Entries Tagged as "Archetypes"

MBTI Type and Life Stories (Archetypes)

We certainly know that type doesn’t explain everything. Still, though, even though I should know better, I find myself surprised at the differences within type.

Let me tell you what started me on this. I have a lifelong friend who is an ISTJ.  He’s a psychologist – and a therapist. A very good therapist. I emphasize very good because sometimes people misinterpret career data and say silly things like “ISTJ hmm? He’d be a better accountant.”  It’s silly, unethical and just inaccurate to the research to say something like that.  Which doesn’t stop people from saying it.

The “truth” here is that in general ISTJs are indeed more tough minded than, say, INFPs – who by the way are well represented among therapists.  And in a group of therapists, there will be more INFPs than ISTJs. Just as in any sample of accountants, there will be more ISTJs than INFPs.

Here’s the deal. All ISTJs aren’t the same.  No surprise there.  From a type perspective, some have more development of Feeling than others – and from early on. They also have different life histories, families, values, interests, training, experiences, etc.  People don’t choose careers simply because of their type preferences – or even primarily because of their type preferences.

People also have different life stories – different narratives about who they are, what they’re about, and where they’re going. Jung talked about some of these kinds of stories – or themes – and referred to them as archetypes.

Warrior for example is a universal archetype. Healer is another. Leader is one more. Sage is yet another. There are many, many stories – many narratives, many archetypes.

My ISTJ psychologist friend – for example – has a life story that is very much about being a healer. This – at least – is one of the reasons he’s a therapist. It’s one of the reasons he feels warm and caring. It’s also true that other archetypes/stories do take precedence at different times with him (warrior for example when he’s practicing his martial art). But in general he is quite different from the ISTJs I know who identify with a warrior narrative – who have also chosen a career that’s consistent with that narrative, like the military or law enforcement.

And so an ISTJ with a healer or caregiver story looks, feels and behaves quite differently from an ISTJ who is living more a warrior narrative, or a ruler narrative. In the reverse, we might also say that the warrior narrative looks different and is lived differently depending on whether the person is an INFP or an ISTJ.

My ISTJ friend finds it reassuring that it is “ok” for him to be a therapist.

But he knew all along that’s what he was going to be.  ;)


• Learn more about which archetypes are active in your life, and what story you are living.  


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