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So Texas Walks Into a Bar …


So Texas Walks Into a Bar …

Texas Loud and Proud

Elizabeth Martin, April 5, 2017

Feininger, White ManOne steamy evening in July 2011, a crowd of people packed inside a room meant for six in Huntsville, Texas. A somber scene was unfolding. A man condemned to death was asked to speak his final words. The room stilled, and a microphone lowered. It was then that the condemned, Mark Stroman, told the State of Texas that he loved it, just before it killed him, accentuating the point with “Texas loud, Texas proud” (“Executed Offenders,” n.d.). Interestingly, Stroman was not the only death row inmate enthralled with Texas. Other bipolar juxtapositions have occurred in the past, such as when, in 1997, Earl Behringer thanked “the Dallas Cowboys for giving me a lot of enjoyment these past years,” James Collier in 2002 thanked Texas for “its hospitality,” and Robert Harris exclaimed, “God Bless Texas and the Texas Rangers” in 2012 (“Executed Offenders,” n.d.). And condemned men are not the only ones under the Texas spell. In 1962, author John Steinbeck wrote:

I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox. (p. 4)

And arguably, this “mystery or paradox” is more than skin deep. In some instances, it seems baked into representative personalities:

Molly Ivins [the late Texas journalist and humorist is] a walking contradiction, a paradox in search of a dilemma. To know her for more than a few minutes is to discover all sorts of schismatic glitches in the plaster of her facade. There’s the anger and the humor, the pathos and the bathos. There’s the love of the outrageous and the genuine desire to be liked. There’s the cocky self-confidence and the timid insecurity. There is, in fact, a rather long catalog of opposites. But the one most immediately evident is the dichotomy of feelings about Texas. (Holden, 1985)

I am certainly no exception. There are days when I stand in awe of the fortitude, strength, and resilience that I personally identify as “Texan” and others when I am quick to disclaim, “Well, I’m from Texas, but don’t hold it against me,” as if I have to apologize for every simplified, paranoid, secessionist idea that ever came out of the state. On some level, therefore, either personally or culturally, it seems an encounter with Texas also suggests the need for bipolar embrace: pride and embarrassment, invincibility and paranoia, un-empowered victim of the federal Death Star and patriot, community-minded and individualist. Which potentially begs another question: “Embrace” of what, or, more particularly, whom? In other words, if Texas were to walk into a bar, who would he/she be? Arguably, C. G. Jung’s work on psychological types offers some clues.

Through this influential work, Jung conceptualized how consciousness may express differently given a person’s habitual or preferential orientations to the world (Jung 1921/1970, ¶6). His theory of “psychological types” fit within his overall theory of the psyche, where every surface or conscious expression had a subterranean opposite that could either help or hinder one’s development. Namely, personality processes or functions, like all psychic content, would “likely press for integration into the psyche, where they can become, for the first time, consciousness” (Beebe, 2017, p. 3). And to the extent they unconsciously express in contradictory ways, they potentially offer insight into the paradoxical expression that seems both human and Texan.

Dancing With the One That Brung Ya

In the tradition of the ancient Greeks, paradox is understood as a powerful movement in philosophical debate (“Paradox,” n.d.). A valid and true argument is presented, but in a way that appears contradictory. The attempt to untangle what we thought we heard shifts us out of our usual, automatic ways of thinking. More than philosophical debate, therefore, the grooves and moves of paradoxical expression are also psychological; they pivot our understanding of one impression to potentially more, e.g. “failing in order to succeed,” “learning all we don’t know,” or “suffering in love,” (Jung 1921/1970, ¶75). In fact, it is in the human realm where paradox often finds its richest expressions. And Jung’s psychological typology seems the ideal means to explore the nuances such paradoxes create.

