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Fundamental Structure of the Psychological Types


Carl Jung’s psychological types are a taxonomy for categorizing different kinds of people into generalized groups based on their psychodynamic processes and philosophical assumptions about life. These type differences have been noticeable for a very long type, as Jung attributes his two most fundamental attitudes to the inventions of Goethe – systole and diastole. Further, he recognizes that the philosophical ideas of two parties are no reconcilable in objectivity, such as the nominalists and realists of the medieval age. Through Abelard’s ideas he connects the two opposing movements through an indirect characterization of psychology, telling us that the types proposed here follow from the reconciling nature of psychology and its entire aim is to create a reconciliation between one’s consciousness and unconsciousness between the self and the world objects.

This may be confusing for starters, so to begin, lets just note that there are two fundamental modes of being, consciousness and unconsciousness. Then, there are two fundamental attitudes, extraversion and introversion. Afterwards, there are two classes of four functions; the classes are rational and irrational, the functions are thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition.


The psychological types as proposed by C. G. Jung at their most fundamental layer are products of two warring psychic states, the consciousness and unconsciousness. The unconsciousness precedes the consciousness, it is far older, archaic, mysterious, and primordial, and it holds ancient archetypes that connects us to the rest of humanity and culture. The consciousness is a small island in this primordial sea of dark unconscious waters, so says Jung that the function of the consciousness is “the function or activity which maintains the relation of psychic contents to the ego.” The ego is “I,” content that was first born in the unconscious and is allowed the flexibility of deliberation in the consciousness. However, the ego and the conscious are not synonymous, rather it is the dominant complex of the mind, and is the conduit through which we become aware of our psychic content. J Van der Hoop explains the conflict that arises as one becomes too one-sided in the engagement of their consciousness.

“We may most usefully adopt Plato’s analogy of a representative government. This image is particularly valuable, in that it also reveals the weak point in such a government. A government which reflects everything pertaining to the life of its people will best be able to provide the advantage of unity in leadership, and to promote quiet and harmony among the people. If, however, a considerable body of the wishes of the people are not understood by the government, an opposition may grow up, giving rise to internal difficulties. A rigid and one-sided attitude on the part of the government may cause the relationship between government and people to be dominated by conflict rather than by co- operation. In the same way, in life, harmony or disturbance may exist, according to whether the conscious personality gives scope to the various aspects of the disposition, or represents only a one-sided standpoint.”

- Conscious Orientation, pg.11

A common pitfall that people interested in typology should never fall into is over-focusing on the conscious aspect of Jungian theory. Many times this can lead to creating an image of the type which has no value other than of being a stock character or fictional archetype, and it always leads to a limited and incomplete understanding of the type. For the most complete understanding of this typology, take into consideration how consciousness and unconsciousness relate to each other for every type.

The consciousness and unconsciousness act as placeholders for two possible attitude types, extraversion and introversion, which explain the direction of interest or libido movement. The attitudes describe the individual’s relation to the object, whether it be a relation of abstracting from the object into the subject, or assimilation of the subject with the object. In simpler terms, libidinal energy being directed inward (to the subject), or outward (to the object). So says Jung:

The general-attitude types, as I have pointed out more than once, are differentiated by their particular attitude to the object. The introvert’s attitude to the object is an abstracting one; at bottom, he is always facing the problem of how libido can be withdrawn from the object, as though an attempted ascendancy on. the part of the object had to be continually frustrated. The extravert, on the contrary, maintains a positive relation to the object. To such an extent does he affirm its importance that his subjective attitude is continually being orientated by, and related to the object. An fond, the object can never have sufficient value; for him, therefore, its importance must always be paramount.

CW 6, par. 557

The second category of types are called function types, and are considerably harder to identify than attitude types. These types consist of four basic functions, thinkingfeelingintuition, and sensation. These types are further divided into two classes, rational and irrational. Jung explains:

These function-types, which one can call the thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuitive types, may be divided into two classes according to the quality of the basic function, i.e., into the rational and the irrational. The thinking and feeling types belong to the former class, the sensation and intuitive types to the latter.

CW6, par. 835

The rational types are focused on the establishment of criterion, whether it be intellectual or feeling based, and substantiate action and experience with reason befitting of their respective function. Thinking aims at establishing criterion wholly divided from the human subject, i.e. criteria of validity/invalidity, correct/incorrect, useful/useless, factual/non-factual, etc. Feeling aims at establishing criterion that is wholly subjective and personal, i.e. criteria of acceptance/rejection, like/dislike, mood, and so on.

Jung says of the rational types:

The rational is the reasonable, that which accords with reason. I conceive reason as an attitude whose principle is to shape thought, feeling, and action in accordance with objective values. Objective values are established by the average experience of external facts on the one hand, and of inner psychological facts on the other. […] Thus the laws of reason are those laws which rule and designate the average ‘correct’ or adapted attitude. Everything is rational which harmonizes with these laws, and everything irrational which contravenes them.

CW 6, par.

