I hate horoscopes, and will continue to until the last ounce of consciousness leaves my body and disperses into eternity. I will laugh in the face of anyone who would declare that constellations made up of planets and stars have even a remote correlation with my personality and, moreover, my destiny. As a logical type, I dismiss superstitions. I base my worldview on facts and logical conclusions. I silently judge and discredit anyone who opposes my one-and-only correct opinion.
Why am I like this? Is it because Venus came into a close interaction with Mercury while my mother went into labor? I think not. Based on Carl Jung’s theory of personality, my most prioritized and well developed quality-or as he refers to it, function-is extraverted thinking. In other words, nothing is as valuable or crucial to me as rationality and a factual basis. There are other functions besides mine, and their hierarchical order is really what shapes and constructs one’s persona. If you prefer horoscopes to sophisticated psychological theories, move on to another article. If you are still reading, brace yourself.
The book Psychological Types, by Carl Jung, was published in 1921 in Zurich. By that time, Jung was already an acclaimed psychologist with years of research behind his cunning smile. He started as a supporter of Freudian theory, but over the years developed his own perspective on the human psyche. A lot of modern psychologists and psychiatrists practice his methods of treatment and analysis. To put it simply, it is hard to argue with his work.
The Jung theory of personality identifies sixteen different types – not 12, like horoscopes. What this means is that all of Earth’s 7 billion + population can be split into just 16 groups; inside which people share a tremendous amount of similarities in methods of judgement, approaches, strengths, weaknesses, and attitudes. Does that mean that all of them are friends? No. Not by any means. The first and foremost thing to understand about a personality type is the fact that it is merely a base, an empty canvas which one decorates with experience and education over the course of one’s life, to create his or her unique self. However, this canvas does determine in many ways how an experience will affect you and what conclusions are going to spark in your wild mind. Without further ado, let’s jump into sweet brain-tickling details.
Even if you are fed up with the topic of extraversion vs introversion, bear with me. Jung defines them not as party-goers vs book readers, but rather as innate direction of a libido flow, or psych energy. In this light the term gains new meaning: extraverts are those that focus on the objective outside world, while introverts mainly prefer subjective attitude and their internal processes. Both can be vigorous social activist or total recluses, the difference would be that while extraverts enjoy their surroundings and the overall external atmosphere of a party, introverts adore their inner state of relaxed euphoria. The extraversion or introversion of a type is determined by its first, dominant function. Speaking of which, there are four: thinking and feeling, which are called rational, and sensing and intuition, which are called irrational. Each has two forms, extraverted and introverted. Now, our personality has four power positions, and depending on the functions which occupy each position we arrive at our final destination: a type. Miss horoscopes yet? That’s the warm up! But for the sake of keeping it at least somewhat perceivable, I am going to apply some analogies to help ease you in.
Inside Out is probably one of my least favorite Disney-Pixar movies. I find it inaccurate and disappointing, mostly because the original idea is brilliant, but poorly executed. However, since you are already familiar with the concept, it will take just a slight modification to apply it to Jung’s theory. Your psyche is an oval office, which contains four peculiar creatures: logic, ethics, sense, and intuition. One of them wears glasses and a tie, which indicates he is the boss. He establishes the goals, directs the work flow, and frequently bullies his employees. In other words, he assumes dominant function. To add more distinction to his valuable persona, he has to be the only extravert or introvert in the room. The other three need to all be either introverts or extraverts. Now, the boss chooses an apprentice, a favorite, an executive manager of a kind. This little guy will be the second in command, and his major responsibility would be to bring into life all the crazy ideas of the man in charge. He is the one we usually encounter during a first meeting. If the boss is irrational, his executive needs to be rational in order to complete and adjust all the innovations and strategies. If the boss is the rational one, the executive needs to be irrational to spice up the plan and invest more creativity. This couple divides the majority of work and claims most of the profit, defining the overall course of action and basic characteristics of this massive corporation called YOU.
However, there are two more little creatures inhabiting the office, and they also have roles to play. The third one is the son of the corporation owner: a rich kid who did poorly in school and now works for his father’s company in order to create an illusion of productivity. He is lazy and inactive, but feels very underappreciated and frequently plays the “my dad will find out about this” card. He is in constant conflict with the executive, because they are opposites by definition: a hard working and overachieving manager is fed up with young punk’s attitude and lack of enthusiasm, while the kid cannot comprehend how this asshole can boss him around in his father’s establishment. Outside of this analogy the second and third functions are the opposites: thinking vs. feeling, or intuition vs. sensing. The son of the owner cannot be fired, so he resides in his cubicle and performs basic tasks, sometimes interfering with the work of a manager and pitching random childish ideas which are destined to be listened to and politely declined. On the other end of the food chain is the janitor: an angry and cranky creature who gets bossed around by everyone. He has no power over the company or himself, performing his function only by command and with no freedom or benefits. For God’s sake, the guy can’t even take a sick day! The reason is his never ending conflict with The Boss, who is his total and complete opposite, same as the executive and the rich kid. I could go into a full fledged metaphor of the class conflict between the oppressive bourgeoisie and oppressed proletariat, but you get the idea.
Though I’m fairly certain Rotten Tomatoes would not appreciate my adaptation of Inside Out, modern psychologists definitely would. Obviously, this is a rather simplified overview of what is really going on inside one’s head. But it gets better as you dig deeper! Superimpose the functions against the hierarchy, make them cooperate and add some life experience, and you get nothing less than a human persona, someone you actually might know! But for now, let it all settle down and wobble around a bit in your head. Maybe give a poor janitor a raise or something.