Typing the Group Mind: Part Three
Facing Our Expectations
Part three of an interview with John Beebe, MD
John Beebe, July 5, 2011
BEEBE: Last time, we were talking about the team leader who cared for others but didn’t come across as warm, using the example of General George Patton, whose introverted sensation (Si) didn’t come across as caring because it wasn’t linked to an overtly warm function like extraverted feeling (Fe). I had a father like that. He had extraverted thinking (Te) and introverted sensation and, like Patton, though nowhere near so high up, he was a military officer who had led a battalion in the Korean War. Even in civilian situations, as when we would go to a restaurant that was not in an officer’s club, at the end of the meal he would sort of look at me and say, “Latrine?” Well, as a civilized San Franciscan, the last thing I wanted to hear about at the end of a meal in a restaurant was the bathroom. My father made it sound like the point of the meal! One time when my father did that he must have seen the look on my face, and said, “I want everyone to be comfortable.” It was then that I could finally see that in his own way, he was trying to take care of us. But for me, wanting to keep the warm extraverted feeling spell cast by the restaurant right out into the parking lot, his intervention was a disaster. I’d have to say my father had, like all extraverted thinking types, an unfortunate tendency to express extraverted feeling in an undermining way (I call this in my model, Demonic extraverted feeling) and so he often broke all kinds of social rules to deploy people in what he imagined was their best interest. But that leaves out what he was trying to do with his auxiliary introverted sensation; and I realize, as I get older, that he really was trying to take care of others. These days I do go to the ‘rest room’ just before I leave a restaurant, and I’m grateful for the father inside that allows me to remember to do that!
PTD: Are you saying that his extraverted feeling was not being manifested in a way that others recognized it in the moment?
BEEBE: No, because it wasn’t extraverted feeling; it was caretaking. As you know, in my model it is the auxiliary function-attitude that is carried by the archetypal Parental energy of caretaking, and which therefore shapes how we take care of others. Caretaking is not extraverted feeling as we often assume, it’s just caretaking—an archetypal mode of relating to others that can be used in connection with any of the types of consciousness, depending upon what one’s auxiliary function is. When my father made his attempt to take care of us, he was using introverted sensation because that was his auxiliary function. It was my problem that I couldn’t see it as caring because my third function, carried by the Puer Aeternus (the part of me that most needed taking care of and was most idealistic about how that had to be done), was extraverted feeling. My father could never get that part of me to feel cared for by him, and that was quite tragic for him, and quite blind of me.
PTD: But I guess many of us would say there was nothing warm and friendly in the direction of building relationships to that way of taking care of people!
BEEBE: Patton was certainly like that in his Feeling style. But that doesn’t mean that Patton was lacking in caretaking. As I recall, it was Patton who took Italy; and the Italian campaign was the most successful campaign. Of the three Axis powers, it was the conquest of Italy that was the easiest–compared to Japan and Germany–and probably the most efficiently done. The Italian fascist era ended, actually, more gracefully than either the German or Japanese. That couldn’t have happened without Patton’s superb caretaking introverted sensation. People focus on the personality of Patton, but if you compare the human cost of the way he ended the Italian part of the war with what occurred at the end to defeat the Japanese and the Germans, Patton’s leadership stands out as cost-efficient in a very human way. We didn’t defeat Japan without Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the second of these atomic bombings certainly raises questions about overkill on the part of our leaders, who had already made their point with Hiroshima. Even with the intransigence of the Nazi elite who tried to hold onto power to the very end, it is very hard to justify the bombing of Dresden at a time when Hitler’s defeat was already assured. By contrast with MacArthur, Eisenhower, and Marshall, who are generally considered the gentlemen commanders among the US Generals leading the allies, the ruthless Patton actually left less blood on the floor. At the end of the successful defeat of Italy by the Allies, it was the Italians who hung up Mussolini, not Patton or the men under his command. He himself did just enough to get the job done, and he did it quickly and efficiently. Wouldn’t you agree with that?
PTD: I would.
