of each. I also think of them as having much in common, as introverted intuitives and fellow travelers on outsiders' paths in their respective fields. So I was quite surprised by Jung's response. My interest in understanding what wrought the wrath with which he lambasted Picasso eventually led me to perform a thorough review of the extensive biographical literature that had accumulated, over the years, on both men. This culminated in a book-length manuscript entitled Hegemony and the Harlequin: Jung, Picasso and the Unfulfilled Possibility of a Genuinely 'Socio-Spiritual' Psychology. I characterized that work as an exercise in 'interpersonal psychobiography.' 2

As the title of the manuscript suggests, the interpersonal psychobiographic approach led in this case to insights into what a genuinely 'socio-spiritual' psychology might look like. It is the kind of psychology that might have come into being had Jung, an introverted-thinking (NT) type, been able to accept, embrace, and incorporate into his own approach a more socially and politically astute perspective, such as the one that Picasso, an introverted-feeling (NF) type, had actively explored via his art.

This paper is from Hegemony and the Harlequin, an excerpt of a chapter on the stages of development of Jung's personality theory.

The History of an Idea

Why attempt to precisely articulate (and understand) the phases through which Jung's theory morphed as it gradually developed? What benefits can be derived from such an endeavor? There are two primary ones mentioned in the manuscript from which the present paper is excerpted:

1) As time passes, and people become less familiar with Jung's theory than with its offshoots (e.g., the MBTI) - there is a natural tendency to 'read back into' his theory certain assumptions later made by the offshoots that did not, in fact, belong to Jung. This results in all sorts of confusions. For example, a few years ago there was a debate about whether Jung himself was an INTP or INTJ. It was fueled, in part, by a misunderstanding arising out of the MBTI premise that people inadvertently and mistakenly attribute to Jung: namely, that no individual could (on theoretical grounds) simultaneously have introverted intuition and introverted thinking as dominant and auxiliary functions. Ironically, Jung was just such a person 3 and thus did not fit well into either MBTI category - INTP or INTJ. And the possibility that introverted thinking and introverted intuition were Jung's dominant/auxiliary functions ironically never occured to those who sought to type him.

2) As Jung's life and work recede into the past, along with the era in which he lived, it becomes easier to mistake some simple feature of his approach to personality theory (as we now presume to understand it, in the terms associated with some later system for which it ostensibly acted as an early 'precursor') as THE definitive statement of his theory.

The difficulty this creates in understanding the richness and power of Jung's system is exacerbated by the fact that Jung himself often presented his own work as if it had been born ahistorically, in fully-developed final form, at a place and time the significance of which was not particularly important. When applied to the genesis of his own theories, this theoretical inclination toward a 'teleological' approach to the development of ideas tends to leave the impression that his conclusions had some sort of special status - as 'a priori' truths that transcend historical contingencies, 'universals' or Platonic 'ideals' existing beyond space and time, waiting ripe on the eternal vine for picking.

Jung's writing and publishing habits - which grow out of a set of deep psychological needs of his own, as I've shown in the manuscript from which this paper derives - contribute to this impression.

He periodically made revisions to existing papers, substantially changing them over time. It was also not uncommon for him to publish or present his work out of chronological sequence. Both of these habits make it difficult to discern the exact phases that any particular theory or idea that he put forward may have passed through over time, and nearly impossible to appreciate what palette of theoretical options Jung saw himself as choosing from on any given occasion during the development of any given theory.

Jung's increased popularity in recent years exacerbates the problem. Many, inspired by his work, have intentionally sought to extend it, or done so inadvertently. Some credit him with having prefigured insights they've arrived at, others mistakenly credit him with insights that were actually arrived at by lesser-known figures. Jung's ahistorical style has - as might be expected - rubbed off on those who admire him, and we tend to 'read back into' Jung's work uses of it devised by others. In order to begin to try to distinguish between Jung's propositions and those of others, I have distinguished two 'post Jung' stages - phase-five and phase-six - of the development of his theory.