The paradox of living in full expression seems adequately captured by Jung’s psychological types. Accordingly, we might consider approaching typology as we would a debate in ancient Greece, taking pause at our first impression (what we think we hear) to then untangle or differentiate what may also be hidden underneath (“Paradox,” n.d.). Only when we prompt ourselves outside the usual ways of thinking can surface stereotypes be avoided in favor of a more authentic and complex whole. And this arguably applies to cultures as well, should Jung’s theory in this area be extrapolated more broadly. A self-organizing system is the only pre-condition, argues Beebe, as “it makes little sense to type someone or something that does not yet have a connection to his own selfhood” (2017, p. 101). When such a level set exists, however, then the “ego” of the group can encounter itself, making differentiation possible through interactivity and introspection (p. 101). Still, caution is always advisable given that the dangers of stereotype apply to cultures as well as individuals. A type may express inside the culture, but each person within that culture may not identify with it. Rather, the countless individuals who interact with or encounter a respective culture bring their own personality expressions to the mix as well.

He Can Strut Sitting Down

James DeanWith this theoretical context in mind, we can then turn back to the question of Texas and who, from a psychological typology perspective, we might be encountering if we were to first meet Texas in a bar or anywhere. Arguably, Beebe’s pre-condition of a self-organizing system exists, judging by John Steinbeck’s assessment: “Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study, and the passionate possession of all Texans” (1962, p. 4). From that starting place then, we can start to discern the “inner dominant” of Texas.

Using a little imagination and Beebe’s archetypal typology as guide, it seems the dominant hero/heroine aspect of “Texas” is readily apparent (Beebe, 2017, p. 101). His “comfort zone” seems extraverted, and my emphasis on gender is intentional. Texas feels masculine to me; weathered by the prairie sun, this tall drink of water smells of earth, is confident in his stride, and is long on charm and precise with words as extraverts often are (Haas & Hunziker, 2006, p. 23). He seems reminiscent of the “heroes” of the ages, those patriarchal ones of yesteryear embodied by the Texas Rangers, Davy Crockett, the Lone Ranger, James Bowie, yet revivified in modern day in more gender-neutral/race-neutral expression, e.g., such Texas heroes and heroines as Lyndon B. Johnson, Amon Carter, Alvin Ailey, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Jamie Foxx, Matthew McConaughey, and Wendy Davis. Moreover, in his outward expression he seems horizon-focused, another characteristic of extraversion, with family, land, and community grounding his value system. He is also readily accessible and generally easy to understand, and in response, we smile, “as if we have been warmed and energized by the sun,” (Haas & Hunziker, 2006, p. 23)—a welcome gift for those on the receiving end of extraversion. Also as is typical for extraverts, there is no distance or vacancy in Texas’ eyes, and his presence seems to compel even when it can tend to largesse, bluster, and an occasional “Texas tall tale” (Bennet, 2010, p. 121). For example, even when its representative George W. Bush prematurely pronounced the 2003 Iraq invasion as “Mission Accomplished,” he was still named one of the nation’s “most likable” leaders (Walsh, 2015).

Extraversion for Texas is also indicated in the concretization of its grand ideas. In McKinney, Texas, for example, a high school football stadium was erected at a cost of $70.1 million, about $61 million more than the average high school stadium (Kennedy, 2016). Yet in comparison with its granddaddy, the Dallas Cowboys’ $1.2 billion stadium, it seems quite a deal (Ura, 2016). This largess, however, is not limited to construction of football stadiums but spills out into other areas of cultural concern as well. For example, 28,690 machine guns are registered in Texas, with Texans making up the overwhelming majority of National Rifle Association membership (Holodny, 2014). Additionally, since 1976, Texas has carried out more executions than any other state—521 compared to Florida’s 90 and California’s 29 (“Executed Offenders,” n.d.). These expressions, therefore, do seem to indicate bold extraversion and thus “E” as the first letter in Texas’ personality type code (Haas & Hunziker, 2006, p. 23).

With extraversion at the bow, we next turn our attention to the stern of Texas’ four-letter ship to determine whether judging (decision-making, the rational editing process) or perceiving (data gathering, the irrational no-editing process) represents its preferred orientation to the environment. From this fourth-letter position, “the entire sequence of preference for using the eight processes is revealed,” and for Texas, that expression suggests judgment more than perception (Haas & Hunziker, 2006, p. 25). In its manner and presentation, Texas seems decisive, uniquely ordered and expansive in its thinking, with a manner of control, although the latter can spiral to extremes if Texas feels encroached upon to the point of its very survival (p. 20). The latter is likely evidenced in the fact that Texas has sued the federal government over forty times in the past thirteen years over a variety of social, governmental, and business concerns that seem to center mostly around a “leave us alone” mentality (Satjia, 2016). The famous “Don’t Mess with Texas” litter campaign also seems to capture the essence and attitude (pride, power, ownership, decisiveness) of this expression.

