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Relational and Functional Typologies Revisited

Rachel Fitzgerald

In 1921, C. G. Jung published Psychological Types, his major contribution describing human behavior. This work included a partial intellectual history of typologies and definitions of terms that were seminal psychological concepts in his theory of types. For the 10 years preceding the publication, Toni Wolff was Jung's assistant and intimate friend. Later, she became an analyst, a President of the Psychology Club of Zurich, and the first teacher of the dream seminars for the Club. A superb explicator of analytical psychology, Wolff may have contributed substantively to Jung's formulations of sensation and intuition as ways of perceiving (Fordham, 1972). Midway through her experience as an analyst, Wolff (l941, l995) further contributed to understanding women's individuation by distinguishing structural type from functional type. In contrast to the psychological functions proposed by Jung, she presented a dynamic schema of four structural forms as central to feminine development and wholeness.

Although Jung's (1921/1971) theory of types eclipsed Wolff's (1941) theory of primordial forms as influences on adult development, Toni Wolff's newly translated writings leave no doubt as to the clarity of her thought or the depth of her interest in cultural evolution. She came to Jung as a patient and became a contributing member of a menage of students and thinkers surrounding him. Her work as an analyst led to her reflections on women's difficulties with ego realization. She did not attribute these difficulties to social oppression, although she cited inequality in female exclusion from the symbolic realm of divine imagery. Apparently only archetypal forms with their access to the underworld and the undigestible conflicts of the unconscious offered her an opportunity to describe the feminine ego.

In the shadow of Jung, Wolff's system of archetypal structures captures the interaction between static thought and dynamic feeling; she subjected development to the vicissitudes of history. By situating development within a cultural context calling forth relational structures, Wolff's schema raises the question of early relationships as imprints that determine type. It is the phenomenology of infant experience that may be missing in Jung's typology of mental functions.

Four Factors in Jung's Typology

Wolff's analysis of feminine individuation inevitably emerges from Jung's theory of personality and human behavior. Jung arrived at his ideas via self-analysis, clinical review, and historical review. Writing as a 20th century scientist-psychologist, Jung (1921/1971) characterized earlier systems as organized by the visible body, whereas modern psychology confronts the psyche as "a foreign barely explored country of which we only have indirect knowledge" (pp. 524-525). His method of exploration was to study and classify "psychic data" leading to "a phenomenology of the psyche" (p. 527) from which he posited his theory of complexes. This enabled him to describe the structure of the psyche.

The four factors basic to Jung's (1921/1971) typology emerged as extraversion, introversion, a rational (judging) function, and an irrational (perceiving) function. Although he called the fundamental activities of the mind perception and judgment, Jung described extraversion and introversion as attitudes and as more fundamental than functions. Perception is an irrational activity not because it is contrary to reason, but because it is beyond reason. Perceptive types do not ground themselves in reason, but in the "sheer intensity of perception" (p. 370). Judging types are characterized by "the supremacy of reasoning and judging functions" (pp. 359-360), whether the judgments are based on objective data or on subjective data. The one-sidedness of conscious identification with either perceiving or judging processes is compensated by unconscious attitudes that are opposite in their nature.

When Jung (1989) gave his first formal lectures in English, he recounted his discovery of the dynamics of typology (vs. the over-stabilizing of types) as the way of individuation. He observed that reality, composed of chaos and cosmos, included the possibility that the future could bring about another function. Wolff (1941, I995) does not add to the list of mental functions, yet her ideas suggest that archetypal forms of relationship are basic to any typology. She named four characteristics of relationships that can be combined to produce four forms: typically relating to the collective, typically relating to the individual, typically relating to personal objects, and typically relating to impersonal objects. By rooting her typology in relational adaptation, Wolff exposed the individual's capacities for community.

Wolff's Schema of Feminine Individuation

Wolff (1941, 1995) gave an archetypal form to each of four fundamental orientations in relationship, naming them Mother, Hetaira, Amazon, and Medial Woman. Although one or another of these types may be devalued during a given historical period, the schema assigns each expressive form an equal value. Both Mother and Hetaira forms relate personally, yet Wolff distinguished the Mother in finding fulfillment in caring for and protecting others in psychological contrast to the Hetaira who finds fulfillment in friendship and companionship, inspiring individual expression. In the Amazon whose hallmark is independence, Wolff (l995) found the inner form "self-contained in the best sense of the word"(p. 84). She understood the Medium to be immersed in "the psychic atmosphere of her environment and the spirit of her times…in the collective (impersonal) unconscious" (p. 86). In constructing her typology to establish the differences among these forms, Wolff represented them graphically.


