The Physiology of Psychological Type, Part III: Falsification of Type

Human beings are perhaps healthiest, happiest, and most successful when they can use and be rewarded for using their own innate giftedness, or what Dr. Carl Jung and Dr. Katherine Benziger call their natural lead function.

Falsification of Type and PASS (Prolonged adaptation Stress Syndrome)


Human beings are perhaps healthiest, happiest, and most successful when they can use and be rewarded for using their own innate giftedness, or what Dr. Carl Jung and Dr. Katherine Benziger call their natural lead function. Indeed, it can be said that when a person develops and uses his/her natural lead function in an environment which both supports and rewards that function, the experience is similar to if not identical with the experience of flow, identified by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

For whatever reason, when this does not occur the brain is forced to spend large amounts of time functioning from areas requiring significantly greater expenditures of energy. In other words, the brain is forced to Falsify Type. The result is that the brain and brain-body system experience stress, chronic anxiety and exhaustion. Indeed, Falsifying Type is so costly that over time it can lead to the development of a syndrome identified by Dr. Arlene Taylor, as PASS or Prolonged adaptation Stress Syndrome. Significantly, one element of PASS is the experience, seemingly without cause, of chronic depression.


Dr. Carl Gustav Jung originally coined the term Falsification of Type to describe an individual whose most developed and/or used skills were outside one's area of greatest natural preference. In his writing, Dr. Jung stated that he believed the problem to be a serious one with both practical and psychological ramifications. Indeed, Jung saw Falsification of Type as "a violation of their natural disposition," explaining that:

"As a rule whenever such Falsification of Type takes place as a result of external influence, the individual becomes neurotic later, and a cure can successfully be sought only in the development of the attitude (i.e., function) which corresponds with the individual's natural way."

In the last analysis, it may well be that physiological causes (inaccessible to our knowledge in 1926) play a part in this. That this may be the case seems not improbable, in view of one's experience that the reversal of type often proves exceedingly harmful to the physiological well-being of the organism, often leading to an acute state of exhaustion."

Dr. Katherine Benziger, who established and studied the physiological foundations for Type and Falsification of Type over the past two decades, expanded on Dr. Jung's observations regarding the results or costs of Falsifying Type. Dr. Benziger, using her Benziger Thinking Styles Assessment (BTSA) to gather and study data of individuals who had been or were Falsifying Type, connected falsification of type to a condition of "prolonged or excessive adaptation. In her summary report on the topic, Falsification of Type: Its Jungian and Physiological Foundations and Mental, Emotional and Physiological Costs, published in 1995, she stated that:

  • the short term results of falsification tend to be increased irritability, headaches, and difficulty in mastering new tasks.

  • the long term results of falsification include exhaustion, depression, lack of joy, a homeostatic imbalance involving oxygen, the premature aging of the brain, and a vulnerability to illness.

Benziger's observations and thinking are supported by the research of Dr. Richard Haier of San Diego. Using PET scan studies, Haier demonstrated that the brain needs to work much harder when not using the person's natural lead function (which he establishes as an area of exceptional natural efficiency).

Haier estimated that the brain may need to work as much as 100 times harder when an individual is developing and / or using skills outside one's area of natural efficiency.

Such a demand on the brain requires huge amounts of energy and oxygen. This not only pushes the brain to "burn hotter", as it were, but could also over time throw off the person's innate homeostatic balance in the area of oxygen usage and distribution. Normally the brain uses approximately 20% of the oxygen taken in through the lungs. This leaves about 80% for the rest of the body where it is utilized in the process of metabolism and in providing energy at the cellular level and overall. As more and more oxygen is demanded by the brain that is falsifying type, less and less is available to keep the rest of the body up to speed. A variety of symptoms can result (e.g., fatigue, digestive problems, listlessness). Indeed, over time, the oxygen imbalance can contribute to the person's body shifting from anabolic to catabolic functioning.

Dr. Arlene Taylor, over an eleven year period during which she worked with patients suffering from symptoms of depression and apparent PTSD, observed that specific symptoms seemed to be present in individuals who were falsifying living in a state of prolonged/excessive adaptation as evidenced through the BTSA profile. In addition, her observations led her to theorize that in some cases, individuals who were being diagnosed with PTSD or Depression, might not be suffering from PTSD or Depression per se (not as the underlying contributing factor), but rather from Falsifying of Type. Dr. Taylor's findings suggest that Falsifying Type may be best understood as a separate, discrete, and treatable syndrome (although it can contribute to the exacerbation of a variety of other illnesses). For some individuals, it can also be life threatening. Subsequently, to facilitate sharing her findings with others, Taylor assigned the label PASS (Prolonged adaptation Stress Syndrome) to identify the predictable collection of symptoms which seem to appear when an individual has been Falsifying Type.