Gini Nelson\’s Engaging Conflicts

February 23, 2007

Transformative Learning, Adult Development, and Adult Complexity Of Mind, Part Five —

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gini @ 4:10 am

sheep looking into camera
This post continues the series on adult development and complexity of mind (here are the links for Parts One, Two, Three), and Four), by exploring Carl Jung’s concepts of the midlife development of psychological type. The discussion in Parts Four and Five comes originally from articles by Catherine Fitzgerald, and Gae Walters, in Executive Coaching: Practices & Perspectives, Catherine Fitzgerald, Jennifer Garvey Berger, eds., Davies-Black Publishing, an imprint of Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc., 2002, and has been expanded since my initial Los Alamos Monitor column publication.


I overviewed Carl Jung’s psychological type concepts in Part Four of this series. Jung also concluded that the natural preferences that people develop and practice up through the first half of their lives are challenged at midlife (the late thirties and beyond). At that time, the “less developed, less refined, and more unconscious” functions intrude, demanding much more attention.

The person, Jung believed, wants to be more fully developed and may have a need (whether conscious or not) to pursue a search for personal meaning that includes exploring and developing less-used aspects of her personality. An Intuitive type (whose perception relies on insights, patterns and hunches) may be drawn at times to “staying present moment-to-moment in the real world, rather than focusing on associations and the future.” A Feeling type (who makes decisions based on subjective and personal ways of deciding) may separate from others and assert his own interests and needs even when in conflict with others he cares about.

These psychological and emotional demands of midlife often conflict with an individual’s long-standing family and work patterns based on the preferred dimensions which developed through the first half of life. Fitzgerald, in her book Executive Coaching, sees three stages of midlife for executives, which presumably could hold true for any of us: (1) getting inklings of the new reactions and desires (which surprise and disorient); (2) going underground (working on the new reactions and desires privately); and (3) bringing the new, larger self out into the world.

Many of us working in conflict professions see individuals who are undergoing personal, mid-life change that involves them in conflict with others. Jung’s theory tieing such changes to type development can be a useful tool for conflict specialists.

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Note: The books mentioned in this post are available at your local libraries and bookstores, of course, but you can also buy them online through my link in the right-hand sidebar at the new location to help support my blogging (and I will appreciate it, if you do!)


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