Typology Lessons from von Franz

Marie-Louise von Franz (1915 – 1998) was a Jungian psychologist and close associate of Jung. In her book, C.G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time, von Franz lays out some general principles of Jungian typology as she sees them, which we reiterate below. All quotations are from the Inner City Books 1998 edition of the book.

von franz jung1: As Jolande Jacobi also reported Jung to have said, Intuition is not synonymous with Imagination, Fantasy, or Creativity:

“Intuition is not identical with fantasy which Jung regards as a human capacity independent of the functions.” – Von Franz:  C.G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time p. 47

“Fantasy can find expression via thinking, feeling, intuition and [sensation] and is therefore probably an ability sui generis, with deep roots in the unconscious.” – Von Franz:  C.G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time p. 47n30

“[Jung] rejects the usual notion that artistic inspiration is limited to the intuitive type. … Fantasy is indeed the source of all creative inspiration, but it is a gift that can come to any of the four [function] types.” – Jolande Jacobi: The Psychology of C.G. Jung (Yale University Press 1973) p. 24

2: Jung’s Typology Is a System of Four Functions (Each with Two Orientations), Not of Eight Functions:

“… when Jung … studied the way in which individuals adapt to their environment … he discovered that one could divide these attempts at adaptation into four basic forms of psychic activity or psychological functions. … [These] four functions provide a sort of basic orientation for the ego in the chaos of appearances.” – Von Franz:  C.G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time pp. 46-47

3: The Fourth (Inferior) Function Is “Nearly Always” Unconscious:

“[The fourth function] nearly always remains largely unconscious, for which reason Jung calls it the ‘inferior function.’ Here the light of ego-consciousness turns into twilight. Our attempts to adapt with the fourth function are to a large extent uncontrolled and often fall under the influence of … the unconscious personality. … The fourth function … will be primitive, spontaneously arbitrary, intense, undisciplined and archaic. Moreover, it behaves somewhat in the fashion of the opposite attitude type, which means that, for example, the feeling of an introverted thinking type is extraverted, bound to the object, and the sensation of an extraverted intuitive will be introverted, etc.” – Von Franz:  C.G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time p. 48&n34

4: According to von Franz, Freud Had Inferior Te:

“Freud’s thinking corresponded to an extraverted approach to scientific research. … The evaluation of Freud’s thinking as extraverted does not mean that Freud, as a man, was himself extraverted. In my opinion he was an introverted feeling type and his thinking was accordingly extraverted.” – Von Franz:  C.G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time p. 61&n36

5: Jung’s Typology Cannot Be Understood without Reference to Heraclitean Logic:

“[In Jung’s typology] the differentiation between subject and object, between inner and outer, gradually takes place. This contribution of Jung’s to the psychology of consciousness … received almost no recognition in the wider field of philosophic-academic psychology, because it is concerned with a description of ego-consciousness which cannot be understood without experience of its mirror-world, the unconscious.” – Von Franz:  C.G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time p. 46n28

6: Bonus Lesson: On Parmenides’ Cosmic Sphere:

“…as early as the school of Parmenides the structural image of a sphere … as the form of the ultimate basic principle of the cosmos, emerged. The natural philosophers probably took this image from the older pantheistic Orphism, in which the godhead was thought of as an all-embracing presence with cyclical or spherical form, encompassing beginning, middle and end. The same image appears again in Empedocles. In his view, when the cosmos is under the dominion of Eros, it is “on all sides like to himself and everywhere without end, Sphaeros, the sphere-shaped, above the loneliness prevailing all around, filled with joyful pride.” In Anaximander’s case the world-principle is the Apeiron (the limitless), but at the center of the world there is a ‘sphere which firmly encircles the cosmos.’ For Xenophanes the cosmic god is limited and spherical, ‘always and everywhere homogeneous,’ ‘shaking the universe … by the thought-power of his spirit.'” – Von Franz:  C.G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time p. 142, cf. Dietrich Mahnke: Unendliche Sphäre und Allmittelpunkt (Günther Holzboog 1966) pp. 243-244


Image of von Franz in the article commissioned for this publication from artist Georgios Magkakis.


