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Archetypal Typology

Review of: John L. Giannini, Compass of the Soul: Archetypal Guides to a Fuller Life, Gainesville, Florida: Center for Applications of Psychological Type, 2004.

John Giannini has written an extraordinary book, a magnum opus on Jung’s typology that examines developments in the field of typology and related areas since the inception of Jung’s original ideas. Giannini’s efforts are undergirded by a well-developed hypothesis concerning the archetypal background of typological theory and practice. Compass of the Soul is a true "tome," not only for its size of almost six hundred pages, but also for its breadth and depth. The book is a compendium of a lifetime of research, personal reflection, and analytical practice, which goes far beyond any published work on the subject since Jung’s original Psychological Types, published in 1921.

As I began reading, I felt that Giannini’s clear grounding in Jung’s original efforts made this book a must for anyone teaching Jung’s typology; it is a long overdue companion volume to Jung’s pioneering insights. Giannini explores in great depth and with much equanimity and fairness all other approaches to typology that have emerged over these many decades, in particular the development of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).1

Compass of the Soul is, at least in my reading, two books in one. The first and major part of the book takes us back through Jung’s initial work and the building blocks of his typology. The major extension of Jung’s work that Giannini elucidates is the research of Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Meyers, the developers of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The split between the worlds of Jungian analysts and MBTI users is an important concern for the author throughout the book. He seeks to heal this divide and some of the implicit if not explicit polarities that seem to have been activated (typological differences come to my mind as one plausible explanation). Giannini primarily achieves this reconciliation by incorporating a host of other creative efforts in Jungian psychology, some explicitly typological and others that propose an array of archetypal schemata of the personality. Using the structure of the "compass," found in Jung and other archetypal models developed and used by Jungians, Giannini shows that Jung’s typological compass mirrors other archetypal compasses closely. The author does an exhaustive job of showing how these many models can be correlated.

The starting point for Giannini’s major hypothesis is a statement Jung makes at the end of Psychological Types, in which he notes the existence and necessity of an auxiliary function that supplements our primary function. "Closer investigation shows with great regularity that, besides the most differentiated function, another, less differentiated function of secondary importance is invariably present in consciousness and exerts a co-determining influence" (Jung 1971, 405). The perceptive function preference of sensation or intuition has a partner in one of the judging functions of thinking or feeling, and vice versa. For Giannini, the MBTI’s particular strength is that it incorporates this pairing in a way that makes the coupling of the primary and auxiliary functions in a given personality clear. Giannini sees the work of Briggs and Myers as extending Jung’s work, and he narrates their long journey in developing their type indicator and the archetypal basis for the couplings.

One intriguing pair of opposites in the use of typology that Giannini addresses is the merit of knowing one’s type, which suggests that one of the peculiar polarities that exist around typology is in the use of the theory itself. For many, like Giannini and this reviewer, discovering our typology can be extraordinarily freeing. We realize that we are not like others and do not have to be and that life can unfold in more fulfilling ways as we track our natural interests rather than those of other types, be they family and/or our ESTJ-biased culture (extraversion, sensation, thinking, and judging). Indeed his theory of typology gave Jung an early basis for understanding why one member of a family system could be wounded by that system and others not so (Jung 1971, 548–549). For some individuals, the experience of knowing and accepting their unique personality qualities is a great relief; by knowing their personal typology, these individuals can value who they are more.

The other side of the debate on the use of typology has to do with the labeling aspect of typology, a problem Jung discussed in the 1934 foreword to the Argentine Edition of Psychological Types when he wrote, "My typology is . . . a critical apparatus serving to sort out and organize the welter of empirical material, but not in any sense to stick labels on people at first sight. It is . . . a critical psychology dealing with the organization and delimitation of psychic process that can be shown to be typical" (Jung 1971, xv). Some people have difficulty with the sense of being labeled and fear the use of typology does this. Giannini writes very much in the spirit of Jung, not attempting to label people but elucidating the extraordinary archetypal ways we are pulled to perceive and engage the world around us.

