We must accept the types we belong to and learn to express and develop them to their fullest potential. Assagioli hints at the higher and lower expression of each of the four types.
By Roberto Assagioli. Original title: The Four Basic Types, 1932. It was translated from Italian by Gordon Symons. Original Italian title: I Quattro Tipi Fondamentali. [Editors note (KS). This is unfinished notes from an early manuscript; Assagioli later developed his sevenfold typology called The Seven Types and presented them in his book Psychosynthesis Typology]
The study of psychological types, as well as serving to help us to know ourselves and others better, and therefore help us better understand, appreciate, and when necessary, tolerate and endure those who belong to types other than ours, constitutes a necessary basis for knowledge for acting on ourselves, to improve and master ourselves.
Just as general psychology has its highest human value as the basis of psychagogy and psychic culture, pedagogy and psychotherapy, individual psychology is precious because it allows us to refine, specify and apply to the various types and specific needs of each individual, those three major branches of practical psychology. So, after recognizing which type or psychological subtype we belong to, we are able to act on ourselves in a more enlightened, appropriate and effective way … Regarding our psychological type, we have two major tasks, or rather, groups of tasks:
1) Manifestation or expression.
2) Correction and balance or reconciliation.
- – EXPRESSION
Our first vital task is to manifest, to express our inner nature in the fullest, most fruitful, highest and purest way possible. This premise is not superfluous. Alongside many who are too accepting of this, who are so to speak totally immersed in it, and who do not understand the others, there are on the other hand those who devalue it excessively, who are intolerant of its limitations, and would like to escape from it, giving themselves to activities for which they lack the necessary innate qualities.
Our first and vital task is to manifest, to express our inner nature in the fullest, most fruitful, highest and purest way possible.
To manifest our psychological type in a full and fruitful way, we must begin by accepting it.
This brings us to the two other characteristics mentioned that the expression of our type must have: that is, that it must be the highest and the purest.
In fact, every nature and every psychological type has lower manifestations and higher manifestations. And this in two ways that must be kept distinct.
A manifestation can be inferior when it is more elementary, coarser and more common than the others – or instead, it can be so because it is inspired by impure motives, that is, low and separative, and therefore harmful to others.
Take for example the sensory and practical type. To it belong as much a stone-breaker worker as a skilled sculptor.
It is clear that splitting stones with a hammer is an activity which is inferior in itself to sculpting a statue, as it is coarser and does not require the skill that those who have to produce a well-made statue out of the stone must have.
However, if we study the entire personality of the two types, if we investigate their soul, and the reasons that drive them to act, our judgment may be different, indeed opposite. A stone-breaker who, sitting at the roadside does his simple work serenely, patiently enduring the sun and the wind to support his family, is morally and spiritually superior to a sculptor who, driven by his thirst for gain and fame, abandons his artistic ideals, his original inspiration and makes, using his technical ability, commercial art to satisfy the current public taste. The former, in his humility, works in a pure way and can lighten his effort with singing. The second acts improperly and will be able to draw selfish advantages from his skillful work, but he will degrade his soul, and instead of happiness there will be a dark discomfort in him, a silent protest from his best self.
This double evaluation of each psychological type and its way of expressing itself, while corresponding to a real diversity existing between the evaluation criteria, is very comforting and encouraging for those who do not possess what they usually call “brilliant talents”, skills and special talents of a practical, artistic and intellectual nature, and therefore tend to underestimate themselves, to feel a sense of inferiority, and also of envy in the face of those who, thanks to those gifts, acquire fame, praise and earnings. The former may have a higher and more real superiority over the latter: that based on deep motives for action and inner attitude. Household chores, manual or practical work of all kinds, can be transfigured and spiritualized by those who do it with purity of purpose and a sense of duty, with a spirit of acceptance, of conscious sacrifice, with a free and independent soul.
It is not so much what you do, but how you do it, that matters spiritually.
This corresponds in Christianity to the words of Saint Paul: “do everything for the glory of God”.
Detachment from the fruit of actions – Wu-Wei – Selfless action
* * *
For the emotional type, the lower aspects are: unconfirmed passion, selfish, oppressive and possessive affections, sentimentality, fear, and weak self-pity – which in itself is very harmful, as it constitutes for many an excuse and a pretext for not understanding and sympathizing with the sufferings of others.
