Why Jung Is INFJ, Part 1: How Jung Saw Himself

By Ryan Smith

Much has been written on the matter of Jung’s type, and while the INFJ assessment seems to be gaining traction, many professional typologists still believe Jung was INTJ. Simultaneously, Jung’s own self-assessment (as an ITP type with inferior Feeling) does not appear to have many supporters left.

Whatever type Jung was, however, it seems to me that: (1) A thorough discussion of Jung’s type and review of the evidence is lacking and (2) Jung’s personality presents us with a lot of “noise” from those aspects of his personality that do not pertain to type. (Indeed, as Jung himself said, the question of his personality was a tricky one to resolve.)[1]

In this series of articles, I will attempt to discuss the matter of Jung’s type, handling not just the question of his type, but also these other areas of his personality, as well as the question of how Jung saw himself. Before we begin, however, it serves us well to note that we were not the first to identify Jung as INFJ. As far as we can tell, that honor belongs to Keirsey and son.

How Jung Saw Himself

The question of Jung’s self-assessment is an intriguing one. As is now familiar to most, Jung publicly identified his type as Introverted Thinking with Sensation (Ti-S-N-Fe) on one occasion and Introverted Thinking with Intuition (Ti-N-S-Fe) on another. Less well-known are a number of loose asides and partial self-identifications given by Jung elsewhere. Adding to our troubles, there is a somewhat strident myth in the Jungian community that Jung has somewhere identified himself as an Introverted Intuitive with Thinking (Ni-T-F-Se) type. But as we shall see, that interpretation owes more to wishful thinking than to anything Jung himself said.

Having reviewed a great deal of material, some of it unpublished, I have never found anything to suggest that Jung ever identified as anything but a Ti-dominant type. At the same time, however, it is nevertheless obvious that Jung – as with so much else in his life – was at pains to install opaque qualifiers and “secret outs” in his recorded statements about his own type. Since Jung was so cagey and disobliging, it is not enough to read this or that and then attempt to interpret it in isolation when seeking to understand how Jung saw himself. One must trace the broad contours of his thinking on the matter in order to understand both what he was saying and what he was attempting to hide.

We start at the beginning.

1915: EFs and ITs

Prior to coming up with the present-day scheme of typology as a system of four functions (F, T, S, N) and two orientations (E, I), Jung had collaborated with his colleague Hans Schmid-Guisan on a typology consisting of only two types: The Extroverted Feeler (EF) and Introverted Thinker (IT). As the two freely admit in The Question of Psychological Types, they based their rough typological schemes on their own psychologies: Schmid-Guisan was to be the EF and Jung the IT. These “original types” were created out of an opposition, formed between just two parties in an intimate microcosmos where it was not possible to see the full view. Of Schmid-Guisan’s type, John Beebe has said (and we agree) that he was an ENFP (Ne-Fi-Te-Si) type. However, like Jung, Schmid-Guisan’s personality seemed to possess more than its normal share of quirks, stemming from elements of the psyche “outside of type.” While certainly no intellectual bystander to Jung in their correspondence, the picture of Schmid-Guisan that emerges from those letters is that of a jovial, intensely caring and enthusiastic personality who lovingly put people at the center of his world. In the tightened duality of just these two personalities, it would therefore be easy for the more brooding and self-centered Jung to conclude that since he was “colder” than Schmid-Guisan, he must therefore have been his opposite.

Even before the existence of the Intuitive type, then, Jung had formed an impression of himself as a Thinking type. Since the EF/IT system suggested an oppositional scheme between the two types, it is also likely that Jung had not only formed an image of himself as a Thinking dominant type, but also as a type with inferior Feeling. Of course it is still possible that upon discovering the existence of the Intuitive type, Jung took a step back and re-evaluated his previous self-assessment from scratch. But while we cannot be sure, the evidence suggests that he probably did not do so. For example, as I have pointed out in my review of The Question of Psychological Types, much of the terminology that made sense in the EF/IT system of Jung and Schmid-Guisan is carried over into Psychological Types itself with little to no modification. The material pertaining to the old schema of two types (EF/IT) was imported into the new system where it tends to make less sense. It seems to me that just as Jung did not expend much critical thought on how the old material would fit into the new system, so he probably did not take care to seriously consider the possibility of he himself being anything but an IT (Ti-dominant) type – at least not until 1925.

What Happened in 1925?