Finally, and most importantly, I should mention that a reconstruction of the phases of development of Jung's personality theory provides us not only with some clarity about the conditions under which certain ideas flowered, it offers (as I was to discover in the process of doing such a reconstruction) insight into the roads that were NOT taken by Jung as he made particular choices about the direction the path he traveled should take. It specifically sheds light on how, at certain crossroads early in his career, Jung opted to take what we can characterize, in retrospect, as a decidedly 'NT' (as opposed to 'NF' 1) turn. At precisely that juncture (which I call, below, 'phase one' of the development of his personality theory) a retracing of his thought processes offers, ironically, a treasure-trove of possibilities to anyone patient enough to mine it for hints as to how one might go about rebuilding his personality theory, from the ground up, along NF lines (see 'phase six', below). The goal of establishing a truly socio-spiritual psychology is particularly significant given the fact that over a century has passed since Jung began development of his personality theory, and such a psychology does not yet exist.


Overview: The Six Phases

[note: In the original manuscript, following the summary of each of the six phases of development, there appears a more detailed account of that phase. The presentation has been reformatted to accommodate the internet: at the end of each phase in the abstract, there is a link to a separate page on which the detailed account of that phase can be found. These separate pages are currently being prepared for posting, and will appear as they become available.]

The development of Jung's theory of personality can be divided historically into six phases, which might be summarized in the following way:

Phase One (circa 1902) - in his doctoral thesis, Jung sought to explain the communications that a spiritual medium allegedly received from disembodied 'spirits' as the utterings of split-off 'personalities' residing in the unconscious of the medium herself. In retrospect, it is clear that in taking such a position Jung did not intend to proffer a 'personality theory' per se. Nor did insights at this stage lead directly, in any easily discernible manner, to phase-two of his personality theory - in the same way that phase-two seems to have led to phase-three, and so on, in a chain-like succession of moves that appear to describe a continuous path of theory development. So why include the material from the doctoral thesis here, as phase one? Because it constitutes a particularly interesting, though rudimentary, 'NF' approach to personality studies. It seeks to explain how complex social dynamics (of a group, with members whose social roles range from living/real to dead/potential) interface with intrapersonal processes (the splitting, alienation, and projection of parts of the individual psyche), in a way that brings 'personality' into relief as the central explanatory concept.

Although, in the years immediately following his doctoral thesis, Jung's interest in 'spiritual' matters (N) would continue to influence the theoretical explorations (see phase-two) that would eventually result in his personality theory, it would not follow the NF lines laid out in phase-one. This can be attributed to a relatively underdeveloped feeling function (F) in Jung - a point that I make, in detail, in another chapter of this work.

Atwood and Stolorow, in Faces in a Cloud, Intersubjectivity in Personality Theory [New Jersey, Jason Aronson, Inc., 1993, 1979], argue along parallel lines. They speak of Jung's attempt to eliminate what he experienced as the danger inherent in relating to others. By postulating the existence of a 'collective unconscious' he transposed what he experienced as the 'omnipotence' of others onto an 'unconscious psyche' that was internal, universal and transpersonal. (98) The theory of the collective unconscious thus compensates, according to Atwood and Stolorow, for 'his defensive withdrawal into grandiose isolation', which 'came at the price of almost unendurable feelings of loneliness and estrangement from others'.

The obliterating power residing in the external world is experientially relocated into the interior of the psyche, endowing its possessor with a sense of borrowed omnipotence. ... [Jung's] bold assertion that the collective unconscious is universal and transpersonal represent in this context an intellectual realization of his desire to emerge from his encapsulated singularity and repair his ruptured ties to the external world by establishing a bond with the rest of humanity.

