2.7

Type Development

Type development is a lifelong process that can help you overcome challenges throughout your life. Understanding how you develop and access each of the preferences gives insight into who you are and as Jung would say, acts as a "compass" guiding your personal growth and development.

Jung believed that all the processes are largely unconscious and undeveloped in infants. As we grow and develop, the different processes develop, too. The timing of this development has been the subject of considerable study. It is believed that the dominant process generally develops up to age 7, the auxiliary process up to age 20, the tertiary process in the 30s and 40s, and the inferior or fourth process at midlife or later.

Type Development in the First Half of Life

At the most basic level, type development is the process of gaining comfort and command of your preferred way of taking in information (Sensing–Intuition), and your preferred way of coming to conclusions (Thinking–Feeling). Developing a mental process involves consciously differentiating it from the other processes, exercising it, and becoming more capable in its use.

As you develop your type, the way you see the world and the way you behave tends to change and broaden. Comfort with your dominant and auxiliary processes forms the basis for much of your self-esteem and self-confidence.

Whether your preferences were encouraged or discouraged as you grew up will determine the trajectory of type development. If the use of your dominant and auxiliary processes were not supported by your environment, they will press to reach the surface, like a beach ball held under water, and you may feel that tension. When a process is never allowed to develop naturally, a person can experience stress and frustration throughout their lives.

According to theory, type is innate. We spend the first half of life developing our natural strengths (our preferred processes). But if we stop there, we become rigid, one-sided, and our development is stunted. Although we tend to find comfort in using our preferred processes, our strengths, personal growth comes through working with and developing our non-preferred processes, our stretches.

Type Development in the Second Half of Life

The second half of life can be an exciting time of change but for some it can be stressful and frightening—a midlife crisis. How you experience it will impact your development. Resistance leads to rigid, "my way is the right way," personality characteristics with overuse and overdevelopment of the dominant and auxiliary processes.

Developing the tertiary and inferior processes typically doesn't happen until later in life. The development of these non-preferred processes changes how you may "look" or come across to others. But your innate type does not change, just how you experience and convey it.

As we mature and develop typologically, our personalities can present themselves quite differently. For example, someone with a dominant Feeling mental process may develop their Thinking process and become more comfortable with directness and critical analysis.

Yet decision making would still come through their Feeling preference so it may be experienced and expressed differently than someone who naturally prefers Thinking. In other words, the directness may be expressed as an option or question rather than a blunt statement or command, more typical of the Thinking preference.

Type development can be seen in other ways, too. For example, individuals with a preference for Intuition may in their later years start using their Sensing process and find enjoyment in gardening, working on cars, or knitting complicated sweaters. Or you may find a grandparent who was serious and practical for most of their life, now playing tea party with their grandchild.

Good Type Development

Healthy type development means becoming aware of type differences, gaining trust and comfort in the use of your preferred processes, accessing your non-preferred processes when it is appropriate to the situation, and using your type more effectively.

As you develop your tertiary and inferior processes later in life, the range of behaviors available to you opens up even further. But the dominant and auxiliary processes will always be the core processes of your conscious personality.