Question 2: You’re talking about the entire trajectory of Jung’s life work. Where does his typology come into the picture?
Cam: As part of our work in the seminar, the participants had to prepare each year at least one substantial paper on a major component in Jung’s psychology. For example, I gave presentations on such topics as transference/counter-transference and projection. My first contact with Jung’s typology came when we arrived at volume 6 of the Collected Works. This was midway through those 18 rather thick volumes around 1990. A business consultant who used the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory in his professional work made a presentation to the seminar. I was reasonably satisfied after hearing him that I could use the typological model developed by Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers as an acceptable substitute for the one developed by Jung. After all, those authors claimed that they had “operationalized” Jung’s theoretical framework. And - they were much more approachable. I thought I could justifiably replace Psychological Types with Isabel Myers’ Gifts Differing.
In fact, my copy of Psychological Types sat pristine and unopened on my bookshelf at the time. Then, I started feeling guilty. I should read at least part of it before setting it aside in favor of Briggs and Myers. My initial reaction to volume 6 was that it looked huge and when I actually started reading, I found the going very difficult. I decided that perhaps Chapter 10 would give me what I needed so I read chapter 10 which describes the types, even though again I found it tough sledding.
Chapter 11 came next and here my reading was a quick skim since it was essentially a dictionary rather than a connected narrative. At this point, I had sort of read chapters 10 and 11 of Types, and leafed through its 555 pages of text in 987 numbered paragraphs of pictureless print with a certain feeling of fatigue. My contact with Volume 6 remained minimal. There it sat on the shelf no underlinings, no margin questions, no dog-eared pages even the paperback spine as yet had no creases.
I questioned the use of all the historical material and its relevance. Why didn’t Jung just present his hypotheses as clearly as possible and, to use a habitual reaction from an extraverted sensation friend, "get on with it". Was it really necessary to read all of this closely packed prose, page after page for hour after hour?
I was quite frustrated with Volume 6 and put it aside. After all, there was the MBTI Manual and Isabel Myers' Gifts Differing even if they didn't handle the complete story. And there were the lectures on The Inferior Function by one of the leading practitioners and theorists in the global Jungian community, Marie-Louise von Franz. Perhaps this was all I needed. Then I came across a paper entitled "Psychological Types in the Analysis of the Transference" by the Seattle analyst, Jess Groesbeck. The writing was clear, the case applications relevant, the diagrams helpful and the absence of jargon appreciated. Groesbeck made a rather astounding claim:
It is possible that the theory of psychological types is one of the most important, yet one of the most neglected, areas of analytical psychology.
I procrastinate easily and although I was quite excited about Groesbeck and what he was suggesting about types, I didn't act immediately. It stayed in my mind, however, and since I was doing a fair amount of travelling at the time, I decided that instead of carrying a portable library with me, why not take Types and have a real go at it. If nothing else it would reduce my baggage weight by at least ten pounds.
This was a good move. I started reading Types seriously with the editors' introduction, the prefaces that were worth preserving from the various editions that have appeared since 1921, and chapter one. This was where I got hooked. Fortunately for me and my subsequent love affair with Types I have always been interested in history. Mind you, the prospect of reading historical material from the early Christian Church was not high on my list of priorities but the early church fathers, Tertullian and Origen, caught my attention and haven't let go since.
I found chapter one initially very difficult to read and this was my subsequent experience as I literally inched my way through the book from cover to cover. I admit I was as frustrated as I’ve ever been on reading a book. It was embarrassing to realize I had only understood perhaps 10% of what I’d read. So I was frustrated. Really frustrated. But. I was also excited at the range of ideas I so imperfectly understood. It was akin to the stimulation that the Argentinian author and publisher, Victoria Ocampo, felt when she first read what later became Jung’s Volume 6:
I confess that...Psychological Types stirred me as deeply as The Brothers Karamazov.
The range of ideas, speculations, and interpretations of the broad sweep of history and civilizations integrated with major personalities about whom I knew very little along with other major figures I had studied years earlier but now approached from an entirely different viewpoint turned the venture of actually reading Types into a major challenge: a challenge of the same order I had found in that great wreck of modern literature, The Cantos of Ezra Pound.
I tried different ways of approaching the material by experimenting with chapter one. I went through it, for example, just for my own amazement, looking at what I call "large type ideas". I was staggered by what I came up with. Regardless of agreement or disagreement with the particulars, here was a mind capable of developing hypotheses that built a world view with implications in every area of human activity. I then did a paragraph by paragraph analysis and summary to see if I could distil the essential material down into a compact statement of several pages or so. I looked up supplementary material about figures Jung introduced me to like Scotus Erigena and Radbertus. Fortunately, I was at the meeting when the group determined the allocation of topics for the following year. There was no question in my mind as to what I wanted to work on: typology