Don't mess...With “E _ _ J” discerned, the next step in our growing relationship with Texas is to determine which branch of the judgment dichotomy is extraverted in its expression. Although he can be incredibly charming, he tends more toward crisp and sometimes-hard edges in his communication style, which can manifest quite differently than the feeling aspects and their drive for consensus and harmony (Haas & Hunziker, 2006, p. 20). While community and collaboration are important in Texas culture, they seem to carry less dominance in his decision-making (p. 21). Instead, short, matter-of-factness efficiency seems to prevail, with thought processes tending more toward the black and white (p. 21). Although passionately exercised, it seems the actual process of decision-making is more methodical and ordered for Texas and seems to fall along clear lines of “us” versus “them” terms, as its litigious nature suggests. Accordingly, I would argue Texas’ extraversion manifests dominantly through his “thinking” function (Te), which is clear, categorical, and “energized by reaching goals or achieving an end result” (Haas & Hunziker, 2006, p. 77). In fact, Texas has accrued ample reward in western culture because of this dominant tendency toward extraverted thinking expression.

For example, while most U.S. citizens may not think of Texas as a driving force in national affairs, it most certainly is (Collins, 2012, p. 5). Infused by the power of clear and categorical decision-making, Texas’ heroic extraverted thinking (Te) is buoyed by the state’s sheer size and congressional and executive representation. Texas has held the political reins in this country for the better part of three decades; for twenty of the last thirty-two years, a Texan president or vice president has been in the White House (p. 7). The Lone Star State also carries a disproportionate portion of the U.S. economy, generating a total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $1.43 trillion, approximately 8.5% of the entire U.S. GDP (Holodny, 2014). Although known primarily for its oil, Texas is also the leader in wind power development and natural gas extraction (i.e., fracking) and has a large aerospace, defense, and aviation industry, making it home to fifty-two Fortune 500 companies, including Exxon-Mobil, AT&T, and American and Southwest Airlines (Holodny, 2014). Such large and external “success” suggests an ability to “take care of its own” in “broad, systemic ways” while also making the rules that drive the decisions in the first place, as Haas & Hunziker found characteristic of Te (2006, p. 77).

Within the perception process dichotomy, either sensing or intuiting will prevail, and given that Texas is highly driven and motivated by past experience, introverted sensing (Si) as the auxiliary good parent function seems to be a solid hypothesis. One of the key characteristics with Si prevalence is a “past is prologue” focus (Haas & Hunziker, 2006, pp. 25, 43). In other words, the Si lives in a “ subjective, internal world of past experience by comparing current sensory experience to similar past experiences through a vivid internal database of memories” (Haas & Hunziker, 2006, p. 43), and arguably Texas does just that. In fact, one could say that “living the present through the past” (p. 44) is the Texan experience. As columnist and writer Gail Collins (2012) wrote, this “past/present view” is likely steeped in the “whoopin’” Texas received when Mexico “ran the land, and sometimes very badly” (p. 48), namely, via corruption, trickery, and falsehoods. Collins suggested that this corrosive trend continued throughout the post-Civil War Reconstruction period, as outsiders representing the federal government rigged elections, restricted freedom of the press, and deprived former Confederate soldiers of the right to vote—“So, like the other former rebels, Texas returned to the Union with a near-paranoia about the dangers of Washington overreach” (Collins, 2012, p. 76). The result in today’s Texas culture seems an unapologetic “hands-off” attitude, frequently accompanied by a rallying cry of “no taxes” and “no regulation,” emboldened by “me-centered divisiveness” (p. 46).