In 1925, Jung gave his famous Seminar on Analytical Psychology, the contents of which were supposedly “secret knowledge.” In Jung’s own lifetime, to be allowed to read the minutes from that seminar required many hours of “Jungian analysis” as well as Jung’s personal permission.

In this seminar, Jung describes a series of complicated personal transformations, involving dreams, mythological considerations, and personal fantasies (so-called “active imaginings”), which Jung apparently regarded as real (since they were ostensibly messages and lessons sent to him through the Collective Unconscious). Into this highly personal and opaque mix, of which Jung himself says that he is not telling the participants of the seminar everything, Jung throws in some typological terms, which are for the most part applied very loosely. He does say, however, that (in his own opinion) he used to be an ISTP (Ti-S-N-Fe) type until some psychic transformation happened. Jung then continues this murky narrative for quite some time, until he reveals a chart saying that Intuition is now “superior.” This statement has been taken by theorists such as Beebe, Giannini, and others to mean that Jung now identified as an Ni type with auxiliary thinking. In my opinion, however, there are several problems with such an interpretation; for example, speaking of the chart Jung himself says that “it is very much better to leave the figures as they are, namely as events, experiences” (and in the very next lecture, he speaks of himself as an Introverted Thinking-dominant type with inferior Feeling again). Therefore, it is in my opinion dangerous to rely on the extraordinarily personal and murky Seminar of 1925 as the sole source of Jung’s self-assessment. I have my own opinion of what the 1925 lecture might mean too, of course, but my interpretation will make more sense if viewed alongside Jung’s other statements about his type. We set it aside for Part 2.

If Jung Had Known That He Had Misidentified Himself, Would He Have Said so in Interviews?

Let us say, for the sake of argument, that theorists like Beebe and Giannini are right and that Jung actually did change his self-assessment in 1925. If he had done so, would he have publicly admitted that he had had a change of heart? Or would he – for some reason or other – have continued to claim that he was a Ti type (even if that was not his true view)? Such questions are usually very hard to settle, but there may be a way for us to settle it by proxy, namely by examining the case of how Jung spoke of Alfred Adler.

In Psychological Types, Jung had said of Adler and Freud that:

“Freud would like to ensure the undisturbed flow of instinct towards its object; Adler would like to break the baleful spell of the object in order to save the ego from suffocating in its own defensive armour. Freud’s view is essentially extraverted, Adler’s introverted. The extraverted theory holds good for the extraverted type, the introverted theory for the introverted type.”[2]

Now of course, one can argue that Jung is here only talking about their views and not their types, but most people (including Jungians themselves) took this statement (and others like it) to mean that Freud was an E type and Adler an I type.

Psychological Types was published in 1921, but in a private latter, dated 1941, Jung returns to the matter of Freud’s and Adler’s types:

“I discriminate between the ordinary ego-consciousness of the man and his creative personality. Very often there is a striking difference. Personally a creative man can be an introvert, but in his work he is an extravert, and vice versa. … Adler, whom I met as a young man, being of my age, gave me the impression of a neurotic introvert, in which case there is always the doubt as to the definite type. … Freud as well as Adler underwent a change in their personal type. …

… Adler, I suppose, was never a real introvert, therefore as soon as he had a certain success he began to develop an extraverted behavior. But in his creative work he had the outlook of an introvert. The power complex which both of them had showed in Freud’s personal attitude, where it belonged. In Adler’s case it became his theory, where it did not belong. This meant an injury to his creative aspect.”[3]

(Bear in mind that this was a private letter, not meant for public circulation.) Here, even in spite of hedging his bets by “discriminat[ing] between the ordinary ego-consciousness of the man and his creative personality,” Jung admits that he now supposes that “Adler was never a real introvert.” No big problem, since every major theorist in the field of Jungian typology has had to revise and update their assessments, right? Well, perhaps Jung thought otherwise.

In a (public) interview given in 1955, Jung was asked about Freud’s and Adler’s types:

Interviewer: “You’re an introvert. … And Adler?”
Jung: “He is equally introverted.”[4]

So even though Jung had come to the conclusion that Adler was an extrovert, and the interviewer is clearly asking Jung about Adler’s personal type (and not Adler’s “theoretical standpoint”), Jung still says that Adler is an introvert. He remains consistent with his previously printed and public views on the matter, even though his private letters reveal that he thought he had probably been wrong about Adler and that he was most likely “never a real introvert.” So, by extension, if Jung had changed his view of his own type, maybe he would not have said so in public interviews either.

