Below is a compilation of quotes by Roberto Assagioli about typology:
Why we use typology
“… the essential unity of all souls does not exclude differences existing in their personal appearances. Therefore, we must make a serious study of these different qualities. This study should become more and more a part of the new psychology. We should endeavour to understand the true nature, the underlying function and purpose, the specific problems, virtues and vices of each type, as it manifests in and through a human individual.” Assagioli, R. “Loving Understanding.” Psicosintesi. October 1994. Firenze, Italy.
“The practical importance of the science of human types lies in its application to ourselves – the attempt to classify ourselves and others is an interesting and useful exercise that should enable us to refine our psychological perception.” (Psychosynthesis Typology, p.11)
“In order truly to understand, we must be willing to make the necessary preparation and develop in ourselves the specific faculty, namely, empathy. The preparation consists in acquiring an adequate knowledge of psychology, both general and specific; this includes:
- A knowledge of the psychological constitution of the human being;
- A comprehension of the differential psychology of ages, sexes, types, etc.
- An acquaintance with the unique combination of traits in different individuals.” (The Training of the Will)
“In order to have a true and profound self-knowledge, the direct observation just mentioned is very useful, but not sufficient. It has to be supplemented by the use of certain analytic methods which allow the search of the subconscious, and by the comparative study of the different psychological types.” (Practical Contributions to a Modern Yoga, part III, April 1934, The Beacon)
“The practical use of psychosynthesis is a delicate art. It implies:
The psycho-spiritual diagnosis, that is the study of the whole subconscious and (when necessary) superconscious constitution of the patient; the classification of his psycho-physical type (1); the discovery of the psychological causes and mechanism of the illness. …
(1) The description and interpretation of the “psychological types” have not yet reached, in spite of their valuable recent developments, a final and satisfactory stage, owing chiefly to the lack of a synthetic standpoint and of the proper consideration of the spiritual elements. The best which has been published up to now on this subject is found, in my opinion, in C. G. Jung’s book Psychologische Typen and in two chapters (A study of psychological typen and Masculine and feminine psychology) of the book, already mentioned, of Dr. Hinkle, The recreating of the individual.
“But in the case of patients, who generally have a particular sensitiveness and special difficulties to overcome, the use of all those means must be wisely advised and regulated by the doctor, in order to suit the psychological type and the possibilities of each patient, to avoid the danger of excesses and exaltation, to prevent as much as possible the reactions and complications which easily occur in such cases.” (A New Method of Healing, 1927)
Warning about typology
“The tendency—rather, the temptation—to accord an excessive value to typological classifying needs to be resisted; and even more the inclination to attach labels to individuals. Those who are attracted by such “cataloguing” often become harmfully conditioned and limited by it, while others rightly rebel against it. The inadequacies and limitations resulting from rigid and static typological classifying have been plainly indicated and criticized by both Allport and Maslow.” (The Act of Will, 1974, p. 252)
“However useful typology may be for understanding and dealing with different human beings, it fails to give a full view, a comprehensive account of an individual. Every individual constitutes a unique combination of countless and differing factors. If even the combinations between elements as simple as the lines on the skin of the fingers are so different that: fingerprints are sufficient to identify an individual, it is clearly apparent that the combinations of the vast number of biological and psychological characteristics in each single human. being make of each of us a most complex, diverse, and genuinely unique individual.
Even more than this, those countless factors and their combinations are not static and fixed as fingerprints are. They are changing constantly, owing both to the inner development and growth of the individual and to the constant impact and intake of influences from the outside world and from other human beings.
But important as this realization is, it should not lead us to believe that it is hopeless to establish a scientific “psychology of the individual.” Such a psychology is possible, and is beginning to be developed.” (The Act of Will, 1974, p. 258)
“I think that no one method of study can give us an adequate understanding of such a complex unity as a human being, and that only by using all the available channels of approach, only by looking at this multi-faced prism from many angles, only by tracing as far as possible the origin of the elements of which it is composed, and endeavoring to visualize the goal towards which it consciously or unconsciously proceeds, we may hope to really know a human unit, a microcosm. Only thus we will become able to coordinate and harmonize the disconnected and often complicating energy and faculties of our personalities into a harmonious whole, to achieve our psychosynthesis.” (Individual Psychology and Spiritual Development, Oct. 1930, The Beacon)
“But this and other classifications expose those who adopt them to the dangers of schematicism and pigeon-holing, of yielding to the (so comfortable!) tendency to “label” human beings. We must be on our guard against overlooking the multifarious and complex facets of human reality. It is all too easy to regard others as “objects” instead of “subjects”. And this labeling, with its associated attitudes of judging, or more often of depreciation, often provokes hostile reactions, sometimes of an intense kind, which are thoroughly justified.
All this shows the great complexity of the human psyche and the impossibility of framing or pigeon-holing it in some designation or description arrived at from a single viewpoint. Only the sum of the various points of view, of the different approaches or “frames of reference”, can give a less imperfect conception of the psyche of that strange creature, a member of the fourth kingdom of nature—the human being.” (C. G. Jung and Psychosynthesis)