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Psychological types as a tool

  • Published: 03-19-2016 Edited: 03-21-2016
  • Psychological types is often used as a tool to educate people about mental processes and provide words and concepts to help understand oneself and other people.

    A type is one of many distinct categories and psychology is the study of behaviour and mind. So psychological types are the study of distinct categories of behaviour and mind. [7,8]

    A clear example of this is Freuds popular types of mental processes called ”Id, ego, superego”: [1]

    • Id: ”The id is the unorganised part of the personality structure that contains a human’s basic, instinctual drives.”
    • Ego: ”The ego acts according to the reality principle; i.e. it seeks to please the id’s drive in realistic ways that will benefit in the long term rather than bring grief.”
    • Superego: ”The superego reflects the internalisation of cultural rules, mainly taught by parents applying their guidance and influence.”

    Where it provides a framework for describing mental states by using three different types of functions working together or in conflict.

    Whether these concepts actually correspond to actual neuropsychological components is irrelevant to their usefulness for dealing with minds.

    Jung took a similar approach: [2]

    • Unconscious: ”The basic assumption is that the personal unconscious is a potent part — probably the more active part — of the normal human psyche.”
    • Collective unconscious: ”The archetypes of the collective unconscious could be thought of as the DNA of the human psyche.”
    • Archetypes: ”In Jung’s psychological framework, archetypes are innate, universal prototypes for ideas and may be used to interpret observations.”
    • Self-realization and neuroticism: ”An innate need for self-realisation leads people to explore and integrate these disowned parts of themselves.”
    • Shadow: ”The shadow is an unconscious complex defined as the repressed, suppressed or disowned qualities of the conscious self.”
    • Anima/Animus: ”Jung identified the anima as being the unconscious feminine component of men and the animus as the unconscious masculine component in women.”
    • Wise old man / woman: ”As archetypes of the collective unconscious, such figures can be seen as, ”in psychological terms, a symbolic personification of the Self.””
    • Psychoanalysis: ”Analysis is a way to experience and integrate the unknown material.”
    • Psychological types: ”Analytical psychology distinguishes several psychological types or temperaments.”
    • Complexes: ”It is almost as if Jung were describing separate personalities within what is considered a single individual, but to equate Jung’s use of complexes with something along the lines of multiple personality disorder would be a step out of bounds.”

    These concepts can be used to explain minds but also to explain society and human culture in general to a larger extent than Freuds concepts.

    Jungs psychological types are explained using his other concepts and can be applied on the level of the individual, groups, on society and on culture.

    John Beebe invented the eight-function model by combining Jungs psychological types with his own framework: [3]

    • Hero: for the superior function
    • Father: for the second or ‘auxiliary’ function
    • Puer: for the tertiary function
    • Anima: for the inferior function

    By using Beebs concepts combined with Jungs concepts of psychological types one could explain more subtle differences in minds for instance having Introverted Intuition as a superior function compared to having it as tertiary.

    The dialectical method is a method where debate, discourse or dialogue is used to reach conclusions. Psychological types can be seen as dialectical concepts where the dialogue or debate between these forces are the explanation for mind and/or behaviour. [4]

    Even if the concepts themselves have no root in biological functions, they can be used as dialectical tools for reasoning as well as dialectical tools for communication, self-development / self-help, conflict resolution and more.

    Personalityhacker uses a similar framework: [5]

    • Driver: your greatest natural talent
    • Co-pilot: your second greatest strength
    • 3 yr old: your biggest weakness
    • 10 yr old: a weakness for you

    By using these they provide words for talking about mental states as being in these different positions, like having Effectiveness in your Driver position where Effectiveness is their name for Jungs concept ”Extroverted Thinking”.

    In Socionics they use the Freudian concepts but add another one: [6]

    • ego: strong and conscious
    • super-ego: weak and conscious
    • super-id: weak and unconscious
    • id: strong and unconscious

    So in Socionics you can for examples have Intuition as your ego-function and this will manifest itself distinctly from having it in any other position.

    A common theme is the angel and devil as a dialogue of reasoning:

    • Angel: Wants to do what is ethically right.
    • Devil: Wants to do what is ethically wrong but personally good.

    In Enneagram each there are many psychological types: [9]

    • Nine types: ”But one set of patterns is more dominant and this set of patterns is said to be our core point, our personality type.”
    • Heart Point: ”When we experience well-being, safety and security, we tend to exhibit patterns of thought, feelings and emotion characteristic of our “Heart Point” and our personality shifts and presents as that type.”
    • Stress Point: ”When we experience stress, pressure and insecurity, we tend to exhibit patterns of thought, feelings and emotion characteristic of our “Stress Point” and our personality shifts and presents as that type.”
    • Wings: ”The word “Wings” refers to the personality types on the circle that are on either side of our core point.”

    So you can say something like I am type Nine but since I’m stressed out right now I’m more behaving like a type Six, or I’m a type Nine but since type Eight is my next wing and I’m feeling stressed out I’m more of a stressed out type Eight now which is most similar to a type Two. Since all types have parts of all other types you can’t argue with this kind of reasoning even though I find it hard to see the value of such general concepts.

    However the real issues start once groups start claiming that the concepts are more than mental constructs meant as dialectical tools, there are plenty of such groups. Another common problem is commercialism around these categories which creates a need to market these things as more than they actually are.

    We can conclude that it can be meaningful to use psychological types / categories as dialectical tools.

    References,_ego_and_super-ego [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]