Type as a Map, Type as a Springboard

by Dr Vicky Jo Varner

PEARLS OF WISDOM: TYPE AS A MAP, TYPE AS A SPRINGBOARD, by Dr Vicky Jo VarnerAt the close of this historic occasion of BAPT’s landmark 30th Anniversary Conference, dedicated to “Pearls of Wisdom,” it is worth reconnecting to the original source of all this enlightenment, which is the pioneering work of C.G. Jung himself. Over the past decade, new publications have been released that help to flesh out the typological “picture” as Jung held it, and some extra puzzle pieces have been added.

Often when we speak about type, we feel ourselves pulled into the “particle bits” of typology – the acronyms, the letters, and the system (such as the type table envisaged by Isabel Myers). We become caught up in talking about E’s and I’s and J’s and P’s and S’s and N’s and T’s and F’s which can suck us into a morass of detail that disconnects us from the bigger picture of what Jung was exploring.

We become lost sometimes within popular conceptions that type is only about resolving interpersonal conflict, or achieving career goals, or successful teambuilding, and forget that Jung’s original motive was to explore vastly different kinds of consciousness. And even though it’s been nearly one hundred years since Psychological Types was published, Jung may still be found on the cutting edge since science has been unable to explain to us exactly what consciousness is.

Just like humor and art, everyone imagines they know what consciousness is, but it is so difficult to define that many scientists avoid the topic altogether. They appear to have an allergy to the issue, and contemporary author John Searle tells us how “typical textbooks of brain science to this day have no chapters on consciousness and say very little to suggest that it poses an important scientific problem.”[i]  Because consciousness cannot be reduced to an objective, causal matter, it eludes their frame for understanding it.

Searle noted, “the reason consciousness appears to be a ‘mystery’ is that we don’t have a clear idea of how anything in the brain could cause conscious states.”[ii]  But Joseph Campbell would retort, “Consciousness does not come from the brain. The brain is an organ of consciousness. It focuses consciousness and pulls it in and directs it through a time and space field. But the antecedent of that is the universal consciousness of which we are all just a part.”[iii] In Campbell’s view, consciousness is something we all partake of, to a greater or lesser degree.

Not surprisingly, attempts to reduce consciousness to purely scientific explanations tend to fall flat. Hillman observed how “psychologists often define consciousness with arousal, activation, intention, alertness. Jung speaks of consciousness in the unconscious as a light in nature.”[iv]  Let me repeat: A light in nature. I prefer the mythopoetic explanation, don’t you?

Etymologically, the Latin root word, conscientia means “joint knowledge,” indicating that the experience of consciousness is made up of two factors: “knowing” and “withness.” In other words, consciousness is the experience of knowing together with an other, that is, in a setting of twoness, between a subject and an object. It takes two factors interacting with one another to make consciousness happen.

During this plenary session, we shall collaborate within a container of twoness and more-ness, in an active investigation of consciousness, attempting to map it against our typology. We will be taking as our premise some of Jung’s old lectures as recently published, and also observe the way typology has been expressed via therapeutic art. We shall use these modes as springboards to identify and trace the history of our own individual consciousness and then conjure what we might bring forth in the future, as a harbinger of what may be expected to carry on the psychological types tradition for BAPT’s next 30 years. I hope to see you there!

[i] Searle, J. (1997). The Mystery of Consciousness.  (p. 193)
[ii] ibid (p. 193)
[iii] Campbell, J. (2004). Mythic Worlds, Modern Words. (p. 286, emphasis added)
[iv] Hillman, J. (2015). Animal Presences. (p. 101)

About the Author

Dr Vicky Jo Varner
Dr Vicky Jo Varner

Dr. Varner earned her PhD in Depth Psychology (with an emphasis on Jungian and Archetypal Studies) from Pacifica Graduate Institute.  She is a professor at the University of Philosophical Research, teaching Jungian topics to Masters-level students.  An MBTI Master Practitioner, she has been using type professionally for over 25 years. 

Vicky Jo is also a Professional Certified Coach (accredited by the International Coach Federation), and a Certified Interactive Imagery practitioner.  Originally from the US, she is currently staying in Provence where she is writing a book on Jungian typology under contract to Routledge.  She may be contacted via vj@vjvphd.com 

[Composite photo from Markus Spiske temporausch.com and slon_dot_pics via Pexels.com]

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