Appreciating Differences - Jack Falt - Ottawa area, Ontario, Canada

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Book Review by Jack Falt

Berens, Linda V., Dynamics of Personality Type: Understanding and Applying Jung’s Cognitive Processes, Huntington Beach, CA: Telos Publications, 1999, ISBN 0-9664624-5-9, 60 pp

This is another book in the Understanding Yourself and Others series developed by Linda Berens. In this booklet the author is moving to the next step of understanding of Temperament and Psychological Type into the dynamics of each type. In her concern for everyone to find their best fit, her style is to use the process of learning about dynamics as a way of checking to see if each person has really found his or her True Type. Also, for her it is a very important component of understanding Psychological Type.

The booklet is intended as a resource for Psychological Type facilitators to use in conjunction with their workshops or individual counselling. It gives participants some excellent material for further self study. For a subject this complex most people new to Type would need the guidance of a facilitator.

The booklet outlines Jung’s basic theory and how he never intended to break down the personality into component parts. The work of Briggs and Myers and their indicator seemed to divide up each personality into four of eight preferences. This was only their way of helping people identify their type. They didn’t intend for the process to stop there. Berens is one of many, who in recent years, is trying to redress this imbalance and help individuals and facilitators understand the greater complexity of Type and how each of us is a living system, not just an accumulation of preferences.

The first exercise has us look at our cognitive processes through the way we learn best. Participants are asked to read over eight learning pattern descriptions and rate them in terms of how well they fit for them. This self-discovery exercise may help people understand that even in this situation that we all have experienced that there are different ways of learning.

Then we move on to the eight cognitive processes. A diagram is used consisting of an apple, a cross-section of an apple, a couple of apple cores, and an apple tree. Then the reader does an exercise that demonstrates each specific process. Using the same diagram for the different processes, a page is devoted to one of the eight functions. I feel these give a very clear idea of the meaning of each mental function.

Having completed that exercise, we are guided back to the learning styles. This time they are each divided into two different descriptions. E.g.: The Guided Learning Style is divided into the Foreseer Developer (Ni Fe) and the Envisioner Mentor (Fe Ni), i.e. the Introverted version and the Extraverted version of the style. The difference tells which process plays is the Leading (Dominant) and which is the Supporting (Auxiliary) role. These are placed into her matrix that relates Types as subgroups of Temperaments.

The booklet then goes on to describe the various roles of each of the eight functions within each type. Each is defined: The Leading Role (Dominant), The Supporting Role (Auxiliary), The Relief Role (Tertiary), The Aspirational Role (Inferior). The remaining functions are identified as The Shadow Processes: The Opposing Role (5th), The Critical Parent Role (6th), the Deceiving Role (7th), and The Devilish Role (8th). A chart is given showing the relative position of each function for all sixteen types. You are then invited to rate these eight function and see how they fit your personality.

A section is devoted to using this information with problem solving and communication. All eight functions are needed when dealing with problems. Here is where the value of the combined skills of a group are shown to be greater than those of the individual, assuming the group process allows for all of the eight functions to be utilized. When looking at how the eight functions relate to communication, diagramming the dynamics of each type will help show the difficulties of communicating and what must be done to alleviate the  problem. E.g.: An INTP has Ti as the Leading process while an ISFP has Ti in the eight position or the Devilish process. This makes it It is easier to see why these two types have difficulty in communicating and why they have to work at overcoming these difficulties.

The first appendix has a review of how the sixteen types relate to the four temperaments. An interesting feature is how the four Types in each Temperament are arranged according to an Interaction Style. This will be explained in detail in a forthcoming book. A second appendix gives an outline of how to “crack the code” or figure out the order of the eight functions for each type. There are also some facilitator notes with a chart comparing how Jung, Myers, Beebe and Berens have labelled each of these cognitive processes. Unfortunately, since this is only a chart in an appendix, it cannot go into detail explaining the labels and why they are arranged in this order. There is a need for further research and a publication on this topic.

Overall, I see this book as a very valuable resource, particularly for those who are trained by the Temperament Research Institute. Others may find a good deal of useful information when they are presenting Jung/Myers theory material. There are only a couple of other books that deal extensively with type dynamics and Linda Berens has added one that is well worth considering.

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