That still leaves the case for Jung self-identifying as INJ rather wobbly, though. In the scholarship on Jungian typology, the majority of theorists have assessed Jung to be an Ni (INJ) type – an assessment that we agree with. However, we must be careful not to let our own wishful thinking exude a retroactive influence over the historical record. It may be tempting to “bend” the evidence to fit one’s preferred conclusion, but in all of the instances of Jung discussing his own type that we are aware of, he never identifies as anything but a Ti (ITP) type. Some type practitioners do not like the idea that Jung could have been wrong with regards to his own type, but as the man himself said “…it is often very difficult to find out whether a person belongs to one type or the other, especially in regard to oneself. In respect of one’s own personality one’s judgment is as a rule extraordinarily clouded.”[5]

Conclusion to Part 1

  • Jung had identified himself as an IT type prior to the formation of the present system of types and most likely carried his old self-identification uncritically over into the new system, causing him to identify as a Ti type.
  • To our knowledge, at least, Jung has never publicly identified as anything but a Ti (ITP) type. Though he does present a chart in the “secret” Seminar of 1925, saying that Intuition is “superior,” there are several problems with simply taking this statement to mean that he now identified as an Ni (INJ) type (see above).
  • On the other hand, the theorists who believe that the Seminar of 1925 constitutes proof that Jung had changed his self-assessment to INJ have the point going for them that, judging by Jung’s public statements on Adler’s type, Jung may not have wanted to admit to the public that he had changed his mind about his own type.
  • However, in my opinion (and that of my co-admins) the account given in Seminar of 1925 is still pretty shaky, and need not even mean that Jung identified as INJ. There is another interpretation that makes just as much sense, which we shall see in the next part of this series.

REFERENCES


[1] Jung, quoted in Bair: Jung (Little, Brown and Company 2003) p.640

[2] Jung: Psychological Types §91

[3] Jung: Letters vol. 1 (Princeton University Press 1973) p. 301

[4] Jung: C.G. Jung Speaking (Princeton University Press 1987) p. 257

[5] Jung: Psychological Types §91

16 Comments

  1. Mark D. says:

    I wish there were more articles like this. I wish there was one for every person you guys type. If you don’t mind me saying, you guys steer away from typology and spend a little too much time on philosophy articles. It is your website, do as you like, but I’d like to see more of this kind of thing.

    I hope part 2 goes into how Jung represented his cognitive functions (but mostly NI and Fe). I think this is the best way for people to learn. Better than the determining function articles.

  2. hannah_s says:

    Why was Feeling originally grouped with Extroversion and Thinking with Introversion? Surely Jung, as a psychiatrist/psychologist, would have a wide enough range of people to draw from to realize there was no real correlation between T and I or F and E? :) If he really didn’t notice, then that is a little shocking to me! :D

    I think it’s interesting to learn about the history of Jung’s self-assessment, but actually I don’t think that a person’s opinion on their own type is very helpful when it comes to typing people. In fact it is better if the person knows absolutely nothing about the subject, as then they aren’t trying to present themselves in a certain way. :)

    So this article is I guess irrelevant in a way haha – if all I had to go on was this article, I couldn’t attempt to make any guesses about his type. :)

  3. admin says:

    Mark, sure, you can say it, no problem. :) The best way to support more articles on the topic/style you like is to review the ones that come the closest (if any) on Amazon.

    Hannah, for several reasons that you can read about in The Question of Psychological Types. One is that Jung started off a Platonic framework where the sensible world (here associated with E prior to the discovery of S) drew you away from pure “thought” or noesis (here associated with T prior to the discovery on N). In the 1915/1916, system, Extroverts “feel” into the object, while Introverts “think/abstract” a subjective rendition of the object. Of course, today it is very obvious to us that there are Feeling Is, Thinking Es and so on, but ideas that seem very obvious in hindsight are often not so obvious going forward.

    On the relevancy, it depends on how wide a net you want to cast. Since other theorists seem to think that they’re in alignment with Jung and/or that Jung could not have been mistaken, I think a “wide” discussion of Jung’s type needs to address that. A “narrow” one, focusing only on his type, doesn’t, but there are already lots of those, and they aren’t really addressing each other’s claims.