  1. 1. I’m not sure I agree with the first point. I think there are many different styles of imagination, creativity and fantasy, and so all of these could be expressed, in different ways, by different types. However, I don’t agree that therefore all types are equally inclined towards these things. The ability will be there, yes, but the inclination to actually spend lots of their free time in an inner fantasy world is I’d say a trait most common in IN and IFP types.

    2. I agree with the second point, for sure. :)

    3. I don’t know what to think of that. I find it difficult to understand how any of the functions themselves are conscious. They merely influence our psyche and leave their “shapes” on it. We consciously feel the shapes, not the functions. If you’re talking about conscious behaviour, I think the inferior function related behaviours will be consciously used at times.

    4. Does this mean Freud was an INFP? :) IInteresting idea.

    5. This point seems pretty obvious. But that’s probably just because I’ve read so many of your articles. :)

    6. The last quote is an interesting read. :)

  2. 1. I just read that point as saying that all types can be creative and innovative (and we would add smart as well). So it is my impression that you do agree with this point, but maybe I’m mistaken. :)
    2. We do as well. :)
    3. We agree with von Franz (and Jung) here, but I’m not sure I understand your take on it.
    4. Jung said -in private- that Freud was INFP (or Fi with N and inferior Te). Von Franz says Freud is IFP. She always said it was just her own opinion and Jung didn’t have an opinion. However, it is more likely that she was echoing Jung without calling him out.
    5. It’s obvious to people who agree with our approach to typology, yes. Globally, I still think that’s a minority. :)
    6. Glad you like it. ^^

  3. 1. Yes, I 100% agree then. I hope one day it will be seen as so obvious that the point wouldn’t even need to be made. :) There are many, many creative, smart S types, from Steve Jobs to Chloe Moretz.

    4. That’s interesting. So why do you type him as ISTJ instead? :)

    3. Hmmm I think we may have a difference of opinion about what the “functions” are then. :)

    I kind of see the functions as all the little cogs and wheels moving around behind the scenes in one of those old fashioned clocks. The functions are at work in the background (unconscious), and the clockface is the psyche/consciousness. The functions themselves never actually come into consciousness itself, but they certainly make the clockhands move in different ways. :)

  4. In other words, I see the functions as things that help shape a person’s psyche/worldview/self-concept etc. rather than tools/objects that can actually be consciously used by the psyche. We don’t technically “use” the functions, in my opinion. :)

  5. Thinking about it, perhaps a way to reconcile our two views and reach an agreement is to say that the person does not “use” any of the functions (as I said), but because the higher up in the function stack a function is the more influence it has in shaping the psyche, it therefore leaves a much bigger impression upon the person’s mentality and self-image (and therefore consciousness) if the function is dominant rather than lower in the stack. :)

  6. I confess that I’ve never been able to read anything written by Von Franz without a strong urge to throw the book through the nearest window. Not quite sure why! :)

    But I would just like to add, in reply to Hannah that,

    5. I don’t completely subscribe to the Celebrity Types approach to typology, and therefore I contest the wisdom of Heraclitean logic. It seems to me that it’s justified only if you accept a number of other assumptions, and not at all “obvious.” (I’m not attempting to stir up debate, more just expressing that other points of view exist and are reasonable)


  7. Tobias,

    Haha you must be a big von Franz fan then! :)

    I don’t completely subscribe to the Celebrity Types view either (I have developed my own views on typology – which are probably wrong haha), but I do think they follow Jung very closely on that point. There was a Heraclitean factor in Jung’s typology, and that was the point of #5. But whether Jung was “right” or “wrong” – who knows? :) That was my point – I wasn’t saying that the Heraclitean view was “obviously” right, just that it obviously follows Jung’s perspective. :) In particular, I’m not sure I agree with Jung’s conscious/unconscious divide – it seems a little old-fashioned to me – but I appreciate it as a metaphor.

