Table of content
- 1 Contents
- 2 Appendices:
- 3 Introduction to the Seven Types
- 3.1 The value of typology
- 3.2 The seven psychological functions and the seven types
- 3.3 Everything is made of energy!
- 3.4 Understanding your energies in daily life
- 3.5 One type or a combination of types?
- 3.6 Developmental stages, including the transpersonal
- 3.7 The structure of this book
- 3.8 The genesis of this book
Introducing the Seven Types: Identifying your five dominant types
- Chapter 1: A world of energy – The five psychological levels
- Chapter 2: Your inner colours – The seven energies
- Chapter 3: Tools for self-awareness and self-expression – The seven psychological functions
- Chapter 4: Realise your ambition – The seven personality types
- Chapter 5: The seven ways and seven soul types
- Chapter 6: The Seven Types and notable role models
- Chapter 7: Find your drive – The seven motivators
- Chapter 8: Your integrated identity – The 49 core identities
- Chapter 9: Your mentality – The seven thinking types
- Chapter 10: Your temperament – The seven feeling types
- Chapter 11: Your physicality – The seven body types
Working with the Seven Types: A guide for counsellors, coaches and mentors
- Chapter 12: Case studies – Practical integration of the different types
- Chapter 13: How to work with the Seven Types
- Chapter 14: The seven counselling strategies and styles
- Chapter 15: A psychoenergetic autobiography – My life with the Seven Types
- Appendix 1: Old wisdom, new insights
- Appendix 2: How the types interact with each other
- Appendix 3: Assagioli’s egg-diagram and the seven energies
- Appendix 4: Assagioli and typology: Research notes
- Appendix 5: An overview of the Seven Types
- Appendix 6: Essentialism and the Seven Types
Introduction to the Seven Types
Since the English translation of Roberto Assagioli’s Psychosynthesis Typology in 19831 , there have been only two significant publications from within the psychosynthesis community that have dealt seriously with the theory of the Seven Types. One is Piero Ferrucci’s monumental work Inevitable Grace (1990), which explores seven ways to self-realisation by looking at the spiritual breakthroughs of famous men and women through the lens of the Seven Types and psychosynthesis typology. The other publication is the late John Cullen’s monograph The Manager of the Future (1988) which looks at how the Seven Types can be used for leadership training.
I hope my book will add to this legacy by offering a structured overview of the core principles of psychosynthesis typology and how it can benefit us and our clients. I will take as my starting point Assagioli’s2 writings in this area, but I will also draw upon the work of other pioneers of psychology and the perennial philosophy. My goal is to unpack the potential of this little-known area of psychosynthesis theory and to suggest how it might be implemented in counselling and coaching.
The value of typology
On first inspection, there appears to be little about typology in Assagioli’s published works – for example, the only distinct references to typology in his two key books are a short appendix in The Act of Will and a few scattered mentions in Psychosynthesis. However, once Assagioli’s support for typology is rightly acknowledged, it can be seen that typological theory was embedded in his thinking from the start of his career: it’s a case of knowing what to look for because his terminology is not fully evolved (a matter this book hopes to resolve). I have described my research into this matter in-depth elsewhere3, but let me summarise some of my findings here.
In this first quote, Assagioli (1934) explains why differential psychology (as he referred to the study of human types) plays such a crucial role in understanding our psychological life.
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.
To “understand the true nature, the underlying function and purpose, the specific problems, virtues and vices of each type” is precisely the objective of this book. The inference here is that one of the aims of psychosynthesis is to seek to appreciate the uniqueness of each individual, which according to Assagioli (1965: 7) includes “the unique existential situation of each patient, of the problems which it presents and of the ways for their solution”. In my experience as a psychosynthesis practitioner, it is our lack of understanding of the essential qualities of our clients that can prevent us from seeing the uniqueness in their intrinsic nature and problems. This psychological colour blindness, caused by an absence of typological theory, can lead to empathic failures in the therapeutic relationship. The corollary, according to Assagioli (Undated 12), is that we can improve the quality of our empathy by developing our understanding of typology, as he explains:
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.
According to Assagioli (1983: 11), developing an understanding of typology will “refine our psychological perception” and develop our empathy and loving understanding.