It was clear to me from the start that I could only find contact with the outer world and with people if I succeeded in showing - and this would demand the most intensive effort - that the contents of the psychic experience are real, and real not only as my own personal experiences, but as collective experiences which others also have. (99)

In 1902, Jung's effort to 'make collectively real' the contents of the psyche had not yet begun; it lived in his future, a goal yet to be achieved. As late as 1919 Jung would write, simply, 'I cannot see any proof for the actual existence of spirits'. But by 1947 he would amend that view, in a footnote that would 'reflect his later ideas on the relationship between the nature of the collective unconscious and his conception of archetypes' (Jaffe, 92) and express an inclination to treat 'spirits' as entities in their own right, as opposed to projected personifications of split-off parts of the medium's psyche. This move would, interestingly, take him yet further afield from any NF track that he might have explored circa 1902. He would thereafter never again appeal, in such a fundamental way as he had done in phase-one, to the concept of 'personality' in order to explain the dynamics of groups (of humans and/or 'spirits'). Later-day 'Jungian' therapists would, however. Phase-one thus prefigures advances articulated in phase-six, one of the two (post-Jung) phases of the development of his theory of personality by others.
Proceed to Phase One, detailed account

Phase Two (1911) - in which Jung discerns 'two kinds of thinking': 1) 'directed' thinking, which we might, using MBTI abbreviations, describe as an 'ST' approach to mental functioning - a 'rational empirical' approach, and 2) 'symbolic' thinking, which could be described as an 'intuitive', or 'NT' approach to thought. In his approach to psychology Freud embraced 'positivism', a strict form of rational-empiricism that had a strong foothold in science at the beginning of the twentieth-century. By discerning a second form of thinking, a mythological or symbolic form, Jung was beginning to distinguish himself methodologically from Freud. He was, in fact, establishing the theoretical groundwork for a science of psychology that would turn Freud's psychology upside down by construing truths originating in the 'spiritual' (N) or 'psychic' realm as fundamental; in Freud's view, it was the biochemical 'material' (S) world that was primary. The distinguishing of a second 'kind' of thought - 'non-empirical' thought - opened the door, in other words, for a new kind of psychology. In doing so, however, it threatened to undercut crucial psychoanalytic theories that Freud had sought to subsidize with rational-empirical assumptions, theories that Freud was committed to protecting at all costs. At the personal level, 1911 is the year that marks the beginning of the end of Jung's relationship with Freud.
Proceed to Phase Two, detailed account

Phase Three (1913) - whereas in phase-two Jung distinguished two types of thinking that any individual could participate in (to varying degrees), in phase-three Jung for the first time describes two mutually exclusive 'psychological types': one type was a composite of features (introversion, thinking, and intuition) that reflected his own functional/attitudinal preferences: N,T, and I. The other type, its mirror opposite, displayed extraversion, feeling, and sensing as characteristic features: S, F, and E. These letters - E, I, N, T, S and F - are MBTI conventions, a kind of shorthand that, of course, had not yet been invented for use in representing the concepts 'extraversion', 'introversion', etc. In fact, at this stage of theory development, the features that Jung clusters in order to create each of the two composite types (introversion, thinking, and intuition, on one hand, and extraversion, sensing, and feeling, on the other) are not yet conceived as independently definable mental parameters - i.e., 'factors', or personality 'variables'. And although all four 'functions' (T,F,N,S) and both 'attitudes' (E and I) are in retrospect recognizable in Jung's type descriptions from this period, Jung mistakenly conceived of extraversion, sensing, and feeling as somehow belonging together, by definition; he similarly assumed that introversion, thinking, and intuiting were somehow conceptually inter-dependent. By this point in time (1913) a final break with Freud had occured, and Jung had begun to deal with the separation by articulating and honoring his OWN 'type' (what we might, in retrospect, call the I-N-T), which he was hoping to clearly distinguish from Freud's type, which he saw as an extraverted sensing type (i.e., the E-S-F). Whereas in phase-two the emphasis was on 'thinking' (albeit of two different 'kinds'), the emphasis in phase-three is on the difference between extraversion and introversion. This development is a signal that Jung, at the level of personal development, had begun unconscious psychological preparations for his six year period of introverted exploration, which will take place between 1913 and 1919.
Proceed to Phase Three, detailed account

