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Carl Jung's Theory Of Personality

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Table of contents

  1. Introversion and Extraversion
  2. Different Categories
  3. Collective and Personal Unconscious
  4. Jungian definitions
  5. Conclusion

Many have developed theories of personality, and one of the most notable was created by psychiatrist, Carl Jung. Bruce Neubeaur describes Jung’s theory of personality as “a topology derived from innate preferences regarding how humans receive and process information.” (2001, p. 297) Jung’s theory of personality is well known and inspired the notable Meyers-Briggs personality type indicator. This essay will aim to give an educational summary of Jung’s personality theory.

To understand the reasoning behind Jung’s theory it is crucial to understand his past. While his father was a Lutheran pastor, his mother differed drastically. His mother came from a rich family and supported his father. She was a mystic. She felt like she communicated with ghosts and believed there were ghosts that lived in their home. She was often bedridden due to depression and anxiety. Thanks to his mother’s mystical beliefs, Jung believed in nontraditional ways of knowing. He himself studied mythology, Native Americans and their mystical beliefs, and other cultures. He was fascinated with speaking to the dead, astrology, and witchcraft. He brought a very philosophical approach to psychology. He was counter cultural which led him to being ostracized from other psychologists of the time (Corbett, 2009).

Introversion and Extraversion

At the root of his theory is introversion and extraversion. Jung came up with the theory of introversion and extraversion to clarify how Freud and Adler’s ideas on personality were different (Dolliver, 1994). Dolliver defines the traits saying, “extraversion is the turning of attention outward… introversion is the turning of attention inward” (Dolliver, 1994, p. 192). Extraverts look at the world around them. They are energized by others. Introverts look inward and are in tune with their inner world. While Freud coined the term libido to refer to sexual pleasures, Jung viewed it as general life energy. He used the concept of libido when developing the theory of extraversion and introversion. If one directed their libido outward towards objects or other people, Jung would consider them an extravert. If one’s libido was directed inward on the self, Jung would label them an introvert. (Benjamin, 2019, p. 119) These ideas of introversion and extraversion are opposites. In Jung’s theory opposite tensions result in energy. As one grows older the opposites start to settle and they become more balanced. For example, a child may start out very shy but as they mature you see them grow and become better at socializing. This is the process of maturing. There is less urgency in one’s personality as they mature. As one matures and balances out, they have less energy because they are becoming more balanced. Another aspect of maturation is learning to accept oneself. This is also referred to as individuation.

Different Categories

There are eight different categories in Jung’s theory. His theory is not necessarily limited to eight types, rather Jung put emphasis on eight different types. The categories for Jung’s typology are extraversion vs. introversion (EI), thinking vs. feeling (TF), sensing vs. intuition (SN), and judging vs. perceiving (JP) (Furnham et. al, 2005). Those who are categorized as thinkers look at what is going on around them and use reasoning to figure out a logical solution. Those with a preference towards feeling look inward at their own emotions. They let their heart lead them. Those with a preference towards sensing rely on what is real and what has been explained. They do not read between the lines. Those who have a strong sense of intuition rely on their gut feelings. They read more into situations than those with a preference towards feeling. Those classified as judging look at what is rational. They utilize both the thinking and feeling functions. Those who are perceptive utilize both sensing and intuition. They think about what feels best to them (Pittinger, 1993). The idea is that a person is either more introverted or extraverted and is strongest in one or two of the other categories.

Bruce Neubauer expands on the types (2001). Thinking and sensing are rational functions because they are influenced by reflection and actual occurrences. Intuition and feeling are non-rational functions because they are influenced by perception. Non-rational is different from irrational. While irrational means doing something that does not make sense and is often hasty, non-rational just means that it is not based on reasoning. Thinking and feeling are the judging functions and sensing and intuition are the perceiving functions. Intuition is the processing of information in a complex way. It is looking into a situation and what it means. (Neubauer, 2001)

Jung expanded on these ideas in his book Psychological Types (Jung, 1971). While everyone is unique and different Jung said the introverted is most commonly a thinking type. This would fall under the functions of thinking, sensing, and judging. On the contrary he said the extraverted are more commonly feeling types. This would fall under feeling, intuition, and perceiving. All parts are innate necessary parts of the person, these functions were just meant to help identify one’s strengths and weaknesses. Jung expressed this saying “there can never be a pure type in the sense that it possesses only one mechanism with the complete atrophy of the other.” (Jung, 1971, pg. 6) Types are very general description. Two people can be the same type but differ greatly (Jung, 1971).

An issue that was upsetting for Jung was that he felt his theory had been misconstrued. The different personality types were only a small part of his book, yet that was the main takeaway. The types were never meant to be an end all be all but rather a helpful tool. He did not agree with claiming one specific type because he felt as if that was simply sticking on labels (Meyer, 2016). Jung knew that one could possess traits from multiple types. He also believed that everyone possessed both introversion and extroversion, one was just more prominent (Dolliver, 1994). Everyone has every function as well, one function is just strongest (Neaubeaur, 2001). Jung himself said that typology involves much “diversity of individual psychic dispositions, tendencies, and convictions” (Jung, 1971, p. 14).

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Collective and Personal Unconscious

In the textbook A Brief History of Modern Psychology, by L.T. Benjamin (2019) A brief section of a chapter is dedicated to the disagreements between Jung and Freud, as well as Jung’s theories. Jung had a close relationship with Sigmund Freud, who was somewhat of a mentor to Jung. After a series of disagreements, the two ended their relationship when Jung wrote Psychology of the Unconscious. Jung’s theory is labeled analytical psychology to distinguish it from Freud’s psychoanalysis. A major difference between the two theories was that Jung divided the unconscious into two distinct parts: the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious.

Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious was influenced by his time spent with the Native Americans. The collective unconscious is the collective experience of our ancestors. It is believed this is illustrated by the repeating patterns seen throughout generations. For example, the story of the great flood is repeated throughout many mythologies. Jung would say that it is something deeply embedded in the common heritage. It is an ancient memory that all people are connected to. An example of accessing the collective unconscious would be mother’s intuition. An expecting mom may ask “How will I know how to be a mother?” One would respond saying “You will just know.” Jung would say that because of the history of mothering you will be able to access that information at the necessary time. Another evidence of the collective unconscious is synchronicities. Synchronicities are meaningful coincidences. The idea is that because humans are connected through the collective unconscious, they have a tendency to bring each other together.

The collective unconscious is where archetypes come into play. Archetypes are patterns of behavior. Archetypes are innate behaviors and can quite suddenly control one’s actions. (Film Media Group 1968) Jung thought that archetypes were inherited behaviors and personality traits from past generations. The archetypal experience is experiencing opposite tensions within us. Jung represented this in the yin and the yang. He taught that archetypes can be seen in repeating myths. Heroes are examples of this. The hero is often an underdog. They do not have any physical or obvious characteristics that would identify them as the hero. They have an innate ability that only they can do that saves the day. We see this pattern of the hero repeated a countless amount over time. Jung taught that the most important archetype was the self, which unites the conscious and unconscious components of a person. According to Jung the self develops by individuation, which is the process of someone uniting their archetypes in one personality (Benjamin, 2019, p. 119).

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain.” Carl Jung did not just say these words but lived them. An article from the New York Times shares Jung’s personal journey with the unconscious (Corbett, 2009). The personal unconscious was something that Jung held deeply personal. He believed the personal unconscious refers to the hidden desires of a person that seems foreign to them yet are a part of them. Jung saw the unconscious very spiritually and believed it could be used to discover a wealth of information and bring healing to a person. He studied it in depth for a period of time when some have speculated, he was mentally ill. He was having disturbing images and hearing voices. For about a period of six years Jung yearned to discover his own personal unconscious and to do so he willingly induced hallucinations. He called this period of time a “confrontation with the unconscious.” He carefully wrote all of his experiences down, in a chilling book called the Red Book (Corbett, 2009).

Jungian definitions

In an interview with Films Media Group, Jung defined some terms used in his theory (1968). Anima and animus are a couple of the terms Jung expanded on. Anima is a man’s female tendencies. Animus is a woman’s masculine tendencies. The anima and animus make one self-conscious of sexual selectivity (Peterson, 2018-present). He also expanded on his use of the terms self and ego. He differentiates the two terms saying that “self is a matter of personality that is more complete than the ego. Because the ego consists of what your culture is.” The responsibility of the ego is to organize and combine the internal and external world (Hopwood, 2006). The self manages and organizes all the different parts of the personality into a complete unit. (Films Media Group, 1968)

Jordan Peterson explains that the self is everything that a person could be across time (Peterson, 2018-present). To be oneself would mean that one would be living up to their full potential. It is living in a way that gains the most possible. People tend to act as if a “true self” is real even though it technically is not. It is everything that one could be but is not yet. One becomes more and more themself over time but are never fully there. When someone stretches themselves and enters a new environment, new genes are turned on in the nervous system. It encodes for new proteins. This is quite literally biological potential that will only be realized by entering new environments and doing new things. This manifests new elements. Some have said that the baby represents all that the self could be. One finds themself by regaining all that was lost as a child (Peterson, 2018-present).

One short interview is not enough to define all of Jung’s key concepts. Ann Hopwood defines several more in her journal article (2006). She explained complexes, the persona, and the shadow. Complexes are “internal distractions.” The one who possesses the complex is unaware. It is part of the collective unconscious and often an archetype. A persona is the part that one chooses to show the world, whether consciously or unconsciously. It has often been coined “the ego’s personal relations person.” It could be considered the light, while the shadow could be considered the dark. The persona possesses desirable traits while the shadow contains undesirable traits. The shadow is a complex that everyone possesses. It is what the person finds detestable and hides from the world and themselves. It is oftentimes the opposite of the persona. “Here is the Jungian idea of one aspect of the personality compensating for another: where there is light, there must also be shadow” (2006, pg. 4). The shadow is a necessary part of the personality because without it one may be shallow and lose all regard for other’s opinions. It is what creates depth. Often the shadow comes to light through projection. Lots of times one possesses the traits that annoy them about others (Hopwood, 2006). Jung himself said “everything that irritates us about others can lead to an understanding about ourselves.”


Undoubtedly, Carl Jung is one of the most important contributors in psychology’s history. Even if someone has not directly heard of Carl Jung, they have most likely heard of the Meyers Briggs personality test, which credits Jung’s theories. Much of his life was dedicated to studying why people are the way they are, and human development. He founded the theory of introversion and extraversion as well as his eight types. Deeply personal to him was his theory of consciousness, which included the collective unconscious and the personal unconscious. The collective unconscious is where archetypes fit in to Jung’s theory. His highly ambitious theory also included the ideas of the anima and animus, the self and the ego, complexes, the persona, and the shadow. All throughout Jungian theory we see the idea of opposites and most importantly individuation. Jung himself said “the privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” That is what his whole theory is about. Understanding oneself and making sense of who one really is.

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Carl Jung’s Theory Of Personality. (2021, October 05). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 28, 2023, from
“Carl Jung’s Theory Of Personality.” Edubirdie, 05 Oct. 2021,
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