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Dream symbol Bath

Pic credit: Erica Nicol, flickr

Pic credit: Erica Nicol, flickr

Bathing or bathrooms generally point towards your psychic and mental arenas. They may indicate a cleansing, both physical and emotional. 

What condition is the room in? 

How about the water? 

Are you on your own or sharing the bath with someone?  

For the sake of mental stability and even physiological health, the unconscious and the conscious must be integrally connected and thus move on parallel lines. If they are split apart or "dissociated," psychological disturbance follows. In this respect, dream symbols are the essential message carriers from the instinctive to the rational parts of the human mind, and their interpretation enriches the poverty of consciousness so that it learns to understand again the forgotten language of the instincts.  - Carl Jung, Approaching the Unconscious (from: Man and his Symbols)



Personality Type and Graphology

From At our recent DFW APTi chapter meeting, we welcomed Karla Garrett to help shine a light into how our Jungian functions come out in our handwriting.

According to Karla, our writing reveals information about our emotional foundation, communications, mental processing, and fear or defense mechanisms.

Letters with a circle in them, like o's or a's reveal communications. If the loops are open, the person is likely to be open and easily share personal information. If the loops are closed, the person is likely to communicate more easily about business than personal matters. Twisted circles may indicate deliberate deceit, and intrusions into the circles may indicate past abuse. For people with a violent streak, the brain will cause the pen to stop and the ink to blot. Looking at the e's in your writing will indicate your listening skills - narrow e's may indicate restricted hearing, while open e's may indicate you're a good listener.

Mental processing can be glanced from m's and n's. Rounded tops show slow, methodical, cumulative thinking. Pointed tops would indicate curious, investigative thinkers. Rounded bottoms of m-connections would indicate a comprehensive, intuitive thinker. In combination, this may mean that someone who writes closed a's and round m's is slower to speak and may be processing.

Punctuation, particularly the way you cross your t's also holds information. Crossing your t at about 3/4 height shows you set practical goals. If your cross is lower to the base, you may lack confidence. Crossing the t right at the top shows you're shooting for high goals and may actually be chronically disappointed. Someone who crosses their t above without a connection to the letter is likely an inventor or idealist (not in the temperament sense).

ISTJFor example, someone with ISTJ preferences is generally described as objective, dependable, orderly, thorough, reliable, and realistic. This will likely be demonstrated in their writing by a steady baseline, regular size of writing, and measured consistency. Margins in their documents will be organized, and punctuation will be precise. Letters with an upper and lower loop, like the f will likely show even-sized loops.

The upper loop indicates mental processing, the lower zone indicates action. Since all Types have balanced functions in terms of judging-perceiving as well as introverted-extraverted, we might expect all Types to have equal loops. We haven't discussed it in the meeting, but one guess would be that dominant perceiving functions' upper loops would be more pronounced, and lower loops would be more pronounced for people with dominant judging functions.

When we sent out the invitations to this event, some people criticized the premise of graphology as unscientific and not trustworthy. Personally, I like to keep an open mind. Sure, evidence may be anecdotal and it may not fit for everybody. It certainly depends on where you learned to write, e.g. in Germany, our capital I's, all r's, and small f's are simply different. And let's not forget children now don't even really learn how to write cursive anymore. Does that mean their personalities will develop differently? I don't know. Limiting our understanding of ourselves to any one model is never going to give us a complete picture though. I like my input from various sources before I decide whether I believe it or how I'll continue to use it.

If you'd like to learn more, here's a more detailed article on Type and Graphology. I'll also post our chapter's findings for those who were at the meeting over the next few days.



Carl Jung's Personality Type Theory 101

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.


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.




What makes you You?

Philosophers have been debating the question of the Self for centuries, as have religions. There still are debates about self and ego. According to Jung, we cannot find our "true selves", because they contain unconscious parts, which by definition we will not become aware of.

Just as conscious as well as unconscious phenomena are to be met with in practice, the self as psychic totality also has a conscious as well as an unconscious aspect.

We are more than what we seem. We are complex.

So, who are you? Are you the sum of your experiences and choices? Can you be defined by a four-letter type? A job description? Gender?

I don't think so.

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 8.35.18 AMGeert Hofstede differentiated 3 levels of human understanding in the early 80s in the form of this pyramid. I think it's a good start. Yes, all of us have DNA and a biological make-up that is comparable. We all have feelings (except sociopaths), we all bleed, need to eat, want to procreate - human nature. We all grow up in different circumstances (Culture/Nurture) and show different behaviors (Personality).

I think we have to be careful with the vocabulary, because there are so many different interpretations of the words. In the Jungian Type sense, personality would probably be seen as part of the human nature foundation, because all humans come into the world with certain predispositions for brain patters that will reflect in personality type preferences. So the Hofstede personality is probably meant more like a social style or behavior.

When I present on Type and Culture, Nature and Nurture, I try to make sure we honor everything that goes into our individual differences and unique experiences. As a start, at least in Type circles, I like to introduce myself as a German ENFJ to better reflect my preferences and how they might show up and be expressed.

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 8.35.35 AM


Which petals would you add to this flower?



Step 3 - Stop Judging, Start Loving (again)

Picture Credit Ananth Narayan My favorite Jung quote has to be

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

I know from my own experience that when you tick me off, it's probably because you're doing something a) I was always told not to do, or b) I want to do, but am too chicken. Either way, my knee-jerk reaction is going to be petty, begrudging, and resentful. I'm going to want to put you down so I don't have to feel so bad about myself. You're triggering something in me that still needs work to be integrated.

Type knowledge is really helping me understand the so-called Shadow functions, those that are unconscious, active below the surface, mostly bubbling up when I'm sick, tired, or stressed. You know those moments, when words are leaving your mouth as soon as you hear them you're aghast and wonder, "did I really just say that?" I've had plenty of those. They are great learning moments. Tough, but easy to remember, thanks to the strong emotions connected with them.

Let's take a moment to clarify that people with a "J" in their type code are not necessarily judgmental. Yes, J is short for Judging, but what that means in MBTI® theory is the function expressed in the extraverted attitude, what you're letting others see, is either Thinking (Te) or Feeling (Fe). When you have a P in your type code, it doesn't mean you're necessarily more perceptive, but that you're showing your perceiving function, Sensing (Se) or Intuiting (Ne), to the outside world.

How prejudiced are you, really?

Our cultural upbringing is going to play a big role in what is important to us; shaping our values. Someone violating those values will also trigger a judgmental response. Since our limbic brains are still conditioned to operate with a "Be Like Me" program, it's much easier to call someone "lazy" or "incompetent" if they do things differently. Believe me, when you're moving to another country or start working with an international team, that's going to happen a lot.

To appreciate the validity of the different approaches, we have to activate our neocortex and start considering the context that the other person is operating in. This is a conscious exercise, and our brains generally don't want to do a lot of work, so the judgmental or stereotypical response is easier to stick with. My opinion is that a stereotype in and of itself isn't bad, only insisting on it without examining the circumstances or accepting evidence of the contrary is.

Project ImplicitHere's a free online quiz you can take to see how much your unconscious is influencing your judgments:

You'll be asked to associate descriptions (good / bad) with e.g. race (black / white), self (you / others), size (big / small), and other items, depending on which assessments you choose to try out. It's truly insightful, so I hope you can take some time and perhaps even share your results with us.



Jung on Psychological Type theory

Carl-JungSince my blog post "There are no Introverts" garnered a bit of attention, here is a fitting passage again from The Collected Works of CG Jung:

"Recapitulating, I would like to stress that each of the two general attitudes, introversion and extraversion, manifests itself in a special way in an individual through the predominance of one of the four basic functions. Strictly speaking, there are no introverts and extraverts pure and simple, but only introverted and extraverted function-types, such as thinking-types, sensation types, etc."

Jung goes on to say that there could be sub-divisions in each function, e.g. intuitive and speculative, logical and mathematical, or empirical and positivist Thinking. He concludes:

"For the sake of completeness, I must add that I do not regard the classification of types according to introversion and extraversion and the four basic functions as the only possible one. Any other psychological criterion could serve just as well as a classifier, although, in my view, no other possesses so great a practical significance."

I for one can't wait to see what the next few years of neuroscience advances hold. Kahneman and Eagleman already talked about the brain's subconscious systems, and when I see him at the end of the month I'll hopefully remember to ask him if, then, our dominant and auxiliary functions would be located in the neurocortex while the inferior functions are buried deeper elsewhere.

And at the end of the day, is it our consciousness that defines our selves, or our unconscious predispositions? Are we more truly ourselves when we don't think about it?

Don't want to miss mentioning Dario's excellent work in this field either; in case you haven't already, check out his Google talk.



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.




Advice for your 19-year-old self

Growing up... some go faster than others.Here's something a lil different, just under 4 minutes while you wait for your tea to brew.



Looking forward to your comments!