5 Basic Facts about Jung and Types

By Sigurd Arild

jung-typesCelebrityTypes.com has now been online for almost five years. What have we learned? Here are some of the insights that came to us through studying Jungian sources.

1: Jungian Extroversion and Introversion

Being an extrovert or introvert in the Jungian system is not the same as being extroverted or introverted in behavioristic systems of personality. To put it simply, in the Jungian system extroverts experience the world as object and introverts experience the world through their own subject. A Jungian extrovert may be extremely shy, bookish, pensive, and reticent. To arrive at the correct orientation of E and I, intellectual analysis of the person’s cognition is necessary. Watching for reticence and expressiveness to determine E/I is a behaviorist approach. It is not Jungian typology.

2: How All Functions are Equally Valid

People have often wondered how Jung could ascribe equal legitimacy to all of the functions. His own explanations are not particularly clear, but a charitable interpretation runs like this: When we observe an experiment in classical physics, we have an “Archimedean point” – we stand outside the experience and look in at the results.

In classical physics (but not in quantum physics), we know that observing the phenomenon does not dramatically change or alter its outcome. But with regards to psychology, we have no such “Archimedean point” – anything that we observe is filtered through our cognitive functions and exists in a state of interaction with our cognitive functions.

Scientifically-minded people usually assume that extroverted judgment and perception are the most “objective” cognitive modes. Jung would agree that the extroverted functions are more “objective,” but he would disagree with the notion that being more objective necessarily entails more validity or truth. Since we have no “Archimedean point” or “Ground Zero” in psychology, it may just as well be so that deriving psychic experience through extroverted functions represents a bias in favor of the external.

Thus we cannot say, for example, that the Thinking judgments of Te, which tend to be numeric, external, impartial, and “objective,” are necessarily more valid than the Feeling judgments of Fi, which are sentiment-based, internal, partial, and subjective. Both functions represent psychic adaptations in favor of a given direction and cognitive mode, and we really have no way of knowing which direction is more true or valid, because we lack the “Archimedean point.” Hence all functions should be assigned equal validity and worth.

3: Jung Considered Himself an “Empiricist,” but Redefined the Meaning of the Word

In numerous interviews and lectures, Jung claimed to be an empiricist, yet it is quite obvious that Jung is not an empiricist, the way a modern scientist would understand the term. When scientists speak of empirical evidence, they typically speak of “hard data”; statistics, experiments, and theories that have been subjected to a rigorous battering and survived.

Jung, quite evidently, did not subject his own thinking to this kind of scrutiny. When Jung spoke of being an empiricist, what he meant was that he had examined his psychic experiences closely and felt sure of them. With regards to modern science, this type of evidence is commonly thought to be worthless, as lots of people are sure of lots of things. But since Jung thought that we cannot really say that a physical judgment about the trajectory of a cannon ball (Te) is any more true than an aesthetic judgment about the beauty of a poem (Fi), it follows that by his own mode of thinking, being very certain of your own psychic experience is the highest form of experience there is.

However, if “empiricism” consists of paying close attention to one’s own psychic experiences, and the four functions form the totality of the psyche, then everyone is an empiricist by Jung’s definition of the word. The epithet then becomes meaningless.

Jung often defined his “empiricism” in contradistinction to people who theorized freely about metaphysics and the nature of God. But it stands as unavoidable fact that Jung himself also theorized freely and said a whole range of things about God. So in the end then, not only is Jung’s definition of the term “empiricism” meaningless, he also violated his own fault lines for what it means to be an empiricist to boot.

By any commonly accepted definition of words, it would make far more sense to say that Jung was not an empiricist, but an idealist, mystic and metaphysician who nevertheless gave us some genuinely useful concepts. However, Jung was exceedingly touchy about being called a mystic, and would openly characterize the people who said so as “idiots.”

It should be noted, though, that where most of Jung’s ideas are commonly thought to be unscientific, two aspects of his work do in fact have some scientific validity: One is his studies in word association and the other is his theory of psychological types.

4: Comparative Religion Sheds Much Light on Jung’s Biography

When people read biographies or stories about Jung they often get the impression that extraordinary coincidences and meaningful portents abounded around Jung. We certainly did when we first started reading about him. However, since then we have learned that a lot of the stories and testimonials about Jung (including those featured in his so-called autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections) follow certain religious patterns that have been uncovered by the field of comparative religious studies.