In my clinical work, I have heard both poles of this labeling dilemma expressed. Some patients feel completely freed by a sense of their own natural typology and a typological interpretation. They can embrace both uniqueness and difference through this knowledge but, most importantly, more easily embrace who they are. One very early patient was so filled with this new knowledge, he immediately declared himself cured. Yet I have found that a few patients wonder if they are merely being labeled when typological language is used, don’t find a typological interpretation particularly helpful, and feel more judged than seen. A typological interpretation might even evoke anger and strong defensiveness out of a feeling that ideas about them are being imposed. Curiously, I’ve seen enough of both sides of these kinds of reactions to wonder if such reactions might themselves reflect typology, or at least have a typological component in relationship to certain other complexes that are activated during psychotherapy. A conflict develops, for example, between the thinking and feeling functions in the sense that if a patient feels labeled, especially a feeling type, then that person feels judged and does not feel valued and thus does not feel genuinely understood.

Giannini seeks to bridge these two polarities in the use of typology by elucidating the archetypal images that lay behind each coupling, the central direction of his work. He demonstrates that the archetypal elements seem to more naturally emerge in the couplings, than if each function of consciousness is taken separately. The research to support his hypothesis is extensive. Essentially he elaborates a host of theories of archetypal realities or compasses beginning with a chapter on Taoism and moving forward with models such as the Osmond Group’s Couplings, Robert Moore and Richard Gillette’s four masculine archetypes, and Toni Wolf’s four feminine archetypes, and he shows how these models are parallel to the various couplings. The SF (Sensation/Feeling) is thus related to the king/queen and the parental archetypes, the ST (Sensation/Thinking) to the warrior elements, the NT (INtuition/Thinking) to the wizard and visionary, and the NF (INtuition/Feeling) to the lover and artistic archetypal elements.

Using this archetypal compass, Giannini compares other approaches to typology with his compass/MBTI model. He does so in a fair manner, presenting the origins of a particular model and its rationale and then explaining what he feels are the shortcomings underlying its strengths. Models discussed include the Five Factor Model, the Keirsey Bates Model, and the Singer-Loomis Model.

In the next to last section of his book, Giannini writes to bridge two worlds that are seemingly more separate than they should be—those of Jungian analysts and typologists. His concern emanates from a life lived in both worlds and finding few others who seem to do likewise. The bridge he builds is the archetypal compass of typology to speak to Jungians who miss a sense of the archetypal in MBTI work and to elucidate this dimension for MBTI practitioners so they can appreciate more Jung’s reasons for developing his type theory and the archetypal nature of the psyche in general. I was very intrigued and at times moved by his efforts and the thoroughness of his research. As I often lecture on typology and use the MBTI in my clinical work on occasion with couples, I found his work illuminating. Unlike the difficulty already discussed that might happen when using typology with an individual, the use of typology with couples both helps identify natural differences and temper the judging element that can be activated when these differences manifest, either from one partner to another or within each partner.

What to me is the "second book" within Giannini’s opus examines key theoretical work in other fields that are remarkably parallel to Jung’s typological system, especially as seen in its "compass" form. Giannini sorts through challenging theory and research for his reader in order to present this material. The brain investigations of Ned Hermann and the ideas behind his whole brain model are the first of these offerings. Hermann’s work began in the 1970s and culminated in his book, The Creative Brain. Giannini also summarizes the efforts of Katherine Benziger and Ann Sohn who follow up and further elucidate Hermann’s ideas in their book, The Art of Using Your Whole Brain. Particularly interesting is not only that Hermann’s theory correlates with Jung’s typological map, but also that the way he pictures the brain (from the back of the head) matches the archetypal compass that Giannini has been developing throughout the book (ST in the northwest quadrant of the compass/circle, SF in the southwest, NF in the southeast, and NT in the northeast).

Giannini also introduces his reader to the developmental theories of Walter Lowen, who published his major work, Dichotomies of the Mind, in 1982. Once more Giannini shows remarkable parallels in research and theory developed very separately from Jung’s work. Given such correlations, I found myself wondering how many other such gems might be out there—independent efforts that equate with Jung’s observations on typology and their implications for education, research, culture, and human development. An added theoretical component in this chapter is the linking of the Lowen material with Eric Erickson’s adult developmental theories from Childhood and Society, especially his eight crises of human development. As I read, I found myself resonating with developmental research I had encountered years ago, especially as related to the gross motor and fine motor skills that occur prior to full language and intellectual development. I came to appreciate more deeply Erickson’s work and the educational implications of these forms of research. As I read, I regretted that Giannini had decided to put this second book of material in with the first, as I imagined a second volume would have allowed further development and understanding of these theoretical and research connections, rather than offering what proves to be a cursory, though succinct, summary.

