In the previous two newsletters on "falsification of type," we noted some possible conscious and unconscious causes. We briefly discussed some consequences of living a falsified type. In this newsletter, we consider the costs and even benefits of living apart from one's gifts.
Marie Louise von Franz, one of Jung's closest collaborators, wrote: "Distorted [falsified] types have advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage is that from the very beginning they cannot develop their main disposition; they therefore remain a bit below the mark they would have reached had they developed in the one-sided way. On the other hand, they have been forced ahead of time into doing something which in the second half of life they would have had to do anyway . . . " (von Franz, 1971, p. 4).
So people become more versatile earlier in life. To be ambidextrous can have advantages over being only left or right handed. She finished her statement by saying that when ". . . people switch back to the original type . . . they are like fish which can now return happily to the water" (ibid).
But it is important to distinguish between the behavioral and the psychological aspects of type falsification. From the deeper perspective of depth psychology, type falsification can be quite detrimental. In his book on types, published in 1921, Jung wrote, "I do not think it improbable, in view of one's experience, that a reversal of type often proves exceedingly harmful to the physiological well-being of the organism, usually causing acute exhaustion" (CW6, par. 561).
Nearly one hundred years later, research in psycho-biology and neurology support Jung's proposition that type falsification will have harmful somatic consequences (e.g. Richard Haier, Katherine Benziger, Arlene Taylor). According to these researchers, to steadily live a false type leads to distress, and in more severe cases, to what Taylor called a "Prolonged Adaptation Stress Syndrome" (PASS) with its consequent fatigue, hyper-vigilance, and other related symptoms.
If what one has to do--professionally, personally, socially--is a "violation of the natural disposition," as Jung termed it, we can begin to understand how an individual may have to exert enormous energy to sustain a false type. Type falsification may have some behavioral advantages, but the psychological consequences of dissatisfaction, distress, and exhaustion often outweigh them.
Vocation--a sense of calling--usually springs from natural type dispositions. To be conscious of those dispositions and the gifts that accompany them, to let them orient one's life early rather than late, can be a significant step towards a passionate life where inevitable challenges and efforts invigorate, rather than deplete, the individual.