A certain genre of biography, detailing the life of the “Divine Holy Man” or “Ascetic Seer”, appears to be a staple of religious traditions everywhere. In such biographies, the visions, dreams, hunches, and clairvoyant experiences of the holy man are usually treated with a reverence that serve to set him apart from ordinary people. In the same way, the holy man is often postulated to have seen the future, to have carried out miraculous cures, to have knowledge of life after death, and to have experienced the Land of the Dead for himself. The Holy Man is presented as an ascetic who was born to a higher calling and who is not cut out for the humdrum of ordinary human existence. Another feature of the Holy Man is thus that he episodically has to retreat from ordinary society in order to pay close attention to his own visions and that during his lifetime he will communicate with gods, demons, and other divine beings.

In Jung’s case, the hundreds of arduously recorded dreams, visions, hunches, miraculous cures, allegedly eerie coincidences and instances of Jung seemingly being able to foretell the future are so ubiquitous that we need not recount them here. Just a single example will clarify the type of reverence to which I allude:

“[A patient Jung was seeing] dreamt of his father dying, and that meant himself – ‘I and my Father are one’. Then one day he complained of his throat – some pain or tightness. C.G. thought it could be his heart. He examined the man’s heart himself and then sent him to a cardiac specialist who said there was nothing wrong. C.G. wasn’t satisfied. … He sent the patient back for a second consultation telling him that if the specialist found his heart was sound he should get him to state it in writing, and he did so. On the way home after this consultation, with the letter in his pocket saying that there was nothing wrong with him, the man fell dead. He had an aortic aneurysm and the specialist had missed it.” – E.A. Bennet: Meetings with Jung Daimon 1985 ed. p. 37

The story is almost Biblical, recalling episodes such as Jesus Predicting Peter’s Denial (Matthew 26:34). Like Jesus, Jung had a strong hunch about the future that someone who was ostensibly in a much better position to falsify would first deny (Peter or the cardiologist). And like Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial, Jung’s prediction involves repetition of mundane acts (Peter denying his discipleship / the cardiologist missing the heart condition) in order to lend dramatic tension to the story and amplify the wisdom of the Jesus/ Jung prediction.

So Jung could allegedly see the future and/or facilitate miraculous cures, just like a holy man. With regards to traversing the Land of the Dead, Jung had his period of “confrontation with the unconscious” where he encountered archetypical, supernatural beings  who by way of temptation attempted to pull him into insanity (Jesus was tempted by the Devil in the wilderness, and Buddha was tempted by the Mara under the tree). As for “sacred retreats,” Jung had his famed Tower in Bollingen.

The point is not to argue that Jung had divine powers, or to argue the contrary; that Jung was a fraud. That should be left for the reader himself to decide. The point is merely to point out that Jung’s genuine qualities as a thinker and innovator notwithstanding, most of the pro-Jungian accounts of Jung’s life are couched in a language and mode of narration that invariably serve to activate religious themes in the mind of the reader.

5: Jung Was Greatly Helped by Generous Sponsors

For his marriage, Jung miraculously managed to secure the hand of the heiress Emma Rauschenbach, one of the wealthiest women in Switzerland at the time. It was because of her fortune that Jung would attain the luxury of dedicating himself to his own research interests and to develop his own theories. Later in life, Jung was similarly helped by the generous sponsorship of American philanthropists, which greatly helped him professionalize and expand upon his work.

Without money from generous patrons, then, Jung might never have had the time or resources to develop his own ideas, and he might have been an anonymous rank and file psychiatrist all his life. In part, these problems are still with us today, as most of the money in Jungian typology is concentrated in the hands of corporations and publishers of specific type instruments (such as the MBTI). They do good research on the straightforward elements of Jungian typology. But they don’t want to rock the boat.


Image of Jung in the article commissioned for this publication from artist Francesca Elettra.

Read more about these facts in the following books: C.G. Jung: Psychological Types // Richard Noll: The Jung Cult // Richard Noll: The Aryan Christ // Gary Lachman: Jung the Mystic // Marilyn Nagy: Philosophical Issues in the Psychology of C.G. Jung.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and MBTI are trademarks of the MBTI Trust, Inc.

CelebrityTypes.com is an independent research venture, which has no affiliation with the MBTI Trust, Inc.


