In this essay I aim to demonstrate an understanding of Jung’s personality types by describing and evaluating his theory and to show how they might useful in helping a therapist to determine therapeutic goals.
Jung (1990, p.531) states that’ from earliest times, attempts have been made to classify individuals according to types, and so bring order to the chaos. The oldest attempts known to us were made by oriental astrologers who devised the so-called trigons of the four elements - air, water, earth, and fire. The air trigon in the horoscope consists of the three aerial signs of the zodiac, Aquarius, Gemini, Libra; the fire trigon is made up of Aries, Leo, Sagittarius. According to this age old view, whoever is born in these trigons shares in their aerial or fiery nature and will have a corresponding temperament and fate.‘ In the same paragraph, Jung states that ‘the astrological type theory, to the astonishment of the enlightened, still remains intact today,’ which is true.
Closely connected with the astrological type theory is the division into the four temperaments which corresponds to the four humors (Jung, 1990, p.531). A Greek physician, Claudius Galen (AD130 - 200), distinguished four basic temperaments: the sanguine, the phlegmatic, the choleric, and the melancholic. Galen’s theory goes back to the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates’ (460 - 370BC), who described physical illness as being caused by the balance of bodily fluids, or humors as he labelled them’ (Maltby, et al, 2007, p.159). These bodily fluids are blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm. Galen expanded on Hippocrates’ theory and applied it to describe human personality, stating that when the humors were in balance, an equitable temperament was the result, however, if the humors were out of balance, then physical illness and mental disturbance occurred (Maltby et al, 2007, p.160). However, ‘by the time of the Middle Ages, scholars dismissed the idea that bodily fluids were directly implicated in personality traits. But the behavioural descriptions associated with the four humours lived on’ (McAdams, 2000, p.256).
Galen’s four temperaments provided much inspiration and historical reference for Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types. According to Jung’s theory we are all different in fundamental ways and each psychological type has a different idea of what it means to achieve personal success. However, www.personalitypage.com states that, ‘so many people are hung up on somebody else’s idea of what it means to be successful, that they are unaware of what is truly important to them‘. I agree, because for many years, I wanted to be somebody else as that person’s life seemed so much better than mine, or so I thought at the time.
Jung was one of the few psychologists in the twentieth century to maintain that development extends beyond childhood and adolescence through mid-life and into old age (Stevens, 2001, p.38). Jung insisted that ‘we never finish the process of self-examination and growth that charts our journey towards individuation.’ (Snowdon, 2010, p.86). In my case, I believe I am on that journey of accepting myself as I truly am, becoming my true ‘self‘. Stevens (2001, p.38) claims that ‘it could be brought to the highest fruition if one worked with and confronted the unconscious,’ and for me, it is and has been important to face the ‘monsters that lurk’ (Snowdon, 2010, p.86) in my unconscious, even when it has been uncomfortable to do so.
According to Jung, like Freud, there are three levels of consciousness...