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Reductionism and Type

reductionist worldview elephant doodle Wikipedia says:

Reductionism can mean either (a) an approach to understanding the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things or (b) a philosophical position that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can be reduced to accounts of individual constituents. This can be said of objects, phenomena, explanation, theories, and meanings.

Do you know the story of the blind people feeling up an elephant? Depending on who tells it, a varying number of blind or blind-folded or stand-in-the-dark people each explored different body parts of an elephant. The person touching the leg was convinced he's touching a tree. The person touching he tusk thought it was a pipe. The guy with the tail thought he had a rope, and so on.

Only putting the pieces together did they figure out they were all touching parts of an elephant. holistic worldview doodle

The Holistic world view, on the other hand, says the whole influences functions of the part. Again, thank you Wikipedia:

Holism (from ὅλος holos, a Greek word meaning allwholeentiretotal), is the idea that natural systems (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) and their properties, should be viewed as wholes, not as collections of parts. This often includes the view that systems somehow function as wholes and that their functioning cannot be fully understood solely in terms of their component parts

Type experts like Linda Berens make a point to underline that Type preferences show up in a pattern. The pattern is more than the sum of its parts. Looking at the whole and understanding the dynamics behind the four-letter code provides a richness that looking at individual functions simply doesn't supply.

More than that, it gets real problematic when we take the four-letter code apart and start talking about "Thinkers" or "Judgers". No wonder many people still believe Type preferences put them in a box. Unless our language gets more precise in reflecting that the functions describe the process of how we use our brain, it'll be hard to convey that Type knowledge is helpful to promote growth, not stifle it.



Only you know who you are, and too much of anything isn't helpful

psych types collected worksLearning about psychological Type is a life's work, and I really enjoyed reading "The Collected Works of CG Jung - A revision by R.F.C. Hull of the translation by H.G. Baynes", published by Bollingen Series / Princeton in 1990. The following are quotes taken without express permission from this book italics are mine. Let's begin with

“Classification does not explain the individual psyche. Nevertheless, an understanding of psychological types opens the way to a better understanding of human psychology in general.”

This quote is über-important, say, in case you're filling in a questionnaire and anyone is trying to tell you who or what you are.

They don't know. Only you know.

It also shows that Type doesn't explain everything, because humans beings are too complex to be ever completely understood. Jung was humble and realistic enough not to insist his way was the only way.

When talking about the importance of balance among Extraversion and Introversion in regard to the cognitive functions Sensing, Intuiting, Thinking, and Feeling, he had this to say:

“In reality, however, these basic functions are seldom or never uniformly differentiated and equally at our disposal. As a rule one or the other function occupies the foreground, while the rest remain undifferentiated in the background. (... A) one-sidedness (of Extraversion or Introversion) would lead to a complete loss of psychic balance if it were not compensated by an unconscious counterposition.”

Does that mean that in an ideal world, we would all have access to all functions equally?

I'm not so sure. After all, isn't it the differentiation that lights a fire under our inner drive to become who we can truly be? Awareness of your strengths and blind spots is crucial for conscious development, and as we see today, Type knowledge has applications in stress, change, anger management, relationship counseling, communication and leadership styles, to name a few. Can you imagine living in a world where everyone is enlightened and able to access all eight functions equally well? All mental healing professionals would be out of a job!

For now, I'd be more than happy if these concepts were taught in Kindergarten so that we raise if not a balanced then at least a well-aware next generation.




Introverting and Extraverting Functions

lotus doodleContinuing on from yesterday, Introversion and Extraversion are only pieces of the puzzle in that they inform how we use the four functions: Sensing, Intuiting, Thinking, and Feeling.

And guess what (again): Everybody USES all of these, but with different levels of expertise.

For balance, all of us use some processes on the inside or introvertedly, and some on the outside or extravertedly. (Those probably aren't even words. See how desperate I am?)

You use Introverted Sensing when reviewing past experiences and memories.

You use Extraverted Sensing when experiencing the current environment, noticing opportunities for action.

You use Introverted Intuiting when you're foreseeing what will be, like a flash of insight or a vision.

You use Extraverted Intuiting when you're interpreting ideas and options, finding patterns and themes.

You use Introverted Thinking when you're analyzing an issue precisely.

You use Extraverted Thinking when you're segmenting, organizing something systematically.

