The Book Corner - Review

Understanding the Dynamics of Typical People: An Introduction to Jungian Type Theory by Richard Bents and Reiner Blank

Understanding the Dynamics of Typical People: An Introduction to Jungian Type Theory

By Richard Bents and Rainer Blank
Hogrefe Publishing, 2010

[powerpress: http://gsbm-med.pepperdine.edu/gbr/audio/fall2011/BookReview_LeoMallette.mp3]

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4 stars: Thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating material

Bents and Blank state early in chapter two of Typical People that “each person is unique and distinctive, yet patterns exist… [and] knowing someone’s function preferences enables you to understand personality development and to predict how a person will behave…” (p. 7). Significant work on categorizing personality types was done in the early 1920s. German psychiatrist Ernst Kretschmer is given about a page, but the bulk of the book is based on the work of Carl Gustav Jung—or more precisely on the work of two people that Jung inspired: Katharine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs-Myers.

The vast bulk of the book is a description of the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MTBI) and what to do with it. I was originally going to give this book only a couple stars since, at first glance, it seemed like a rehash of the MTBI information—and a lot of is a rehash. However it was a good review and it reminded me that the four types (energy, perceiving, judging, and lifestyle) have a function order: dominant, secondary, tertiary, and inferior. In addition to the very useful MBTI review, there were two bright spots in this book.

The first bright spot was the artwork (a special note of appreciation should be given to the illustrator, Werner Tiki Küstenmacher). He provided dozens of simple drawings (cartoons) of men juxtaposed and showing the two different sides or extremes of each of the MTBI types. The illustrations provided a nice visual presentation in contrast to the usual tables. It was a very entertaining approach and kept chapter four from getting too boring.

The second bright spot was a discussion of stress in chapter seven; this was new to me. Bents and Blank specifically identified how each of the 16 personality types react to stress—both controlled stress (tension) that is slightly outside of your comfort zone and uncontrolled stress (anxiety) that is far outside of your comfort zone. The authors do not mention if this chapter is based on work of Dr. Edward Golden and (his son) Dr. John Golden’s Personality Type Profiler (GPTP), where they add the emotional stability [Tense (T) versus Calm (C)] dimension; although GPTP is mentioned in chapters one and two.

This 132-page book is a review of MTBI and offers a tantalizing introduction to the effect of stress. I would recommend this book for anyone who needs a review of MTBI and how these ‘types’ of people react to stress.