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Understanding the Nature of the Psyche

Mar 21st, 2012

My understanding of the conscious and unconscious nature of the psyche has changed drastically over the 27 years that I’ve been working with type theory.

When I received my initial certification, the concept of one’s more natural function-attitudes being conscious and one’s less natural function-attitudes being unconscious was taught as a static concept, and I accepted it as truth.  After I started qualifying people to use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, we recognized the psyche was not static.  We started teaching a concept of degrees of consciousness where a function-attitude existed in different degrees of consciousness depending on how well developed the function-attitude was within the psyche.  

We were now allowing each person of a certain type code to be unique, but we were missing the dynamic movement of function-attitudes into and out of consciousness in whatever developed state each might be. 

As a person who owns ISTJ as my type code, I’ve become aware that sometimes my introverted sensation dominant or hero, totally vanishes from consciousness even while it is being used.  When this knowledge first came to me, it was extremely scary as I realized I was basing a decision on some personal experiences without being aware I was using those experiences.  My introverted sensation was totally unconscious.  It had not sunk a little lower in consciousness – it vanished. 

As I processed what had happened in my psyche, I was overcome with a new understanding of just how dynamic and complex the psyche is.  I was also struck with the realization that I had trained thousands of people to think about the concept of consciousness and unconsciousness incorrectly. 

Another realization that emerged was that as we study Jung’s theory of psychological types our understanding of it continues to change and that we should not expect any person working with the theory to hold constant in how one understands the theory.   So how do we work with our understanding of the theory today and acknowledge that we might have a different understanding of the theory tomorrow?  Post your comments here.


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