Phase Four (1919) - circa 1913, Jung's extraverted interests markedly diminish. He leaves his academic post, decreases external obligations, discontinues writing academic papers and cuts interpersonal ties. He occupies himself instead with introverted explorations. He experiences what he calls a 'metanoia' (change of mind) that is not only manifest in a 'turn inward', an introversion, but in a shift of emphasis from 'introverted thinking' (on which he had previously relied as a primary mental function) to 'introverted intuition'. The personal psychological struggle that he experiences during this period can be described in terms of the conflict that, as a result, occured within him between introverted intuition and introverted thinking. Each vied for power over his internal world. With introverted thinking he sought to bring 'order' to his inner world by constructing a viable internal paradigm that was rational. Introverted intuition, however, sought to deconstruct his prevailing internal frames. And although introverted intuition, by clearing the way for a new paradigm, promised an inner psychological revitalization - a fact that Jung clearly recognized at the time - it also threatened decompensation and madness, which he greatly feared. By the end of this six-year period Jung, in a natural and unplanned turn, began to lose interest in pursuing an exclusively 'introverted' project - because, most likely, the introversion had successfully served its purpose of renewal. His theoretical interest turned, at that point, to how the individual might ultimately 'transcend' the extraversion/introversion dichotomy. He was, in other words, ready to re-enter the outer world.

By 1919 Jung had begun to think of EACH of the 'four functions' (T,F,S,N) as manifesting in two distinctly different forms - an 'introverted' form and an 'extraverted' form. Following this new development, we might (theoretically) think of persons as not only having individual preferences for using a SPECIFIC function, but also preferences with respect to using that function in either an extraverted or introverted fashion. Taking into consideration the different permutations of these preferences, 8 distinct 'psychological types' could be discerned (the introverted intuitive [IN], extraverted intuitive [EN], introverted thinking type [IT].... and so forth). By the end of this fourth-phase Jung had transcended the impulse that motivated him, in phase-three, to project his own specific 'type' (as one of two primary 'types') on others, and had successfully generalized his theory to include a number of psychological variations that he himself did not manifest.

We can take phase-four as Jung's personality theory proper; it is this version that he formally put forward as the fruit of his labor in the area of personality studies.
Proceed to Phase Four, detailed account

Phase Five (post-1919) - in this phase, further developments of Jung's personality theory begin to take place in the hands of others - his personal students, the 'Jungians' in general, and the MBTI practitioners and other 'non-jungians' who had formulated theories derived from his. By taking into consideration not only WHICH of the four functions an individual might choose as his or her primary function, but also specifying preference orders for the use of all four functions, those who came after Jung were able to expand the original 8-category Jungian system into a system differentiating 16 (or more[1]) types. Those who created the MBTI, for example, saw that each of Jung's original 8 types could be further divided into two distinct types. The 'introverted intuitive' thus separates into 'introverted intuitives with auxiliary feeling' and 'introverted intuitives with auxiliary thinking'. Some post-Jung jungians (e.g. Von Franz) were inspired to expand the list of 'types' in this manner, by similarly recognizing differences in individual preference orders with regard to functions. 

There are assumptions (regarding type) peculiar to the MBTI approach which, when they are presumed to apply to the original Jungian system, create curious effects. For instance, the MBTI's A PRIORI assumption that if an individual's primary 'function' is introverted, his/her secondary (or 'auxiliary') function MUST be extraverted, has the interesting consequence that it precludes the possibility of an individual having a primary and secondary function that are both introverted (eg, 'introverted intuition' and 'introverted thinking'). This was, however, ironically Jung's own situation, personally: introverted intuition and introverted thinking were his strongest (and most prefered) functions - despite the fact that the MBTI 'rules' for constructing type do not permit this possibility!
Proceed to Phase Five, detailed account

Phase Six (current) - in which there is a growing appreciation for the need to move from a strictly individual-centered understanding of 'personality studies' to a group-centered approach. This requires a personality theory capable of bridging 'social role' (the function of the individual in the group) and 'personality type' (the function the group plays 'within' the individual - vis a vis where she stands, on the map of all possible personality permutations, as a result of her own preferences regarding the 'four functions' and the two 'orientations').