When I arrived at the final chapter and the work of William Edward Deming, this feeling resonated even more strongly. Deming worked primarily in the area of organizational development. His signature efforts emerged during World War II on the home front, were then implemented in post-war Japan, and later back in the United States with Ford Motor Company. Giannini once more presents difficult material in a clear concise way using not only Deming as the main source from his books such as The New Economy, but also those like Mary Walter (The Deming Management Method) and Peter Scholtes (The Leader’s Handbook) who developed Deming’s approach. Given the organizational difficulties of various Jungian communities throughout the world, I couldn’t help but wonder if we Jungians often fail at using this kind of material, so significantly parallel to Jung’s, because of our own typology biases, and thus we miss the opportunity to assimilate other viewpoints that, in the long run, could complement the one laid out by Jung. Our organizations may fail to remain whole at times because bearing the interests and vision of those typologically different than ourselves is often difficult. Our minds and bodies just don’t embrace other ways of being very easily. We, and the larger world, need all the help we can get in embracing fundamental human differences.

John Giannini has succeeded in travelling to other lands that offer important complements to the typological work Jung developed early in the twentieth century. These worlds, which at first may seem foreign, can give us the proverbial unseen treasure that deepens and extends our lives and work. Giannini gives us a glimpse into other realms, which those of us overly steeped in the Jungian world may benefit from in myriad ways.

For the many nuances and the archetypal depth Giannini’s book brings, I did feel at times that, by so deeply embracing the theme of the couplings Jung mentions at the end of Psychological Types, Giannini’s compass leaves behind the clear differentiation and importance of the two attitude types, extraversion and introversion, the place where Jung began. Although Giannini, like Jung, includes these as he introduces the type spectrum, they sometimes become short changed in their importance and the sense of difference they generate, which is not clearly articulated by the type compass. In my personal experience, these two attitudes, extraversion and introversion, are still the two greatest polarities in our typology experience with which we have to grapple. As an introvert, extremely extraverted people are a conundrum for me regardless of their function preferences. Thus, from my perspective, by picking up where Jung left off near the end of Psychological Types, with the sense of the coupling of functions, Giannini inadvertently ends up further away from the place Jung began with the two attitude types. Ironically, the first sentence of Psychological Types reads, "In my practical medical work with nervous patients I have long been struck by the fact that besides the many individual differences in human psychology there are also typical differences. Two types especially become clear to me; I have termed them the introverted and the extraverted types" (Jung 1971, 3).

My sense, as I’ve pondered Giannini’s extensive work in this context, is that this "coming full circle" development emerges because of the vast panorama of human experience that the psyche embraces and that, in turn, any form of typological system must try to embrace. We come back to where we began because the whole is so enormous; we can glimpse it at times, but rarely, if ever, fully embrace it. Giannini provides all of us who are interested in broadening our awareness of typology a great service in leading us deeper into Jung’s approach and introducing us to kindred spirits who have tried to express the complicated whole through theories other than Jung’s. Giannini has travelled further than anyone since Jung in this regard, and his journey has been a rich one.


1. Giannini’s notes and bibliography are by far the most complete I have seen. In my own teaching on the subject of typology, I have included two journal articles by William Willeford in the Journal of Analytical Psychology on the feeling function, which Giannini does not list, and also two newspaper articles from a number of years ago on the work of sports psychologist Jonathan P. Niednagel, called "the brain doctor" by the Los Angeles Times sportswriter Chris Dufresne. These are relatively small pieces to add to the corpus of work that Giannini presents.


Benzinger, I. Katherine, and Anne Sohn. 1993. The Art of Using Your Whole Brain. Rockwall, TX: KBA Publishing.

Deming, Willliam E. 1994. The New Economics: For Industry, Government, Education. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Engineering Study.

Erickson, Erik. 1963. Childhood and Society (revised edition). New York: W. W. Norton.

Hermann, Ned. 1994. The Creative Brain. Kingsport, TN: Quebecor Printing Book Company.

Jung, C. G. 1971. Psychological Types. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Lowen, Walter. 1982. Dichotomies of the Mind. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Moore, Robert, and Douglas Gillete. 1990. King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine. San Francisco: Harper Collins.

Osmond, Humphrey. 1977. "Typology Revisited: A New Perspective." Psychological Perspectives 8: 206–219.

Scholtes, Peter R. 1998. The Leader’s Handbook. New York: McGraw Hill.

Walter, Mary. 1986. The Deming Management Method. New York: Peragee Books, Putnam Publishing Group.

Wolff, Toni. 1995. "Structural Forms of the Feminine Psyche." Psychological Perspectives 31: 77–90.

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