The Question of Psychological Types: The Correspondence of C. G. Jung and Hans Schmid-Guisan, 1915-1916

The Question of Psychological Types: The Correspondence of C. G. Jung and Hans Schmid-Guisan, 1915-1916

The Question of Psychological Types: The Correspondence of C. G. Jung and Hans Schmid-Guisan, 1915-1916

The Question of Psychological Types: The Correspondence of C. G. Jung and Hans Schmid-Guisan, 1915-1916

Synopsis

In 1915, C. G. Jung and his psychiatrist colleague, Hans Schmid-Guisan, began a correspondence through which they hoped to codify fundamental individual differences of attention and consciousness. Their ambitious dialogue, focused on the opposition of extraversion and introversion, demonstrated the difficulty of reaching a shared awareness of differences even as it introduced concepts that would eventually enable Jung to create his landmark 1921 statement of the theory of psychological types. That theory, the basis of the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and similar personality assessment tools, continues to inform not only personality psychology but also such diverse fields as marriage and career counseling and human resource management.

This correspondence reveals Jung fielding keen theoretical challenges from one of his most sensitive and perceptive colleagues, and provides a useful historical grounding for all those who work with, or are interested in, Jungian psychology and psychological typology.

Excerpt

by John Beebe and Ernst Falzeder

JUNG’S PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPES appeared in 1921 to widespread acclaim and received many laudatory reviews. In a two-page spread in the New York Times Book Review, Mark Isham concluded: “This volume is drastically serious, positive, didactic, classic, and yet more than stimulating. It is energizing, liberating and recreative. The author shows an amazingly sympathetic knowledge of the introvert of the thinking type, and hardly less for the other types. … Jung has revealed the inner kingdom of the soul marvelously well and has made the signal discovery of the value of phantasy. His book has a manifold reach and grasp, and many reviews with quite different subject matter could be written about it” (1923). Psychological Types has been one of Jung’s most influential and enduring works, leaving an indelible mark on psychology, psychotherapy, personality testing, anthropology, popular culture, and even language. It was Jung’s first major publication in nearly a decade since his 1911–12 book on Transformations and Symbols of the Libido. Yet there has been little study of either its genesis and elaboration from his first brief presentation on

Sigmund Freud was not pleased, however: “A new production by Jung of enormous size [,] 700 pages thick, inscribed ‘Psychologische Typen[,]’ the work of a snob and a mystic, no new idea in it. He clings to that escape he had detected in 1913, denying objective truth in psychology on account of the personal differences in the observer’s constitution. No great harm to be expected from this quarter” (Freud & Jones, 1993, p. 424). Similar is Rank’s report of Freud’s view in a circular letter to the committee: “[The book] contains nothing new at all, and again deals with the way out he believes to have found, namely, that an objective truth is impossible in psychology, with regard to individual differences in the researchers. Such a result would have to be proven at first, however, since one could, with the same justification, also doubt the results of all other sciences” (Wittenberger & Tögel, 2001, p. 174).

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