  8. I don’t agree with number 2. First of all, is she talking about the functions (Thinking, Feeling, Sensing, and Intuition) or reach individual orientation? The 8 function models still use the same four base functions.

    Second, It would be more accurate to say that Jung’s model focused only on the functions apart of your ego.
    I don’t believe Socionics contests much of what Jung wrote about the ego. Socionics take it further by analyzing the significance of the Id along with the Ego–that is, the functions you consciously and subconsciously value (Ego, Super Ego) and the functions you consciously and subconsciously do not value (Id, Super Id).

    His model doesn’t disallow for the eight functional approach. It was due to the principles he outlined (i.e if a function exists then to compensate another function must also exist in the opposite orientation, etc) that Socionics exists (can’t speak much for Lenore or Beebe, haven’t read too much about their work).

  9. Hannah,

    You bet! :p

    In that case, then I agree with you. *Jung’s* typology definitely has that heraclitean flavor to it. Does whatever we might call *real* typology?

    Well, I would also tend to agree with you that it’s better to view conscious/unconscious as more of a metaphor and less of a real thing. But I think to some extent, unless I’m not understanding it properly, heraclitean logic rests on the assumption that consciousness and repression work the way Jung described. But if they don’t, if those are just a metaphor, we might not necessarily expect heraclitean logic to apply in the real world.

  10. I guess it depends on what you call “real typology”. :) Jung’s view? The CT admins’ view? The “Aristotelian” view described on the site? Or something more like the Big Five?

    Well I described my view that NONE of the functions are conscious, or are even “usable” (so the word function is perhaps not the term I’d use), a few posts above this. ALSO, I see the whole theory of typology as a metaphor for something deeper and more complex about the human mind that we can’t really understand right now. I don’t believe there’s a literal “Fi function” getting switched on and off whenever an IFP makes a value judgement haha! :)

    But I don’t know who else takes that view.

  11. Well, as we say in the piece on induction/deduction: “Neither [Te or Ti] can be reduced to being merely deductive or inductive. … As we said, the functions are more complex than just these simple words, and our argument does in no way mean to say that actual people who prefer to reason by way of Te can’t use deductive logic when the situation calls for it, just as we are not saying that Ti users can’t use inductive logic when the situation calls for it.” So it seems pretty close.

    We also argue on the site that the functions may be a heuristic. It’s up to the individual what epistemological status to ascribe to them. :)

    Besides that, I agree with Hannah that ‘functions’ is a misleading name. Jung was prolific in coining new names and terms, but many of his coinages are misleading. I’d probably prefer to call them structures or patterns of consciousness myself.


  12. I also agree with Hannah that we don’t consciously “use” the functions, no matter where they are in our hierarchy. There’s at least three ways in which the conscious / unconscious may be said to occur in Jungian typology. That’d be a great clarifying article, actually. ^^

  13. I’m not sure I understand your view then? I thought the site’s view was:

    Function 1 and 2: Conscious
    Function 3: Partly Conscious
    Function 4: Unconscious

    How exactly does it work? :)

  14. They’re “conscious” in the idiosyncratic (and I guess somewhat misleading) manner defined by Jung. Their operation belongs to the ego-consciousness, but that doesn’t mean that the functions themselves are conscious to the individual. So I’d say that Jung’s terms are misleading as to his meaning.

  15. I guess we’re saying basically the same things then. It’s just we’re picturing the ideas differently in our minds. :)

  16. “I guess it depends on what you call “real typology”. :)”

    I’m sorry for my ambiguity, what I meant there by “real typology” was, whatever would actually be the very best, and most literally true and accurate formulation of typology. Most reflective of real life.

    Ryan and Hannah, I’ve certainly heard other people espouse something akin to “structures of patterns of consciousness before,” most prolifically Lenore Thomson Bentz.