BEEBE: At a less drastic level, I learned my own lessons about how to avoid mistaking how others are taking care of us when I visited Japan for the first time a few years ago. There, I gave a lecture and had a wonderful translator–who’s actually a very good friend of mine, a very fine Jungian analyst. He said he was going to take me to dinner the next night, but during the day he contacted me by email and said that he had to stay an extra hour at the office to see a patient so he wouldn’t be able to take me to dinner. I was typically American in my misreading of his letter and wrote back saying, “I don’t mind having dinner later. In fact I’d be happy to meet you later. In fact, I’d like to take you to dinner.” He wrote back and said, “No, I prefer to just go home at the end of my session.” To be sure, there wasn’t much good Feeling in either of our emails, and I realized I was very much alone in a country where I couldn’t count on myself to get the signals of others right! I felt unsafe, and I didn’t even want to leave my hotel room. It seemed ridiculous to sit there, but I didn’t know how to handle myself in the country I had come to. And of course, at the same time, I was thinking, “You idiot, why are you wasting your time sulking in your room? You’re in this fabulously interesting country and you’re not taking advantage of the opportunity it presents!” So I called the States and spoke to my partner, Adam Frey, who never fails me when extraverted feeling crises arise, that being his auxiliary function, and one of his really helpful functions in my life. Adam’s dominant function is introverted sensation, so he understood that aspect of Japan very well, and that there Si tends to be combined with extraverted thinking. He must have used that understanding of Japan as an ISTJ country to say something to me that I found absolutely wonderful in helping me out of my abandoned feeling. He said: “Try to focus not on how they’re not taking care of you; and try instead to focus on how they are taking care of you.” That was a very wise remark, and when I put down the phone I found myself thinking, “Adam’s right. I’m in a great hotel room, in a great location, in a famous city–Kyoto. So since I’m well located, the least I can do is try to go somewhere.”
Naturally, there were plenty of things I wanted to see in Kyoto–I had brought a whole list with me. (If you’ve not been there, Kyoto is a beautiful Imperial city of the old Japan, with wonderful temples and palaces to visit.) So I said to myself, “Well you know I should really try this city out; let me see if I can get on the subway.” Well I did get on the subway, and there, almost all the signs were in Japanese characters, with only the names of stops written in the roman alphabet as well. But remembering Adam’s advice to focus on how the Japanese were taking care of me, not how they weren’t, I noticed that their underground transportation is laid out in a recognizably modern way. To my surprise, it reminded me a lot of the Bay Area Rapid Transit I am used to taking from San Francisco to Berkeley. I found myself reasoning in an extraverted thinking way: “I bet the machines work so that it’s almost the same except that I’ll be using Japanese money.” And sure enough, that enabled me to figure out how to get the ticket I needed to go to the stop where the tourist office was. (There was another value too, that my father would have loved: every subway stop had a bathroom that was open and clean! That’s something a traveler cannot find in New York or San Francisco.)
That day, I did reach the tourist office in time to pick up tickets to see the great Imperial Villas that many Japanese have not seen, because tourists are given priority to see them without having to wait several months for tickets ordered by mail. I got to see these 17th-century masterpieces of landscape architectural design the same day, simply by walking to the tourist bureau from the subway–and I could get to them by subway as well. I even figured out how to add fare to my initial ticket that had used up its value, because everything was so well laid out I could see for myself which machine to use when I returned to the station.
By the end of the day, just letting Kyoto itself take care of me, I had fallen in love with the city. The extraverted thinking organization of Japan was taking care of me; without any need for an extraverted feeling individual to reassure me that I belonged there. And then, when I no longer needed her so much, one showed up. She too was a Jungian analyst, who had been to my lecture two days before. She asked immediately about her male colleague, my translator: “Did he take you to dinner?” I said, “No he wasn’t able to, he had something to do.” And after making a face to affirm what she imagined (correctly) I must have felt about that, she took me herself to the neighboring suburb of Nara, the spiritual hub of Japan, with the most beautiful temples in the country.