The highest manifestations of this human type are the fruit of superior, generous and pure feelings, which are expressed in works of beauty and noble acts.
For the mental type the lower manifestations consist: in sterile and destructive criticism, in arid analysis, in mental formalism, in intellectual pride that gives a false sense of superiority over others and the foolish presumption of knowing everything, of having solved all problems.
This vain pride, for example, characterized many scientists of the materialistic and positivistic era between 1875 and 1900.
An illustrious chemist, Berthelot, said for example: “There are no more mysteries.” While a naturalist deluded himself to explain in a booklet of about one hundred pages “The enigmas of the Universe” …!
The higher mental type on the other hand creates the highest products of science and philosophy, possesses spiritual discernment, true science, a synthetic vision of the world and a profound understanding of life.
In the intuitive, mystical unitive type, the lower sides consist: in the excessive loss of one’s personality and individuality, in the identification with others to the point of madness, dispersion, passivity, weakness, excessive abstraction, absence of discrimination, universality misapplied, brotherhood misunderstood , “Non-resistance to evil” is misinterpreted …
How to develop and implement aspects of your type:
1) Develop and hone your skills – don’t malinger – try to progress. The stonebreaker can become an apprentice in a marble workshop, then a skilled worker and – if he has the disposition – he can get to do works with artistic value. Don’t deceive yourself, but don’t doubt your own abilities.
2) Transforming and sublimating one’s energies, putting them at the service of a high ideal, elevating and purifying your motives. This we can all do, we can all follow Emerson’s high warning:
“Attach your cart to a star.”
This is not an artificial and forced method. In fact, transformations and sublimations occur continuously in life, and are part of its natural evolutionary process.
Examples: – Fraternal love between man and woman, at first instinctive and passionate, which then gradually develops and elevates itself, transforming itself into affection, completion and mutual help, in intellectual and spiritual communion, in beneficial cooperation.
Thus the combative energies can be transformed and mobilized in the fight against natural obstacles, in crusades against social injustices and moral shame. Likewise, curiosity is transformed and elevated into a desire for scientific knowledge, into the passionate search for truth.
It follows from this that one can be perfect and spiritual in every plane. Each type has its dignity and value.
A theory of perfection, of the ideal, of each stage and state:
But it must be said that, in another sense, the fruit represents a further stage of the flower, and the adult of the child. The perfection to be achieved is therefore a double one: perfection of self-study and perfection of the various evolutionary stages.
- – CORRECTION AND BALANCE
Unilateral developmental damage. The damage that may be caused by the limitation to a restricted sphere must be taken into account.
We live in a fraction of the world …
Damage to health too …
Damage to the manifestation of one’s predominant attitudes.
Intelligence and fervor are needed to perform practical tasks; intuition also helps a lot. Severe damage of unintelligent love … An exclusively mental development leads to dryness, weakness, … We must correct, merge, compensate our type, recognizing the usefulness, necessity and beauty of others too. Life often forces us to develop the functions lacking in us in the most varied fields and often in those that are most contrary to the inclinations inherent in our type.
Artists and intellectuals forced to carry out practical activities … Do not rebel as painful and arduous as it may be, and your nature makes you withdraw …; but accept the need that arises and try to learn the hard lesson with a serene spirit. It’s gymnastics. It is modern asceticism, which today is not done in hermitages, but in trams, offices, factories, …
CORRECTIONS AND VOLUNTARY DEVELOPMENTS
Communing with people of a different type than ours – mutual enrichment …
Interests and secondary occupations (sport, art, music, reading).
Don’t be afraid of dispersion and amateurism. This would happen if we wanted to produce in all fields.
Be creative in one but live in all.
Make wise use of the harmonious approach of stimulating contrasts.
Just as the musician with the combination of rhythms, tones and times obtains harmony, and the painter with the contrast of lights, shadows and colors composes the artistic picture, so we can do the same wisely with the use of various elements in the greatest of the arts, that is, the art of life. To make of our soul a harmonious, rich and complete artefact: a creation of Beauty.