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Carl Jung and the concept of Polarities

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1. What did Jung mean with Polarities? Describe Jung’s Polarities in detail.

2. Explain which polarities apply to you. Give details. How do they serve you? What do you wish to change?


1. Jung believed that all humans possess certain specific patterns of behavior and perception. He considered these pattern or characteristics polarities. A polarity is the relationship between two elements that are on opposite ends of a spectrum with neither element, or in this case pattern of behavior and perception, being right or wrong. Jung believed that each of these polarities develops differently, with one being the more dominant and conscious one, causing the other one to be less dominant and thus more unconscious. Additionally he believed that an individual’s personality type determines how he or she processes and reacts to stimuli. The basic patterns or types of personality according to Jung where Feeling/Thinking and Intuition/Sensation; two pairs of opposite poles. In addition to these four basic functions Jung also included the polarity introversion/extroversion – each of which can combine with the other four elements for a total of 8 personality types.

2. Thinking and Feeling are opposite polarities. Thinking individuals are more likely to react cognitively to stimuli. They intellectually process stimuli and try to interpret and understand them by applying cognitive processes. Feeling individuals react emotionally rather than cognitively to stimuli.

Sensation and Intuition are also polarities. Sensation driven individuals process stimuli through use of their senses. These individuals use a more scientific approach by applying previous experiences and logic to figure things out. Intuition driven individuals rely on hunches rather than experiences. They listen to their own instincts. These individuals are more likely to react to a stimulus instead of thinking about it.

A judging personality values planning and organization. They have a need for order and security in their life. These individuals are also achievers who have a need for achievement; they are responsible and hard workers. Perceiving individuals on the other hand are much more spontaneous. They are more casual and don’t mind the pressure of last-minute deadlines. These individuals are very resourceful and adept at dealing with whatever the moment brings.

It should be noted that intuition and sensation are ways of perceiving, whereas thinking and feeling are ways of judging stimuli.

Extraversion refers to individuals that direct their energy towards the “outside”. They are very outgoing and easily adapt to changes around them. Social interactions feel comfortable to them and energize them. Introversion refers to individuals that direct most of their energy towards the inside. While they may be able to get along well with others, they prefer to be more by themselves.

3. On the Thinking/Feeling spectrum I often see myself right in the middle. Many times I am driven by and react emotionally to what happens around me. Just as often, however, I react by thinking things out and running things through my head in an attempt to understand them. I am not sure which side comes forward more often, and even if I react emotionally to a stimulus, I often stop myself and think about it rather than letting my emotions guide me. I suppose I mostly react emotionally and then “digest” and attempt to understand things more cognitively. This hasn’t always been like this. I used to be very emotional but through trying to “step outside” and looking at issues from other perspectives I have changed my personality to work not only on an emotional but also on a cognitive level. I do try to put a trust in both, my emotions and my thoughts.

Looking at Sensation/Intuition, I believe I am ore of a Sensation Personality. I use logic to figure things out and prefer concrete answers to
questions. I believe I take things that are said very literally. I also tend to believe more in my own senses than what others tell me. I have a hard time accepting anything that cannot be identified by suing my own senses and my logic. I don’t often react to stimuli in the moment but have to think about my reaction before doing anything – even if this may only take a split second. I do not think I do not many things on a hunch and do not attempt to do so either. It just does not fit my personality as it feels to me that I am more likely to make mistakes if I was to trust my gut feelings. I usually use my emotions in connection with my thoughts and knowledge to figure things out.

Most people probably see me as a very extroverted personality; however, I have some very introverted characteristics as well. While I usually appear quite comfortable in a large crowd of people and am not shy about talking in front of an audience, I feel intimidated by large crowds especially if they are composed of people with whom I am not familiar. I feel much more comfortable in a smaller, more intimate setting and am also OK when I am by myself. I do not easily make friends and do not count many people as my friends, because my definition of a friend varies greatly from that of many others. Other than introverts, who are very aware of anything around them, I often use outside stimuli such as people talking as ‘white noise” and don’t even pay attention to them; while on the other hand I spend a lot of time alone by reading and dislike interruptions like the telephone or the doorbell ringing.

I also prefer to problem solve by myself rather than involving a group of people – which is mostly due to my judging personality and the need for achievement and perfection. I am trying more and more to pay attention to how I come across to others and am trying to appear more introverted than extroverted – which is very difficult. I have always been an “attention getter” – however it has not always served me well and I am trying to stop that, hard as it may be. Being extroverted was a coping mechanism during my childhood rather than my true self – and I find it important to let go of it.

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