In Nara, I experienced the Daimonic introverted intuitive (Ni) side of Japan, symbolized by a giant Buddha holding up one hand to demand a cessation of useless thought, and inviting a different attitude with the other hand. I suspect I could accept this spiritual command as wise counsel because I was already so well managed by my analyst/guide’s auxiliary introverted intuitive caretaking. By then, instead of my Puer Aeternus fighting the system with demands for instant extraverted feeling gratification, I had (as travel sometimes lets one do) grown up a little and begun to see other ways a social system can take care of someone who is not yet at home in it than extraverted feeling assurances that the person is welcome. This was a breakthrough for me in my ability to see how a team can operate effectively even if it doesn’t meet all the expectations for caretaking of its members. I, you see, thought I needed parental extraverted feeling to take care of the Eternal Child in me, since my third function is extraverted feeling, and it can become very needy in unfamiliar situations. It was in Kyoto that I came to see that extraverted thinking can be a caretaker too.
I have to say that, after this discovery, I have been able to make better use of another opportunity: what you, Bob, bring to take care of us when you let outsiders teach through Type Resources. You do that by the way you organize the teaching days, something I’ve never found easy to do on my own. By myself, I simply follow my intuitive dominant and expect the line of my introverted thinking to be the continuing thread that will guide the audience through the labyrinth of type. I can thread that Thinking forward several non-stop days. But it’s still a thread, and not something most people can say they feel held by–especially when they are new to my ideas! (The feeling of being held by my model only comes later, after working with it.) But with your extraverted thinking plan for a conference I am to lead added in, the people who come do feel held; and that has enabled me, as a teacher of new perspectives on type, to cover ground I would never have been able even to approach.
But there’s a tragic aspect, too, I’m sure, to what you give: that it’s not always seen as the caretaking that it is, just because it’s not done primarily with Feeling. Just as we have to understand how Patton took care of people with introverted sensation, we have to understand that you take care of people with extraverted thinking, and that isn’t going to feel ‘holding’ and ‘warm’ by most people, who share the bias that I brought from America to Kyoto, that caring is Feeling.
What then is the take-away for understanding how the group mind works in a team when you have to work in a corporate environment? I believe a wise employee will come to understand the culture of the company in which he or she is working and recognize that the team has long since developed a certain way of taking care of others. The team uses its auxiliary function, not yours, or the one your tertiary Child expects it to use. You cannot expect an organization to take care of you in the way that you want; but nevertheless it will have a way it wants to take care of people. People who have the ability to set their own type expectations aside and see, like cultural anthropologists, how the culture they have entered functions (meaning really which typological functions it uses for what), are not going to assume the culture is dysfunctional just because it doesn’t use its types the way one might have expected. The corollary will be that employees who are not as culturally aware (i.e., those who are unwilling to step back from their own expectations and be anthropologists, willing to learn how the culture works), will become totally disconcerted when those they work for fail to take care of them according to their expectations. Such people end up just like me, the day after my lecture, sulking in my hotel room, because they are not getting the extraverted feeling holding they had expected. I hope they can learn from my example, because I didn’t need company, as I imagined I did, to discover that Japan has its own ways of taking care of someone in my position.
PTD: John, we’ve talked a lot about the auxiliary and the caring, parental aspect it has, and some about the Hero associated with the dominant function and its way of coloring the way the caring of the auxiliary does or doesn’t come across. We’ve also mentioned the immature, rigid expectations of the Puer and Puella, the adolescent or infantile archetype coloring the way the third function becomes unconsciously demanding. I don’t know if we have said enough about the Trickster and the clumsiness there.
BEEBE: Well, the way my host invited and then disinvited me to dinner the evening of my first day on my own in Kyoto, shows perhaps the clumsiness of how extraverted feeling is sometimes used in an introverted sensation, extraverted thinking culture.
PTD: Where my mind is going is to think that each of the positions–the archetypal energies that you’ve assigned to the positions–each has a role, each has a purpose; and while we’ve talked about some of them, I’d like to explore what happens when a team doesn’t have someone who can carry that role expertly, appropriately, as opposed to carrying it in a clumsy way? After all, you had the extraverted feeling woman colleague by your side soon enough, to empathize with the feeling you had had that your initial Japanese host had let you down.