But increasing our capacity for empathy is not the only reason Assagioli gives for studying and applying typology. In my research, I identify 24 areas where Assagioli commends the use of typological theory, the most important of which are:
- For developing a profound self-knowledge.
- For knowing how best to apply the techniques of personal and transpersonal psychosynthesis, which will vary according to a person’s types.
- For discerning a person’s particular sensitivities and mentality.
- For understanding how people react to crises.
- For understanding a person’s particular virtues and vices.
- For understanding how couples relate, particularly with regard to their fears and longings.
- For knowing how to help children evolve naturally according to their intrinsic qualities and motivations.
- For helping to resolve conflicts in groups with different typological features.
These reasons are a motivation for us all to study typology, especially if we are working in a professional therapeutic capacity. That said, while emphasising the importance of typology, Assagioli himself did not always elaborate on how to apply the theory, hence this present attempt to refine the theory.
I have wondered why the psychosynthesis community has shown little enthusiasm for adopting the area of typology. One reason might be an unconscious aversion to addressing the differences between us; the different types occupy different psychological landscapes, which seem incompatible. For example, dynamic types might consider sensitive types to be weak and passive, while creative types might experience practical types as rigid and unimaginative. These deep-rooted biases can be the cause of splits and conflicts in our relationships, something we might be keen to avoid. Furthermore, as we shall see, there is also the possibility of internal splitting and repression within an individual because we are in fact each a combination of several types – this will be explored more fully later.
At this point, let me offer a word of caution against applying typology too rigidly. It is a theory with many uses, but the psyche is so complex that no theory can ever fully explain a person. Assagioli (1974: 258) gave this warning:
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… But important as this realisation 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.
Assagioli (1974: 252) also gave this advice:
“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 danger of excessive labelling is reduced with the Seven Types, because we believe we always have access to all seven energies and have five dominant types on five levels as you will see later.
The seven psychological functions and the seven types
Assagioli’s concept of the Seven Types developed throughout his life. He started by acknowledging C. G. Jung’s four psychological types, with their introvert and extrovert dynamics, then expanded on this view, explaining (Assagioli, 1966):
Now, I may say something else about the psychological functions. As you know, Jung speaks of four functions: sensation, feeling, thought and intuition. I accepted this classification in the past, but I realised more and more that it is incomplete. Imagination, in my opinion, is an independent psychological function. It is often associated with feeling, but it has a distinctive quality of its own. Also, desire-drive and will are specific psychological functions.
In the first quote, Assagioli is describing how there are seven types based on seven “underlying functions”, i.e. seven psychological functions that everyone has at their disposal. The important point is that each psychological function facilitates a different way of seeing the world and a specific type of behaviour. According to Assagioli (1934), each of the underlying functions is wired to a specific “purpose”, and has “specific problems, virtues and vices… as it manifests in and through a human individual”. (The psychological functions will be examined in detail in chapter three.) Hence, we can say that typological differences are caused by the development and interplay of the seven psychological functions in an individual. To summarise, we each have access to all of the seven psychological functions, and their respective energies and qualities, but we have not developed them all equally, due to internal and external circumstances.
Having made these observations, Assagioli (1983: 49) attempted a “qualitative classification” of the seven types in his typological system, but observed (1931b) “for this deeper and more specific study, modern psychology offers little help; its trend has been chiefly descriptive and analytical; it has not dealt with essential qualities”. These essential qualities – which is Assagioli’s term for the seven types and their underlying functions – show “specific psychological differences, those which are of a qualitative nature and which give the fundamental note, the peculiar essence, to each personality and individuality” (Assagioli: 1931b). (In this context, Assagioli is using the term individuality to refer to an individual’s soul or Higher Self.)
From the qualitative perspective we can see that each of the seven types is embedded in and expresses different psychological qualities and energies in their overall behaviour. Accordingly, the study of these qualitative energies reveals that the model of the Seven Types is actually an energy typology, and that each of the types could rightly be called an energy type. Assagioli’s writing reveals he was deeply interested in the study of energy. In his Psychosynthesis Manual, Assagioli (1965: 194) writes:
What we hope to see developed over a period of years – and certainly do not claim has yet been achieved – is a science of the Self, of its energies, its manifestations, of how these energies can be released, how they can be contacted, how they can be utilised for constructive and therapeutic work.
