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Interview with Aleksandr Bukalov and Olga Karpenko (International Institute of Socionics)

On the beginnings of socionics and Aushra
Augusta's development of Jung's typology.

2/5/2006, Kiev, Ukraine

A.B. - So, should we start from the very beginning?

R.D. - What would probably be the most interesting is to talk about how socionics first appeared in Kiev, how the Institute was created, and also how you personally first learned of socionics and why it interested you.

A.B. - I think I'll start with how socionics appeared in the first place. To begin with, a few words about Jung's typology. For a long time nobody in the Soviet Union worked with Jung's typology, although his works had been translated into Russian and could be found in the major libraries. At the same time, Meyers-Briggs had been developing Jung's typology in America, though, in our opinion, they weren't completely true to what Jung originally had in mind. So, in the 1960s, in Vilnius, Lithuanian researcher Aushra Augustinavichiute became interested in typology because she was looking for answers to personal questions. At the same time, she was the dean of the Marriage and Family Science Department at the Vilnius Pedagogy University, so she had professional interests as well. She organized a club, or hobby group...

R.D. - Question. Why does everyone call Aushra a "researcher?" What was she researching?

A.B. - Yes, as dean she was conducting research. She gathered a group of like-minded people — sort of like a club, which included psychologists, sociologists, economists, and cyberneticists — and they would meet regularly in Vilnius and discuss everything related to typology, sociology, etc.

R.D. - So, basically a club of enthusiasts.

A.B. - Yes. Within this club they gradually began working on ideas and concepts related to Jung's typology. This all led up to the year 1968, when Aushra had her ingenious idea that Jung's typology could be expanded — expanded to create 16 types, but also — most importantly — to construct an information model of the psyche by increasing the number of Jungian functions.

R.D. - So Aushra not only was the one who brought everyone together, but she herself made the breakthrough?

A.B. - Yes. When she talked about this event later, she called it a "flash of inspiration" — a sudden ingenious idea, a flash of insight. Her insight was about how psychic functions must be located in the psyche — in the model of the psyche. So 1968 is when Aushra Augustinavichiute's information model of the psyche — or "model A" — was born. And during the period from 1968 to 1980 — over 12 years — this little club of explorers developed the concepts that led to the creation of socionics. This intellectual club formed a backdrop for Aushra's creative ideas. She would propose her ideas, listen to objections, and so on.

R.D. - Interesting that they spent a whole 12 years discussing and digesting these ideas.

A.B. - Yes, yes. In fact, progress was very slow!

R.D. - How often did they meet?

A.B. - You know, I don't know for sure.

O.K. - I don't think it was very often. No more than once or twice a month.

A.B. - Anyway, as a result, Aushra elaborated her concept of the information model of the psyche, and, most importantly, she determined the principles of information interchange between people. And that each psychic function — or "information metabolism function," as she called it, because cybernetics was in fashion then (these was the 60s and 70s)...

R.D. - Now wasn't cybernetics considered a "pseudo science" in the Soviet Union?

O.K. - No, not by this time anymore.

A.B. - That was during the 50s — the beginning of the 50s, actually. But in the 60s cybernetics institutes were already being created. They began working on robots and artificial intellect.

O.K. - In fact, the first institute that Aushra visited in Kiev was the Institute of Cybernetics.

A.B. - So you could say that from the very beginning socionics combined psychology with the information/cybernetic paradigm. And that's why it fit in well in the cybernetic and information age — among certain circles of scientists', at least. So anyway, they developed the typology, defined psychic functions, information stream elements, or aspects of reality, and the concept of intertype relations. In 1980 Aushra published her popular book, The Dual Nature of Man.

R.D. - In book form?

A.B. - In manuscript form. Unfortunately, she couldn't publish it as a book.

R.D. - Samizdat?

O.K. - Yes, this was the era of 'samizdat.' (i.e. literature typed up and passed from person to person)

A.B. - Yes, samizdat, but this samizdat was protected. In the Soviet Union it was very hard to get a book published. Books had to go through censors and be approved everywhere. Traditional psychologists, who had not studied cybernetics, didn't understand Aushra's ideas, and, of course, like everything new, socionics was given a hostile reception. Psychologists weren't taught cybernetics then — that's only begun in recent years. Actually, now they just mention cybernetics, not teach it. But then they didn't teach cybernetics and didn't explain what "information" or "information processing" was. So, when Aushra stated that Jung's psychic functions were "information metabolism functions" and that there were laws of how they exchange and process information, this looked like heresy in the psychology world. But cyberneticists, on the other hand, received it very well, of course. There was a sort of opposition between psychologists and cyberneticists.

