Tuesday, March 28, 2017


There are a number of what I call “rising tides”, certainly in the so-called western world.
Here are a few:
-          Narcissism
-          Intolerance of difference
-          Preciousness
-          Obesity
-          Anti-religion
-          Anti-religion not yours
-          Labelling

This last one is of interest to me as it often confusing. For example, many folk mix up what they think is race and what they think is religion. Then you get the opposite in retort. So someone who condemns Muslims will be called "racist". Yet Islam is a religion including many ethinic groups, as is Christianity.

Labels, in general, are of little assistance if we want to understand social threads and collective beliefs and beahviours.
 And here I am working with Jungian based psychological models, which are often used by labellers to shove people into boxes. I sometimes think to introduce myself with: Hello, I'm Jon Doust, lapsed high Anglican, heterosexual, Bridgetown born, blue eyes and minor tourettes. Or my other full label – ENFP ML PT & DS. Let me fill this out:

E – extraverted
N – intuitive
F – feeling
P – perceiver
ML PT – mercury and lead post trauma
DS – depression susceptible

Indeed, on an odd occasion, I have done so, but only to create a brief moment of bewilderment, followed by a quick and sometimes uneasy laugh, because the listener, unless granted permission, doesn’t want to belittle my afflictions.

As for me, it is important that I belittle my afflictions because that is also an essential part of who I am. Perhaps the two greatest gifts handed down by my family were an ability to create humour and the willingness to laugh at oneself.

My father taught me to laugh with cutting and biting sarcasm at the prickly, pretentious and pompous and my mother and her mother taught me the value of arranging laughs at your own expense. And the openness and willingness to laugh at yourself when mocked by others.

This was not always easy, as I was the only intuitive (N) in a family dominate by sensates (S), people who lived in the real world, the here and now, the grounded folk who could fix an engine, balance books, understand the necessary steps to move from A to B. I, on the intuitive aside, was a day dreamer, a floating, wandering freak who always seemed to have a weird answer to a logical question.

Which brings me to two more labels - pessimism and optimism.

I always ask a group where they sit on that scale and I never say where I do because I have never been sure.

My Jungian profile - ENFP - would suggest I lean towards optimism, but I don’t seem to. So where am I? Am I an innately designed optimist who has been battered by early growth in the womb of a depressed woman, arriving in the world and suffering the poison double - mercury and lead. (See early blog – Jung and Heavy Metals) That was not all, because on our farm we sprayed with Agent Orange (245T), malathion and god knows what else. There is no way that splash of chemicals had no impact.

Or am I an innate optimist who suffers from prolonged periods of pessimism due to life circumstances, or an innate pessimist with an, at times, overwhelming desire to be optimistic and positive, about everything and anything.

Mercury and lead poisoning symptoms are very similar and include inability to concentrate, quick to temper, anxiety, depression and, logically, behaviourally, can lead to bad decision making. In my case, it lead to dumb choices involving alcohol, drugs, sex, and surfing. 

What does all this mean? Why can’t I decide on a precise label? I may have said this before – psychology is not an exact science. Although I may struggle to decide which is my strongest preference - pessimism or optimism – it does help to recognise which one is dominating at any given time and of its impact on my life - mood, opinions, behaviour. And that soon enough, all that might change when what has been the inferior preference becomes the dominating.

As Jung might have said to me: Embrace both, Jon, the dark and the light, that way neither can destroy you.

Complicated? Dammit! Let me try this.

I’d much rather be an optimist but sometimes I’m depressed.

There. Let’s move on then.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Jung and Heavy Metals

This is a follow up to a recent program I ran for a group of business people at the Curtin Business School Centre for Entrepreneurship.

One of the benefits of knowing your Jungian psychological profile is that it enables you separate your characteristics that are innate, thus strengths, from the behaviours that have developed as part of your life journey - choices you have made and experiences you have had.

For example, I was lead to believe early in life that there was something terribly wrong with me because during my teenage years I seemed overly emotional. This was not the way for a man to be and so I gave myself a very hard time over or it and the more often an emotional surge occurred the harder the internal response.

You can imagine the relief to discover that my emotional component, my Feeling preference, was a natural, a given, a gift, not a major flaw in a pattern of psychological dysfunction. And because it was my secondary preference, my teenage years were its time to come forward, to flourish. The Feeling preference is one of what Jung called “brain function” preferences and it was the one after my major, my Intuition preference.

But there’s more. Stay with me, even if it gets complicated.

When my mother was pregnant with me, her mother was chased off the family farm by her father in a drunken rage, with an axe. Now you can’t tell me that didn’t have an impact on the baby, unborn boy. And by that time in her life, my mother had already been battling depression for over a decade.

Then, I did say there was more, after my parents were scared by the flame red scalp of the Little Jon, they took him to the family doctor and he was diagnosed with pink-disease. What’s that? Mercury poisoning. How do you get it? It was in baby food, teeth fillings and god knows what else.
Symptoms: high levels of anxiety and irritability, quick temper, depression.

Dammit! Doomed.

Let me recap for you.