BEEBE: Every team should have at least one person like that woman, someone who works outside the box of its usual typology. I think we have someone like that leading–or should I say, as an election year approaches, trying to lead–our country right now. I have never personally met President Obama, and of course I have never administered any psychological instrument to him. (In our culture you would have heard about that if I had!) I don’t even really know the dreams he records in Dreams of My Father, which I confess I have not read through, though I’m told it’s a very revealing book, where his own self-assessment from within is concerned. Nevertheless, just watching television like everyone else, listening to Mr. Obama speak, and above all watching how he functions as a President, I have developed the conviction (which only he is in the position to verify) that his superior function is introverted thinking (Ti) and his auxiliary function is extraverted sensation (Se). When he was running for President in 2008, a lot of people were saying that he had to be extraverted intuitive (Ne) or had to be extraverted feeling, because he seemed to be carrying such a friendly, fresh energy. But now that people are more used to him, it’s his lack of those functions they complain about. They were expecting him to supply them, and he hasn’t. What these people can’t see is the ways in which he does take care of us. He has a tremendous track record of getting key bills through Congress, and even of keeping many of his campaign promises. At the end of his last year, he secured the repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and this year he got the new START treaty signed and the Food Safety Modernization Act. And of course, he kept his promise to get a health care bill, though that (to his amazement, I’d guess) seems to have worked against him, at least in the short run. So at that level of doing the things he defined as priorities, he has been a very effective introverted thinking President. It’s even probable that his economic policies saved us from going into a more serious depression than the one we’ve been in.
Nevertheless there’s been quite a lot of dissatisfaction with him, expressed by a lot of people; and it centers around particularly his inability to use the bully pulpit, or take certain opportunities to communicate in either extraverted feeling or introverted feeling terms so that people can connect with his core values (Fi), or at least with his caring for them (Fe). Or they want him to be more Ne or Te, to indicate more of a future direction in the way he constructs policy, not just pragmatically meet each moment of his presidency. The criticisms are what I would expect to be directed at an introverted thinking president with auxiliary extraverted sensation. I find it interesting that a relative lack of Feeling and Intuition can be enough to put an American President at risk, and that the abundant presence of other strengths in him is not noticed. I wonder therefore if that says something about us, as well as him, so far as our readiness to work with the team we have is concerned.
We Americans are used to our extraverted sensation being used more aggressively, and even more selfishly, since it tends to be our culture’s Senex function. We don’t expect it to operate as a caretaker responding to the needs of others in the moment unless it is accompanied by a master strategy for doing so, like the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II. That made sense, because it was an opportunity to win us trading partners and loyal allies to defend us against the Communist Bloc once the Cold War started. We generally tend to assume that the best Thinking is extraverted, since that’s the dominant function in our culture. We find it very hard in this country to see introverted thinking as leadership. It’s even harder for us to believe that extraverted sensation (our military and our money) is being appropriately deployed when it is directed to protect others in places like Libya where we can’t see that we have any immediate material interest in the outcome. At a more unconscious level, Americans are miffed when they can’t identify what our President feels about the issues of the day, not even when he keeps telling us moment to moment, what he thinks about them. And we sometimes experience him as showing too little feeling for the impact on fellow citizens of issues like unemployment, an opinion that accords with a type diagnosis of his having inferior extraverted feeling. I hope the election will bring out in Mr. Obama more sensitivity toward the expectations Americans tend to bring to their President type-wise, but I also hope it will give Americans a chance to rethink what they have been getting from him in the way of a creative use of his particular typology. That would indicate that we understand the individual and group minds well enough to let them function together as a team.
Interview conducted by Bob McAlpine on behalf of Personality Type in Depth, Dec. 23-24, 2010
Image of the Golden Pavilion courtesy of Kyoto_images.blogspot.com
Image of Todaiji Buddha courtesy of japanese-arts.net
Image of Barack Obama courtesy of Hamburger Abendblatt