Yet it is the battle at the Alamo during the Texas Revolution that holds the most charge for Texas. Although ultimately a Texas loss against the Mexican army in 1836, it is a battle with a long tradition of oral history, repeated and reimagined anew every generation. Three simple words—“Remember the Alamo!”—convey a charged sense of pride, honor, and integrity, more so than a battle over a 19th-century fort would otherwise suggest. However, it is embedded in the Texas culture because it is a story about them—common men, living in a culturally and politically chaotic state, who did an uncommon thing by fatally refusing to surrender to overpowering and insurgent forces. The Alamo defenders, therefore, remind all Texans why they fight and what they fight for, costs be damned. This is no band of individualists with suicidal tendencies; their actions were downright heroic! And in them we potentially glimpse more modern day warfare as when Texas Senator Ted Cruz drove the charge to shut down the federal government in 2013 via a 21-hour filibuster in opposition to the Affordable Care Act. And why also, that same year, Cruz became a finalist for Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” (Farhrenthold, 2016).

ESTJ chartThis undeterred, tenacious, confident, charismatic, easy-going Texas, therefore, seems most readily an ESTJ. We understand him, like him (at least, at first), and could easily envision getting to know him better. With his cool confidence in extraverted expression, he seems to have “the capacity to endure bustle and noise of every kind and actually find them enjoyable” (Jung, 1921/1970, ¶972). As such, we can envision him as captain of the football team, school coach, rodeo roper, cattleman, rancher, and businessman, boisterous, fun, and loud at just the right moments with “a strong tendency to make a show of oneself” (¶972). Yet we also feel his expressions – his swelling pride and larger-than-life personality—and we see him in many Texans, including Ann and Cecile Richards, Ross Perot, George W. Bush, George Strait, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Molly Ivins, who always seem to offer a splash of down home friendliness and warmth beneath their steely precision. “Extravert[s] are typically accessible and relatively easy for others to understand” (Haas & Hunziker, 2006, p. 23). With his unique thundering velvet hand approach, a Texan rarely says, “Shut up!” or “Don’t do that!” Instead, we hear, “Hush,” or “That would be ill-advised,” with a long drawl and a grin. The result is effective and charming, binding the man to the community in which he lives.

Blood Runs Down

Yet, as Jung has advised, the opposite is always lurking. The ESTJ leadership qualities can also tip right of center, if too one-sided in their expression. In those instances, rigidity, lack of feeling, and/or arrogance may emerge (Haas & Hunziker, 2006, p. 79). Perhaps Jungian John Giannini (2004) summarized it best when he described the “ESTJ Warrior mentality … which when uncontrolled functions as a tyrannical force in both individuals and in society” (p. 513). Arguing as well that the ESTJ is also the dominant expression of American culture, Giannini potentially pinpointed characteristics that seem to have been alive in Texas culture for three centuries, reminding us once again of the key presidential, vice-presidential, and congressional leadership roles Texas has maintained on behalf of the nation these past thirty years. One potential example of administrative “tyranny” could very well be the 2002 comprehensive education bill, “No Child Left Behind.” Some argue that Texas revenue was its primary motivator, not children’s education (Collins, 2012, p.100). Signed into law by President George W. Bush, a former two-term governor of Texas, the bill debuted on the national stage emboldened by exclusive contracts with Texas firms to publish books, provide curriculum training, and build assessment tools. If revenue generation for Texas companies was its primary impetus, therefore, the act’s passage might indicate alignment with Giannini’s shadow assessment of ESTJ dominance, which, if undifferentiated, can shift into “a consistent cold-hearted attitude toward the weakest members of our nation’s family” (Giannini, 2004, p. 512).

Texas’ heroic Te preference for order, structure, and decisiveness can quickly descend into the rigid extremes and clipped expression of its unconscious opposite (Beebe’s opposing personality), namely introverted thinking (Ti), particularly if his authority is challenged (Beebe, 2017, p. 41). Even in the dominant position, Ti, according to Sharp, is “oriented primarily by the subjective factor” and thus has a tendency to “get lost in a fantasy world” where “indifference” can be a primary driver: “They will present their logical assessment of reality—as they see it—and not care one way or another how it is received” (Sharp, 1987, p. 71). The opposing personality position adds an oppositional-defiant quality to this already independent function. This was arguably the case when Texas Governor-turned-President George W. Bush responded to a reporter, “See, I don’t need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation” (Woodward, 2002, pp. 145-146). In those instances, one can almost feel the inverse of the extraverted Te taking hold, sucking the life inward such that what was once comfortable communication turns into sparse defensiveness. The unconscious, undifferentiated aspects of the opposing personality Ti tend to take hold in those dark places, which then slip so easily into the other unconscious functions.