Assagioli later gave the study of energies the name psychoenergetics and, in my article Psychosynthesis and Psychoenergetics (Sørensen, 2018), I present an overview of Assagioli’s thoughts on this subject, which he termed the “fifth force of psychology”.
Everything is made of energy!
Everything is made of energy. This concept is the fundamental starting point in psychoenergetics. Various iterations of this concept can be found in quantum physics, psychology and spiritual teachings, but we need only look at our everyday language to note that people seem to have a natural and intuitive grasp of this idea. For example, we might say a place has good or bad “vibes” – the phrase might lack a precise definition, but most of us can relate to the idea: we might go to a party and say it has a “great atmosphere”, by which we mean there is a good energy, with joy, spontaneity, openness, etc. Similarly, when we describe someone we meet as radiant, charismatic or unfriendly we are talking about the psychological energies they are radiating. We also attach special qualities to our physical surroundings: a home or a workplace can have a positive or negative feel about it, for example. When we speak like this we are describing qualities that we sense in the world around us, in other words, energy. But while we have a natural sense of this energy, we can struggle to describe it – it could be said that we are energy illiterate in that we lack a specific language for describing the psychology of energy. Happily, psychoenergetics offers a key to understanding the energies that are in us and around us.
The following selection of quotes4 from Assagioli show how he understood our world in terms of energy:
Energies radiate outwards from the personality as if from a great source of light; luminous rays shine out and pervade the atmosphere. This irradiation occurs spontaneously – I would almost say inevitably – and this explains the effect the mere presence of a person who has had transpersonal experiences has on those with whom he or she comes into contact. (2007: 47-48)
Each of us necessarily and inevitably radiates what he is. (1968)
[Radiation] expresses what we really are, which, in both a higher and a lower sense, is much more than we are aware of. Emerson wrote in his essay on Social Aims: “Don’t say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary. One may disguise the tone of the voice, but the radiation of the heart cannot be falsified. (1968)
Psychoenergetics proposes that there are seven universal energies. These energies constitute the building blocks of the cosmos. They reside in nature and in humanity; within people they manifest as different psychological qualities. Through gaining knowledge of these energies, we can begin to promote their development and their influence in our lives and in the world. Psychoenergetics looks at how energy is expressed throughout the cosmos, nature and humanity as a whole, while the Seven Types is a topological system that describes how the seven universal energies are expressed at the level of human psychology, specifically through the dynamic, sensitive, mental, creative, analytical, dedicated and practical energies.
Not surprisingly, from a psychosynthesis perspective, there are links between energy and the Higher Self and self-realisation. In the foreword to Assagioli’s Psychosynthesis Typology (1983), the editor Joan Evans explains:
The Higher Self is a coherent point of focus which qualifies and differentiates universal energies as they individualise; the personality is the field through which these universal energies are objectified… The value in understanding the types is to see that they are qualifying energies rather than definitive in objective terms.
Each has a distinctive note or colour which shapes it from within; they are principles of limitation as well as expansion endowing the individual with opportunities along the path of Self Realisation.
Understanding your energies in daily life
Gaining insight into how the universal energies manifest in our lives can lead to healthier relationships. For example, we might find a particular person’s behaviour difficult to understand. But very often we are assessing this person from the limited perspective of our own experiences and preferences. By contrast, the Seven Types offers a model for understanding the complexity of a whole range of psychological attitudes and behaviours. For example, imagine someone who is talkative: a sensitive type might experience this person as domineering and threatening, while a practical type might regard him as energetic and engaging. This sort of situation arises because we tend to interpret each other’s behaviour and motivation through the lenses of our own values and typological make-up.
Clearly, understanding typology can help us to avoid difficulties and conflicts in relationships. As we learn to read the psychological energies, in ourselves and in our surroundings, we can develop a greater sense of empathy. So, in our example above, the sensitive type might realise that the talkative person is simply expressing his natural dynamic energy and not meaning to dominate; at the same time, an understanding of the Seven Types could give the talkative person the tools and insight to learn to express their energy in ways that are more attuned to different audiences, such as the sensitive type.
