Article by Dr. Dranitsaris

Authenticity, Self-Actualization and Falsification of Type
by Anne Dranitsaris PhD 

The idea that people function optimally when they are able to use their unique abilities toward the achievement of self-actualization is not a new one. We constantly strive for meaning in our lives through the healthy expression of these unique abilities, and we naturally seek relationships, lifestyles, jobs, and careers that allow us the freedom to achieve both self-expression and self-actualization. When our day-to-day life prevents us from using our unique abilities, however, our capacity for self-actualization is diminished, as is our ability to find fulfillment in our relationships and work.

Our unique abilities and our preferred ways of expressing our authentic self are determined through the structure and functions of our personalities and brain physiology. The functional nature of our personality was defined by Carl Jung’s theory of Psychological Type. According to Jung’s theory, we have four mental functions: Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling. He believed that everyone has and uses the four functions, but the order in which they are preferred varies from person to person. We also have a preference for where we use our preferred functions and in which attitude we are most energized (Extraversion or Introversion).  These preferences cause people to naturally seek different ways of relating, living, making judgements, gathering information and organizing themselves in their environments.

Jung believed that when we are using our preferred functions in the attitude that increases our energy, we grow and develop, and we are able to strive toward the fulfillment of our potential (or express our soul’s intention). When we are not able to do so, or when we are forced to use the functions that we do not prefer, it leads to the suppression of the authentic self, and to psychic and physical stress. In his study of the causes of emotional dis-ease in healthy human beings, Jung found that when people are forced to use their least preferred functions in order to adapt to external demands and conditions, it results in neurotic behaviour. He said that the overuse of our least preferred functions would create both emotional and physiological stress leading to changes in behaviour and energy levels. He called the process of excess adaptation Falsification of Type. He believed that excessive adaptation of children during their formative years, where they are conditioned to behave in ways consistent with what is “expected” of them is “a violation of their natural disposition.”

Breakthroughs in brain research in the past decade, by researchers such as Dr. Katherine Benziger, have given support to Jung’s theory of Psychological Type. Dr. Benziger has worked on the identification of the neurophysiologic bases for Jung’s functions for more that 15 years. In her work, she has discovered that our brain is made of four “functionally specialized” areas, which are responsible for performing very different tasks, and which provide the physiological basis for Jung’s four functions: thinking, sensing, feeling and intuition. In her book, Thriving in Mind, Dr. Benzinger identifies four primary modes of thinking, and suggests that each of us has an in-born, neurologically-based preference for one of these four modes. The four modes of thinking that she identified parallel Jung’s four functions in consciousness, and have many of the characteristics that he describes in his book, Psychological Type.

Jung’s assertion that each of us has a preferred function is supported by a neuro-chemical, physiological fact that our brain has one area which is more energy efficient than the remaining three areas. This means that using our dominant function requires less oxygen to perform than the other three functions. His belief that each person has two natural auxiliaries finds support in the brain’s inherent structure. Research shows that neuronal bridges hardwire a person’s preferred function to their auxiliary functions, thus making communication between the preferred and the auxiliary functions relatively easy. It also shows that there are no naturally occurring bridges between the dominant and least preferred function, thus providing the rationale for why behaviour changes are so different when a person is using their least preferred function.

Human physiological systems operate in cycles between energy expenditure and energy restoration. These systems have a set point, or homeostasis, that is moved away from, and returned back to, during a normal cycle. These systems are autonomous in nature, meaning that we do not have to think about them in order for them to be functioning properly. For example, our heart beats, we digest food, and we fight infection: all without having to think about these processes. Our body, in its inherent wisdom, knows what is normal and strives to maintain balance in all systems. The same works for our psychological system or “Psychological Set Point”, which strives to keep each of us living in a harmony with our authentic self. The Psychological Set Point is the typical, stable level at which the human psychological system operates. This is a holistic system that is a combination of physiological, psychological, and developmental factors.

A change in our environment or activity level, however, may cause a temporary alteration in the affected system. For example, if we become worried, or are under temporary stress, our arousal level will go up temporarily.  When the increased activity or environmental stimulus diminishes, our system re-balances quite naturally to its Psychological Set Point.

When we are using our preferred functions and having positive feedback, affirmation from outside of ourselves, our integrity stays intact, and we do not have to think about how we must behave in order to survive. However, for the most part, people are encouraged to ignore this primary internal guidance system from an early age, and instead look outside of the self for feedback and affirmation. When parents and society do not reward individuality or support the use of the child’s preferred functions, or when they provide incentives for being out of integrity with the self (being “good” instead of authentic), a compensatory or adaptive behaviour and neural pattern for Falsification of Type is set.

Falsification of Type from early childhood adaptation leads to a disruption in natural brain functioning and to the establishment of a dysfunctional Psychological Set Point. Prolonged adaptation throws off the person’s innate homeostatic balance in the brain in the area of oxygen usage and distribution. As more oxygen is demanded by the brain to continue falsifying type, less is available to keep the rest of the body functioning efficiently.  

Developmentally, when children are able to use their natural gifts, their Preferred Function, and their natural arousal level, they experience and strengthen their authentic self and physiological ease (integrity). Forced adaptation through the devaluation of their authentic self causes children to ignore their integrity in order to survive psychologically. The result is the development of an adaptive or false self, which forces the use of functions other than the dominant function. Although adaptation is a necessary part of our development as members of a society, excessive adaptation causes children to survive at less than optimal levels of functioning.  

No doubt, the cost of living an adaptive life rather than an authentic life is a serious one, which has physical, spiritual, and psychological ramifications. Prolonged adaptation can cause symptoms such as fatigue; food cravings; increased sensitivity to environmental stimuli (e.g., light, sound, odours); poor healing; increased susceptibility to illness; memory loss; poor concentration; mood swings; poor impulse control;  loss of creativity; pessimism, withdrawal, and avoidance of conflict; poor self-esteem; and increased defensiveness. Ultimately, the expression of the authentic self and the achievement of self-potential are not possible when living an adaptive life. 

Through the physiological structure of our brain, we interact with the world and our environment, we develop, and we express our innate nature using our four functions. Our emotional and spiritual development depends upon our ability to live using the nature structure and functions of our brain.

Therapy, education, understanding, empathy, emotional support, and reframing of one’s individual experience are powerful psychological tools that help to alleviate the symptoms that are associated with Falsification of Type. In the long term, however, a person’s ability to self actualize using these modalities effectively is lessened when they has been conditioned to function in an adaptive way, and there is no awareness of what is truly needed for them to reclaim their authentic self. By knowing one’s preferences, and using the brain’s inherent structure and functions for the expression of the self, a clear path to self-actualization can be found.

Anne Dranitsarisis a clinical psychotherapist and corporate therapist with more than 25 years experience working with individuals, couples and groups in private practice and in organizations. Anne has worked extensively with Jung’s Psychological Types and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® since 1985. She is currently writing a book on Relationship Positions also based on Jung’s Psychological Type theory and brain physiology. Anne is also a frequently published writer and speaker on a broad range of topics on the impact of behaviour, emotional intelligence and personality type on business and personal relationships.

If you would like to participant in the research for Anne’s book on Relationship Positions,
please go to the following link to complete the questionnaire.


~ by nancyfenn on November 25, 2007.

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