Jungian Attitudes

Jungian AttitudesPeople are diverse. They sometimes react differently, in an unexpected way, and we often find ourselves totally surprised.

Why some of us are so meditative? Why others are so efficient? Why the father is so pragmatic and the son so absent-minded? Why some of us are so sociable and others have a strong repulsion to emotional excess? Why some of us feel connected with the entire world and others find themselves alone in the midst of others?

Take a look at the image above (click to enlarge!) and think about a difficult situation you had to face (or a tricky situation you have to deal with now).
During the process of finding a solution, people tend to have 2 attitudes (or 2 preferences): some deal with the situation rather irrationally, unconventionally (the upper side of the image), and others have a much more rational, orderly approach (the lower side). Usually, while dealing with a complicated situation, each person has 2 preferences: one that is used all the time and a second one that is used less often. Typically, these 2 preferences belong to both the irrational and the rational side.

This is an elaboration on the Jungian theory of personality types, a subject I covered many times in the past. It helps understanding people without judging them. Then, it helps in the process of acceptance. Acceptance of both oneself and the others.

Let’s suppose you’re finding yourself in a dangerous situation. You might:

– either look around you, gather information, and then wait for your inspiration to give you a clue on what you should do next; this means you’re an intuitive, you are one of those who’d prefer to sit on the side-walk of their life-path and wait for their subconscious mind to give them a solution, an image or a hunch of how life might be;

– either look around you and perceive exactly what is in front of you, the reality, and find opportunities to be used or fissures/fractures/errors in the system that might permit you to escape the tricky situation or turn it in you favor;

– either use the known objective rules of the outer world to methodically and rationally find your way out; you will then be labeled as a thinker;

– or use or collaborate with other people to get things done properly; you will then be labeled as a feeler.

The preferences aren’t really well balanced in our world; while the thinkers and the feelers are fifty-fifty, the intuitives are considerably rare and this adds a lot of burden for them to survive in our world and a lot of difficulties for the others to understand them.

Knowing the 4 preferences helps you to identify the functions used by the others and adjust to them so as to communicate more efficiently. I will give you 2 examples.

1. The phone rings. There is an emergency in our hospital, an unexpected situation.

– the intuitive person will go straight to see the patient (gather information) and will then try to understand the situation (the understanding will appear directly in her conscious mind, she will not be able to tell you where is it coming from). If the intuitive is also a thinker, she knows that she must deal with the patient alone, methodically, as if she would be the only doctor in the hospital. If she is a feeler, she will remember that help can be sought, so will try to solve the situation through the nurses or other staff available around her, or will give a phone call to other colleagues, from the emergency department for instance, seeking advice.

– the sensing person will too go to see the patient to gather information, but will immediately see that the patient should be transferred to the emergency department (finding the fissure in the system) or will grab the book with the protocols for that emergency and read what must be done (if thinker) or persuade the emergency colleague to take the patient to her department (if feeler).

In this example, a sensing person is by far much more efficient.

2. There is a crisis in the team. A “black sheep” is causing trouble.

– the sensing person is often bothered by this situation when it has an impact on her activity, because she sees only what is in front of her and in the present. If she’s a feeler, she will extensively use her abilities to convince the black sheep to get relaxed/change, often at the cost of her peace of mind. If the sensing is also a thinker, she will simply crush the black sheep. Period.

– the intuitive was fully aware of the existence of a black sheep, but didn’t know who’s the one; she had that “gut feeling” that something’s wrong… If the intuitive is a feeler, a sharp dispute with the black seep might happen, following the desire of the intuitive feeler to educate the black sheep or give her a lesson from which everyone will learn something. Alternatively, a democratic, permissive leadership style might be used so that maximum harmony could be achieved. If the intuitive is a thinker, she will try to understand both sides and develop a strategy to make everyone work together, mixing persuasion, manipulation and confrontation.

In situations of this type, the intuitive person is more efficient.

The 4 types can be easily seen, often after a couple of sentences or after some minutes of observation. If the person is extroverted, it’s even simpler. For the record,

– the extrovert is someone that thinks, feels, acts and lives in a way that is directly correlated with the objective conditions and their demands – that means he/she reacts to the exterior.
– the introvert is a bit more difficult to see, as his/her subjective opinions are derived from introspection or in response to the objective situation – that means he/she is reflective.

Now, so as to answer to some of the initial questions,
– some of us are meditative because we’re waiting for a hunch of inspiration (intuition)
– some of us are efficient because we have an acute sense of reality (sensing)
– the father is pragmatic because he relies only on himself to get things done (thinker), while the son knows there will always be someone to ask for help/advice, so prefers to focus on understanding life (feeler).


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