  1. You say: “A Jungian extrovert may be extremely shy, bookish, pensive, and reticent. To arrive at the correct orientation of E and I, intellectual analysis of the person’s cognition is necessary. Watching for reticence and expressiveness to determine E/I is a behaviorist approach. It is not Jungian typology.”

    Jung said: “[Extraverts and introverts] are so different and present such a striking contrast that their existence becomes quite obvious even to the layman once it has been pointed out. Everyone knows those reserved, inscrutable, rather shy people who form the strongest possible contrast to the open, sociable, jovial, or at least friendly and approachable characters who are on good terms with everybody, or quarrel with everybody, but always relate to them in some way and in turn are affected by them.”

  2. Hi Jungster,
    We’ve missed you and your high-quality comments on the site. We’d also love to get an article or essay from you if possible one day. We can discuss your fee via email.

    As for Jung, the start of the same paragraph you quote from runs:

    “The attitude-types, as I have repeatedly emphasized in the preceding chapters, are distinguished by their attitude to the object. The introvert’s attitude is an abstracting one; at bottom, he is always intent on withdrawing libido from the object, as though he had to prevent the object from gaining power over him. The extravert, on the contrary, has a positive relation to the object. He affirms its importance to such an extent that his subjective attitude is constantly related to and oriented by the object.”

    I.e. first he gives us the defining principle (psychic attitude towards the object). Then he gives us the typical outcome of the distinction that follows from the defining principle (introverts are shy, extroverts are jovial). This principle holds good most of the time. But once in a while you get a person whose behavior is introverted but whose psychic attitude towards the object is a positive one (e.g. Bill Gates). In those cases, we posit that one should give priority to the defining principle, as mentioned above.

    As corollary evidence, we would mention three tidbits:

    (1) Jung also stressed elsewhere that his typology was a theory of consciousness, not behavior.

    (2) Is the proof in the pudding? Look at the reasons Jung gives for typing Rousseau, Luther, Freud et al. as extroverts in Psychological Types. None of these reasons are behavioral, but all concern their “attitude towards the object.” In The Jung Letters, Jung even writes somewhere that Freud “had a genuine introverted lifestyle” but that Jung still considered Freud an extrovert because of Freud’s theory.

    (3) We have collected some further quotes on Jung, Jung’s typology, and the role that behavior plays in it here: https://www.idrlabs.com/articles/2013/06/8-common-typing-mistakes/

    We do beg to differ with Jung in one place, however, and that is that we do not think that you can reverse-engineer someone’s type on the basis of their theory (“Freud’s theory has a lot to do with sex, therefore extraverted sensation,” or its modern equivalent, “Apple’s products are innovative, therefore Steve Jobs is ENTP”).

  3. Your reply plays hierarchical games (“defining principles” vs “outcomes”) in a way that is inconsistent with Jung’s perspective.

    “Shyness” and “reticence” involve a person’s attitudes (not in the Jungian sense) toward things more than their behavior. And for Jung, fear and defensiveness went to the heart of an introvert’s attitude toward people and the external world while, conversely, confidence and empathy went to the heart of an extravert’s attitude toward people and the external world.

    You want to talk about what Jung thought the essential underlying base for E/I was? Jung thought it represented two complementary evolutionary strategies, with the introverted strategy involving having few offspring and being fearful/cautious/defensive to try to make sure they all survived and the extraverted strategy involving being “prolific” and having lots of offspring and not letting fear/caution/defensiveness crimp their style. As Jung put it, “the peculiar nature of the extravert constantly urges him to expend and propagate himself in every way.”

    And how did mother nature go about crafting these two different “species” of people? By giving them fundamentally different psyches. As Jung saw it, the root cause of introversion (at the psychological level) involved a projection of negative unconscious contents by the introvert onto the people and things of the external world, which in turn caused the introvert to falsely perceive that those people and things were charged with negative energy (libido), which in turn caused the introvert to feel threatened by those people and things, and fear them.

    So a fearful/timid/defensive attitude toward other people went to the absolute core of an introvert’s psyche as far as Jung was concerned. It wasn’t a secondary result of some deeper-level (and more “cognitive”) inward focus. The article says, “a Jungian extrovert may be extremely shy, bookish, pensive, and reticent,” and that, not to put too fine a point on it, is just silly. It’s true only in the “anything’s possible” sense and in the sense that, as Jung acknowledged, type is far from the only contributor to personality.