The irrational types are focused on the purest form of perception of the world, what happens and what is, and the inner perceptive reflection of the world. The intuitive functions perceive the surrounding negative space of objects through an unconscious means, presenting itself as a complete whole, transmitted by the perception of mythological images. The sensing functions perceive literal sensory data transmitted by sensory apparatuses, including sight, sound smell, kinasthetics, space, and so on. Through this we receive the literal details of the object and their impression in the psyche.

Jung says of the irrational types:

As I make use of this term it does not denote something contrary to reason, but something outside the province of reason, whose essence, therefore, is not established by reason. Elementary facts belong to this category, e.g. that the earth has a moon, that chlorine is an element, that the greatest density of water is found to be 4.0 centigrade. An accident is also irrational in spite of the fact that it may sustain a subsequent rational explanation. […] The irrational is a factor of existence which may certainly be pushed back indefinitely by an increasingly elaborate and complicated rational explanation, but in so doing the explanation finally becomes so extravagant and overdone that it passes comprehension, thus reaching the limits of rational thought long before it can ever span the whole world with the laws of reason.

CW 6 , par.

To recapitulate, the rational class consists of functions who substantiate everything with reason and criterion. For example, a reaction or state of being often requires a reason behind it for it to make sense or become valid to the rational type. The irrational class consists of functions who exist beyond reason, i.e. accept they accidentals as a necessity and are aimed not at the establishment of criterion, but of perception as a whole.

Jung differentiates between the two classes of functions as such:

Thinking and feeling are rational functions in so far as they are decisively influenced by the motive of reflection. They attain their fullest significance when in fullest possible accord with the laws of reason. The irrational functions, on the contrary, are such as aim at pure perception, e.g. intuition and sensation; because, as far as possible, they are forced to dispense with the rational (which presupposes the exclusion of everything that is outside reason) in order to be able to reach the most complete perception of the whole course of events.

CW 6, par.

These states, attitude-types, and function-types interact within the psyche. There is the conscious state, and it contains one attitude-type, and one or two function-types; there is the unconscious state, and it contains one attitude-type and one or two function-types which oppose the conscious types. Thus there are eight primary psychological types: Extraverted Intuitive, Extraverted Sensor, Extraverted Feeler, Extraverted Thinker, Introverted Intuitive, Introverted Sensor, Introverted Feeler, Introverted Thinker.

Each person has a sort of psychic hierarchy, most easily seen between the dominance of the conscious type and the repressed unconscious opposition to it. These are represented by degrees of differentiation, the most primary one being the most differentiated, and the inferior one being the most undifferentiated. This can give rise to secondary functions which are more differentiated than others, but less differentiated than the superior function. Thus, no one is exactly a "pure type," Jung explains that pure types are a very extreme caricature of a neurotic man and are not at all realistic for the everyday person, so everyone may have a degree of differentiation to a secondary function. This is called the auxiliary function.

The auxiliary function is one that assists one's dominant function. It's like a "second most used function", but the purpose of using the auxiliary function is to get the most out of the dominant function. If the dominant is rational, the auxiliary is irrational - why? Thinking and Feeling, as well as Sensation and Intuition, are at odds too much to comprise both the top functions. There needs to be a balance between judgment and perception.

Four archetypes that Jung gives:

  • practical intellect (thinking and sensation)
  • speculative intellect (thinking and intuition)
  • artistic intuition[2] (feeling and sensation)
  • philosophical intuition (feeling and intuition) 

Despite having two strong functions, each person will also have a handful of repressed functions. It's easy for the repressed functions to betray oneself in some way, but this can be avoided by maximizing the dominant and auxiliary functions.

So says Jung on auxiliaries:

"Experience shows that the secondary function is always one whose nature is different from, though not antagonistic to, the leading function : thus, for example, thinking, as primary function, can readily pair with intuition as auxiliary, or indeed equally well with sensation, but, as already observed, never with feeling. Neither intuition nor sensation are antagonistic to thinking, i.e. they have not to be unconditionally excluded, since they are not, like feeling, of similar nature, though of opposite purpose, to thinking -- for as a judging function feeling successfully competes with thinking -- but are functions of perception, affording welcome assistance to thought. As soon as they reached the same level of differentiation as thinking, they would cause a change of attitude, which would contradict the tendency of thinking. For they would convert the judging attitude into a perceiving one; whereupon the principle of rationality indispensable to thought would be suppressed in favour of the irrationality of mere perception. Hence the auxiliary function is possible and useful only in so far as it serves the leading function, without making any claim to the autonomy of its own principle."
- Carl Jung, Psychological Types


The denotation of the types is not very complicated and follows a simple structure: XY(Z).

  • X = Attitude
  • Y = Function
  • Z = Auxiliary Function

Therefore, a type that is extraverted, irrational, intuitive, with and thinking, is an EN(T). Notice how it is an "irrational" type, this is why the dominant function here would be intuition. If it was a rational type, with all the other conditions the same, this would be an ET(N). And of course, because of the dichotomic differences in functions and attitudes, a type cannot have an irrational auxiliary if it's dominant is also irrational. For example, an EN type cannot have an "(N)" or "(S)" as an auxiliary, Sensing would be pushed into the unconscious as an inferior function. As another example, an IT type can have either intuition or sensing as auxiliary, but not feeling.

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