    My own view is close to the opposite: a person IS “using” Fi when they make that sort of value judgment. But, this is only in the sense that an outsider might label your thoughts as “Fi,” not that “Fi” actually has an existence in its own right except as a good name for a thought process that a person uses a lot, or has a particular attitude towards.

    I think the idea of “process” vs “structure” is very interesting in typology, and I’m actually in the middle of writing a submission on it for the OJJT. (To that extent, I don’t suppose the two of you would mind telling me your types? I have a broad hypothesis that preference for one over the other might be influenced by type.)

  17. I must say, at this point the words “conscious” and “unconscious” have so many meanings that I really wish people would stop using them.

  18. I don’t think there is a “most accurate”, best approach to typology. Because it’s so abstract and leaves so much open to interpretation, there’s always going to be disagreements about it — and nobody is necessarily wrong. It’s only when we all agree to look at it from one perspective (or one at a time), and clearly explain to each other which approach we’re discussing, that we can have a real conversation. We can discuss whether Johnny Depp is an INFP or an ISFP for example, but only if we understand what approach we’re each using and try to find some theoretical common ground. :)

    The “structures of consciousness” view is the one Ryan takes. I don’t really see it quite like that. :) And I agree that the terms conscious/unconscious are really not helpful, because they’re archaic psychological terms, from Jung and Freud’s time — modern psychology has a very different view of the unconscious. But this is a “Jungian typology” website after all, so it’s probably necessary to use his terminology to some level. In my view, the “cognitive functions” are something closer to “unconscious forces” applying unseen/unfelt pressure to the conscious mind and trying to mould consciousness into their own image — I use the modern definitions of conscious/unconscious, as used in psychology, but there’s still a kind of metaphor in there. I think my view is likely the most scientifically accurate I know of though.

    It will be interesting to read your article when it’s finished. :) Well I think we take three approaches haha — Ryan takes the “structure” approach, you take the “process” approach, and I take the “forces” approach. :D I agree that our types probably come into it somewhere. I type myself as probably ESFJ or a possible ENTP, but Ryan and Eva are pretty sure I’m an ENFJ.

  19. I agree with Hannah. If you are going to throw around terms like consciousness and unconsciousness then you shouldn’t be so liberal with how loosely you use the terms.

    From what I understand, Jung viewed the ego as entirely conscious, which again he viewed as separate from the unconscious (lets just put aside his views on the transpersonal unconscious).

    Now, take when you say:

    “Their operation belongs to the ego-consciousness, but that doesn’t mean that the functions themselves are conscious to the individual”

    “I agree with Hannah that ‘functions’ is a misleading name. Jung was prolific in coining new names and terms, but many of his coinages are misleading. I’d probably prefer to call them structures or patterns of consciousness myself”

    It gets extremely confusing as to what exactly you mean. When you say “patterns of consciousness myself”, do you mean the interaction between the conscious and unconscious? And second, are you implying that a function can exist in both the unconscious and conscious at the same time?

  20. I wonder who ‘you’ is in this respect. As I said, Jung and von Franz used the term in at least three different ways and none of them in the modern sense.

    The “patterns of consciousness” definition does not in itself hinge on any of these properties; that was a conjecture as to what ‘functions’ actually are or how they may more precisely be defined. The conscious/unconscious properties ascribed to them by Jung and von Franz are secondary properties in this respect.

    In the respect defined by Hannah, all functions are ‘unconscious,’ I’d say. So I agree with Hannah there.

    In the qualitative respect used by Jung, it seems that von Franz at least believed that a function could be both conscious and unconscious: https://www.idrlabs.com/articles/2015/04/the-puerile-nature-of-the-tertiary-function/ – I don’t immediately recall Jung writing anything of the sort, though.