    Here’s some more Jung on introverts and extraverts:

    “[The introvert] holds aloof from external happenings, does not join in, has a distinct dislike of society as soon as he finds himself among too many people. … He is apt to appear awkward, often seeming inhibited. … He is easily mistrustful, self-willed, often suffers from inferiority feelings and for this reason is also envious. His apprehensiveness of the object is not due to fear, but to the fact that it seems to him negative, demanding, overpowering or even menacing. He therefore suspects all kinds of bad motives, has an everlasting fear of making a fool of himself, is usually very touchy and surrounds himself with a barbed wire entanglement so dense and impenetrable that finally he himself would rather do anything than sit behind it. …

    His relations with other people become warm only when safety is guaranteed, and when he can lay aside his defensive distrust. All too often he cannot, and consequently the number of friends and acquaintances is very restricted.”

    “The [introvert’s] personality seems inhibited, absorbed or distracted, ‘sunk in thought,’ intellectually lopsided, or hypochondriacal. In every case there is only a meagre participation in external life and a distinct tendency to solitude and fear of other people, often compensated by a special love of animals or plants.”

    “Extraversion is characterized by interest in the external object, responsiveness, and a ready acceptance of external happenings, a desire to influence and be influenced by events, a need to join in and get ‘with it,’ the capacity to endure bustle and noise of every kind, and actually find them enjoyable, constant attention to the surrounding world, the cultivation of friends and acquaintances, none too carefully selected, and finally by the great importance attached to the figure one cuts, and hence by a strong tendency to make a show of oneself. …

    He lives in and through others; all self-communings give him the creeps. … If he should ever have a ‘complex,’ he finds refuge in the social whirl and allows himself to be assured several times a day that everything is in order. Provided he is not too much of a busybody, too pushing, and too superficial, he can be a distinctly useful member of the community.”

  4. (1) On what do you base your assertion that Jung didn’t trace the outcomes of his typology back to defining principles? He seems to argue in that manner in several places in P.T.

    (2) Jung said that both E/I and function-types had “umistakable” and “fundamentally different” characteristics. Yet he also said that most people were somewhere around the middle, that we are composites, and that the auxiliary function was different from the dominant one in every respect. As with so much else in Jung, contradictory points are included under the same heading. We have already argued for why we place the stress on the latter: When typing specific individuals we must allow for complex outcomes like fearful extroverts or socially assertive introverts for the same reason that you cannot use statistics on individuals.

    (3) You say: “So a fearful/timid/defensive attitude toward other people went to the absolute core of an introvert’s psyche as far as Jung was concerned.” We beg to differ: Jung famously typed Adler as an introvert, yet Adler had a far more assertive attitude towards the object than Freud. It is difficult to overstress the centrality of this circumstance, but regrettably most people today don’t know the first thing about Adler and his pre-WW2 fame, which overshadowed Jung’s by several accounts. Adler was basically the Tony Robbins of his time. Yet Jung saw fit to label him an introvert.

    (4) So a “fearful/timid/defensive attitude toward” may indeed be a very frequent outcome of being an introvert, but it was by no means a necessity for the mature individual. In the same vein, when Jung sets out to define introversion, he says:

    “INTROVERSION means an inward-turning of libido (q.v.), in the sense of a negative relation of subject to object. Interest does not move towards the object but withdraws from it into the subject. Everyone whose attitude is introverted thinks, feels, and acts in a way that clearly demonstrates that the subject is the prime motivating factor and that the object is of secondary importance.” (§769)

    But nowhere in his definition does he say that *every* introvert is characterized by a timidity or shyness. Jung’s very definition of introversion is exactly as we have said above.

    (5) We are not quite sure why you say that our statement on bookish Jungian extroverts is “just silly” and then proceed to grant us the point. Not just on the account of “anything’s possible”, which is negligible, but on the account of “the behavioral attitude may stem from other factors outside of type” which is not negligible at all. For example, is person X shy because of Avoidance, because of introversion, or both?

    (6) Of course it is good to have our very own Socratic gadfly nipping us in the bud. But we wonder if your acumen could not be put to better use _creatively_. Is there somewhere we can read your own contributions?

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