The vertical and horizontal axes distinguish personal relatedness (Mother, Hetaira forms) from impersonal relatedness (Amazon, Medial forms). This is Wolff's most basic, complementary distinction. The vertical axis represents the difference between the Mother's orientation toward the group and the Hetaira's orientation toward the individual. These orientations lead to the established caretaking of the group or to fledgling interest in the individual; they cannot be reduced to the same pattern. A personal orientation is not that of the amazonian or medial impersonal relatedness, as represented by the horizontal axis. An impersonal orientation is more objectively oriented as an expression of power and agency. The group orientation is shared by the Mother and the Amazon; the individual orientation is shared by the Hetaira and the Medium. What is important and meaningful to the group may differ markedly from what matters to the individual. These orientations differentiate the forms from one another.

Although all four modalities of the feminine are inherent, two will tend to characterize a woman's more conscious adaptation and two will tend to be less conscious and adapted. Integration of the second form amounts to integration of a new personality. Therefore, which second form is assimilated is never arbitrary. Personal and impersonal forms are complementary; however, if the first two preferences are either on the personal axis, the Mother and the Hetaira, or on the impersonal axis, the Amazon and the Medium, opposites that are not complementary are being actualized. These noncomplementary identifications require interpretation and imply disorientation.

Forms 2

Individuation depends on challenging over-identification with one form and the subsequent state that leads both to inflation and to inhibition of another form's integration. Here the demand is for the transforming experience of integrating complementary forms. Wolff (1995) warned that if gradual integration of the second structure did not take place, "the earlier one will be exaggerated and thus become negative" (p. 89). In fact, she attributed the source of neurosis for modern women to resisting the duality of a second form.

If Wolff's (1941, 1995) speculation that women of her time were no longer content with one form of relationship is accurate, we will rarely find adult adaptation to a single form. Rather, the combining of two forms will describe a characteristic type. For instance, complementary combinations for the Mother type would be actualized as either a Mother-Amazon or as a Mother-Medium. The Mother-Amazon combination emerges as a Mother type objectively oriented toward social achievements whereas the Mother-Medium combination expresses the more inward and reserved Mother type that is also devoted to the group's quality of life. A noncomplementary combination would be the Mother-Hetaira, overly oriented to personal relatedness and insufficiently able to relate to impersonal objects.

Growth demands ongoing adaptations; the psyche is not to be limited by one or two structures, nor is the structure necessarily identical with the actual social role. The fourth form (that form opposite the core archetypal structure) is experienced as least characteristic of the individual. This way of relating causes so much conflict that Wolff (1995) claimed it is expressed only on the symbolic level. She described the fourth form as "a rapprochement to the Self" that "opens the path to totality" (p.89).

Correspondences Between the Typological Systems

Combining introversion or extraversion with either the rational or irrational attitude of judging (purposively ordering) and perceiving (noticing and gathering) leads to another way of describing typical behaviors. From this method that emphasizes attitudes, a person is characterized by preferring one of the four attitude combinations: extraversion with perception, extraversion with judgment, introversion with perception, and introversion with judgment. By extraverting or introverting perceptions and judgments, behavior is shaped in ways that endure and can be described.

In differentiating preferred opposing attitudes typically taken toward the environment, it is possible that we are glimpsing the foundations of the attitudes in early object relations. Solomon (1991) suggested a relationship between analytic psychology and object relations theory in which the archetypes of the collective unconscious are thought of as deep structures "against which the infant's experience of … real parents builds up dialectically ... into an amalgam of fantasy and reality experiences" (pp. 308-309). The environment provides critical experiences that allow construction of the realms from which the Other emerges. In earliest life stages, inner and outer environments may be conceived of in a symbiotic union.

As function theory supports analysis of specialization, it reflects the embodied masculine experience and may have evoked Wolff's (1941,1995) alternate theoretical contribution: patterns of relational interaction. Yet when the attitudes underlying functions are the focus, the two systems are free to combine as one system. This combined schema roots the functions of personality in patterns of interactions between the infant and the caregiving environment, as characteristic type behaviors and archetypal forms arise in the matrix of a parenting culture. (For instance, the combination of extraversion and judging describes an innate functional preference that is an amazonian response to an environment stimulating active and collectively oriented organizing behaviors.) There is a correspondence between the two systems in the following combinations: for extraversion and perceiving, the Hetaira/Amazon identification; for extraversion and judging, the Amazon/Mother; for introversion and judging, the Mother/Medium, and for introversion and perceiving, the Hetaira/Medium. These correspondences support Wolff's intuition of the archetypal foundations of personality.

