In a recent blog post, we included a video about consciousness development and type development. In that video I give a brief explanation of consciousness development and how it emerges or doesn’t emerge. I want to expand here on type development. Consciousness development happens regardless of type development, but it may include type development. So I see them as related.
What is Type Development?
Simply put, when many think about ‘good’ type development, they are focused on identifying and developing the dominant and auxiliary Jungian Functions. They might also add that after we develop these, we are likely to develop the tertiary and inferior Functions. In this view we may get some access and skill with the other four Functions, but these are usually described as being ‘in shadow’ and therefore often only experienced in a negative way.
Often there is some sort of idea that we can engineer type development and put ourselves in situations where we use whatever Functions we want to develop. But nature doesn’t work that way. Here are some things that type development is not:
- It is not equal development of all Functions.
- It is not the same as skill development. We might get more skilled, but the Function may not be developed as an integral part of the personality.
- It is not intentional. Intentional 'type development' may not lead to true type development, but rather just to skill development or what is referred to as horizontal development….more of the same, but refined and expanded.
Wholes and Patterns
Nature is best understood in terms of wholes and patterns, not discrete parts. So type development can be viewed from looking at the overall theme of the pattern as well as the roles each of the Functions play in the pattern. In living systems, patterns ‘rule’ processes. Processes serve to maintain the pattern. I see the Functions as processes, which is why we usually refer to Cognitive Processes instead of Functions.
The theme points to the primary driving force of the pattern. For example, we describe the theme of the INTP pattern as Designer Theorizer. People with this pattern are driven to design things including workshops, organizations, and all manner of things. They are also driven to develop and refine theoretical models that can be used in service of that designing (and even redesigning). (So we like to call this pattern Designer Theorizer, not INTP even though the popularity of the type code is what most people think of.)
Before I explain these patterns, I want to be clear that none of the ways the Functions are used is set in stone. How we engage each process can vary according to the situation we are in, our professions, and other variables like culture and traumatic experiences. While there is a pattern, we are still human beings who are responsive to more than our internal pre-dispositions.
Within each pattern there is a configuration of the eight cognitive processes (or Jungian Functions) where each Function usually plays a certain role in the personality so we might say that type development involves each Function playing the roles that serve that pattern rather than being equally developed or equally undeveloped. Jungian analyst, Dr. John Beebe outlined 8 roles that help us understand the configuration of the pattern and how they play out in each of the 16 personality types. He refers to them as archetypes. We refer to these with other terms, which I outline below.
The type code helps us identify which processes (Functions in Jungian language) are most likely to play which role. In each type pattern, one of the processes plays a Leading role or the way we are heroic and save the day. It is usually the most trusted process so tends to be what dominates the personality. As such it can become habitual and automatic and more and more skillful. In some cases we can over use it even when it isn’t the best way to deal with a problem or situation. In my experience as we get more mature and experience a wider development of our consciousness, we start to be willing to let go of the urge to use it as a hammer on a nail. In my view, this is type development that happens as we increase our levels of self-awareness and self-management. So type development involves having the capacity to not over use the preferred Functions.
Another process plays a supporting role like a good parent and is often the way we help others. This doesn’t mean that is the only way we would engage this process. Type development would mean that as adults we have differentiated and polished the way these two roles Function in our lives and that we have opened up to experiencing and using the other six Functions.
In the INTP example introverted Thinking (Analyzing) takes a leading role and it would often be Heroic (in the words of Dr. John Beebe) and how people with this pattern can ‘save the day.’ Extraverted iNtuiting (Interpreting) would play a supporting role (Good Parent) and show up often in the way we help others. Now this doesn’t mean that is the only way that Function would be used.
However, we do have access to all 8 of the Functions and the pattern would predict that we would use them in different ways that we can call roles. Note that I have stopped using the numbers for the roles because that implies quantity and level of skill and that is not the same thing as filling a role.
Type development would involve...
- Appropriate role access to the different Functions.
- Not overusing preferred Functions
- Using each Functions in situations that need it more often
- Being open to the Function being more expertly used by others than by yourself
- Being open to developing a Function when opportunities arise
What fosters type development?
- Contexts or situation that evoke the Functions that are your primary Functions
- Seeing each of the Functions in a positive light
- Experiencing situations that evoke the Function
- Increasing self-awareness and consciousness development
What is needed for good type development?
- Owning and developing preferred Functions
- Experiences that trigger Consciousness Development with increased perspective taking
- Allowing ourselves to be in contexts that get us outside our own limitations
What gets in the way of development?
- Learning about type that focuses on the letters of the type code rather than the pattern of use of the Functions it stands for
- Using labeling language instead of ‘preference for…’
- Traumatic experiences that can block our development
- Childhood experiences where who we are is not honored and expressions of our core self are not allowedtree
In summary, I think consciousness development is necessary for good type development and they go hand in hand. Learning about our personality patterns helps us be more open to opportunities to develop. In our experience using a self-discovery process helps people open up to conscious development because it focuses on increasing self-awareness and does not focus on instrument results or getting a label. If you'd like to dive in and learn more, I invite you to consider joining our community of like-minded, growth-oriented Self-Discovery Type Practitioners.