You use Introverted Feeling when you're valuing something, liking or disliking it.

You use Extraverted Feeling when you're connecting, considering other people's needs or society's values.

(Verbiage by Linda V. Berens, more here or at



There are no Introverts

by katmary Books and articles on introversion have received a lot of attention lately, and I'm sorry to say, there's a lot of misinformation out there. I love that we're talking about it, but let's try not to oversimplify the matter, shall we?

Here's my take, and for your reference, I've been certified in MBTI and somewhat seriously learning about Personality Theory, Temperament / Essential Motivators, the Neuroscience of Type, and Interaction Styles for about 3 years. Not PhD expert level yet, but not quite laywoman either.

Introversion and Extraversion, as explained by Carl Gustav Jung, describe

a) how we gain energy, and

b) where our mental energy flows first.

They can NOT be inferred by how many people we hang out with, they do NOT predict how much we talk, and they CERTAINLY don't indicate how many books we've read.

Everybody DOES both, but PREFERS one over the other.

People with Introversion preferences gain energy from their inner world of thoughts, ideas, principles, values, experiences, memories, and visions. When presented with a new object or new thought or new person, they are more likely to take a mental step back to observe. They are still able and likely to be brilliant presenters or trainers when the subject or group is important to them.

People with Extraversion preferences gain energy from the outside world of things, impressions, connections, patterns, ideas, and themes. When presented with a new object or new thought or new person, they are more likely to take a (mental) step forward to interact and involve. They are still able and likely to enjoy down time on their own or with few close friends when given the chance.

Yes, I believe there's also a third group who is ambivalent.

Why am I saying there are no Introverts?

Because we're more than that.

Where we gain energy and how it flows is only one part of the theory. Jung also talked about how we process information and make decisions. He called those the perceiving and the judging functions, there's four of them, and they can all be expressed in both introverted and extraverted attitudes. This brings us to a total of eight so-called function-attitudes.

Since Jung's days we now have some more data on type dynamics (how those function-attitudes interact with one another) and type development (how they show up and when). Dr. John Beebe makes a compelling case mapping the eight function-attitudes on eight different archetypes (representations of persons everybody understands / universal images), and when he strapped EEG caps on his subjects making them go through hours of activities, Dr. Dario Nardi found that people of different personality types use their brain in fundamentally different ways - again, mappable onto the eight different functions.

Dr. Linda Berens first turned me on to paying attention to Type language, and how using nouns sounds and feels more finite than using verbs. Since we're talking about processes, an action word is a better description. "Introvert" sounds like that's it, done. "Introverting your Sensing function" allows for a lot more awareness of the fact that it's happening in any given moment, and that perhaps 10 minutes from now, you might be extraverting your Thinking function. Notice the difference? So, please:

Don't believe the hype and think you can dumb personality theory down to two boxes. There are no Introverts or Extraverts. There is balance between the two, and we can't do both at the same time. All of us use some of our functions in the introverted attitude at least some of the time. And all of us use some of our functions in the extraverted attitude at least some of the time.



Come Up with New Ideas in 5 Simple Steps


Come Up with New Ideas in 5 Simple Steps


Everyone's creative. We can all come up with ideas and build something, bring something new into the world.

Make babies. Not necessarily the crying pooping sleeping human sprog-kind, but something you nurtured and grew inside your mind. Here's how.

We talked about creativity yesterday, and here's where I got the inspiration: Maria Popova's post about this book, "A Technique for Producing Ideas" by James Webb Young, ca. 1939.

Young outlines 5 steps to idea creation, and I think they combine all eight functions beautifully and effectively.

1. Learn voraciously

Or, as Young put it, "gather raw materials". He compared it to the kaleidoscope - with every turn you get new images. The more colored shards you add, the more diverse images you'll receive. You need to fill up your internal library with notes, and they can come from experiencing the real world and interacting with it (Extraverted Sensing), engaging and empathizing with other people (Extraverted Feeling), as well as searching your memory, reliving the past (Introverted Sensing), or envisioning the future (Extraverted Intuiting).

aka "what"

2. Digest the material

Look at what you've learned, dissect it, play with it, examine it. The functions you can use for analysis are introverted Thinking (logical, precise) and introverted Feeling (liking, disliking, valuing what's more important).

aka "what if"

3. Let it simmer

Young called this portion "unconscious processing", meaning leave it alone, go away and occupy your mind with or do something else. I love this part. It's terribly exciting and kinda scary on the one hand, because what if the idea gets lost and doesn't come back? Well, maybe it wasn't meant to be.

aka "hmmm"

If it does come back and you're lucky, it's with a noticeable:

4. Eureka!

Or "a-ha" as Young and Oprah called it. This is very much an Introverted Intuiting word. See the lightbulb? It's bright and sparkly and awesome!

aka "whew"

5. Now go do something with it

The creation part of creativity. Make sure the idea works. Put it to practice. Share it with others. Write that sucker down. The processes used here can be Extraverted Thinking as you plan and execute the idea logically, as well as Extraverted Feeling, where you take other people's reactions and the potential impact on harmonious relationships into account.

aka "how", "when", and "who"

Isn't creativity beautiful?

Image by Andres Nieto Porras, Flickr, Creative Commons License. 



Psychological Type Theory

Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875 - 1961) developed a personality theory at the beginning of the 20th century. He observed and explained patterns in seemingly random individual behavior.

His theory forms the basis for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Tool and has most recently found application in the Neuroscience of Personality research.


Jung's first observations revolved around two ways people engage with the world.

He defined the term Extraversion (in the MBTI results described with an 'E') for people who gain energy by relating to the outside world.
He defined Introversion (in the MBTI results described with a 'T') for people who gain energy by focusing on their own internal world.

Extraversion does not mean exaggerated, Introversion does not mean shy. The terms describe where our mental energy flows, and are also referred to as an "attitude".

Jung continued, stating that our brain activity is mainly engaged in one of two things: taking in information (a process he called Perception), or making decisions based on the information we have taken in (which he called a Judging process). These two processes are also referred to as the cognitive or mental functions.


Jung describes two forms of taking in information: Sensation (aka Sensing) 'S' or Intuition 'N'.

People who prefer Sensing 'S' tend to trust information from their five senses. They prefer detailed information about the here and now, as well as practical application. Introverted Sensing 'Si' is focused on past experiences and reviewing, Extraverted Sensing 'Se' is focused on experiencing the surroundings in the moment.
People who prefer Intuiting 'N' tend to find patterns and themes in the information they gather. They prefer general overviews and find possibilities of what the information might mean for future development. Introverted Intuiting 'Ni' is focused on a vision of what might be and foreseeing, Extraverted Intuiting 'Ne' is focused on future possibilities and brainstorming.

Sensing does not mean sensitive, Intuiting does not mean intuitive. The terms describe how we use our brains to take in information.


Jung described two forms of decision-making: Thinking 'T' or Feeling 'F'.

People who prefer Thinking 'T' tend to make rational decisions based on logical objective analysis, considering the system and connected frameworks, and may not shy away from a debate. Introverted Thinking 'Ti' focuses on defining principles and analyzing, Extraverted Thinking 'Te' focuses on organizing and systematizing.
People who prefer Feeling 'F' tend to make rational decisions according to the framework of their values, how the decision might impact the people involved, and may prefer to have consensus and maintain harmony. Introverted Feeling 'Fi' focuses on clarifying what's important and valuing, Extraverted Feeling 'Fe' focuses on harmony and connecting.

Thinking does not mean rational, Feeling does not mean emotional. The terms describe how we use our brains to make decisions. 

If you'd like to bring a Type Workshop to your organization or community:

E-mail me



Neuroscience of Personality

neurscience of personality book cover
neurscience of personality book cover

Dario Nardi, Ph.D., is an author and award-winning UCLA professor. Since 2005, he has been strapping EEG caps on his willing students to study real-time brain activity. He discovered that people of different personality type  use their brains in fundamentally different ways.

Sharing Dario's findings in presentations and workshops allows me to bring color to the grey matter in everyone of us. Literally. Participants will color in a map of the various brain regions as they self-select which skills and abilities they most resonate with.

The lessons of leadership, coaching, and creative flow will stay with you and help you work more effectively with those whose brains are, simply put, wired differently.

Want to see for yourself? Fill out the NeuroPQ inventory here:

Fill in your name, choose "Doris Fuellgrabe" as your facilitator, and answer 56 questions. You will be asked to provide demographic information for statistical analysis and administration purposes.

If you'd like to bring a Neuroscience of Personality presentation to your organization or community:

E-mail me