The auxiliary function of ESTJ Texas, the introverted sensing Si good parent, has an active shadow all its own: the extraverted sensing (Se) senex or overcritical parent, domineering, obstructionist, and highly emotional (Beebe, 2017, pp. 45-47). We can feel an almost visceral compensation as the protective and nurturing parent Si slides into a more moralistic and even hypocritical Se senex stance, manifesting as a digging in (Beebe, 2017). In a dominant position, Jung described the Se as “uncommonly inaccessible to objective understanding” (Jung 1921/2016, ¶652). In its sixth position for the Texas ESTJ, we see a similar strain on objectivity as indicated by the following Texas “pro-life” paradox in these competing headlines: “Gov. Perry to Push Abortion Regulations Again in Special Session Starting Next Week” and “Texas Carries Out Landmark 500th Execution” (Hoppe, 2013; Rosenbaum, 2013). It also points to Texas’ curious erosion of women’s voting rights by requiring names on Texas voter cards to match birth certificates, effectively marginalizing married and divorced Texas women (Rhodan, 2013). And when gay marine veteran Eric Alva, who lost a leg in the Iraq war, made a stand for passage of a gay rights ordinance, he was booed out of the San Antonio City Council Chambers (Wing, 2013). These examples suggest that ilk of antagonism which Giannini (2004) expressed as follows: “When caught in this mentality, we often dream of ignoring or punishing children, feminine figures, or tender-minded males” (p. 512). Given Texas’ hypocritical expressions of a hands-off attitude except when it comes to women and gay people, (Collins, 2012, p. 40-47), these examples seem to be inverse and shadowed, extraverted expressions of the Si.

Texas FlagExamples of Beebe’s demon/daimonic eighth function also prevail with respect to the extraverted feeling (Fe) tendencies of the Texan ESTJ. In shadowed contrast to his semi-conscious introverted feeling (Fi) anima, the Texan ESTJ’s wholly unconscious demonic extraverted feeling (Fe) function can also tend toward the “epitome of destruction and negativity” (McAlpine, Shumate, Evers, & Hughey, 2009/2013). Here, his typically grounded, peaceful, and tolerant Fi can potentially subvert into something altogether alien, uncontrollable, or even sinister: “The sum of millions of inferior functions constitutes an enormous devil!” (von Franz, 1971/ 1998, p. 82). In this place, Texas’ principled protectionism can slip into paranoia as “introverted sensation types are more inclined to have dark prophetic fantasies of what might happen in the outside world to their family or mankind” (Sharp, 1987, p. 83). Thus, visions of “evil doers” and “axes of evil” vividly collide with Texas’ painful history of being conquered and ravished by six different countries in less than 300 years (Perez-Rivas, 2001). While such external and internal violence certainly suggests that Texas may also suffer from an identity complex, it also points squarely to unconscious issues with power as well, namely, who has it, what they control, and how they make sure no one else gets more of it.

This convergence (dual identity and power complexes) further demonstrates a core premise underlying all psychological type discernment, particularly when multi-dimensional, multivalent archetypal influences are at work as Beebe (2017) articulates. Namely, personality attributes are not mutually exclusive; they do not stand in isolation. Rather their expression shifts and morphs through dynamic interplay as adaptation ensues, and as a result, our Texan ESTJ can be pulled in multiple and seemingly paradoxical directions at any given time (Sharp, 1987 pp. 14-15). For example, the Te hero and Si father aspects of the Texas expression can promote a history-motivated drive for using socially acceptable approaches to problems on the one hand, e.g., “President George W. Bush Marshals in the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act,” while still succumbing to a receded Ti “answer-to-no-one” form of individualism on the other by refusing to explain things (White House, 2006; Woodard, 2002, pp.145-46).

