Carl Jung’s Personality Theory

Mysticism, occultism, and personality- are three words not put together often. Yet Carl Jung brought them together in his revolutionary theory of analytical psychology. A neo-psychoanalyst, Jung has given one of the most popular personality theories in the field. If Freud’s theory of personality was wacky, then Jung’s theory of personality is even more complex.

The Fundamental Concept of Jung’s Theory of Personality

An important part of Jung’s conception of personality is the idea of unity or wholeness. This wholeness is represented by the psyche, including all thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, both conscious and unconscious. Individuals strive to achieve this wholeness throughout their entire lives. Here, the self is considered both the center and the entire personality. Other aspects of personality include attributes of the individuals and the way they function psychologically.

Levels of Consciousness

While explaining personality, Jung identified three levels of consciousness. The concepts of soul, mind, and spirit exist in these levels of consciousness, along with cognitions, emotions, and behaviors −

The conscious level − This is the only level individuals can know directly. It starts at birth and continues to grow throughout one's life. As they grow, individuals become different from others. This process is known as individuation, according to Jung (1959). The goal of this process is to know oneself as completely as possible. As individuals increase their consciousness, they achieve greater individuation. Ego is at the center of consciousness and organizing. The organizational structure of the ego gives an individual a sense of identity. The ego screens out great amounts of unconscious material to bring a sense of coherence and consistency while being an expression of individuality.

The personal unconscious − Those experiences, thoughts, feelings, and perceptions not admitted by the ego are stored in the personal unconscious. This contains experiences that may either be trivial or highly conflicting, depending on the nature of the thoughts. When memories, thoughts, and feelings have a theme and an emotional impact on the individual, it is called a complex.

The collective unconscious − This refers to the inherited tendency of the human mind to form representations of mythological motifs. Such representations vary a great deal without losing their basic pattern. Jung considered that this is the predisposition for certain thoughts and ideas that are inherited- archetypes.

The Basis of Perceptions: Archetypes

Though archetypes do not have content, they have a form. They represent the possibility of types of perceptions. They are the pathways from the collective unconscious to the conscious, which may lead to action. According to Jung, the following are the most important for personality are −

  • Persona − This refers to how individuals present themselves in public. They play different roles, and how they play these roles depends on how they want to be seen by others. People vary their personas based on the situation. The persona helps with learning how to control behavior across different situations. Too much emphasis on this makes individuals alienated from themselves and shallow.
  • Anima and Animus − These refer to the qualities of the other sex, like attitudes, feelings, and values. Anima represents the feminine part of the male psyche, like feelings and emotionality, and Animus represents the masculine part of the female psyche, like logic and rationality. Individuals contain characteristics of both sexes; they vary to the extent to which characteristics are a part of their personality.
  • Shadow − This archetype contains all the unacceptable sexual, animalistic, and aggressive impulses. The persona archetype serves to keep the shadow in check. The shadow may be projected onto many people and objects by both sexes.
  • The Self − This archetype is at the center of personality because it combines conscious and unconscious processes. This is similar to the concept of identity formation. Jung said that the development and knowledge of the Self are the goals of human life. Individuals with fully developed personalities are more in touch with this archetype and can bring more unconscious material to the consciousness.

The Other Aspect: Personality Types

Jung also identified different dimensions of personality or personality types. Jung described both personality attitudes and their respective functions. The attitudes are −

  • Extraversion − These individuals are more concerned with the external world, other people, and things.
  • Introversion − These individuals are more concerned with their own thoughts and ideas.

Both these attitudes are polar opposites. As the individual develops, one attitude becomes more dominant or highly developed. The non-dominant attitude becomes unconscious and influences the person in subtle ways. The functions Jung designated to the attitudes are thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuition. Both thinking and feeling are required for making judgments. Sensation and intuition are the polar opposite of thinking and feeling. Sensing involves responding to the sensations felt within the body. Intuition is having a hunch or guess about something that is hard to articulate. Combining attitudes and functions creates eight psychological types. These unique patterns of attitudes and functions make up personality −

  • Introverted-Thinking: Pursue their own ideas and not concerned if these ideas are accepted. Prefer abstract ideas to making plans with others.

  • Introverted-Feeing: Strong feelings kept inside, errupting occasioanlly forcefully. Creative artists.

  • Introverted-Sensation: Focus on the perceptions of their world, attending only to own psychological sensations.

  • Introverted-Intutition: Have difficulty commnicating own insights and intuitions and have trouble understanding own thoughts.

  • Extroverted-Thinking: Concerned with outside world but often impose own view onto others.

  • Extroverted-Feeling: Interactions with others can be emotional at times, but sociable and funny.

  • Extroverted-Sensation: Experiencing and participating in exciting activities.

  • Extroverted-Intuition: Enjoy novelty and promoting new ideas and concepts to others.

The most highly developed function is referred to as the superior function is dominant and conscious. The second most developed function, the auxiliary function, takes over when the superior is not operating. The inferior combination is the least developed.


Jung's theory was not devoid of criticism, and many critics felt that the archetype shadow was vague and not well explained. They say that Jung protected his theory from scrutiny and never settled on any specific explanations for what "evil" actually is. Many consider mysticism and occultism irrational and too much. The biggest criticism of his theory is the lack of measurable scientific research. Critics claim that Jung hardly made predictions which freed him from being wrong. His theory was shaped by his own experiences and that of his patients, which is not adequate for scientific observation for the basis of a major theory of personality.


Though Jung’s theory has some serious drawbacks, but his theory is still one of the most read and appreciated theories of personality. According to him, the types he classified exist in all of us; however, some of the types predominate over the normal mode of organizing our experiences, which is universally applied. Therefore, several younger researchers and other psychotherapists still take advantage of his theory for better results.


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