    /R

  4. hannah_s says:

    I still don’t really understand haha. It isn’t clear to me why those ideas would be linked. :)

    Yes, but we aren’t using Jungian typology any more. We are using a better thought out, more modern version of typology only vaguely resembling the one Jung invented. Of course you’re going to disagree with me on that probably, and say your views are in line with Jung and his colleagues, but I’d argue that if that is really the case – that there has been so little development in the field since Jung – then that reflects very badly on the field of typology in relation to the other areas of psychology.

    In Jungian typology, of course Jung was ITP, because he invented it and he said so. And close followers of Jung’s typology are therefore I think correct to say that Jung was ITP in that system. But if we look at typology in a wider sense, and just see Jung as one voice among many, then it seems he was probably an INJ type. Nobody is really wrong. So I don’t think Jung’s self-assessment really means anything to the kind of typology we use. :)

  5. admin says:

    Well, I think the EF/IT scheme was eventually abandoned because it was “wrong.” So now that we’re used to knowing the “correct” idea, it seems very weird to us. :)

    I probably think we’re closer to the typology of PT 1921 than you do. And I think the way the functions are defined in PT (with rational/irrational and so on) can be used — even with no subsequent modifications of the theory — to make a pretty strong analysis that Jung was an S/N type, not a T type. But yes — surprisingly/disappointingly little has happened in 95 years.

    Anyway, that’s just how I see it. In the next part, I’m going to go more into how Jung saw himself and then in part 3 I’ll start with an analysis of his actual personality.

  6. Scoop says:

    Hi. I liked the article. The inception of types seems interesting. So does Jung’s reluctance to accept he was wrong – I wonder what that says about him.

    It would be great if you elucidate more on his auxiliary Fe and inferior Se in coming articles. :)
    Great work!

  7. Rashad says:

    Thanks for an engaging article.

  8. ptypes says:

    Regarding IT/EF and Hannah’s comment about it being hard to believe they weren’t distinguished: I think on some level, everyone knows we can always talk of personality on either a coarser or finer level (that is, consider more variables or fewer variables to describe it with). That is, we could certainly consider sub-aspects of T-F (or even of Te, Fi, etc), I-E, and so on, and create a system from them. The only way to resolve at what level to stop is to ask questions such as whether the shared aspects of I, T are more fundamental to personality, or I and T are. “Fundamental” has different definitions, of course — the world of quantitative empirical psychology converges on the Big 5 variables, using different considerations from what we would use to agree that the Jungian 4/8 functions are fundamental things.

    It’s been a while since I read the Hans Schmid-Guisan correspondence with Jung, so I don’t remember if Jung had an inkling about F being “rational” back then (whether or not stated in those terms). My memory is that intuition and so on weren’t even close to formed in the way we know today. I suspect that, short of F being recognized as rational, given there is a relation drawn between E and greater ease of expressing affect (both in the empirical models such as Big Five and in remarks Jung himself made), that already would have suggested an E~F relation (as a note, I think that Jung might still have viewed there being a relation on a primitive level, not at the level of differentiated types, based on some of his remarks in Chapter 3–sort of in the same spirit Ryan mentions his association of the sensible world to E). I would say that even after Jung developed his idea that feeling belongs in the rational category, his remarks on the topic leave me believing he had not quite gone the full way on this. This is a point where I tend to think the admins’ interpretation of F probably works better than Jung’s.

    Now, on to remarks on the article’s discussion of Jung’s type: I definitely think it’s plausible that Jung would be less than direct in admitting he changed his mind, and I also think it’s right to say that he never appears to have given any sort of clear indication to leading with Ni in print. The only glimpse of any indication he might have given to Ni is that a type practitioner Vicky Jo apparently expressed in a “news flash” that she had correspondence with someone who knew Jung in his older age, and who revealed that Jung mentioned himself to be an introverted intuitive, *as opposed to* introverted thinking type (this is really important, because von Franz and Jung weren’t above saying someone is an introverted intuitive and meaning it is auxiliary). I always found this “news flash” mysterious, and am not sure I can find it on the web at the moment.

    I have sometimes wondered if (at the time he made a statement to that effect) Jung really was convinced that he had sensation>intuition, though he unmistakably claimed that. It seems to me that he had some reservations about full-on revealing the extent to which he could be classed as a mystic, and that given in his version of things, sensation+thinking was the typical “science combo”, that may have influenced what he said in public initially. Jung’s description of introverted sensation kind of amuses me, because it seems to stretch a concern with sensation to the absolute extreme, on the basis of being in the introverted attitude (Psychological Types heavily associates introversion with things we probably would associate to N today).

