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Do Parents Influence Type Development?


Do Parents Influence Type Development?

Mark & Carol The Editors, January 8, 2013

Edvard Munch, The Lonely Ones, 1899Both articles in this issue describe how parental roles can affect type development. Typologically, one indicator of a dysfunctional parental complex can be an under-developed auxiliary function, and this suggests that a positive parental complex could foster the development of the auxiliary function. Each article clearly shows the importance of this function to a healthy psyche.

When we look at an individual’s auxiliary function, can we see a connection with the parents? If the child has introverted intuition (Ni) auxiliary, did he learn to trust his internal images of the future? If extraverted feeling (Fe), was the child encouraged to seek temperamental harmony in her environment? If not, why not?

What parental influences on type development have you witnessed? What do you notice in your own typology or that of others in your home? Do you see your parents’ influence in the development of your own type? What do you think helped you develop your auxiliary function?

Header Image

Edvard Munch, “The Lonely Ones” (1899)


Mark & Carol The Editors

Mark & Carol The Editors

Editors Carol Shumate, Ph.D., ENFP, and Mark Hunziker, INTJ, founded Personality Type in Depth as a forum to bridge psychological type and depth psychology. Both editors are themselves writers and they work together virtually, from North Carolina and Vermont respectively. Shumate's career has been in journalism, publishing, and higher education, while Hunziker's has been primarily in organization development consulting. Shumate's current project is a book on the Trickster archetype in leadership, and Hunziker's is about depth typology, a term he has coined for the interface of the two fields.

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Comments (4)

True type appears to be innate. If this were not so, we’d see much less variation within families than is generally found. “Nurture,” however, can play a powerful role in type development; and the more “be like me” pressure exerted by a culture or family on the individual, the more likely they are to develop the approved function-attitudes and repress those that are not accepted (even if they are one’s natural gifts). Such type distortion is quite common, and often influences how the person responds to a type instrument, resulting in reporting a false type. You may very well be right in suspecting that this is the case with at least some of your children. Many people struggle with this, some for their whole lives, trying to figure out “Who am I really?” The best thing you can do for your kids, going forward, is to support them in their natural process of experimentation and self-exploration. If they feel they’re now free to be who they really are, chances are they’ll sort things out on their own.

I’ve actually been extremely curious about this topic. I MBTI tested about 2 years ago, INFJ-T. My second born son tested approximately 6 months ago, INFJ & my 3rd born daughter tested about 2 months ago, INFJ-T. I have 2 other children, my oldest boy has not tested & my youngest daughter is ENFP. Im not sure what type my exhusband would have been but, he was definitely a narcissist, extremely controlling & emotionally abusive. The abuse & control was focused on me & moreso on the second born son than the other children. I grew up in a very chaotic house with an equally controlling & both emotionally abusive to my mother & us children, however he was also physically abusive to me.
So, I was curious about perssimilar development & a Nurture vs. Nature influence. If growing up in a similar environment, & for my son & I both being singled out as the primary focus for our abusers. Were the circumstances of our upbringing & possibly my typing, then being set as an adult INFJ-T, influences resulting in 2 out of my 4 children also testing as INFJ’S. What are the chances that 50% of a household would result in the rarest personality type?

I think my parents fostered my introverted feeling (Fi) auxiliary function, either deliberately or inadvertently. They grew up in poverty and so encouraged a perspective of never judging people by wealth or external appearance. My Fi value for inclusiveness probably grew out of their experiences of ostracism. Far from being suppressed in my family, my auxiliary function eventually became inflated for me when, in adolescence, I politicized my value system and tried to impose it on everyone else. One could say that my parents fostered in me a value for inclusiveness, and I then took it on myself to parent the rest of the world by spreading this value system.

Not only was this unfair to others, it was completely oxymoronic, since inclusiveness implies acceptance of others with their different value systems. So an inflation in Fi led directly to its opposite. Gradually I had to recognize the logical impossibility of a purist position on the values front; my mental monologue went something like, “We will not tolerate intolerance!” I eventually had to acknowledge defeat of my juvenile mission to inculcate this value system in the world—and to admit that I could not include everyone in my social sphere, nor did I want to.

– Carol, ENFP

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