The four factors from Jung's typology which emerge from reconcilation of the systems do not become apparent until the degree of relatedness among the definitive characteristics of each schema is examined. The four factors--change or exploration (related to the irrationality of perception), stability or organized purpose (related to the rationality of judgment), inwardness and outwardness (related to the extraversion and introversion of each function)--cannot be further reduced. Change as a factor describes behavior in search of what is distant, or simply what is happening, whereas stability and orderliness, mourning the loss of spontaneity, still mobilize to organize into a meaningful whole. Inwardness in either case indicates defense against outer stimuli versus outwardness, which involves projective movement toward stimuli. The Mother and Amazon forms, both related primarily to groups, are characterized by organizational stability and the need for it. These are distinct in that the Amazon's concern with larger and more impersonal groups suggests more outwardness than does the Mother's interest in the familial world. The Hetaira and Medial forms are less related to groups than to the individuals, hence are more characterized by change than by stability. Hetairic personal relatedness draws into more outward encounters than does the intense inwardness of medial concern with mental state.

Circle of forms

Development of Forms and Attitudes

What is most characteristic within each gestalt becomes apparent in the combinations of the four forms of relationship. The Mother and the Amazon share the need of judging types to get things settled; the Hetaira and the Medium share the need of perceiving types to explore and examine; the Amazon and Hetaira share the outwardness of the extraverted types; the Medium and Mother share the inwardness of introverted types. Behavior, guided by initial attitudes most needed for adaptation, is tempered within a core structural form and two related attitudes. Auxiliary forms, which share aspects of the primary structure, offer both reinforcement to shared characteristics and a complementary ability to relate to either personal or impersonal objects. The essential complementarity contributing to wholeness in Wolff's (1941,1995) system is in the assimilation of a personal and an impersonal form.

From the onset of life through childhood, the first structure of relationship should be discernable and the second indicated although not fully characteristic until adolescence and young adulthood. With respect to the first form, the third form poses an alternative possibility in complementary development. Its potency contributes to the sense of oneself as shadowed by potentiality and perhaps by fragmented part selves. Acceptance of human limitation, humility, empathy, and other qualities desirable for realistic development, can arise from the sense of what-might-have-been.

A sense of wholeness, or the co-existence of all parts, including the least conscious, is related to how much the oppositional attitude of the fourth form can be accepted for its own sake. This can be experienced as a moral dilemma that requires insight into responsibility for wrong-doing or failure, but it could also be experienced as contact with a thoroughly alien (and, therefore, suspect) aspect of the self. These encounters have the character of survival when there is a storm at sea. Previous balance is upset by the capsizing waves; a person believes himself or herself to be without recourse.


When combined, the functional typology of Jung (1921/1971) and the schematic formulations of Wolff (1995) reconstruct the deep structures of the psyche that take into account early patterns of interaction with the environment. Both typologies offer explanations of heroic efforts by use of a dynamic indicating which directions are most complementary and which are most oppositional for the individual. Although not time or state bound, each fourfold schema is suggestive of developmental periods, respectful of the spontaneous human capacity to generate organization from within. Both systems are relatively free of taxonomies that are overly dichotomous, because all parts are interactive.

Understanding the personality as a coherent and whole system with internal substructures allows for the dynamic aspect of otherwise stable entities such as Wolff's four archetypal forms. Structure, which includes the notion that an interior dynamic organizes relational patterns, defines inner shifts and changes. Thus structure takes on a dynamic quality; change is not only initiated by the past but co-created at all times. The forms are dynamically influenced by the way in which they come to be, given the contents of the personality. Further, the organic nature of the system is such that one cannot make a change in any part without affecting the whole system. External characteristics labeled within a taxonomy may insufficiently account for the changes occuring among interrelated parts. The dynamic whole of an organism does account for this interaction.

Inner form

Knowledgeable of the worth of functional typology, Wolff (1941,1995) believed structural forms rising from ways of relating were more useful to women seeking to understand themselves than were the cognitive functions. Yet there is no intrinsic reason to prohibit men from being characterized by relational structures nor women by mental functions. If the attitudes that show correspondence to the forms supply a way to make the two typologies compatible, it is possible to construct a composite typology taking both approaches into consideration. Referring specifically to Jung's (1921/1971) four function types, Wolff claimed there was no correspondence between her structural forms and his typology of functions, yet it is possible through content analysis to find a correspondence between the four attitudes that orient each functional type together with characteristics that describe each of the archetypal relational forms.


Fitzgerald, Rachel. 1999. "Relational and Functional Typologies Revisited." Journal of Psychological Type, 51, 34-39.

Fordham, M. (1972). Note on psychological types. Journal of Analytic Psychology, 17, 111-115.

Jung. C.G. (1971). Psychological Types. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (0riginal work published l921.)

Jung, C. G. (1989). Analytical psychology: Notes of the seminar given in 1925. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Solomon, H. (1991). Archetypal psychology and object relations theory: History and commonalities. Journal of Analytic Psychology, 36, 307-330.

Wolff, T. (1941). A few thoughts on the individuation of women. Spring Journal, 1, 81-103.

Wolff, T. (1995). Structural forms of the feminine psyche, Psychological Perspectives, Issue 31, 72-100.