To begin to understand how the energies are at play in the world, we can start by looking at ourselves. Each of us has a unique energy DNA, which means we will each be more familiar with certain energies than with others. Using the theory of the Seven Types, we can begin to see how our different qualities are the expressions of the seven types of energy, each of which is related to one of the underlying psychological functions. Some people feel at ease with reason and science, while others are more comfortable with relationships and community. Everyone is different: we see and experience the world through different intelligences (i.e. psychological functions). When we identify our own unique way of seeing the world, we can start to celebrate and develop the qualities and abilities that make us who we truly are5, we can also start to develop different types of energy.
As you will see in chapter one, we each have five dominant types in our overall typological make-up. In Psychosynthesis Typology, Assagioli vividly describes how the seven types are expressed in an individual at five different levels, namely the levels of body, feeling, thought, personality and soul. Accordingly, this book will help you to identify your unique energy DNA. We each have a dominant type – one of the seven – expressed at each of the five levels; these dominant types can be seen in our body language, predominant moods, thinking style, personality and our soul purpose. Discovering your unique combination of types can have the effect of bringing you home to yourself, leading to a deeper sense of self-acceptance and insight which can make life more exciting and meaningful.
One type or a combination of types?
What sets the Seven Types apart from most other typological models is the insight that people are best described, not as a single type, but as a combination of five dominant types – more specifically, we each have a dominant type (one of the seven) at each of the levels of body, feeling, thought, personality and soul.
That said, in this book, we will sometimes refer to people as if they were a single type. The reason for this is that while we are each a combination of dominant types at the five levels, one of these levels will tend to overshadow the others – either in a particular moment or context or generally as part of the role we are playing. Indeed, a complex interaction is constantly taking place between the dominant types – indeed, all seven types – both within and across the five levels of the psyche, as will be described in this book.
To offer an example, in a particular individual, the dynamic type/ energy might dominate at the level of body, the sensitive energy at the level of feeling, practical energy at the level of thought, dynamic energy at the level of personality, and creative energy at the level of soul. In everyday life, according to the context, a different one of these energies might tend to dominate, perhaps the sensitive energy (at the level of feeling) will dominate while the person is playing the role of parent, while the dynamic type (at the level of personality) will dominate while they are fulfilling the role of manager at work.
In the language of the Seven Types, we refer to a person’s dominant energy at each of the five levels as their body type, feeling type, thinking type, personality type and soul type (hence, we can say that a person is comprised of five dominant types). If the sensitive energy is dominant at the level of feeling, we would refer to this person as being a sensitive feeling type. Everyone has a dominant body type, feeling type, thinking type, personality type and soul type. At any one time, one of this set of five dominant types will tend to dominate – which explains why a person who is actually a combination of types can nevertheless appear to be a single type.
As with any new language, it will take time and practice to become familiar with the words and terminology. The Seven Types is not a simplistic model, hence the language is subtle and at times complex – but we trust you will be a fluent speaker by the end of the book!
Developmental stages, including the transpersonal
The Seven Types takes into account a process of development. We are not born with a fixed personality that remains static throughout life, rather we a born into a natural and fluid process whereby our dominant types emerge and manifest at the different psychological levels at different stages of development. While all five levels are present from birth, it takes time for the energies to manifest at each subsequent level.
The first level at which our psyche starts to express itself is the level of body. We are born as a physical being, with a physical presence, and largely interact with and make sense of our environment through our physicality: it is at this stage that our dominant body type (our dominant energy at the level of body) begins to manifest. Later in life, when a few years old, the level of feeling becomes more active and a dominant energy begins to manifest at this level – this is our dominant feeling type. Next comes the dominant thinking type at the level of thought.
Many people remain at this stage – juggling, as it were, between the levels of body, feeling and thought. But it is possible for these three levels to integrate – and this activates the level of personality (each subsequent level incorporates all preceding levels). This process is what has been called personal psychosynthesis or self-actualisation. But there is a further stage, which involves the emergence of our dominant soul energy, or soul type. When our soul type emerges, we face the task of integrating our soul type and personality type, which is known as transpersonal psychosynthesis.