Sensitive to the fact that groups are in some sense more than the mere sum of their individual members - entities in their own right, with a kind of consciousness and sense of purpose that evolves over time - some contemporary Jungians like Arthur Mindell, who do have highly developed feeling functions, are apt to speak in ways reminiscent of phase-one. They talk of unfulfilled group roles as disembodied group 'spirits' that call on individual members who are suited (by virtue of their 'personality type') to give voice to, or embody, them. Thus, functions that have been alienated/lost are integrating back into the group, via a 'spiritual medium' (e.g., a consultant, therapist, or group member) who thereby plays a significant SOCIAL function in the group. The difference between this phase and phase-one is the difference between 'spiritualism' and 'spirituality'; i.e., a difference that manifests in how the term 'spirit' is defined. Not a ghost or disembodied individual (although individuals who depart from groups may take the role they represent/play with them), a 'spirit' (in a phase-six sense of the word) is something more akin to an unfulfilled group role, an 'energy' that is absent in the group - a 'potential' of the group which, in actuality, is missing.

Phase-six appreciates the 'medial' (or facilitative) role that the individual ego can play in group dynamics and development. The self-actualized 'NF' is indeed recognized as capable of affecting a liminocentric [2] [ftn] restructuring of personality, a re-centering of the ego around the Self. The undifferentiated spiritual ground - which is 'empty' (to use a Buddhist descriptor) of rational-empirical content - thereby becomes pure 'potential', a tappable open-source of creativity and a form of introverted communication that is more akin to 'telepathy' than verbal conversation, is beyond object/subject duality and thus operates as an intersubjective center of the personality.

Another way to put this: the projections of the ego are withdrawn, resorbed into the undifferentiated center that is the Self - not a private self, owned or constrained by the individual ego, but a public, essentially communal, Self that is in fact the primordial Common Ground that is at the very heart of our existence and our interconnectedness with that which ordinary consciousness takes to be 'other'.

Only at phase-six do we begin to clearly discern a distinctly NF approach to the introverted intuitive path - namely, an intuitive path assisted by auxiliary feeling. This NF alternative departs, ever so slightly but significantly, from the intuitive path that Jung actually explored with the assistance of auxiliary thinking.
Proceed to Phase Six, detailed account


Footnotes and References

1. Hitler's rise to power would shake the world to its foundations and deliver a series of socio-political aftershocks that would span the decades, if not centuries, to come. For more on the ramifications of this event in the twenty-first century, please see The Authoritarian Personality Type - Fascism, Nazism, and the Psychology of Pre-emption at this site.
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2. By characterizing it as 'interpersonal psychobiography' I mean, first, that the work is biographical. It is not, however, the biography of a single individual. It is a biography of a relationship - or, more precisely, a detailed account of the biographical intersection of two or more individuals, in this case two very complex and accomplished individuals. I also mean to imply that that account involves a deeper level of description than one usually finds in biographies, one capable of uncovering hitherto undisclosed psychological truths about each individual. Furthermore, it does this by way of an exhaustive analysis of what philosopher C.O. Evans used to call an 'exemplary incident' - an interaction or exchange between individuals that comes to symbolize or carry the essential meaning of the relationship for one or both individuals and/or observers of the incident. Such an analysis - a critical exegesis of an historical interpersonal event - seeks to reveal the unique nature of that relationship by honoring not only the unique personalities, real-life contributions and psychological depth of character of both individuals, but also by understanding the detailed historical context in which they lived and interacted. It seeks to appreciate how the primary historical forces at work in that period manifest, in dialectical opposition to each other, in the exemplary incident.
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3. For further discussion on Jugian 'pure' types (types whose dominant AND auxiliary functions have the SAME DIRECTION - e.g., the individual who has introverted intuition and introverted thinking for dominant and auxiliary functions, respectively) please see our 1998 paper, A Third Principle Governing the Distribution of MBTI Type Across the Enneagram.
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