    As for myself, the only thing which made me (mind, this is the faintest of a hunch, and not one I’m convinced to conclude anything by) suspicious about what he finally identified as at all was the fact that von Franz (in Lectures on Jung’s Typology) writes pretty unmistakably that Jung was a dominant intuitive with inferior sensation (which is covered on this site at some point as well). I always got the sense that von Franz would both have known Jung well enough to get a relatively strong glimpse of what he thought his personal type was and also wondered if she would be likely to contradict his self-assessment. The rough vibe I got from her is that she generally seemed to be with him in his views. This is, once again, just something that got me wondering.

    As for my views on Jung’s type, I tend to try to distinguish different versions of the system, and usually don’t say they’re “all getting at the same thing,” instead saying they all overlap considerably, which I personally consider to be a meaningful distinction (my definition of when one defeats the other is that it should do what the other was trying to do better — which means I’d only allow one to fully supplant the other if I thought they’re *fully* aiming to do the same thing, rather than partially). But that said, I do seem to converge on the idea that in my preferred interpretation of the more modern typologies, Ni is the best dominant for Jung.

  9. ptypes says:

    Sorry, just clarifying–I meant to say that, in his introverted sensation discussions in Chapter 10, Jung seemed to stretch to the extreme how far a concern with sensation could foray into a dubious relation with reality, while still counting as sensation!
    I like to note the following backdoor Jung offers: “Sensation, which in obedience to its whole nature is concerned with the object and the objective stimulus, also undergoes a considerable modification in the introverted attitude” — so, having sensation as dominant or auxiliary means obedience to the principle of sensation to a great degree, but in the introverted attitude, obedience to its nature is lessened!

  10. admin says:

    You’re pretty close to what I’ll say. I will address many of these things in Part 2.

    I know the news flash, but it’s unfalsifiable, unprinted hearsay by an (iirc) anonymous source, the contents of which coincides with vested interests / wishful thinking. I’d place the veracity of that near rock bottom.

    Von Franz seemed in on a lot of Jung’s thinking. For example, she said that Jung didn’t have an opinion on Freud’s type, but she has the opinion that he’s an IFP. But then later, it was revealed that Jung’s private opinion of Freud’s type was IFP. I think von Franz was convinced that Jung was an Ni / INJ type, yes, but as to Jung himself, well I’ll give my opinion in the next piece. :)

  11. ptypes says:

    I’ll look forward to what’s to come! The part about von Franz’s assessment of Jung always somewhat puzzled me, given like you say, she seemed to have inside info on what he thought, and to me also seemed to be a lot closer to him in her views. Definitely didn’t bat an eyelash over people like Beebe differing from Jung over his past self-assessments, given his model is *extremely* different (even placing the shadow at the opposing function-attitudes, not at the inferior(s)).

    There’s maybe a weak case that Jung, being dodgy to the extreme, wasn’t really meaning he led with thinking in the interview where he said he had thinking and intuition > feeling and sensation. I prefer to think “characterized by” thinking and having a “great deal” of intuition too really meant leading with T. It’s just given the fuzzy way von Franz and Jung adopted with respect to not consistently distinguishing dominant and auxiliary, e.g. Jung saying Nietzsche is an introverted thinking type in Chapter 10 after saying he’s an introverted intuitive in Chapter 3, von Franz saying Jung is the same type as herself, a thinking and intuitive type (despite apparently thinking sensation is the fourth in him and feeling the fourth in herself)…there has been to me a slight bit of doubt (maybe you have a way of resolving this completely that I haven’t chanced on). Even considering the fact that supposedly, Jung gave all the data to make a diagnosis.

  12. admin says:

    Ptypes, drop us an email, please. :)

  13. rachelw says:

    He definitely had the kind of irrational, crazy thinking process indicative of IN-Js. I-TP can be easily ruled out anyway, unless there is evidence he was schizophrenic or something.

  14. awesomeEllefant says:

    Jung was NOT an INFJ. He was just a very naughty, silly little boy!

  15. Scoop says:

    awesomeEllefant, can we use your CoinFlip™ method to determine Jung’s type?

  16. awesomeEllefant says:

    Scoopy Doo,

    My magic coin says he’s ISFJ

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