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Your True Nature

INTROVERTS CAME INTO THE MAINSTREAM with Susan Cain’s best-selling book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Cannot Stop Talking (2013). What Quiet has done for those who process their experience inwardly, To Live in the World as Ourselves does for the entire scheme of Jung’s typology. Extraversion, introversion, thinking, feeling, intuition, and sensation, and the ongoing dynamics of psychological experience they represent, are all made clear in an accessible style that goes to the heart of Jung’s pioneering concepts. Any analyst wanting to broach typology with an initiate would do well to start with this book, but experts, too, will find fresh insights into the different personality types, such as the feeling type’s built-in “phony meter” that instantly detects inauthenticity, the intuitive’s tendency to imagine the worst possible outcome, and the thinking type’s penchant to assume too much responsibility for his or her own good.

A seasoned journalist, Sally Keil breaks this complex psychological system into digestible bites with abundant examples from popular culture—from Yo-Yo Ma to SpiderMan. Yet her book goes much deeper, serving as a wonderful corrective to the reductive way typology is often employed today. Managers and human resource experts frequently use this system to stack committees with “ideal” types, for instance, or to determine whether a candidate is a good “job fit.” Typology can be a way to label behavior and snap individual preferences onto a proscribed grid. For others, it can become an excuse for rejecting relationship or for clinging to a certain way of being. We have more to gain by approaching the topic as a living practice, as Jung originally conceived of it. This timely book is valuable in teaching readers to approach typology as Jung did, through careful observation of oneself and others, without the need for a pencil or a test.

Review of Sally V. Keil, To Live in the World as Ourselves, Rhinebeck, NY: Four Directions Press, 2013. Read more about typology in Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche