Many who study personality psychology have a fascination with understanding Carl Jung’s theory surrounding psychological types. This theory is the backbone of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Behind the four letters that make up the name of your personality type are eight cognitive functions. These functions are stacked differently for each type.
Isabel Briggs Myers and Katherine Briggs created the MBTI as a way to make Jung’s type theory more accessible to individuals and organizations. Taking a theory of human personality and making it easily understandable required simplifying the information and presenting it in an attractive way. Therefore, MBTI descriptions are much more positive than the descriptions in Jung’s original work.
Jung was, after all, a researcher and psychologist. He wasn’t concerned with making his descriptions light and fluffy for the general public. Below are eight of the weaknesses of each type, straight from Jung himself.
Extraverted Thinking Types — ENTJ and ESTJ
“[Extraverted Thinking’s] negative quality is due to the fact that it is so indescribably cheap, impoverished, and lacking in creative energy.”
According to Jung, ESTJs and ENTJs operate under a formula and all of their decisions are made based on how they fit into the formula. Some of these types have a broad formula that allows room for experimenting and open-minded approaches while others prefer a formula that is much more strict. Maintaining this decision-making approach allows little room for adaptation or creative energy.
Extraverted Feeling Types — ENFJ and ESFJ
“Thinking is suffered to exist as a servant of feeling, or rather as its slave.”
The primary focus of Extraverted Feeling is on the influence of the object — the person or people — in their environment. These types want to maintain harmony and make people feel good. Thinking, Jung argues, will therefore always be a slave to Feeling. Extraverted Feeling types can be rational decision-makers but only when the rational decision complements the Feeling decision.
Extraverted Sensing Types — ESTP and ESFP
“The repressed intuitions begin to assert themselves in the form of projections. The wildest suspicions arise; if the object is a sexual one, jealous fantasies and anxiety states gain the upper hand. More acute causes develop every sort of phobia, and, in particular, complusion symptoms.”
The weakness of these types is due to their weak use of intuition. According to Jung, Extraverted Sensing types are quick to make connections based on what they observe (for example, the window is cold therefore the outside temperature must be cold). However, they struggle to make accurate connections related to their emotions or theoretical ideas. This leads them to make unreliable intuitive leaps that result in misread intentions, paranoia, and anxiety.
Extraverted Intuition Types — ENTP and ENFP
“His capacity to inspire courage or to kindle enthusiasm for anything new is unrivaled, although he may have already dropped it by the morrow.”
Jung describes the Extraverted Intuitive type as one that can’t operate at full-force unless their Extraverted Sensing is almost completely repressed. This repression results in a type that can come up with theories and ideas all day and night — but often fails to act on any one of them. Like the Extraverted Sensor, the Extraverted Intuitive can also be compulsive and neglect rational thought for creative freedom, which is much more attractive.
Introverted Thinking Types — INTP and ISTP
“Introverted thinking shows a dangerous tendency to force the facts into the shape of its image, or to ignore them altogether in order to give fantasy free play.”
One of the paradoxes of Introverted Thinking types is that they operate from a primarily rational approach — but they get to define what rational means. These types can be obscure and inventive, but get annoyed when other people don’t buy into their theories and ideas. They are also likely to bend reality to fit into their mold rather than build their mold around what is realistic. This can lead to conspiracy theories or idealistic systems that don’t get the support the Introverted Thinking type hopes to receive, and they struggle to understand why.
Introverted Feeling Types — INFP and ISFP
“She begins consciously to feel “what other people think.” Naturally, other people are thinking all sorts of mean things, scheming evil, contriving plots, secret intrigues, etc.”
Introverted Feeling types have an ability to put themselves in other people’s minds to understand what they’re feeling. However, this analysis is completely subjective. Unhealthy types believe that other people have low opinions of them when the reality is that they have low opinions of themselves. They’re quick to make judgments and assumptions based on how they feel other people should feel and believe and are often let down when reality doesn’t meet their expectations.
Introverted Sensing Types — ISFJ and ISTJ
“This type, therefore, is uncommonly inaccessible to objective understanding, and he usually fares no better in understanding himself.”
Introverted Sensing types see all external objects through a purely subjective lens. Nothing is what it is, but what it means to the individual of this type. Since these types are constantly filtering reality based on their personal belief systems and experiences, they have trouble seeing things for what they are and even more trouble understanding themselves outside of these filters. They are most likely to rely on labels and systems — religion, politics, family structures, etc. — to make sense of the world around them, which can have problematic results.
Introverted Intuition Types — INFJ and INTJ
“The introverted intuitive has little consciousness of his own bodily existence or of its effect on others.”
Jung explains that, to the outside world, Introverted Intuition is the “strangest of all” the functions. The Introverted Intuitive type will attempt to fit into the world as a functional person but struggles with understanding where they fit in space and how their presence impacts others. These types are constantly in their heads, noticing patterns and analyzing what’s going on behind the scenes. This perception can lead to valuable insight that may be considered only if these types are able to match their power of understanding with an adequate power of presence.
What does this mean?
Jung’s type theory was developed a hundred years ago and has never been proven by the psychological community. Maybe some of these descriptors resonate with you, maybe they don’t. I personally think there is some truth to them and Jung’s descriptions are kind of funny. If they help you grow in your personal development journey, all the better!
Do any of Jung’s descriptions resonate with you and your personality type? Leave your thoughts in the comments.