Other potentially malefic attributes can emerge as well. For example, a shadowed interplay of the Texan ESTJ’s seventh (trickster) position, introverted intuition (Ni), with its eighth (demonic) Fe may also yield some complicated nuances. While the trickster Ni can sometimes manifest as dark, free-floating magical thinking emboldened by a proclivity for premature action based on internal abstraction that can sometimes trick us into believing fantasy versus reality, when combined with a demonic Fe, real destruction can result as “us versus them” solidarity is solidified along with disproportionate attempts to control and blame (Haas & Hunziker, 2006, p. 65; McAlpine et al., 2013). This combination can breed paranoia and potentially explains Texas’ unusual response in the summer of 2015 to an otherwise ordinary military training exercise conducted by the U.S. Army’s Special Forces (Sullivan, 2015). The exercise seemed to captivate the collective imaginations of many Texans, including key state and congressional representatives who widely assumed that the military exercise was, in fact, part of a larger plot by President Obama to invade Texas, impose martial law, and abolish civil liberties (Sullivan, 2015).

Texas, not TexasLikewise, should the Texan ESTJ fantasy of an unstable world persist, these same tricky and perfunctory responses can conspire further to erode an otherwise crisp cohesion of the Te dominant, leading to scorn, disdain, and lack of empathy as vague or even no marching orders ensue, spurring irrational rushes to judgment or even stalling maneuvers (Bennet, 2010, p. 120). Arguably, Texas has exhibited some of these tendencies as evidenced by the fact that Texas presidents have led the United States into every land war since Vietnam (Collins, 2012, p. 5; Sharp, 1987 p. 86). Verbal wars abound as well; Texas has voted for secession twenty-three times (Collins, 2012, p. 17) since the Civil War. It is in these obscure depths that the demonic Fe function seems to take hold. Once there, perspective is likely lost, boundaries dissolve, broad brush maxims dominate, and overload briefly precedes automatism, or as Jung explained, “a curiously contradictory dissociation of feeling results” (1921/1970, ¶596).

George W BushYet as Jung envisioned and Beebe’s model shows, these archetypal influences are inherently neutral with respect to personality type; expression can radiate bi-directionally in either negative or positive ways (Jung, 1921/1970, ¶336). Consciousness is the denominator, therefore, and where the proverbial rubber of archetypes meets the road of an individual’s personality, “the unconscious only becomes dangerous when our conscious attitude to it is hopelessly wrong. To the degree that we repress it, its danger increases. But the moment the patient begins to assimilate contents that were previously unconscious, its danger diminishes” (Jung, 1931/1970, ¶329). Here, therefore, is where the eighth function of the demonic in Beebe’s model can yield more positively in “daimonic” expression: “just as Lucifer is the light-bringer, the demon is sometimes a daimon” (Beebe, 2017, p. 43).

Willie NelsonWith respect to Texas, the daimonic Fe is vibrant and bolstered by boundless decisiveness, loyalty, and principled expression (Haas & Hunziker, 2006, pp. 87-88). Its individualistic, hero-like largess serves up boldness, integrity, and stewardship with a generous helping of harmony and community on the side (McAlpine et al., 2009/2013). As such, Texans have charmed, swaggered, and eased their way through elections, delivered the presidency and vice presidency, introduced critical legislation, and championed liberal and conservative causes (Collins, 2012). In other words, while their inner precision gets things done (reflective of the opposing personality, Ti), their approach seems tenaciously enabled by suave righteousness, as when “Barbara Jordan, the black Congresswoman and scholar stirred the nation with her Churchillian denunciations of the Watergate abuses of President Richard M. Nixon” (Haas & Hunziker, 2006, pp. 87-88; Clines, 1996). Similarly the highly expressive authoritarian Se senex can both ground and embolden the Texan, allowing him to swell with pride as he “instinctively nails violators in their tracks” (Haas & Hunziker, 2006, p. 34). In fact, this paternal conditioning starts at an early age; Texas children learn that being Texan makes them special. They study their state’s history as part of a multi-year, elementary and high school curriculum, they pledge allegiance to the Texas flag at the start of every school day, and they are taught how to fly the flag, namely, at the same level as the American flag (Collins, 2012, pp. 11, 13), and with the red panel down because “blood runs down” (Williams, 2006). Additionally, the trickster “Ni” of the Texas ESTJ, otherwise known as a shadowed rule breaker and boundary crosser, can always be counted on for a full course reversal, should an “inner knowing” lead to a better approach; the Ni “‘knows’ the right magic to protect … but largely keeps her knowledge of its workings to herself, until the time seems right to share it” (Beebe, 2017, p. 80). Perhaps this is the influence that led Texan Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to buck tradition, retire from the bench (to care for her ailing spouse) and return to public life years later in her mid-80s as an “app” guru, launching iCivics in 2012 (Heffner, 2012).