This last point is an important one. The Seven Types offers more than a description of how we are in the world today – working with this model will challenge us to become all we can be, which involves the possibility of discovering who we are from the transpersonal perspective of the soul and the Higher Self. Many people live their lives without venturing into the realm of the soul, which contains our highest motivations and life purpose, but those who work with the Seven Types will find themselves drawn inexorably towards the transpersonal realm and towards deeper meaning.
As can be seen, the Seven Types is a complex model. Ultimately, regardless of our beliefs about the transpersonal, the Seven Types is a system that encourages us to seek greater fulfilment in life, whether our own fulfilment as part of a personal development programme or the fulfilment of our clients if we are working as counsellors. Whichever stage of development or level of the psyche we are exploring, there is always a call towards growth, with tools at our disposal to help make growth a reality.
The structure of this book
The aim of this book is to introduce the reader to the Seven Types. Part one has a focus on the theory of the Seven Types and explains how we can identify and make use of them in our own lives. Part two explores how the theory can be applied in the context of counselling work, including psychotherapy, coaching and mentoring.
In the first four chapters, I review the key elements and building blocks that make up the model of psychosynthesis typology, namely the seven cosmic energies, the seven types (which are the energies objectified in action and expressed in psychological terms), the seven psychological functions, and the five psychological levels.
The next seven chapters describe how the different energies and types combine and the important nuances that arise from this.
The final four chapters look at how counsellors can make use of the Seven Types model in their work, with plenty of practical ideas and case studies, including my own story (chapter 15) in which I describe my personal journey with the Seven Types and describe my own combination of types. Some readers may find it helpful to read this personal account before proceeding with the more academic material.
The Seven Types is a huge topic which cannot be covered adequately in a single book. Accordingly, I’ve chosen to focus here on the personality model of the Seven Types, which is the foundation stone of typological theory, the best known aspect of psychosynthesis typology and something of immediate practical use for psychosynthesis practitioners. I have omitted much of the developmental psychology behind the theory, such as how the types can evolve from immature to mature types: this will be the focus of a different book.
The genesis of this book
I first had the idea to write this book in 2007. My good friend and colleague Søren Hauge and I were teaching psychoenergetics at a conference in the United States and, on our way back to Denmark, we decided we would like to offer this teaching to a wider audience. We had been studying and teaching the subject for years, via the esoteric formula of the Seven Rays, and we realised a new language and presentation of this knowledge would be needed if we were to reach more people, and this book is my contribution.
For the content of this book, I have drawn from many training courses, led with Søren, and from my own daily meditation practice, which dates back to 1988. Meditation offers direct access and insight into the world of energy. I have discovered we can change our personality from the inside out by using meditations that have been specifically designed to focus on the seven energies, and I describe this process in my book Integral Meditation (2017).
I have a Master’s degree in Psychosynthesis. My work as a psycho- synthesis practitioner spans several thousand hours as a therapist and trainer. I have seen many lives transformed through their engagement with psychosynthesis and the Seven Types, and these encounters have also contributed to this book; I write about these experiences in detail in my book The Soul of Psychosynthesis (2016).
Most recently, I have been developing www.JivaYou.com, which is an online identity profile assessment tool based on the insights of the Seven Types, developed with my colleague Søren. Jiva means “unique identity” in Sanskrit, hence “JivaYou” means “your unique identity”. JivaYou offers a wide range of psychological profiling tools, information about coaching courses and lectures, and much more.
In all of our work, we are indebted to the great pioneers of the psychologies of energy, especially Roberto Assagioli, Alice Bailey, Sri Aurobindo, Ken Wilber and Michael Robbins. You can read more about these pioneers in chapter one.
I would like to thank Søren Hauge for being a friend and inspiration throughout the many years we have worked together; Søren contributed chapter six in this book. I would also like to thank my many students and clients over the years who have helped me to inform this presentation of the Seven Types. Special thanks go to Jesper Bundgaard, my partner at JivaYou.com, who since 2012 has contributed to its development. And I would like to thank those who gave feedback on the first drafts of this book, especially Hanne Lund Birkholm and Lis Andersen. My translator Anja Bjørlo and editor Mike Brooks also deserve warm gratitude for their help and support with this book.
May you all have an exciting and educational journey into the world of types and energies.
Kenneth Sørensen, Gålå, Norway, 2019