I have an innate emotional component. My mother bares me in a time of high tension, grief and emotion in her family life. I am poisoned by a heavy metal that does my brain no favours.
Oh, and later, I am also diagnosed with lead poisoning.

Doomed? Nah. Why not? Because I’m human and the species has an amazing ability to shift, to grow, to change, to morph. Do I still suffer emotional surges? Yes. But now I know that one cause is biological. It’s not all psychological. And my innate emotional preference helps me find, and for long periods, maintain, an emotional balance.

There’s another gift I haven’t mentioned: humour. Without that I would have killed my father, or him me. And my mother? Same. My Wife? Yes. More about her here

Knowing my Jungian preferences - Extraversion Intuition Feeling and Perceiving (ENFP) - helps me sort out what is what, where I need help, where I need to adapt, to learn and which buttons are being pushed and why I respond the way I do.

For example, when the Esperance Port lead contamination news blew in our faces, I was enraged. Why? It was a combination of my innate Feeling preference – the immoral behaviour of the mining company responsible, clearly showing no understanding of the impact of such a lazy implementation of guidelines, on humans, birds, or the rest of the environment. And my personal experience of lead poisoning – similar symptoms to mercury poisoning with the addition of brain damage and stunted growth – and the torment, turmoil and suffering it caused.

And this is where my humour helps me. When I tell my tale of woe I always ad: Well, my brain would have gotten damaged anyway, but the thing that annoy me most is that I could have been a really big guy.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Two questions to answer

This is a follow up to a recent program I ran for a group of business people at the Curtin Business School Centre for Entrepreneurship. I have changed the names of the participants to ensure privacy.

Well, that was fun and, as always I was stunned by the differences. All right, so you looked like many groups before you:
            Dominated by the SJs (sensing judging)
            Only 4 SPs (sensing perceiving)
            One only NT (intuitive thinker)
            One only NF (intuitive feeler)

But you behaved as group like there were more of the others, the wacky SPs and NFs. Which was why you were able to distract me so easily from my line, my plan, my tasks.

As a consequence, I forgot to answer two important questions posed by Anthony and Phillipa (name changes).

And so I will do my best now, if you will allow me to see it all the way through without further distraction.

Do difference profiles show their love differently? Yes they do.
Let’s use as examples two people we have got to know a little – Jon (ENFP) (no name change) and Hildegard (ISTJ) (name change) . They have been together for over 40 years now and it has not been easy, not for Hildy, who thought she knew what normal was and always thought she would marry it, or Jon, who knew what normal was and never thought he’d marry it.
There was a time in the relationship when Hildy was almost convinced Jon didn’t quite love her, because if he did he would have done the dishes before she got home from work, or made the bed every so often, or not been so untidy around the house.
This was because people with Hildy’s profile generally show their love by Doing. She showed her love by cooking his favourite meal, by ironing his pants, by sorting his side of the wardrobe.
Meanwhile, about the same time, Jon was almost convinced Hildy didn’t quite love him because she sometimes had to be reminded to hug, didn’t surprise him with random gifts and didn’t whisper sweet nothings in his ear.
This was because people with Jon’s profile generally show their love by loving, with sudden romantic outbursts featuring random gifts, weekends away and lots of smooch and sweet in the ear and other parts.
The difference is dramatic and many have expressed wonder at their survival but they have not only lasted, they have flourished, because in difference there is mystery, strength, and fun to be had.

Shifting Profiles
Does a person’s profile change over time? Well, yes, but also no.
The theory is that your profile is fixed but around the middle of your life, as though tired and exhausted by being yourself, you tend to explore your other sides, or preferences.
This is good and puts you on a path towards what Carl Jung called individuation, or wholeness, completeness. And you can only be complete when you are able to operate in all preferences.
And now let’s take Hildy again, because she is not, after all, an ISTJ. She is, in fact, an ISFJ.
How did we come to this and after so many years?
Hildy was first profiled in the late 1990s, primarily by questionnaire. About ten years ago, after I began using a different questionnaire, she completed another form and came out ISFJ.
We discussed this seeming shift for two weeks and she came to the realisation that she had always been an ISFJ, but had taken on the toughness of the more rational, and more masculine, T, in order to protect herself from a difficult father.
And to help her protect her mother from the same man.
What did this mean to us? It meant that instead of Hildy giving herself a hard time over what she had perceived as a weakness, she was able to embrace her emotional self and see it as a strength.
And, of course, we have lived even more happily ever since.

Detached and factual ISTJs often find it difficult to deal with emotions as they see this as irrational and when others display emotions they have to translate the emotion into factual language that they can understand.
Deep and private ISTJs will tend to keep their feelings to themselves and until they have the measure of people will be unlikely to proactively share their feelings. Too much interaction sucks their energies.

The ISFJ is an emotional type, but may struggle at times to deal with these, as they are so private and reflective. It may be possible to deeply offend an ISFJ and not realise it, so private are they.
Once allowed close the ISFJ will open up but it will take time and they are not naturally forthcoming. This may mean it emerges in small chunks, often off the back of other conversations.