Ann RichardsAll of these traits combine to ensure that Texas’ bold largesse is not limited to the size of its football stadiums. They are also the wind beneath Texas’s philanthropic (art, music, dance, culture) and entrepreneurial (industrial promise) expressions, which benefit countless citizens (Texan and U.S.) annually. Texas has the third largest art market in the nation and is a leader of industry; Texas has led the nation in export revenue since 2002 (Villarreal, 2011; Holodny, 2014, par. 3). And larger-than-life American citizens (artists, writers, actors, and entrepreneurs) have called Texas home, including Willie Nelson, T. Boone Pickens, Carol Burnett, Aaron Spelling, Buddy Holly, Sissy Spacek, Horton Foote, Dan Rather, Joan Crawford, and Walter Cronkite. In other words, the Texan ESTJ has no problem compensating in robust, creative, and powerful ways to ensure full balance in his personality expression.

The Draw in the Texas Drawl

Psychology types offer critical perspective and an effective means of jumping the track of well-worn, singular mindedness that would otherwise fuel uninformed assumptions and stereotype. Texas, like the humans that live in it, interact with it, or simply know about it, seems to be right on track in its paradoxical expression. The psychological typing that Jung prescribes, therefore, provides a remarkable opportunity to first understand and then begin to untangle the surface, nuanced, and hidden complexities that make us all work. After all, if Texas does walk into a bar someday, arguably we would all want to get to know him/her really well and quickly. Odds are, he/she will be president someday. And given lessons learned, it might be better to understand the full paradox, rather than the one-sided dominance we would otherwise typically and initially see.


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Elizabeth Martin

Elizabeth Martin

Elizabeth A. Martin, J.D., M.A., is a Vice President at The Lewin Group, a consulting firm in Washington D.C. that provides health policy guidance to federal and state agencies. A native Texan, Martin is a former Assistant District Attorney and Assistant Attorney General of Texas where she represented the state in a number of capital cases. Martin received her law degree from Boston College and her undergraduate degree in business from Creighton University. She is pursuing a doctorate in depth psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute.

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Comments (3)

Thank you Jan and Charles. Yes, Justice O’Connor was reared in part in NM yet her birth and many other formative years were in Texas ( So thank you for bringing a full comprehensiveness to her Southwest upbringing. I am not seeing the “Straight” (Texans, including Ann and Cecile Richards, Ross Perot, George W. Bush, George Strait, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Molly Ivins) nor “Johnny Cash” but will correct if I do. Thank you!

Justice O’Connor was born in El Paso, which, as you may know, is in Texas. It is George Strait, not “Straight”, and Johnny Cash was trained as an Air Force recruit at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, but he was not born or raised in Texas. I found the psychological analysis to be intriguing and, to me, convincing.

I think where culture and socialization are intense, it is probable, in my opinion, that a people can have a general psychology, common to all within that geographical “construct”. If you look at what Erich Fromm had to say about the German people in Escape from Freedom, and if Fromm’s depiction seems pretty accurate to you, then it probably isn’t much of a leap to conclude that Texans share a state psychology.

Anyway, thank you, Ms. Martin for a very interesting (and persuasive) essay.

Justice O’Connor was a New Mexico native.

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