R.D. - Let me add a comment and a question. On my website I have a page on information elements. As I understand it, Jung developed the concept of functions, but he didn't relate functions to characteristics of external reality.

A.B. - Yes, exactly.

R.D. - So, in essence, Aushra just made one small step, since, well, it seems logical that if there eight psychic functions, these functions can also be used to describe aspects of reality.

O.K. - It was a very difficult step to make, actually. That's a move from internal perception to objective external reality.

A.B. - Yes. First of all, Jung was an introvert. External aspects didn't interest him at all. Secondly, he didn't have the language to describe these things. The concept of information metabolism only originated in the 1930s in the works of Polish psychiatrist Kempinsky. He was the first one to say that people become ill because they digest information wrong, much like eating the wrong food. This was in the 30s, and Jung wrote his work 15 years earlier, in 1918. And Jung didn't develop his typology further; he left it as it was.

R.D. - Didn't he continue giving lectures on it?

A.B. - Yes, he spoke on it and gave lectures, but he didn't write any more on the subject.

R.D. - If I recall correctly, in his later lectures he acknowledged that there were actually 16 types.

A.B. - Actually, he writes at the end of his book that you can actually separate out 16 types if you take the auxiliary function as well as the leading function. But then he adds, "but that doesn't interest me much."

O.K. - He didn't need it for his practice.

A.B. - He was a psychoanalyst and didn't need to take it any further. But Aushra Augustinavichiute took the hint and applied it, because otherwise the model didn't fit together. So when she made this cybernetics analogy, everything else fit into place. Jung had four functions — the "leading" and "auxiliary" functions and two opposing functions in the unconscious. Aushra doubled the number to make eight.

R.D. - Again, isn't that a logical result of relating psychic functions to aspects of reality? How can the human psyche perceive four aspects of reality and be completely unaware of the other four?

O.K. - In the very beginning Aushra went with Jung's model of four functions, but it wasn't symmetric, and from a cybernetics point of view it wasn't at all elegant. It wasn't clear where the rest of the information goes! Aushra just took the next step... she was simply more logically consistent in her thinking.

A.B. - Yes, but this whole process of understanding the concept of information flow and metabolism was ingenious. It might seem to be just a little step, but it completely changes everything, because socionics becomes more than just a theory of psychology — it allows us to speak not only in terms of individual traits, but also in categories of the outside world.

R.D. - Basically saying that there are aspects of reality in the external world and — as a matter of fact — these same aspects are present in people as well.

O.K. - Yes. When we teach our students, we begin with that — the fact that the outside world and our perception have things in common. When they understand this from the very beginning, they don't have problems with things like "the integral type of a group," "the type of a nation," how to determine the "type" of a problem, and who needs to solve the problem seeing that it has this type. They don't have problems moving from one level to another, but psychologists...

A.B. - That is, we can describe in socionic categories any realities of the outside world.

O.K. - As long as we talk only of psychic functions that are shut off from the outside world by this psychic barrier, there's always this gap between what's happening inside of us and what we perceive in the outside world.

R.D. - So psychologists are like, "you mean to say the outside world has psychic functions?"

A.B. - Yes, that's a problem. Of course, psychologists haven't thought about this much... They can't explain without this understanding how the psyche assists a person's survival — if it doesn't correspond to the realities of the outside world. The psyche must be adapted to the outside world, right? Otherwise how do people survive? So, basically, the development of all these ideas, and the understanding that there are relationships, include those called "dual relations" — the best relationship, which is what Aushra was interested in — and that there are the opposite — "conflicting" — relations, and that between them is a whole scale of relations — all this took quite a bit of time. However, in 1980 her book came out in the form of a typed manuscript and was deposited into the library of the Academy of Sciences.

R.D. - What does "deposited" mean?

O.K. - It means that it is located there, you can look at it, read it, make references to it...

A.B. - It was a manuscript that you were allowed to reference. It had the right to be published, in other words.

R.D. - So this was all a part of the Soviet system.

O.K. - Yes, it was a peculiar system!

A.B. - Yes. So the book was published as a manuscript that could be ordered, which is important.

R.D. - The book received the right to exist.

A.B. - Yes. In a totalitarian regime that was very important. Anyway, Aushra wrote several more works, such as The Socion, The Theory of Intertype Relations, and lengthy descriptions of several types, where she examined in detail how the information model of the psyche works for each type, how intertype relations work and how they manifest themselves — or, to be precise, "intertype information interaction," out of which, on a subjective level, arise relationships. That's how we've formulated it in recent years.

O.K. - In order to separate relationships from their information component.

A.B. - Yes, information interaction and how relationships feel subjectively are not exactly the same. Aushra mixed the two, but that's natural.

to be continued (2/9/2006)