There is a popular misunderstanding that C.G. Jung approved of Isabel Briggs Myers’ work. However, he repeatedly objected to the popular interpretation of his book Psychological Types and research based on the MBTI® instrument. There was a rift between I.B. Myers and C.G. Jung which has been hidden for more than half a century from those who use Myers-Briggs typology (Myers, S. 2019).
The misunderstanding is largely due to a complimentary letter from Jung to Myers in 1950. However, Jung did not write it and it did not represent his opinion. It was written by his secretary who couched it in diplomatic language to conceal Jung’s disapproval.
This article was first published in ‘TypeFace’, the quarterly magazine of the British Association for Psychological Type (BAPT), Vol. 25(4), 14-18, and is reproduced here with the permission of BAPT
It is a widely held belief that Isabel Briggs Myers’ type theory is very similar to C.G. Jung’s, and that he endorsed her development of the MBTI® instrument. However, Jung had serious concerns about the popular presentation of his theory (Myers 2012a) and the letter apparently supporting Isabel Briggs Myers was not written by him and did not reflect his opinion (Myers 2012b). Jung expressed his attitude elsewhere by saying “God preserve me from my friends” (Jung 1957, p. 304) and felt the main point of his theory was being missed:
Typology [is] only one side of my book… Most readers have not noticed [the gravamen] of the book because they are first of all led into the temptation of classifying everything typologically, which in itself is a pretty sterile undertaking. (Jung 1935)
For the past few years, I have been pursuing some PhD research into the relationship between personality and mythology. The overall aim is to find ways of promoting religious tolerance. It is based on Jung’s analytical psychology and is now in the final stretch.
I would appreciate your help by completing four online questionnaires, which will take about 30 minutes in total. When you have finished, there will be a report in the form of a PDF file, or Ebook, or you can read the results online. There is more information about the research on the page that introduces the questionnaires, at https://research.myers.co. Thank you, in advance.
If you have any questions or comments, please use my contact page (above).
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.
Your personality type can change the meaning of the words you use. This can potentially lead to confusion, misunderstanding, or conflict.
For example, people who prefer Thinking tend to use the word “sorry” to mean they have made a mistake. Those who prefer Feeling tend to use it to show sympathy or empathy. This can lead to misunderstanding because:
- When a Feeler says “I’m sorry”, the Thinker can misconstrue this as being an admission of an error.
- When a Thinker fails to say “I’m sorry”, the Feeler can misconstrue this as lacking care or concern.
In some cases, the argument that ensues can end up in the law courts. For example, if a doctor apologises for the bad outcome of an operation, a patient might mistake this for an admission of liability. (Using an apology as evidence of liability has been outlawed by some US states.)