This video is an academic, masters-level presentation that I was invited to make at a university conference. The full paper has been published in the Journal for Behavioural Sciences. On the page below, I provide a non-academic overview and discuss one of its practical implications.
Jung’s theories are sometimes criticised for being based on his experiences with mentally ill people. Whilst that is true to some extent, only 1/3rd of his Collected Works are concerned with mental illness. He was able to spend much of his life studying ‘normal’ applications of psychology, which interested him, because he was financially independent (having married a very rich woman). And one of the books that Jung published, Psychological Types, became the basis for the most popular personality questionnaire in use today – the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®.
Plebgate is a scandal that began with a politician (Andrew Mitchell) swearing at a police officer and having to resign. It then turned into the police investigating the honesty and integrity of its own officers (“plodgate”). On Wednesday (23/10/13), the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) showed that there is more confusion between fact and fiction in this story than in a good Dan Brown novel. For example:
Three Chief Constables apologised for their officers’ actions – but the officers refused to do so.
The officers claimed they had been accurate, but most others agreed they had misled.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), Senior Investigating Officer (SIO), and Chief Constables differed as to the charges that should be laid against the officers.
The SIO disagreed with his own report, which he had signed as author.
The way the SIO finalised the report’s conclusions was probably illegal.
The Chief Constables disagree as to whether the report’s conclusions need to be reviewed.
How does mythology help explain this fog of confusion?
Myers Briggs theory is very popular. Millions of people every year discover their personality type, using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® or one of a wide range of alternative questionnaires. Often the argument goes that, if you can discover your preferences, you can play to your strengths and develop your individuality.
However, the creator of the theory (C.G. Jung) argued that knowing or using your preferences can lead you in one of two directions – one being cultured, the other barbaric. His view receives support from a perhaps surprising source – the Buddha.
Justin Welby hit the headlines by choosing, for his first Easter sermon as Archbishop of Canterbury, his failure as a leader.1 To some, this might seem a slightly odd topic, or perhaps a side-issue to the real message of Easter. But, from a Jungian perspective, it can be seen as a brilliant choice, both from a leadership point of view and one of personal, spiritual development.
Jung was “absorbed by the question of leadership” (Samuels 1993, p. 287). Much of Western leadership culture is concerned with aiming to be the perfect leader – doing things better, to a higher standard, or becoming more excellent. In analytical psychology, however, this is one-sided and unrealistic, and a better leader is one who aspires to wholeness.
Myers Briggs theory is based on four psychological functions – Sensing, iNtuition, Thinking, and Feeling. They are used to perceive facts or possibilities, and make decisions using objective logic or subjective values. (The other letters of the Myers Briggs code – E, I, J and P – describe how those functions are used.)
Isabel Briggs Myers derived her theory from Psychological Types by C.G. Jung (Briggs Myers 1980, p. xvii). However, Jung’s book describes five psychological functions. The fifth, which he called the “transcendent function” (Jung 1921, p. 480), was the most important (Jung 1935). He also produced a paper on the transcendent function five years before publishing Psychological Types (Jung 1916/1957).