Jung’s types and work, Jan 2014

In one man it is the capacity for thought, in another feeling, which is particularly amenable to development, and therefore impelled by cultural demands, he will concern himself in special degree with developing an aptitude to which he is already favourably disposed by nature. – C. G. Jung 

In this series of article, we have been tracing the stages of life with a current focus on adulthood. The last two articles dealt with marriage and communication. In this article, Jungian analyst Vanessa Prins looks at another important side of adult life: work. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions. jgj



By the time we reach retirement age, most of us will have spent forty years or more working. Although work is a very important part of our lives, resent research has shown that less than fifty per cent of workers in the U.S. are satisfied with their jobs (The Conference Board Job Satisfaction Survey).

Following the recent financial crisis, people are under increased pressure to work more but for less compensation or fewer benefits. This sort of economic squeeze generates stress, hinders motivation, and leads to job changes. Yet even in these more stressful times, we can gain satisfaction at work.

What brings satisfaction to work? The answer is not simple, but Jung’s model of psychological types offers some clues. Our typological preferences correlate with what we enjoy doing. If we can do what we enjoy, we will likely find work more satisfying.

A person who favours extraverted thinking, for example, will likely find satisfaction in tasks requiring logical thinking, especially when used to organise things, facts, or data. Legal work, business management, or some types of engineering often engage extraverted thinking to a high degree.

A person who favours introverted feeling, especially when linked with introverted intuition, might enjoy creative writing and derive much satisfaction from engaging the attentive, imaginative gifts needed for that work.

Especially in the first half of life, finding work that correlates with one’s preferred gifts not only brings satisfaction but also builds important ego strength and a sense of self-worth. The ego strength born in the first half of life lays the foundation for the edifice of individuation in the second, when the shadow types often play a larger role in finding satisfying work.

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