    I guess this is all par for the course that I should write the articles: “The Three Ways that the Conscious/Unconscious distinction are used in Jung’s Typology” as soon as I get more time :)

  21. So, would it be fair to that “patterns of consciousness” also means the same thing “patterns of thought”?

  22. Whoops, I botched that comment (started/stopped/rewrote whilst doing something else). I meant to say

    “would it be fair to say that “patterns of consciousness” means the same thing as “patterns of thought”

  23. When I say “process vs structure,” I’m intending to be very very broad. The key difference I’m trying to capture is related to time. A process is a time-specific object: it happens at a certain time (that can range from an instant to some longer duration, but the point is it’s possible to assign a time). Meanwhile, a structure is not. You might say that “X process happened from 10:23 to 10:27” but you could never say “X structure happened at 10:29,” that just doesn’t make sense. (You might refer to how a structure changed over time, but that’s entirely different)

    So, with that in mind, your description of “forces” is definitely closer to what I’m using the word “structure” for: something that’s more a part of a person, and less a thing that “happens.”

    By the way, my broad hypothesis here is that, given a choice between the two, Ne-users will tend to prefer “process” theories, while Ni-users will tend to prefer “structure” theories, and I intend to make that case in my submission. So, if I should happen to be correct, then out of the 3 types you listed Hannah, that lends some (small modicum of) support for ENFJ :)

    And yes, Ryan (I’m assuming…), I’d very much like to read that article, although I know this site has touched on it before in some comments.

  24. And one more thing :)

    “Because it’s so abstract and leaves so much open to interpretation, there’s always going to be disagreements about it — and nobody is necessarily wrong.”

    I’d disagree here. Perhaps vehemently (though cordially) disagree. If we are talking about a theory of how the world works, then we are trying to describe something that’s actually happening out there in the world. And to that extent, there is a right answer. A proposition like “the world works like this” has a definite truth value: either the world does work like that, or it doesn’t.”

    Two people might differ in their vocabulary in such a way as to be describing the same thing and not realize it. But if they are not describing the same thing, if one person says “the world works like this,” and the other person says “no, the world works in this other way,” then at least one of them is wrong, at least partially, no matter how abstract of a system they’re describing.

    (I’d have to say that’s a core part of my world view. And I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody could figure out a way it’s linked to my type :P)

  25. Tobias,

    Thanks for taking the time to write your reply. This has been a very interesting discussion. :)

  26. Here’s my idiocratic way of viewing the consciousness of the functions, and I think it fits better with hannah’s take on the “cogs” if you will.

    I know this may sound counterintuitive, but what exists in our conscious world, our dominant function, itself, operates in an automatic manner. In other words, we are unaware of its operating, because it simply is who we are. It’s like trying to eat or throw a ball with your dominant hand. You don’t have to think through the mechanics of how to hold the fork, or the ball. You just perform the action, and the fork goes into your mouth, or the ball goes where you throw it. However, if you try to do these things with your opposite hand, suddenly you are aware of all the mechanics of every movement, and it feels very, very awkward, and if you are throwing a ball, you might actually throw it right at your feet, or way too high.

    That’s my take on things.

  27. I am just curious/wondering if the admins have a view on von Franz’s own type in their framework?
    Would be interesting.

    In an interview, she says she’s the same type as Jung, but that’s under the view that runs closer to typing the top 2 functions and top 1 attitude (which presumably spills to those 2) to characterize the type, without stipulating a dominant.
    However, in the kinds of dynamics focused on in the more alternating models like the one this site subscribes to, Jung and von Franz could still in principle be different types.

    Maybe I’ve just missed the von Franz page, or maybe there’s no intent on having one!

  28. Well, and I’m pretty sure she saw herself as introverted thinking dominant with inferior extraverted feeling being her “worst”. But was emphasizing that quote just to see if the admins agree with her idea that the two are more or less the same type.

  29. Mona van France and her army of robot flies are INTPs around here. Nothing in common with Karl Young-Chi except they both have eyebrows.

  30. And the eyebrows are debatable — there are lots of conspiracy theories about their eyebrows, as everyone knows…

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